Following the infamous quarrel over the Roma deportations, EU Justice Commissioner Viviane Reding isn't exactly the French government's préférée.
But, it seems, there is one person in Paris who really can't stand the Commissioner: French Europe Minister Pierre Lellouche. The two are now at it again. This time the disagreement concerns the Franco-German proposal to change the Lisbon Treaty to allow struggling eurozone countries to default.
In an interview with Die Welt, published today but with extracts circulating already yesterday, Ms. Reading said,
It seems to me completely irresponsible to put on the table these chimeras on new Treaties.Dismissing as 'completely irresponsible' a proposal coming from the two most powerful eurozone governments is pretty strong stuff for a Commissioner. But in case someone still didn't get the message, Viviane added,
Decisions [in the EU] are not taken in Deauville [the small village in Lower Normandy where Merkel and Sarkozy agreed on treaty change last week], but at 27 and by unanimity. France and Germany are the two countries who scuttled the first version of the Stability and Growth Pact in 2004 and 2005. The euro has undergone a severe crisis since, but it seems like someone has not yet drawn the lesson [...] We must stop destroying what the EU institutions propose.Lellouche - himself not known for shying away from hard talk - was quick to respond. Speaking in the French Senate yesterday, he said,
When you are a European Commissioner, and moreover a Vice-President of the Commission, is it conceivable that you call the President of the French Republic and the Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany 'irresponsible'?Fair enough, but Lellouche wanted to take one last jibe,
Frankly, the words used by this Commissioner [he avoids calling Ms. Reding by name, like Sarkozy did during his row with Barroso last month] to denigrate the Franco-German proposals are unacceptable. They are cut from the same cloth as the insulting tone - which I will not forget - used against France during the polemic she herself used on the Roma question.We're awaiting round three.