Richard North, 05/05/2004  

Nicolas Sarkozy, the new French Finance Minister and possible presidential candidate in the future is already in trouble with Mario Monti, the Competition Commissioner for authorizing large amounts of state aid to French industrial giants that just do not seem to be able to make money.

At his first press conference since taking the new portfolio he has promised journalists that the French government will take active steps to keep French industry on French soil. Then he remembered that he was now a European and added that European industry must be kept on European soil.

"There are great companies in Europe, with a savoir-faire of the highest standard," he told a packed auditorium of journalists during a two-hour question-and-answer marathon. "We have to support them." Clearly, he does not think that all that savoir faire produces profits or, for that matter employment, with large amounts of government money pouring in.

Of course, if it is Europe that is keeping European industry on European soil, it will have to be European money. Even if the industries all turn out to be French.

To read the full story in the International Herald Tribune, click here.

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