Brown hits out at Europe over trend towards protectionism

Gordon Brown launched an outspoken attack last night on the rising tide of protectionism across Europe, accusing its governments of blocking cross-border takeovers for reasons of economic patriotism.

The Chancellor also urged EU partners to accept the need for steeper cuts in farm subsidies as the way to strike a new deal on world trade that would deliver $300bn (£160bn) of economic growth. Both issues will be centre stage at meetings of EU finance ministers this week and of the G8 rich nations at the weekend.

Speaking to business leaders at a CBI dinner, Mr Brown said there had been a backlash against globalisation across Europe.

"In the last few months - as talk of national champions rather than global companies resurfaces - we have seen France block Italian takeovers, Italy block Dutch banking takeovers, Spain block German energy bids and Poland block Italian financial service bids," he said.

He said there was a "danger of a relapse into protectionism ... and economic patriotism" in Europe and Latin America. "What we must do is win the argument that is raging throughout the world showing that embracing globalisation, not retreating into protectionism, is the best way to growth, jobs and prosperity for all. At the G8 St Petersburg summit [on Saturday] I will call for world finance ministers to lead the debate about who benefits from globalisation."

He became the latest politician to compare the current rise in economic patriotism with the nationalism of the 1920s and 1930s that led to the rise of Fascism and the Second World War.

"Instead of moving out of depression, beggar-my-neighbour, head-in-the-sand protectionist policies deepened recession and set nation against nation," he said.

However, interviewed on BBC Radio yesterday, the Chancellor side-stepped questions about his view of a takeover of Centrica, the UK gas company, by Gazprom of Russia. "I think with Gazprom there are questions about politics as well as economics," he said. In February, the UK Government said any Gazprom bid would come under "robust scrutiny" after reports it was considering an offer.

Russia's role in supplying the European gas market will also be discussed at the G8 meeting. The Chancellor said he would also use the summit to demand a timetable for the completion of the stalled trade talks. Countries such as France and Germany must agree to steeper cuts in the common agricultural policy budget that experts see as a block to a trade deal, he said.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Arts and Entertainment
filmPoldark production team claims innocence of viewers' ab frenzy
Life and Style
Google marks the 81st anniversary of the Loch Ness Monster's most famous photograph
techIt's the 81st anniversary of THAT iconic photograph
News
Katie Hopkins makes a living out of courting controversy
people
News
General Election
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Guru Careers: Pricing Analyst

£30 - 35k (DOE): Guru Careers: We are seeking a Pricing Analyst with experienc...

Ashdown Group: Treasury Assistant - Accounts Assistant - London, Old Street

£24000 - £26000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, glo...

Ashdown Group: Sales Team Leader - Wakefield, West Yorkshire

£21000 - £24000 per annum: Ashdown Group: The Ashdown Group has been engaged b...

Ashdown Group: Head of Client Services - City of London, Old Street

£45000 - £50000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, int...

Day In a Page

Revealed: Why Mohammed Emwazi chose the 'safe option' of fighting for Isis, rather than following his friends to al-Shabaab in Somalia

Why Mohammed Emwazi chose Isis

His friends were betrayed and killed by al-Shabaab
'The solution can never be to impassively watch on while desperate people drown'
An open letter to David Cameron: Building fortress Europe has had deadly results

Open letter to David Cameron

Building the walls of fortress Europe has had deadly results
Tory candidates' tweets not as 'spontaneous' as they seem - you don't say!

You don't say!

Tory candidates' election tweets not as 'spontaneous' as they appear
Mubi: Netflix for people who want to stop just watching trash

So what is Mubi?

Netflix for people who want to stop just watching trash all the time
The impossible job: how to follow Kevin Spacey?

The hardest job in theatre?

How to follow Kevin Spacey
Armenian genocide: To continue to deny the truth of this mass human cruelty is close to a criminal lie

Armenian genocide and the 'good Turks'

To continue to deny the truth of this mass human cruelty is close to a criminal lie
Lou Reed: The truth about the singer's upbringing beyond the biographers' and memoirists' myths

'Lou needed care, but what he got was ECT'

The truth about the singer's upbringing beyond
Migrant boat disaster: This human tragedy has been brewing for four years and EU states can't say they were not warned

This human tragedy has been brewing for years

EU states can't say they were not warned
Women's sportswear: From tackling a marathon to a jog in the park, the right kit can help

Women's sportswear

From tackling a marathon to a jog in the park, the right kit can help
Hillary Clinton's outfits will be as important as her policies in her presidential bid

Clinton's clothes

Like it or not, her outfits will be as important as her policies
NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

The wars that come back to haunt us

David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders