LONDON, March 12 President Nicolas Sarkozy of
France accused Washington on Friday of setting the wrong example
on protectionism, suggesting there had not been a level playing
field in the race for a $50 billion refuelling plane contract.
U.S. defence contractor Northrop Grumman and its European
partner EADS withdrew on Monday from a renewed competition to
supply tankers to the U.S. Air Force, saying the rules favoured
rival bidder Boeing, the top U.S. exporter.
Boeing is now the sole known bidder for the contract.
Asked what he thought of the issue during a joint press
conference with British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, Sarkozy
delivered a scathing attack on how the United States had handled
"I did not appreciate this decision ... This is not the
right way to behave," Sarkozy said.
"Such methods by the United States are not good for its
European allies, and such methods are not good for the United
States, a great, leading nation with which we are on close and
friendly terms," he said.
"If they want to be heard in the fight against
protectionism, they should not set the example of
For EADS EAD.PA, the parent company of the Airbus
plane-maker, the stand-down was a setback in a major push to
pierce the lucrative U.S. military market.
Northrop and EADS won the last competition in February 2008,
but the Pentagon cancelled that deal after government auditors
upheld a protest by Boeing.
(Reporting by Emmanuel Jarry, Adrian Croft and Estelle
Shirbon; Editing by Jon Hemming)