Friday

19th Oct 2018

EU commissioner lashes out against protectionism

EU competition commissioner Neelie Kroes and Czech Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek have criticised the growing trend towards protectionism in Europe, implicitly targeting France.

Speaking in Paris at a competition meeting of the Organisation for economic cooperation and development (OECD) on Tuesday (17 February), Ms Kroes strongly condemned protectionism and its "false promises" that only lead Europe "deeper into the hole" it was already in.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

  • Nicolas Sarkozy is giving a headache to EU's presidency and commission (Photo: The Council of the European Union)

"Of course, no politician will admit to protectionist policies. It will be presented under better colours, using national money to protect national jobs. That is rhetoric, not reality," she added.

"We have to protect people by creating for them real jobs with real futures, not jobs that only exist as long as the taxpayers' money exists. That takes leadership. Leadership is not bribing multinationals and stealing jobs from one's neighbours," she argued.

This was an apparent allusion to French President Nicolas Sarkozy's previous calls on French car manufacturers to return home from countries like the Czech Republic.

France is also under the commission's scrutiny for its planned state aid to the national car industry worth €6.5billion, which could be in breach with EU law.

French Prime Minister Francois Fillon said last week that manufacturers were asked not to close French factories during the term of any loan but insisted that the plan was not protectionist.

Ms Kroes stressed that state aid for the national car industries must be targeted at reforming the sector into green technologies if Europe wants to stay competitive in the global economy.

First class and second class Europe

For his part, Czech Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek, currently in charge of the EU, repeated his criticism against protectionism, but avoided naming France directly.

"Europe is facing protectionism, populism, a lack of solidarity, finger-pointing, punishing the innocent and rewarding the unnecessary," he said at a Brussels conference, according to AFP news agency.

"Are we really all in the same boat or do we have different decks? Do we have a first-class deck, a second-class deck and a third-class deck? There are those who say we're on the Titanic," Mr Topolanek noted.

He also questioned EU's climate-change targets amidst the economic crisis. "There are those who are adding fuel to the fire in the form of protectionism, there are those who are dancing a climate dance while the ship is sinking," he said.

EU commission President Jose Manuel Barroso, speaking at the same debate as Mr Topolanek, also called for "the exclusion of economic nationalism and protectionism."

"History tells us that such things only aggravate crises," he pointed out.

The Czech EU presidency has called for an extraordinary summit on the economic crisis in Brussels on 1 March, with Prague intending to enforce a focus on combatting protectionism.

EU leaders worried about Italy's budget

Some EU leaders warned that Italy's plan to boost its budget spending despite the second largest debt in the eurozone, could hamper efforts to reform the single currency's framework.

News in Brief

  1. EU to open trade talks with US on beef
  2. EU court orders Poland to suspend firing judges
  3. Japan to focus on circular economy at G20
  4. Italian budget 'significant deviation' from rules, says EU
  5. Podemos initiates debate on legalising marijuana in Spain
  6. Merkel: Focus on banking union at December EU summit
  7. Scotland confirms mad cow disease case
  8. European 'Green surge' set for repeat in Hessen election

Airbnb agrees to clarify pricing for EU

The justice commissioner says the accommodation-rental website will better inform users about prices, and about the legal status of their 'hosts'. Facebook, however, could face sanctions if it doesn't comply with EU rules.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. International Partnership for Human RightsOpen letter to Emmanuel Macron ahead of Uzbek president's visit
  2. International Partnership for Human RightsRaising key human rights concerns during visit of Turkmenistan's foreign minister
  3. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSState of the Nordic Region presented in Brussels
  4. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSThe vital bioeconomy. New issue of “Sustainable Growth the Nordic Way” out now
  5. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSThe Nordic gender effect goes international
  6. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSPaula Lehtomaki from Finland elected as the Council's first female Secretary General
  7. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSNordic design sets the stage at COP24, running a competition for sustainable chairs.
  8. Counter BalanceIn Kenya, a motorway funded by the European Investment Bank runs over roadside dwellers
  9. ACCACompany Law Package: Making the Best of Digital and Cross Border Mobility,
  10. International Partnership for Human RightsCivil Society Worried About Shortcomings in EU-Kyrgyzstan Human Rights Dialogue
  11. UNESDAThe European Soft Drinks Industry Supports over 1.7 Million Jobs
  12. Mission of China to the EUJointly Building Belt and Road Initiative Leads to a Better Future for All

Latest News

  1. What Italy's budget row is actually about
  2. EU preparing 'concentration camps' for migrants
  3. Poland to respect EU injunction on judicial purge
  4. EU votes on Facebook and plastic This WEEK
  5. Top EU banks guilty of multi-billion tax fraud
  6. Polish left a glimmer of hope in fight against illiberal democracy
  7. Europe and Asia seek stable relations in troubled times
  8. Asylum reforms derailed, as EU looks to north Africa

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us