On the very same day (16 May) as his inauguration, Nicolas Sarkozy went to visit Angela Merkel in Berlin to affirm the importance of the Franco-German axis in driving European integration. On 23 May he was in Brussels, talking to Barroso, the Commission President. Next week (31 May) he’s off to Madrid to visit Zapatero, and he has also already welcomed Hans-Gert PÃ¶ttering (President of the European Parliament) and the presidents of Gabon and Liberia to the ElysÃ©e – see the news section of the ElysÃ©e website.
The circumstances will be different for Gordon Brown when he takes over from Blair on 24th June, for he has won an internal election rather than a poll of the entire population. Yet the need to take international matters seriously, to step up to the top job, will be just as important for him as for Sarkozy. So will he make his first 2 international visits European? Will he try to repair relationships in Brussels battered due to his neglect of Ecofin council? Let’s hope so (as the CER does), but I frankly doubt it.