French minister rounds on 'undemocratic' EU
A French minister has blamed the European Union for fuelling the recent resurgence of the far-right Front National (FN) in France by exerting too much pressure on democratically elected governments.
The outspoken minister for industrial renewal, Arnaud Montebourg, laid into European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso over his recent description of France's stance on a proposed EU-US free trade zone as "reactionary."
"Mr Barroso is the fuel of the Front National," Montebourg told France Inter radio on Sunday. "He is the fuel of (Italian protest party leader) Beppe Grillo."
Barroso has been in the firing line of French politicians of all shades since making dismissive remarks about France's insistence on excluding the film and televison sectors from international trade liberalisation under a policy known as the "cultural exception."
But Montebourg made the issue much broader by suggesting Barroso's comments were symptomatic of a deeper problem with the way power is wielded by the European Union's executive arm in Brussels.
"I think the main cause of the rise of the Front National is related to the way in which the EU today exerts considerable pressure on democratically elected governments," Montebourg said.
"You have the president of the European Commission who says 'all those who are anti-globalisation, they're reactionaries'. These are the same people who have today turned the European Union into an institution that is anti the people of Europe.
"In the end, the EU does not act, it is immobile, paralysed. It does not respond to any popular aspiration, on the industrial front, on the economic front or on the budgetary front. And in the end, that furthers the cause of all the pro-sovereignty, anti-European, parties in the EU."
© 2013 AFP