Nicole Bricq, France’s trade minister, has escalated a campaign from French ministers against José Manuel Barroso, the president of the European Commission.
Following criticism earlier in the week from France’s industry minister, Arnaud Montebourg, Bricq said today (28 June) that she thought Barroso had been a poor choice to lead the European Commission. “I think he has made nothing of his mandate,” she said.
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Asked for his response, Barroso, speaking at the end of a European Council in Brussels today, said: “There are some comments which deserve no comment.”
But he added: “While some people were making comments, I was working with heads of state and government to deliver growth and jobs.”
Barroso said: “During the meeting I spoke and worked with all the heads of state and government, including President François Hollande, with whom I have a close co-operation.”
Hollande ducked a question about Bricq’s attack, but said that Barroso had been chosen by the leaders of the EU’s member states and therefore had democratic legitimacy.
The French ministers had apparently been irritated by comments that Barroso made last week about French views on free trade.
Barroso last week described as “reactionary” the French government’s insistence that cinema and music sectors be excluded from free-trade talks between the Union and the US. His comments prompted accusations from Montebourg that the EU through its policies provided “a cause to all the anti-European parties”.
“Mr Barroso is the fuel of the French National Front, that’s the truth,” Montebourg said.