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European Commissioner Michel Barnier hit back at the EU Commission president on Tuesday for describing French defence of Europe's film and TV industries as "reactionary".
Barnier, a former French agriculture minister, broke ranks to counter the remarks by Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso, saying that the protectionist policy, widely known as the French cultural exception, was the fight of the future.
Barnier, responsible for the EU internal market, hit back after after Barroso slammed France for insisting on protecting cultural diversity in upcoming talks between the EU and the United States on creating the world's largest free-trade area.
"When one defends cultural diversity, one is not reactionary, one is in a fight for the future," Barnier said, adding that however closing markets, or jobs was reactionary.
Without naming France, Barroso had said in an interview with the International Herald Tribune that those fearful of a US cultural invasion of Europe "have an anti-cultural agenda".
"Some say they belong to the left, but in fact they are culturally extremely reactionary," the president of the European Commission said.
EU officials have repeatedly warned that excluding any economic sector could hand the US an early bargaining chip in what promise to be tough negotiations.
Washington says no areas should be excluded from the talks.