Offer to cut farm tariff a provocation: French union union

Paris, Oct 30 | Updated: Oct 31 2005, 05:30am hrs
The European Unions new offer to cut farm tariffs is a provocation, the head of Frances main farm union said on Sunday, calling on the French government to use its veto if the EU Commission does not alter its proposal.

EU trade commissioner Peter Mandelson has said Fridays EU offer provided a compromise solution for trade talks, but the proposal has drawn criticism from trading partners such as the United States, Brazil and Australia.

Brussels is also under pressure from France, the staunchest defender of Europes subsidies for farmers and high tariffs on agricultural imports, and its strong farmers lobby.

(The proposals) are a new provocation, said Jean-Michel Lemetayer, head of Frances FNSEA farm union.

I hope that the government, which has shown a lot of firmness in the last few weeks, will not only threaten the use of its veto, but apply it, he told France Inter radio.

France has protested vociferously over Mandelsons handling of the trade talks, accusing him of making too many concessions and overstepping the negotiating mandate given him by the 25-nation bloc.

French President Jacques Chirac said on Thursday that Paris might veto the deal if Brussels went any further.

French Trade Minister Christine Lagarde said on Friday Paris was pressing Brussels on whether the offer was in line with the mission that was given to the Commission and particularly is in line with the Common Agricultural Policy.