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Brussels, overwhelmed by Paris, sharpens its weapons

(B2) If officially, in Brussels, “ Each file is treated on its own merits " and " we do not judge the attitude but the facts » ; in reality in the corridors of the Commission, the French attitude, and its Prime Minister, "arrogant", arouses many comments. The most talkative appear somewhat exasperated – it’s “ easy Poujadism » – even a little tired. “ Raffarin was just saying out loud what is common practice. France, and more particularly its administration, culturally, have never understood or admitted why an authority outside of Paris has the right to tell it what to do “says a British official.

Indeed, if we examine the table of breaches of Community rules, not only is France the champion in almost all categories, but its dilettantism does not fail to astonish. " When the Commission puts the French on notice to apply a standard, they generally do not flinch explain an official. " Not even a mail. It is only under the threat of a referral to the Court of Justice or a fine that they wake up ". The Alstom case is particularly exemplary. At DG Competition, where we've been struggling for a few days to find an amicable solution, we're tearing our hair out. " Why the French did not notify us of this file earlier “says an old driver of the competition” We could have carried out our investigation and discussed more calmly ". As a result, the European Commission, determined to set an example, does not budge. If the French government does not offer concessions by Tuesday evening, " we will send an injunction on Wednesday to suspend the operation ».

As for the aid paid to Bull, the carrots are already cooked, the Court of Justice will be seized on October 1st. And Brussels is already sharpening its weapons on other files, which hurt. In the crosshairs, the ban on advertising for cinema or publishing on television, and the Royer law, review … Raffarin, on supermarkets. As an observer of the Brussels scene ironically comments, “ taking up Chirac's remarks to the candidate countries, in the midst of the Iraqi crisis, one could say that Raffarin lost a good opportunity to be silent ».

Nicolas Gros-Verheyde (in Brussels)

Published in France-Soir, September 2003

Nicolas Gros Verheyde

Chief editor of the B2 site. Graduated in European law from the University of Paris I Pantheon Sorbonne and listener to the 65th session of the IHEDN (Institut des Hautes Etudes de la Défense Nationale. Journalist since 1989, founded B2 - Bruxelles2 in 2008. EU/NATO correspondent in Brussels for Sud-Ouest (previously West-France and France-Soir).