Sarkozy to tackle EU 'paralysis'

Nicholas Sarkozy promises changes after being sworn in as new French president.

    Sarkozy's wife Cecilia and the rest of their family during the ceremony at the Elysee palace [AFP]

    EU 'emergency'


    On his arrival in Berlin, Sarkozy said: "The first emergency is to get the European Union out of its current paralysis."

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    "For that, it is necessary that Germany, which today holds the EU presidency, and France, which has always been its privileged partner in Europe, see eye-to-eye on this."


    He said the two allies also needed to work on industrial policy, notably European aerospace group EADS, referring to Franco-German differences over the Airbus maker's public-private shareholder structure.


    Tim Friend, Al Jazeera's correspondent in Paris, said: "He is very envious of the Germans and British who are doing much, much better [economically].


    "Radical reforms, including a longer working week, are likely but these are hugely popular in some areas. On the world stage he will be looking at Iraq and Africa."


    'Radical reforms'

    Sarkozy, who is the first French head of state to be born after World War Two, earlier said after his inauguration: "I will defend the independence of France. I will defend the identity of France."


    Sarkozy, who scored a comprehensive election victory on May 6, pledged to put the fight against global warming and the defence of human rights at the heart of his foreign policy.

    Chirac, who ruled for 12 years, met Sarkozy
    in private [AP]


    In an apparent dig at former president,Jacques Chirac, 
    Sarkozy said: "There is a need to unite the French people... and to meet commitments because never before has [public] confidence been so shaken and so fragile."


    Chirac, who ruled for 12 years, met Sarkozy in private to give him the launch codes for France's nuclear strike force before driving off into retirement, with Sarkozy applauding and waving goodbye from the Elysee Palace courtyard.


    Sarkozy's first act after his speech was to greet members of his family, including his wife, Cecilia, who has hardly been seen in public this year, fuelling speculation about their marriage.


    French Resistance honoured


    Sarkozy then rode in an open-top car up the Avenue des Champs Elysees, escorted by the mounted Republican Guard, and rekindled the flame at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier beneath the Arc de Triomphe.


    "The first emergency is to get the European Union out of its current paralysis"

    Nicolas Sarkozy, president of France


    He laid wreaths at statues of France's leaders in World War I and II, Georges Clemenceau and General Charles de Gaulle, before honouring 35 resistance fighters killed by the Nazis on the outskirts of Paris.


    Sarkozy's office said his new prime minister, expected to be moderate conservative Francois Fillon, would be named on Thursday.


    A streamlined cabinet that includes centrists and high-profile leftists is likely be unveiled on Friday. Sarkozy is expected to reach across political divides by appointing Bernard Kouchner as foreign minister. Koucher is a former socialist health minister and human rights campaigner.


    Fractured society


    The new head of state inherits a fractured society, dispirited by years of

    "... you embody France, symbolise the republic and represent all the French people"

    Jean-Luis Debre, constitutional court president

    high unemployment, and says he will take a more hands-on approach than his predecessor.


    As he proclaimed Sarkozy France's 23rd president, Jean-Luis Debre, the constitutional court president said: "From this day on and for the duration of your mandate, you embody France, symbolise the republic and represent all the French people."
    Sarkozy has said he wants to be judged on his record in trying to revive the economy.


    He received good news on Wednesday with data showing the private sector adding jobs at the fastest rate in six years and growth seen to be picking up in the second quarter.


    But unions and students have warned Sarkozy not to ram through changes without negotiations.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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