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'Losers!' Both France and EU suffer in war of words

Ben McPartland · 26 Jun 2013, 18:39

Published: 26 Jun 2013 18:39 GMT+02:00

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The ongoing bitter war of words between France and the EU showed no sign of abating this week as members of the Socialist government continued to launch barbs in the direction of European Commission chief José Manuel Barroso and indeed Europe in general.

The first to take a swing at Barroso was Industry Minister Arnaud Montebourg who blamed him and the EU for a rise in the far right. Housing Minister Cécile Duflot then said the EU was just a 'police force' and the latest to weigh into the row was President of the National Assembly Claude Bartolone who said José Manuel Barroso had “surpassed himself” and that his “behaviour was unbearable”.

The increasingly combative Barroso of course has landed some punches of his own, calling France "reactionary", "anti-globalization" and this week denounced the "leftist chauvinists" in the Socialist government for using Europe as a "scapegoat".

Caught up between the two warring factions is the likes of Philippe Juvin, a Member of the European Parliament (MEP) for France's opposition UMP party. Naturally he had some harsh words to say about both parties.

Philippe Juvin (pictured): “It needs to be made clear that this row is not between France and the EU but between the French government and the EU and both sides are the losers.

“There is no winner here. It’s a double defeat for both Europe and France because it gives support to those who think that Europe is to blame for everything.

“The French government is in significant difficulty. We are in the middle of a financial crisis and ministers cannot agree on the best way to deal with it.

“Barroso made a mistake by criticizing France [for being reactionary] and when he did that, the Eurosceptics in the French government jumped on the opportunity to criticize him for being a right-wing politician.

“It was marvelous for them that they found a common enemy in Barroso. But they are simply try to shift the blame and get people talking about Europe instead of the economic crisis, which they should be dealing with.

“It’s highly irresponsible because when members of a government say these things, many members of the public think they are true.

Ruining relationships

“The government has damaged the relationship between France and the EU commission just as it has damaged the relationship between France and Germany.

“Our country is not the most powerful country in Europe and we need Germany and Germany needs us.

“People in the EU do not know what is going to happen. Many MEPs, even Socialists are increasingly concerned by this ongoing breakdown in relations between France and Europe.

“It has to be said that Barroso himself has not been ideal for Europe, nor have the policies he has pursued.

"Many people believe he is simply trying to line a job up for himself at the UN or NATO knowing he will gain US support if he attacks the French.

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"We need a more productive Europe and we need a Europe which is aware of both the advantages and dangers of globalization.

Europe not to blame for far right

“It is ridiculous to blame Europe for the increase in support for the far right in France.

"The extreme right has gained popularity because of the financial crisis. When Montebourg blames Europe for the far right's boost in influence he is using exactly the same arguments the far right itself uses and indeed the far left.

“Europe is not responsible for the difficulties France faces and indeed other countries and most reasonable people know that.

“Hollande’s government, which is based on a coalition of Socialists and Communists, is weak.  He needs to deal with this situation and perhaps asking Montebourg to step down would be a start."

Ben McPartland (ben.mcpartland@thelocal.com)

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