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Cablegate: Michel Barnier Outlines Goals As New French Minister Of

VZCZCXRO6256
RR RUEHAG RUEHDF RUEHIK RUEHLZ RUEHROV
DE RUEHFR #2746 1771608
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 261608Z JUN 07
FM AMEMBASSY PARIS
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 8504
RUEHRC/USDA FAS WASHDC
INFO RUCNMEM/EU MEMBER STATES
RUEHMRE/AMCONSUL MARSEILLE 1804
RUEHSR/AMCONSUL STRASBOURG 0442
RUEHGV/USMISSION GENEVA 2698
RUEHBS/AMEMBASSY BRUSSELS 6335

UNCLAS PARIS 002746

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

BRUSSELS PASS USEU FOR AGMINCOUNSELOR
STATE FOR EBB; OES; EUR/ERA;
STATE PASS USTR FOR MURPHY; MOWRY/SANFORD;
USDA/OS/JOHANNS/TERPSTRA;
USDA/FAS FOR OA/YOST/JACKSON/ROSADO;
OCRA/CURTIS/ALEXANDER;
ONA/RIEMENSCHNEIDER/YOUNG; STA/SIMMONS/JONES/HENNEY
OFSO/LEE/YOUNG;
USDA/RMA FOR CALLAN
EU POSTS PASS TO AGRICULTURE AND ECON
GENEVA FOR USTR, ALSO AGRICULTURE

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: EAGR ETRD PGOV WTRO EUN FR PINR

SUBJECT: MICHEL BARNIER OUTLINES GOALS AS NEW FRENCH MINISTER OF
AGRICULTURE, INITIATES BIOTECH DIALOGUE

REF: (A) 2007 PARIS 2642; (B) 2007 PARIS 1448

1. SUMMARY: THE NEW FRENCH MINISTER OF AGRICULTURE MICHEL BARNIER
(REFTEL A) DELIVERED HIS FIRST OFFICIAL SPEECH AT THE YOUNG FRENCH
FARMERS' UNION ANNUAL CONFERENCE IN EPINAL ON JUNE 21. BARNIER
ASSURED THE AUDIENCE THAT HE WILL DEFEND THE COMMON AGRICULTURAL
POLICY, WILL ADVOCATE AN INCREASE IN FRANCE'S DEVELOPMENT OF
BIOFUELS AND MAINTAIN A HARDLINE ON DOHA NEGOTIATIONS. FINALLY, HE
ANNOUNCED THE CREATION OF A HIGH COUNCIL OF BIOTECHNOLOGY TO ADDRESS
THE SENSITIVE BIOTECH ISSUE. END SUMMARY


2. BARNIER APPEARED BEFORE A LARGE AGRICULTURAL GATHERING LESS THAN
48 HOURS AFTER HIS NOMINATION AS MINISTER OF AGRICULTURE AND
FISHERIES. HE BEGAN BY ACKNOWLEDGING CONCERNS ABOUT THE MINISTRY OF
AGRICULTURE BUDGET, WHERE SEVERAL THOUSAND RETIRING EMPLOYEES WILL
NOT BE REPLACED IN 2008. MOVING TO EUROPEAN ISSUES, HE EMPHASIZED
HIS AIM TO REINFORCE THE HARMONIZATION OF EUROPEAN RULES,
SPECIFICALLY SANITARY AND PHYTOSANITARY REQUIREMENTS. CONCERNING
THE 2008 HEALTH CHECK OF THE COMMON AGRICULTURAL POLICY (A SIMPLE
EVALUATION OF THE 2003 REFORM IN HIS WORDS), HE CALLED ON FRENCH
FARMERS TO INCREASE THEIR DIALOGUE WITH EUROPEAN COUNTERPARTS TO
INCREASE FRANCE'S INFLUENCE WITHIN EUROPE. IN HIS VIEW, THE FUTURE
CAP SHOULD BE MORE SUSTAINABLE. HE ALSO MENTIONED NEW TOOLS SUCH AS
INSURANCE AS A MEANS TO SUPPORT AGRICULTURE IN THE FUTURE.

3. BARNIER REASSURED THE FRENCH FARMERS AUDIENCE OF FRANCE'S
"HARDLINE" STANCE IN THE WTO NEGOTIATIONS. NOTE: AT THE TIME OF THE
SPEECH, THE FAILURE OF THE POTSDAM TALKS HAD NOT BEEN MADE PUBLIC -
END NOTE. HE SAID THAT HE WILL NOT BE COMPLACENT WITH PASCAL LAMY,
HIS FORMER COLLEAGUE AT THE EU COMMISSION, STATING "THE EUROPEAN
UNION SHOULD BE OPEN, NOT OFFERED."

4. BARNIER HIGHLIGHTED FRANCE'S GROWING BIOFUEL PROGRAMS AND
PROMISED TO INVIGORATE THEM, WITH THE CAVEAT THAT HE WILL ENSURE
THEY DO NOT COMPETE WITH FOOD OR FEED PRODUCTION. HE SAID THAT MORE
MONEY WILL BE SPENT ON R&D ON NEW BIOFUELS DEVELOPMENTS SUCH AS
CELLULOSIC BIOFUELS.

5. IN CONTRAST TO PREVIOUS SPEECHES BY FRENCH MINISTERS OF
AGRICULTURE, BARNIER EXPLICITLY ADDRESSED THE BIOTECH ISSUE. NOTE:
PRIOR TO HIS NOMINATION, BARNIER WAS ON THE BOARD OF THE FRENCH
MEDICAL AND BIOTECHNOLOGY COMPANY, MERIEU -END NOTE. HE INTRODUCED
THE SUBJECT BY LINKING TRADITIONAL PLANT BREEDING TO MASTERING DNA
MUTATIONS, SAYING THAT FRANCE MUST REMAIN ACTIVE AND TRANSPARENT IN
THIS SCIENTIFIC EVOLUTION. HOWEVER, HE EMPHASIZED, THAT AS A
POLITICAL LEADER, HE MUST TAKE INTO ACCOUNT CONSUMER CONCERNS.. TO
ACHIEVE THIS, HE ANNOUNCED THE CREATION OF A HIGH COUNCIL ON
BIOTECHNOLOGY, WHICH WILL UNDERTAKE A PUBLIC DIALOGUE ON GMOS. NOTE:
SUCH A HIGH COUNCIL WAS PROVIDED FOR IN THE BIOTECH BILL, WHICH WAS
PASSED BY THE FRENCH SENATE IN MARCH 2006 BUT NOT BY THE NATIONAL
ASSEMBLY (REFTEL B). FAS PARIS CONTACTS SUGGEST THAT THIS LAW MAY
GO TO THE NATIONAL ASSEMBLY IN THE LATE AUTUMN, AFTER A LARGE FRENCH
ENVIRONMENTAL CONFERENCE. END NOTE

5. COMMENT: MOST FARM ORGANIZATIONS AND FARM LEADERS ARE PLEASED
WITH THE NOMINATION OF BARNIER. HIS SPEECH IN EPINAL WAS WIDELY
APPLAUDED. FARM LEADERS BELIEVE THAT HIS STRONG EUROPEAN BACKGROUND
(REFTEL A) WILL STRENGTHEN FRANCE'S POSITION AT THE EU LEVEL. THEY
DO HOWEVER FEAR THAT, DUE TO HIS PREVIOUS POSITION AS MINISTER OF
ENVIRONMENT, HE MIGHT IMPOSE MORE STRINGENT ENVIRONMENTAL RULES ON
AGRICULTURAL PRODUCTION.

6. ON BIOTECH, WHERE THE CORN FARMERS ARE RAPIDLY EXPANDING
PRODUCTION, AND THE REGULATORY COMMUNITY TENDS TO TAKE A REASONED,
SCIENCE-BASED APPROACH, THE MAIN DETERRENT IS PUBLIC OPINION.
MINISTER BARNIER, IN INITIATING A PUBLIC DIALOGUE, COULD HELP
PROVIDE THE PUBLIC WITH OBJECTIVE INFORMATION THAT MAY COUNTER
BALANCE THE MISINFORMATION DISSEMINATED BY ANTI-BIOTECH ACTIVISTS.
HERETOFORE, THE FRENCH GOVERNMENT HAS NOT ATTEMPTED TO TACKLE THIS
PROBLEM. END COMMENT.

STAPLETON

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