Barnier rejects spectre of French loss of influence

France needs to think more European and
become a team player, says Barnier, while rejecting the idea
of a French loss of influence in the EU.

While firmly rejecting the speculation
that France has lost influence on the EU scene with the
nomination of commissioner Jacques Barrot to a less than
central post, France’s Foreign Minister Michel Barnier
has nonetheless urged French ambassadors to think
European as a first reaction, and become “team
players”. 

At the annual conference bringing
together the country’s 300 ambassadors, the former EU
commissioner Barnier reportedly told his ambassadors to
strengthen ties with the EU Commission delegations around
the world. 

“A country is strong when it is able
to put forward ideas, convince, listen and build a
majority to back these ideas,” said Barnier to Le Figaro,
putting his weight behind a “culture of influence,
listening and dialogue”. Barnier added: “France is not
great when it is arrogant. France is not strong if it is
alone.” 

The present French soulsearching
around the idea that France has lost out in the EU was
dubbed by him as a “strange collective psychoanalysis”.
He also underlined the fact that Barrot is a
vice-president in the new Commission. “Let’s stop running
ourselves down,” said Barnier. 

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