French Minister Aims to Calm Relations after Cameron Veto

Article excerpt

Byline: Andrew Woodcock

ONE of the most senior members of Nicolas Sarkozy's government has moved to calm tensions between the UK and France, following the war of words sparked by David Cameron's use of Britain's veto to block an EU treaty.

Foreign minister Alain Juppe said that he had "not an ounce of doubt" that Anglo-French relations would soon be excellent again.

President Sarkozy was reported to have branded the Prime Minister an "obstinate kid" for using his veto when he was unable to secure safeguards for the City of London at a Brussels summit earlier this month.

And the diplomatic spat was heightened when Mr Sarkozy's finance minister, Francois Baroin, said he would rather be French than British economically, and Banque de France governor Christian Noyer suggested that the UK, rather than France, should lose its cherished triple-A credit rating.

Speaking to reporters, Mr Juppe denied that there had been a concerted effort by Mr Sarkozy's government to stoke up tensions with London.

The comments "went further than their authors wished" but there was "no need for excuses on either side", he said.

"There is not an ounce of doubt that Franco-British relations will become excellent once again, as we have too much in common to allow them to deteriorate," said Mr Juppe. "I don't think the bridges are broken. I cannot imagine that we will push Britain out of the European Union."

Mr Juppe said that France could not accept Mr Cameron's demands for exemptions from EU regulations for the City of London as his price for signing the new treaty, which was designed to impose new fiscal disciplines on the eurozone. …