Page last updated at 08:48 GMT, Tuesday, 8 July 2008 09:48 UK

I'm not to be bullied - Mandelson

EU trade chief Peter Mandelson
Mr Mandelson sees free trade as the way to strengthen the global economy

EU Trade Commissioner Peter Mandelson has told the BBC he is "not to be bullied" by French President Nicholas Sarkozy, in a row over free trade.

Mr Sarkozy has accused him of trying to sell out European farmers, while Mr Mandelson says his position at world trade talks has been undermined.

Mr Mandelson told the BBC he did not start the row but: "I stood up for myself, I'm not to be bullied."

He said he believed the row was over but renewed warnings on protectionism.

Mr Mandelson will lead the EU delegation at World Trade Organisation meetings this month - previous negotiations have stalled over disagreements about subsidies for farmers in the West.

Mr Sarkozy, who currently holds the rotating EU presidency, has accused Mr Mandelson of trying to force a trade deal on the EU that would destroy European jobs.

He also appeared to blame his handling of the Doha round of trade talks for the "no" vote in the Irish referendum on the Lisbon treaty.

But asked about the row Mr Mandelson told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "I think it is over, I think everyone recognises that this is not about individual personalities.

"I mean President Sarkozy, like all European heads of government, will recognise that we want the world to enter a new era of freer trade of fewer barriers between countries, that's what we need."

He said Mr Sarkozy was subject to "domestic political pressures" to protect French agriculture and business, but was right to say others had to "step up to the table" to make the trade talks successful.


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