Chirac Says Brussels Does Not Care about Job Losses in Assault on Economic Policy
Castle, Stephen, The Independent (London, England)
Jacques Chirac has launch-ed a direct attack on the economic policies of the European Commission, accusing it of washing its hands of the consequences of job losses.
In an outspoken intervention at the World Trade Organisation yesterday, the French President said the Commission 'does not give the impression of defending the interests of Europe', and claimed it is 'going from one concession to another'.
M. Chirac's comments strike at the heart of the debate about the future of Europe's economic and social policy and put him directly at odds with Tony Blair, who will host a summit on the issues later this month. They also represent a direct criticism of the policies of Jose Manuel Barroso, the European Commission's president, and his trade commissioner, Peter Mandelson.
President Chirac said the commission did not feel 'implicated, concerned or believe that it has something to say' about plans by Hewlett-Packard to cut thousands of jobs in France and other European countries. He said it 'does not give the impression of defending the interests of Europe'.
M. Chirac is also worried about Mr Mandelson's pledge during world trade negotiations to reduce agricultural subsidies if other nations reciprocate.
Officials in Brussels rejected M. Chirac's criticisms. Francoise Le Bail, Mr Barroso's spokeswoman, said: 'Even if some people want to make the European Commission a scapegoat, the commission thinks that, faced with globalisation and the debate on the future of Europe, the EU must present a united front and national leaders must demonstrate a strong European commitment.'
The commission has said it will consider rejigging regional funding to help France to cope with the job losses. …