by RAY FLEMING
NICOLAS Sarkozy must be in rather more trouble in France than it seems. How else to explain his attacks on the policies of France's partners in the European Union - first by misrepresenting Gordon Brown's measures to deal with the economic crisis and then, on the same day, by making a statement of such an un-EU character as to draw an official communique of protest from the prime minister of the Czech Republic who currently holds the presidency of the EU's Council of Ministers. What President Sarkozy said was this: “If you build a Renault plant in India to sell Renault cars to Indians, that's justified, but if you build a factory (Peugeot-Citroen) in the Czech Republic to sell cars to France, that's not justified.” He said the Peugeot-Citroen plant should be re-located in France. The Czech prime minister Mirek Topolanek described the speech as “incredible” and representing a “threat to the revival of the EU economy.” The Czech parliament is due to vote on the ratification of the Lisbon Treaty next week. Mr Topolanek said that he intended to vote in favour but also said of M.Sarkozy's speech that “If someone wanted to jeopardise ratification of the Lisbon Treaty he could not have chosen a better way and a better time”.

It is unlikely that the French president wants to sabotage the Lisbon Treaty -- after all, it includes a proposal for an EU president that he has his eyes on. But something does seems to be bugging him.