French minister accuses Barroso of fuelling far-right

French Industrial Renewal Minister Arnaud Montebourg on Sunday accused European Commission head Jose Manuel Barroso of fuelling the growth of the far right in France.

The attack came just days after the French government reacted furiously to Barroso's claim that France's bid to protect Europe's film and television industries from Hollywood dominance was "reactionary".

Montebourg said, "Barroso is the fuel of the National Front", the far-right party led by Marine Le Pen which scooped 6.4 million votes in the first round of last year's presidential elections.

"I believe that the main cause of the rise of the National Front is linked to the manner in which the EU puts considerable pressure on democratically elected governments," he told France Inter radio.

He said that the European Union was "paralysed".

"It does not respond to any aspirations of the people on the industrial front, on the economic front, on the budget front, and in the end that plays into the hands of all the... anti-Europe parties in the EU," said Montebourg.

Barroso's unusually strong criticism on Monday came after France held up agreement between the EU's 27 trade ministers on the terms of the Commission's mandate to negotiate a EU-US free trade deal.

He said 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," said Barroso.

President Francois Hollande said he simply did not believe that Barroso could have made the comment, while his culture minister branded the remarks as "absolutely lamentable".

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