French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius on Wednesday
sought to smooth tensions between Paris and Brussels that were
sparked by a disagreement on trade talks between Europe and the
United States, dpa reported.
Speaking after a flurry of mutual accusations and recriminations
between France and European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso,
Fabius said: "Yes to debate with the Commission, but no to a
fistfight. It's important to not get personal."
He was speaking three days after Productive Recovery Minister
Arnaud Montebourg, a Socialist, accused Barroso of being the "fuel"
of France's far-right National Front.
Barroso hit back on Monday, saying "some left-wing and far-right
sovereignists have exactly the same discourse."
The tit-for-tat followed Barroso's characterization of opponents
of globalization as "reactionary."
Barroso's remark, which came in the midst of negotiations among
EU members on their common position in the trans-Atlantic trade
talks, was seen as a swipe at France, which successfully lobbied for
film and television to be taken off the table.
"Some say they belong to the left, but in fact they are culturally
extremely reactionary," Barroso told the International Herald
The remarks caused anger in France, where the word "reactionary"
is associated with opponents of the 1789 French Revolution.
Barroso insisted his remarks were not aimed at France and that he
was committed to protecting cultural diversity and supporting culture
through quotas and subsidies.
But he continued to come under attack Wednesday from government
members who accused the EU of alienating Europeans.
France's junior minister for consumer affairs, Benoit Hamon, said
he too considered that Barroso, "like many European commissioners"
had "contributed to the despair which sometimes leads to the National
European commissioner for internal market and services Michel
Barnier on Wednesday described the rift between Paris and Brussels as
"A few weeks ago we were hearing that it's Berlin's fault. Today
it's Brussels' fault. I believe it's not good, it's not fair and it's
even at times absurd," the Frenchman told a press briefing.