Sarkozy the Gaul


Rumors that France's new president Nicolas Sarkozy is a militant free-marketeer may have been greatly exaggerated:

For all his pro-European symbolism, Sarkozy has shown little willingness to abandon certain nationalist instincts of past French leaders. He has defended EU agricultural subsidies against demands for greater trade liberalization. He has shown little inclination to withdraw from France's aim of creating national champions, particularly in the energy sector. On Thursday, he debated the future of the state-controlled gas company Gaz de France with his prime minister and finance minister. And rather than encouraging globalization, he has appeared to reinforce French fears of unfettered capitalism—for example, by fighting to remove a largely symbolic affirmation of EU competition policy from the revamped treaty agreed last month in Brussels.

On the bright side, Sarkozy is also clashing with the EU over his push for tax cuts. "Pro-European" does not always mean "pro-market," even in France.

[Via Daniel Mitchell.]