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France defends EU recovery plan after far-left, right broadsides

PARIS (Reuters) - France’s foreign minister dismissed accusations by far-right and far-left parties in the country that President Emmanuel Macron had struck an EU economic recovery deal that sold Paris short, saying it was “historic” and showed European solidarity.

FILE PHOTO: Jean-Yves Le Drian, French Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs, attends the questions to the government session at the National Assembly in Paris, France, July 8, 2020. REUTERS/Gonzalo Fuentes

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

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

The agreement, struck after four days of tough negotiations in Brussels, paves the way for the European Commission, the EU’s executive, to raise billions of euros on capital markets on behalf of all 27 states, an unprecedented act of solidarity in almost seven decades of European integration.

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

The deal was met with immediate derision from French far-right and far-left parties.

“Macron has just signed the worst deal 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,” National Rally leader Marine Le Pen said on Twitter.

Those comments where echoed by Jean-Luc Melenchon, head of the far-left La France Insoumise (France Unbowed).

“Macron has given in to everything: contribution discounts to tight-fisted countries, spending controls, the reduction in the amount of the recovery plan, etc...Spare us the propaganda!” he said.

(This story has been refiled to add foreign minister’s first name in paragraph 2).

Reporting by John Irish; Editing by Mark Heinrich