EU out of line in WTO trade talks: France

13th October 2005, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, Oct 13 (AFP) - France contacted Britain -- the current holder of the EU presidency -- to express its "concern" at the European Commission's negotiating style at current world trade talks, the French foreign ministry said Thursday.

PARIS, Oct 13 (AFP) - France contacted Britain -- the current holder of the EU presidency -- to express its "concern" at the European Commission's negotiating style at current world trade talks, the French foreign ministry said Thursday.

Foreign minister Philippe Douste-Blazy telephoned his British counterpart, Jack Straw, on Wednesday to complain that the Commission had made offers on opening access to the EU agriculture market "without prior consultation with member states," according to a spokesman.

France, one of the biggest beneficiaries of EU farm subsidies, has been taken aback by an offer made by European trade commissioner Peter Mandelson -- a former British minister close to prime minister Tony Blair -- at the talks at the World Trade Organisation's Geneva headquarters this week to slash EU agriculture subsidies and tariffs.

In the view of Paris, Mandelson overstepped his brief in make the offer, which it believes violates a memorandum signed by EU states that demanded consultations before any significant concessions on the issue.

French foreign ministry spokesman Jean-Baptiste Mattei told journalists that Douste-Blazy insisted to Straw that the EU presidency should "ensure that the Commission respects its mandate."

France on Tuesday slammed a counter proposal by the United States that would call for even deeper subsidy cuts by the EU as "unrealistic".

Douste-Blazy also said that Mandelson should "abide" by the restriction set by the governments of the EU member states.

Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

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