( dpa ) - European Union officials gave a cool response Monday to French President Nicolas Sarkozy's promise that France would seek an overhaul of the EU's fisheries policy when it took over the presidency of the bloc in July.
The EU's executive, the European Commission, "took note" of the pledge which Sarkozy made to French fishermen on Saturday, a spokeswoman for Fisheries Commissioner Joe Borg said.
However, the spokeswoman said that she was "not aware" that the French government intended to launch a debate on the issue while it held the six-month rotating presidency of the EU.
Traditionally, programmes for the presidency are drawn up well in advance in close cooperation between the nation state hosting the presidency and the commission, which is tasked with turning the political deals forged by the host country into legislation.
Sarkozy has long targeted France's forthcoming presidency as a chance for the EU's second-largest state to set the European agenda and revitalize its influence across the 27-member bloc.
However, high-profile interventions such as his September criticism of the heads of the European Central Bank (ECB) and the group of states which use the euro have ruffled feathers in Brussels.
Initiatives such as his call for the creation of a union of Mediterranean states have nettled other European leaders, who accuse him of proposing eye-catching multinational plans without consulting the other nations involved.
And in early January Sarkozy reportedly infuriated the state which currently holds the presidency, Slovenia, when he outlined to the press his vision for the second half of the year on the same day that the Slovenian government presented its plans for the first half.
On Saturday Sarkozy told fishermen in the northern French port of Boulogne-sur-Mer that "The first thing is this matter of (EU fishing) quotas ... and we have an opportunity to get out of this when France takes on the EU presidency from July 1 to December 31."
"The fishing industry is a part of the French national identity," Sarkozy said.