French presidential hopeful wants EU protectionism

PARIS, June 7 (Reuters) – French Socialist presidential hopeful Segolene Royal called on Tuesday for Europe to impose protectionist measures to support its industries.

Royal, who lost to President Nicolas Sarkozy in a 2007 presidential run-off, trails left-wing rivals in opinion polls and is seen as unlikely to clinch the Socialist nomination for April’s election despite her popularity among younger voters.

But her stance on issues such as repealing a pension reform passed by Sarkozy’s government have helped colour the debate within the Socialist party, which leads the ruling conservative UMP party in opinion polls.

“We need protectionist politics, with common rules on a European level,” said Royal in an interview with L’Express.

“Let’s put up selective barriers for industries facing (competition from) countries where labour is 20 times cheaper or environmental norms are non-existent,” she said.

Royal has previously called for a price cap on an array of basic consumer goods.

“Globalisation must be controlled so there is a win-win and rich countries change their development style and allow for that of the poorest countries,” she said.

The Socialists are scrambling to appeal to voters following the arrest last month of former IMF chief and former Socialist finance minister Dominique Strauss-Kahn.

Strauss-Kahn led polls for the 2012 race before he was detained on charges of attempting to rape a New York hotel maid.