He has a reputation for being tough but fair and practical, and is a passionate free trader. In the past, as competition commissioner, he opposed state aid to French industry and this brought him into conflict with Paris. As a result he has had to work hard to persuade France he has its best interests at heart. His success is based on the fact that, deep-down, Paris respected his ability to pull off a deal, and the US knew it could therefore trust him to deliver what he promised. He is known to have ambitions to replace Jacques Delors as President of the European Commission next year: Gatt can only enhance them.