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EU single market chief Thierry Breton ticked off member states for hoarding food and medicines. The Frenchman said the European Commission could sue Bulgaria for controlling the sale of “meat, fish, fresh meat, eggs, honey, fruits and vegetables”. He told MEPs the Brussels-based executive would act with “zero tolerance” against countries deemed to be disregarding the bloc’s single market.
Mr Breton said: “I am still concerned by more recent measures introduced by member states on foodstuffs and medication.
“This is not acceptable, and the Commission will not hesitate to act.
“We will have a zero tolerance policy on these types of protectionist measures – there is no room for this within our single market.”
The EU commissioner criticised previous decisions by member states who threw up barriers to prevent the trade of protective equipment at the start of the coronavirus outbreak.
Mr Breton said he has worked with 18 member states to lift at least 30 different restrictive measures.
He added: “Those restrictions, which are most problematic on personal protective equipment, have now been lifted.”
The eurocrat’s effort to bulk up the bloc’s single market have, however, created tensions at the top of the Brussels decision-making process.
Last month, trade commissioner Phil Hogan hit out at claims, made by both Mr Breton and French President Emmanuel Macron, that the EU should become self-sufficient.
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Mr Hogan said: “Strategic autonomy does not mean that we should aim for self-sufficiency.
“Given the complexity of supply chains to the European Union, this would be an unattainable goal… we have to look at how to build resilience based on how we can diversify, not be totally reliant on one geographical entity for supplies of everything.”
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Mr Breton has previously claimed “globalisation has gone too far”, while Mr Macron said offshoring has become “unsustainable” and the bloc should regain its industrial sovereignty.
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and her European Council counterpart Charles Michel have said there was a “pressing need to produce critical goods in Europe, to invest in strategic value chains and reduce over-dependency on third countries in these areas”.
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