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‘Fortress Europe’

London and Berlin side over protectionist policy

Britain and Germany are more natural economic allies than Germany and France, it’s often said. Yesterday, in Brussels, this was starkly illustrated when Michel Barnier, internal market commissioner, unveiled the EC’s proposals for “reciprocity” in global public procurement markets.
“The EU should no longer be naïve and should aim for fairness and reciprocity in world trade,” Barnier said. Trade commissioner Karel de Gucht added: “Europe remains open for business and it (a more restrictive policy) is to encourage others to open their markets as well.” Both repeatedly denied that the new policy is protectionist or tit-for-tat – even though it allows public (local/regional) authorities to exclude foreign companies bidding for contracts above €5m and the EC to block access to European markets under certain conditions.
Their argument is that, in a global market worth €2000bn and, at €420bn, up to 19% of EU GDP, Europe’s procurement […]

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