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This is what competition has done for Europe, Mr Sarkozy – letter to the FT

Sir, ”Sarkozy threatens to upset his allies”, according to the headline on your editorial of July 9. But, even worse, he also upsets some of the values from French history.

”What has competition done for Europe?” was the rhetorical question when Nicolas Sarkozy managed to delete the phrase ”free and undistorted competition” as a European Union goal. Clearly, the goal of life is much more than competition, internal market or prosperity. But of course it should be a goal for the EU to guarantee each and everyone free and undistorted competition because it contributes better than anything else to liberté, egalité and fraternité.

Liberté, because competition and free enterprise are prerequisites for free societies and a crucial factor for the liberalisation of all the Europeans that once were the victims of feudal societies, class divisions as well as later socialist economies. Competition breaks up the old structures and opens up new opportunities and social mobility.

Egalité, because a fair and undistorted competition means that each and every one has the same rights and the same opportunities, regardless of your family, your contacts with governments or your heritage. In the internal market it means that no one should be discriminated against, no matter where he or she comes from or who they are. A Spanish company in France, a French company in Sweden or a German in Spain; they are all equal and have the same rights, and they have the right to be treated the same way whatever governmental contacts they have, whoever their owner is or which company politicians for different reasons may prefer.

Fraternité, because it is the free competition in the internal market that has given rise to increased trade, investments, travels and exchange over borders. It is integrating, not only steel and coal industry but economy and people, because with free and undistorted competition we are all brothers and sisters of the same family, not hindered by ideas of economic patriotism which cannot do anything but create a rift between people and nations.

Competition has, for the last decades, more than anything else contributed towards achieving the high goals of the French Revolution.

So, cher Monsieur le Président! Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité! Competition is an ever-ongoing French evolution! That should be a goal for all of us. It is now up to the inter-governmental conference to secure that the rule of law in Europe will give no room for hesitation about the rights of each and everyone, wherever from. Because competition is not everything, European rule of law and legislation equal for us all is just as important. And that must be a goal for the treaty to secure.

Gunnar Hökmark,

Vice-President, EPP-ED Group in the European Parliament