After Nicholas Sarkozy appeared to indicate that it was ‘business as usual’ in French agricultural policy, the appointment of Christine Lagarde as farm minister gives a ray of hope. Named as the 30th most powerful woman in the world by Forbes in 2006, she was formerly trade minister.
She was formerly chief of a big American law firm. Although she has been careful to say that agriculture would continue to have a ‘strategic’ role, Ms Lagarde also said that France could continue its position of ‘intransigence’ for ever. Perhaps she can use her skills as a synchronised swimming champion to move the debate on CAP forward.
3 Replies to “New French farm minister: a ray of hope for reform?”
Last Friday I had lunch with a senior French civil servant working in the Agriculture Ministry (he was once an adviser on agriculture to the Prime Minister). He said that the first meeting newly elected President Sarkozy had at 10am the day after the election was with the leading French farm union, the FNSEA. He also said that the FNSEA had known about Lagarde’s appointment a full week before it was announced. What significance this has for President Sarkozy’s fuure conduct of farm policy remains to be seen. He does not know the subject in as much detail as Chirac did, and so at least we’ll be spared the humiliations suffered by Tony Blair and Gerhard Schroeder, who were both comprehensively outmanoevered in successive EU heads of government negotiations.
This is very interesting. It is difficult to fathom out what is going on, but I may find out more on a visit to Paris at the end of the month. Lagarde may, of course, follow a not unknown French line of giving primacy to big grain interests. Certainly she seems unwilling to give ground in the Doha Round.
Sarkozy seems to be keen to take on labour reform as his priority and perhaps views the agricultural lobby as a fight that he doesn’t need to pick right now.
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