The European Union made noises last year about having the WTO verify that the U.S. auto industry assistance package doesn't violate any international trade rules. Now French President Nicolas Sarkozy has said he will ask the World Trade Organization to stick their hands into the matter.

Critics suggest that this could be a diversionary tactic – Sarkozy himself was accused of violating trade rules with his proposed assistance to Renault and PSA Peugeot/Citroen. Or it could be a way to see if both the proposed French and U.S. proposals will pass the WTO test. Either way, Sarkozy and other European heads of state will meet to plan a Europe-wide response to the auto industry situation, as the E.U. continues to mull whether to bring a formal appeal to the WTO regarding the United States' bailout package.

[Source: Automotive News Europe, sub req'd. | Image: Eric Feferberg/AFP/Getty]