UPDATE 1-France defends EU stimulus package after broad far left and right sides


(Refiles to add the first name of the Minister of Foreign Affairs in paragraph 2)PARIS, July 21 (Reuters) – France’s Foreign Minister has dismissed accusations by the country’s far-right and far-left parties that President Emmanuel Macron had struck an EU economic stimulus deal that has sold Paris short, claiming it was solidarity.

“You call it failure. I call this a historic breakthrough, ”Jean-Yves Le Drian said on Tuesday, responding to a barrage of critical questions asked by lawmakers in parliament.

“It was normal to help Italy and Spain because they were the most affected by the crisis (COVID-19). Europe has found solidarity. ”

The deal, reached after four days of difficult negotiations in Brussels, paves the way for the European Commission, the EU executive, to raise billions of euros in capital markets on behalf of the 27 states, an act of solidarity unprecedented in nearly seven decades of European integration.

Macron acknowledged earlier on Tuesday that concessions had to be made to win over member states whose objections blocked a deal. But, he said, the concessions were proportionate and necessary to deliver a stimulus package big enough to be effective.

The deal sparked immediate derision from French far-right and far-left parties.

“Macron has just signed the worst agreement for France in the history of the EU! To protect his ego, he sacrifices our future and our independence: European taxes, abandonment of our agriculture, colossal financial commitment of the country ”, declared the leader of the National Rally Marine Le Pen on Twitter.

These words were echoed by Jean-Luc Mélenchon, leader of the far left La France Insoumise (France Unbowed).

“Macron has given in everything: the contribution discounts to tight countries, the control of spending, the reduction in the amount of the recovery plan, etc.… Spare us the propaganda! he said. (Report by John Irish edited by Mark Heinrich)

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