France gives Mandelson the finger—-maybe

The French right wing government—especially the Elys’e‑ambitious inte­ri­or Min­is­ter (Nicholas Sarkozy)—is try­ing hard to wound EC Trade Com­mis­sion­er Peter Man­del­son for con­ced­ing ‘too much’ in the WTO agri­cul­ture nego­ti­a­tions. But they don’t seem to have awak­ened the ardor of the com­men­tari­at. Le Monde, for exam­ple, seems less than impressed by the Chirac government’s “irre­ducible” act.

Sarkozy crit­i­cized Man­del­son for accept­ing a ‘fool’s bar­gain’ in the busi­ness dai­ly Les Echos.

But the edi­to­r­i­al in Le Monde today doubts that the right’s pop­ulist pos­tur­ing will have much impact:

La France ne manque pas d’arguments pour défendre le dossier agri­cole dans le vaste marchandage qui se pour­suit sous l’égide de l’Organisation mon­di­ale du com­merce. Mais on doit con­stater, une fois de plus, qu’elle se retrou­ve isolée, ou presque, dans son com­bat. En dépit de ses cris de vic­toire, le gou­verne­ment français n’a pas obtenu la mise sous tutelle de M. Man­del­son. Les attaques con­tin­uelles de Paris con­tre la Com­mis­sion européenne ont dimin­ué sa force de per­sua­sion. Ce n’est pas en s’obstinant dans une tac­tique défen­sive, large­ment inspirée par des con­sid­éra­tions de poli­tique intérieure post-référen­dum, que la France retrou­vera son rôle moteur en Europe.”(Le Monde)

In the course of the end­less bar­gain­ing in WTO , France is not short of argu­ments defend­ing its agri­cul­tur­al poli­cies. But we have to acknowl­edge that, once more, she find her­self almost alone in this bat­tle. Despite claim­ing vic­to­ry, the French gov­ern­ment has not suc­ceed­ed in rein­ing in Mr Man­del­son. Paris’ con­stant attacks on the Com­mis­sion have weak­ened it’s pow­ers of per­sua­sion. France will not win back it’s role as a lead­ing force in Europe by dig­ging-in on defen­sive posi­tions inspired for the most part by post-Ref­er­en­dum domes­tic politics

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