France goads Britain over EU jobs win

FRENCH president Nicolas Sarkozy fired a salvo at the City of London yesterday, describing Britain as the &ldquo;big losers&rdquo; in the appointment of Frenchman Michel Barnier to the EU&rsquo;s finance brief.<br /><br />Sarkozy&rsquo;s remarks, which were instantly condemned by City figures, underline the difficulties London can expect in dealing with Barnier.<br /><br />France is seen as favouring tough regulation and could have serious influence on issues like bankers&rsquo; pay and curbs on hedge funds through Barnier&rsquo;s position as the EU&rsquo;s internal markets commissioner.<br /><br />Sarkozy told Le Monde: &ldquo;It&rsquo;s the first time in 50 years that France has had this role. The English are the big losers in this business.&rdquo;<br /><br />He added: &ldquo;It&rsquo;s not that the Brits were hesitant, they were frankly against Barnier&rsquo;s appointment&hellip; It&rsquo;s exceptional for France.&rdquo;<br /><br />Angela Knight, chief executive of the British Bankers&rsquo; Association, said she was concerned by the outburst.<br /><br />She said: &ldquo;I share concerns that the UK doesn&rsquo;t have an economic commissioner given the importance of the City, and these remarks are not a happy thing when we are all in the same EU and we are all at the end of the recession. The recovery is going to require positive attitudes.&rdquo;<br /><br />Justin Urquhart Stewart, director of Seven Investment Management, said: &ldquo;These politicians are playing populist propaganda to try and cast the blame for the financial crisis on anybody but themselves, and when it comes to France they are keen to blame the Anglo-Saxon banking system for all the woes of the world. But political grandstanding helps no-one.&rdquo;<br /><br />Jonathan Faull, a senior British civil servant, is expected to be named director-general of Barnier&rsquo;s department &ndash; but he was worked for the EU since 1978 and is widely seen as being at the heart of the Brussels system.