March 23, 2006


Chirac walks out on EU leaders as tensions rise (George Parker and Chris Smyth, March 23 2006, Financial Times)

Jacques Chirac, French president, on Thursday night stormed out of a European Union summit after a French industrialist began addressing leaders of the bloc in English.

Mr Chirac and two senior ministers walked out in protest at the decision of Ernest-Antoine Seillière, head of the Unice employers organisation, to make a plea for economic reform in “the language of business”.

Mr Chirac’s boycott reflected the high tensions surrounding the two-day economic summit, which comes against a backdrop of French street protests over labour market reform and claims Paris is engaged in protectionism of its energy market.

The French president was not in the room to hear Mr Seillière urging leaders to “resist national protectionism in order to avoid a negative domino effect”.

Angela Merkel, Germany’s chancellor, issued a thinly veiled warning to France and Spain to open their energy markets, as a dispute over protectionism overshadowed the start of the summit.

Posted by Orrin Judd at March 23, 2006 4:35 PM
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