SAINT-VULBAS, France (AP) -- French President Nicolas Sarkozy on Thursday said his government's planned aid for the auto industry is not protectionist and called for a coordinated European plan for the industry.
Six European nations are planning to help their car makers, and the EU said Wednesday it will take only "a couple of weeks" at most to decide if bailout plans can go ahead.
But France's plan -- which includes euro7 billion (US$8.95 billion) in soft loans for the PSA Peugeot Citroen and Renault SA -- has angered East European companies because it is conditional on no plant closures and no forced job cuts in France. Sarkozy had initially said he would like companies to shift production from low-wage nations back to France, but this was not among the official conditions.
"We were insulted by everyone," Sarkozy said on a visit to an auto parts supplier in the eastern town of Saint-Vulbas.
Now, he said, "everyone is doing the same thing."
Sarkozy said he would have liked to see an EU-wide plan, but lacking that "it is absolutely essential that there is coordination." He said he hopes EU leaders agree to a plan at a summit on Sunday.
The EU executive checks large state pay outs to make sure they do not give car makers an unfair edge over rivals elsewhere.
Global Insight auto analyst Tim Urquart said France's plan poses the "biggest obstacle" to the EU because of its requirement on jobs, which he said appears to have been relaxed.
"Both the regulators and national governments must now walk a tightrope between ensuring effective aid and staying within EU competition law," he said in a research note.
The recession is knocking the air out of Europe's car industry -- the world's largest -- which produces more than 18 million vehicles a year. About 12 million jobs depend on the sector, which saw car sales slump by 27 percent across Europe in January, with truck sales down 35 percent.
In the U.S., General Motors and Chrysler have asked for a total of $39 billion (euro30.5 billion), and have received $17.4 billion so far in loans and other aid.
Associated Press business writer Emma Vandore in Paris contributed to this report.