» Wednesday, October 19, 2005

EU Informal Summit

Asked about the informal summit, the PMOS said that it was about putting bones on the Prime Minister’s June speech about the future of Europe in terms of facing the challenge of globalisation and economic reform. What it was not about was future financing. That would be discussed at the December summit. There was no desire that we had detected around Europe to debate future financing at the informal summit. That would be a matter for the December Council. Asked if any leaders would be arriving by water, the PMOS that he was not aware of any plans to do so. Asked if there were no plans to discuss financing how could they discuss CAP, the PMOS that they were not going to discuss it. The important thing for the informal summit was that Europe faced up to the broader issues before it faced up to the particular issues. The broader issues were how you met the challenge of globalisation. How you met the challenge from India and China. How you met the challenge of giving people the relevant skills for the era of globalisation. You had to get a consensus about how you approached these challenges before you dealt with the nitty-gritty of how you implemented that in terms of EU budget. People had a tendency in this country to start with the rebate and interpret everything from that perspective. It was better in fact to put the horse before the cart.

In response to the suggestion that President Barroso was planning to put forward his budget proposals in the next few days to start the debate ahead of the informal summit, the PMOS said President Barroso was equally aware that Hampton Court was about the general economic reform package and not about the budget. There was no misunderstanding between the UK Presidency and the Commission on that point. Asked if there was any fear that this could be seen as Europe being stalled, the PMOS said that what you would see at Hampton Court was a growing consensus that how we responded to the issue of globalisation was an issue we needed to respond to with urgency. We were not pretending that this was the first time that Europe had addressed these issues, but as the Prime Minister had said in June the problem was not that Europe had not recognised the issues before but that it had not implemented its decisions on them. It was this that we wanted to address. The Commission would have its own ideas on those issues that would form a backdrop to the debate at Hampton Court.

Asked whether Angela Merkel’s views were going to be considered even though Chancellor Schroeder would be representing Germany, the PMOS said that he was not sure whether that we had been told definitively who would be representing Germany. However, as journalists knew, the Prime Minister had spoken to Angela Merkel in recent weeks and no doubt he would do so in the future as well. We were in discussion with not just the present German Government but the new one as well. As such we would be keeping abreast of their views and keeping them informed of the discussion.

Briefing took place at 9:00 | Search for related news

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