European policy

Sue to the sovereignists and other chauvinists

BarrosoConvMayors@E130624
President Barroso at the Covenant of Mayors on Climate Change, with Arnold Schwarzenegger (credit: European Commission)

(BRUSSELS2) José-Manuel (Barroso) is tired of serving as a punching bag in French national politics. He published a statement this afternoon which intends to react against the criticism heard against him in France after his release on the word reactionary. The harsh words of Bertrand Tavernier treating the President of the Commission as an act of treachery and a “bastard” apparently go badly (listen on RTBF “Bertrand Tavernier’s rant”) like that of Arnaud Montebourg who believes that “Barroso is the fuel of the National Front. This is the truth. He is the fuel of Beppe Grillo” (listen to the show All policies) have difficulty passing. The president believes that he was “misunderstood” in his defense of openness to globalization as well as cultural exception.

And a ladle of oil on the fire

But his statement should do little to calm things down. Because it lumps together those who criticize certain orientations of the European Commission and see it develop another policy and those who have more extreme positions and want to see Europe dissolve itself. Daring to criticize the Commission becomes sovereignist and chauvinistic. This declaration brings together European construction, economic reforms and globalization as an inseparable whole. It’s a bit reductive and dangerous…

“It is regrettable that once again the responsibility for certain difficulties at the national policy level is being shifted to the European level, making the Commission the scapegoat.

The Commission has no intention of entering into internal policy debates. But she has the right and the duty to provide clarifications and defend her positions.

On the cultural exception, we reaffirm what President Barroso has said and repeated: the cultural exception is not negotiable, culture is not a commodity, and it was, is and will always remain a Red line. It is a position of principle that we will never question.

We therefore clearly refute the attacks against the Commission, which conflate the President's declarations on certain protectionist positions and which have not been correctly repeated, as if they were a criticism of France or the cultural exception.

The truth is that – when they attack globalization, economic reforms, Europe and its institutions – left and right sovereignists have the same agenda. Certain French political leaders should abandon ambiguity towards Europe and defend it more vis-à-vis nationalism, populism and even chauvinism.

The Commission reaffirms that Europe remains the best way to shape globalization. It is therefore important that we work together, the European institutions and the Member States, to exert all our weight. »

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).