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Fear of protectionism rattles in Europe

BRUSSELS, Feb. 11 (UPI) -- European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso said the European Union should defend itself from the potential threat of protectionism.

"We need to coordinate our response to protect the single market from protectionism, even from the inside," Barroso said this week, the EU Observer reported Wednesday.

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A cry of isolating trade policies was sounded earlier this week with the Czech Republic and Sweden concerned over French government's proposals to help its automotive industry.

"I am convinced that the internal market is the long-term instrument that will help us overcome the crisis," said Czech Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek.

Sweden has said it was "very worried" about the French proposals.

On Tuesday, the commission asked France to explain its proposals, the Observer reported.

Protectionism fear also surfaced after refinery workers in Britain suddenly struck over the importation of foreign labor at a construction project.

"Small businesses are increasingly concerned by the new wave of protectionism that has hit Europe in the last weeks and made its way into a number of national economic recovery programs," said Andrea Benassi, secretary general of UEAPME, a small business group.

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"Reverting to nationalism is a short-sighted and irresponsible choice," he said.

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