Barnier hits back at French criticism

Barnier hits back at French criticism

Commissioner describes comments by industry minister as “false and absurd”.

Economic patriot



Michel Barnier, the European commissioner for the internal market, has criticised France’s industry minister for claims that European Commission austerity policies are boosting support for the far-right.  

Barnier, a former minister from France’s centre-right UMP party, said on Twitter this morning (24 June) that the comments made by Arnaud Montebourg were “false and absurd”.  

Barnier said that he had “had enough of politicians who always blame others” and that Montebourg, a member of France’s centre-left, should concentrate on improving French competitiveness.  

The comments are the latest chapter in a growing spat between the French government and the Commission over French economic policy.  

On Sunday Montebourg accused the Commission, and specifically José Manuel Barroso, its president, of “fuelling” extremist parties such as France’s National Front.  

Last week Barroso described as “reactionary” the French government’s determination to see that the cinema and music sectors received exemptions from a future EU-US free trade arrangement.  

In addition to his comments on Twitter, Barnier told France 2 television this morning that Montebourg and other politicians were “shirking responsibility and looking for scapegoats”.  

“But they won’t be shirking for very much longer because the moment of truth will arrive at some point; it’s arriving for the minister,” he said.  

Barnier praised Germany for “supporting business” and, as a result, doing better than France.  

“The European Union is paralysed,” Montebourg told France’s Inter radio yesterday. “It does not respond to any of people’s aspirations in the industrial, economic or budgetary fields and in the end it provides a cause to all the anti-European parties.”  

“Mr Barroso is the fuel of the French National Front, that’s the truth,” he added.      

Ian Wishart 

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