Business leaders condemn EC 'hijack'

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The Independent Online
GERMAN business launched a blistering attack on the European Commission yesterday, accusing it of protectionism and snatching power over foreign trade from member states.

In a letter to Chancellor Helmut Kohl, the heads of Germany's trade, industry, retail and wholesale associations accused the Commission of highjacking German trade policy.

'It is trying at present to extend its authority for imposing anti- dumping tariffs, invoking protection clauses and fixing quotas to such an extent that in future it will be able to decide not only about provisional measures but also about final measures of this nature', the letter said.

The top business representatives told the Chancellor that 'such an increase in the powers of the Commission must in our view be prevented in all circumstances, at least as long as there is no real parliamentary control'. The letter was signed by the heads of the German Federation of Chambers of Commerce (DIHT), the Federation of German Industry (BDI) and the Retail and Wholesale Trade Associations.

The extraordinary outburst was prompted by the new EC regulations limiting the import of cheaper bananas from Latin America in favour of high-cost producers in the Community and former colonies of France and Britain.

Delegating protectionist powers to the Commission would create a dangerous precedent, the German business leaders said. 'Community trade policy would in practice be shaped by the Commission and determined by protectionist-oriented countries and special interest groups', they said.