Boos from left greet Barroso in French assembly

25th January 2006, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, Jan 24, 2006 (AFP) - European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso drew boos from left-wing members of France's National Assembly Tuesday when he delivered a keynote speech on the future of the EU.

PARIS, Jan 24, 2006 (AFP) - European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso drew boos from left-wing members of France's National Assembly Tuesday when he delivered a keynote speech on the future of the EU.

Barroso was barracked by Communist party deputies demanding that he withdraw the so-called Bolkestein directive opening up the EU services market which is due to be debated at the European parliament next month.

To one outburst the commission president -- a former centre-right prime minister of Portugal -- responded off-the-cuff: "It's not by attacking business that you are going to create jobs and growth!"

In the first ever address to the French parliament by a commission president, Barroso said he believed public opinion would come round to the EU constitution which was rejected in a French referendum last May.

"I am convinced that public support for the modernisation of institutions which is laid out in the constitutional treaty will come in time, when the conditions are right and confidence is restored," he said in flawless French.

Addressing the situation in France, he said he had read in newspapers that the country was afflicted by "a certain melancholy, even a malaise."

"I wonder if the land of Moliere is not giving way to the temptation of the 'Malade Imaginaire (Imaginary Invalid)'," he said in reference to one of the French playwrights's most celebrated works.

"It seems to me on the contrary that France has every reason to be confident," he said citing "amazing global success stories like Airbus and Ariane."

"The choice of opening up to the world is a winning choice for France and Europe. In the face of globalisation only the European dimension can make the difference and allow us to control the process," he said to applause from centre-right supporters of the government.

But Jean-Marc Ayrault, president of the socialist group in the Assembly, said that "The union has broken down. There are no projects, no dynamic, no perspective" and he called on Barroso to "rediscover the inspiration and vision of Jacques Delors," a French socialist predecessor in the job.

And for the centrist Union for French Democracy (UDF) Francois Sauvadet said that the commission president had "his share of responsibility" in the EU's current impasse.

Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

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