Sarkozy defies Europe with protectionist plan for France

FRENCH President Nicolas Sarkozy, recasting himself as France’s saviour from low-cost competition and high immigration, threatened to disregard European limitations on protectionism as he sought to give his re-election campaign a second wind yesterday.

Going out on a limb that risks angering France’s European partners, Sarkozy said it was time to support local companies and stop the uncontrolled influx of immigrants and cheap imports that demonstrate Europe’s lack of protectionist controls.

Addressing some 30,000 people at a vast conference centre outside Paris, Sarkozy vowed to pull France out of the EU’s open-borders Schengen zone unless there was progress in the year ahead in fortifying Europe’s borders.

He also proposed a European law similar to the “Buy American Act” which would require governments to favour European-made products in their purchases, and said that without advances in that area, France would start applying the rule unilaterally.

“I want a Europe that protects its citizens. I no longer want this savage competition,” Sarkozy said to roars of support. “I say no to a Europe that opens up its markets when others don’t.”