The First 100 Days of Fighting

As France takes over the rotating presidency of the European Union in July, French President Nicolas Sarkozy looks a little like the bull asked to clean up a china shop. He might kick some of the mess out the door or under the rug, but he just keeps breaking things.

Sarkozy had grand dreams for his six-month term, from pushing forward his pet project of a Mediterranean Union to leading the way to a more perfect EU as laid out in the Lisbon Treaty. When the Irish shot down those hopes in their "no" vote in the June 11 referendum, Sarkozy blamed European Commissioner Peter Mandelson for scaring the Fenians with free-trade talk. After the Germans squelched Sarkozy's plans to cap a fuel tax, Sarkozy vowed, "I will not give way; I will fight on this issue." He's also been sparring with ex-Portuguese prime minister José Manuel Barroso, now president of the European Commission, by painting Barroso as a puppet for anti-protectionist, anti-agricultural, pro-free-trade Anglo-Saxon interests. Not the most diplomatic way to start a presidency.

Now, despite Sarkozy's earlier declaration that "the Irish people have spoken, we must accept it," he's planning to go to Ireland on July 11 to try a little arm-twisting, with the hope of getting the Irish to hold a new referendum. Protests against his visit are planned. No doubt Irish leader Brian Cowen is locking up the crockery.