By ray Fleming

WHEN the eurozone members finalised their ambitious plan for rescuing Greece in the small hours of last Thursday morning it was noticed that France's President Sarkozy was first out of the conference room traps to brief the waiting French media. This was widely interpreted to be because his leading role as the “euro's saviour” in the EU's crisis has been seen as critical to his prospects for re-election next summer.

Today's G20 meeting in Cannes under Mr Sarkozy's chairmanship is part of the same story -- an opportunity for him to show his international standing in the presence of the American and Chinese presidents. From these perspectives, therefore, the unilateral decision of the Greek premier to call a referendum over a deal that had been fixed with his knowledge is a personal disaster for Mr Sarkozy as well as a serious set back for all the eurozone countries which believed that Mr Papandreou had signed up to the deal.

If this debacle is to be overcome the German Chancellor Angela Merkel is more likely to achieve that difficult task than President Sarkozy. He now has to face a low 30 per cent approval rating among French voters without the help of a successful final G20 meeting of his Presidency. Whether any serious business will be done on other important issues in the midst of the Grecian distraction is doubtful.

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