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French elections: Interview with Paul Adamson, director of the Think-Do-Tank "The Centre" in Brussel

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Live from The Centre in Brussels - What is your first impression of this election's outcome? Paul Adamson - Ever since the referendum on the Constitution 2 years ago, Europe has been waiting for a change in France. Now we know what direction France will turn to, and Europe will at last be able to advance. Even though N.

Sarkozy has shown not to be particularly interested in Europe, he recognizes its importance. Europe is a reality that has to be dealt with. Politics are not the same as they were in De Gaulle's age, 40 years ago. Today, what is important for France is to find common ground on key issues with a majority of partners. - What did yout think of Sarkozy's victory speech?

PA - His discourse was typically one of an elected president. He presented himsel as a president for all Frenchmen, a convinced European, etc. What was more interesting, is that he made climate change his priority. - And of his reassertion of the importance of the transatlantic friendship?

PA - Although he did confirm his European engagement, the reference to the Franco-American friendship implies a change in France's foreign policy. Here Sarkozy shows his pragmatism. He anticipates a change in the White House in the near future, and even though he might not be on the same side as the Democrats, they are of his generation and share his pragmatism. Being pro-American is not exactly fashionable, especially in France, but his new stature allows him the luxury to play all the cards; pro-American, pro-European, pro-unemployed, pro-ghetto, etc. - About this environmental priority; wouldn't this be a chance for Sarkozy to place France at the forefront of Europe again?

PA - About social and economical questions we can still debate and discuss, but on climate change, we all agree. France has been on of the major obstacles to further European integration over the last couple of years, so Sarkozy can play this card well. It is the one issue where he could be a European leader. - What are your personal feelings on the election of Nicolas Sarkozy?

PA - Both candidates had both strong and weak points. My ideal would have been a mix of the two; unfortunately not feasible. Sarkozy's strong points are: the clarity of his proposals, his pragmatism, and his refusal to stonewalling. His weak point would be that he might prove hard to deal with in negotiation due to his ferocious side. Neither one have been very clear on Europe, but I hope that this election will allow it a relaunch. - A last comment on Turkey?

PA - The European Union has lost the intimacy of only 6 member-states. Although personaly, I am in favour of Turkey's accession if they fulfill the criteria, we'll have to wait and see if Sarkozy will respect the achievements of his predecessors, or if he'll actively campaign against.

Interview done by Mana Livardjani et Jeroen Dubois