French Interior Minister Sarkozy Criticizes "Overvalued" Euro

French presidential hopeful Nicolas Sarkozy denounced the current high value of the euro as "a serious economic error" and warned it could have negative consequences for European industry.

In a speech late Monday in Charleville-Mezieres in northeastern France, Sarkozy, the interior minister, said an "overvalued" European currency is "making European labor expensive and the labor of the rest of the world cheap."

"If we carry on like this, we won't be able to manufacture Airbus in Europe," he said. "The dollar will have become so cheap that we will have to go and make Airbus in the U.S."

Sarkozy added that the strong euro was "penalizing" European industry and "pulling wages down."

The euro was valued at $1.30 at the end of trading on Monday.

Stepping up his campaign ahead of presidential elections next April and May, Sarkozy urged "an economic government for the euro zone" -- a policy he has advocated in the past.

"There is not a single country in the world where the currency is not an instrument of economic policy for growth and for employment," said Sarkozy, who heads the center-right UMP party.

The strong euro is quickly becoming a key issue in the run-up to French presidential elections. Both main candidates, Sarkozy and Socialist Segolene Royal, have said the European Central Bank's efforts to clamp down on inflation are costing the country economic growth.