France Says Barroso Holds `Unacceptable' View on Trade

France fought off what it called a “unilateral attack” by the European Commission to keep cultural subsidies off the agenda of trade talks with the U.S.

French Culture Minister Aurelie Filippetti criticized European Commission President Jose Barroso for calling France’s protection of its audiovisual industry “reactionary” in an interview with the International Herald Tribune.

France won an exclusion for its audiovisual industry in talks that began today with the U.S. over a free-trade pact with the European Union. It threatened to use its veto to protect a business that the Socialist minister said accounts for 3.3 percent of European gross domestic product.

“Barroso’s words are shocking and unacceptable,” Filippetti told reporters today in Paris. “Without cultural exception, we won’t be able to manage the regulatory transformation to the digital age. We need new regulations for the digital age, and to adapt our tools we need the cultural exception. It is at the service of modernity.”

“It’s the European Commission that’s isolated,” Filippetti said.

The European Union’s 27 member governments gave the commission, the bloc’s executive arm, a mandate to negotiate with the U.S. to expand the world’s biggest economic relationship with a free trade agreement. The goal is to remove tariffs, ease regulatory barriers and expand access in investment, services and public procurement.

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