Breaking business’s traditional silence on agricultural matters, Laurence Parisot, the new head of Medef, France’s powerful employers’ federation, last week launched a debate in which business leaders expressed their fears about an impasse in the negotiations.
In a meeting with farmers’ representatives, Thierry Breton, finance minister, and Christine Lagarde, trade minister, Ms Parisot said the talks were “vital for growth and employment in France and Europe”. The debate was a clear effort to draw attention to the needs of business in the face of a powerful farming lobby.
Ms Parisot’s concerns are repeated by some of France’s most respected industrialists. Guy Dollé, head of the world’s second largest steel group, Arcelor, criticises the level of support for an industry that in France employs fewer than 4 per cent of the population. “Is it realistic to have so much of the European budget devoted to agriculture? It is not and the position of my country is not very modern,” he said