» Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Europe – Joint Briefing between London and Brussels

European Parliament and the Informal meeting at Hampton Court

The PMOS set out how the Prime Minister viewed his visit to the European Parliament tomorrow. It was important to set this in the context of our presidency as a whole. In June the Prime Minister had set out his positive vision of why and how he believed Europe had to be meet the challenge of globalisation. Modernizing the European social model. Tomorrow was in many ways a report back on what he had been doing since June, mapping out how we saw the next two months, which would be a hard two months and why we needed to move to the next stage in that two months.

To be clear, since June we had been involved in probably one of the most intensive dialogues between a presidency and the European Commission, as well as our European partners. The aim was to make the vision set out in June a reality. The Prime Minister for instance has met President Barroso half a dozen times since June. We have discussed it with out partners and the Commission has had meetings and discussions as well with a wide range of people. As a result, the Commission, last week, set out their thinking about how we met the challenge of globalisation in a paper, and he would urge anyone who was covering European issues to read that paper. The Prime Minister believed that the globalisation paper would set the agenda for the informal summit because it identified the areas we needed to prioritise if we were to respond to the charge of globalisation. These areas included R&D: Higher Education, particularly universities; Energy; Demographics.

What we hoped to achieve at Hampton Court was an overall strategic consensus on the direction for Europe and use that consensus to shape the hard work over the next few months. That work would be filling in the specifics of the overall strategy and working up to the December summit where we hoped to reach a deal on future financing and clear the outstanding dossiers as well. This was obviously a very ambitions agenda and we made no bones about that. It would require a lot of clear thinking and a lot of determination from the EU as a whole. To help that vision come to fruition, the Prime Minister had commissioned a series of academic papers dealing with issues such as education, R&D, energy and migration which we would publish tomorrow. These were papers from academics which he hoped would help stimulate debate. They were not necessarily papers with which we agreed with every dot and comma in them or every proposal in them, but we believed it was important that there should be a debate, that the work over the next couple of months should be shaped by real, clear thinking about how we met the challenge of globalisation. The aim was to turn the vision of June into a reality which would then result in practical steps within the EU.

Asked what sort of work the Prime Minister would be doing over the next two months, the PMOS said he would be doing whatever was necessary to reach an agreement and achieve our objectives. Those objectives were to turn the vision in to reality, to try and reach a future financing deal and to try clear the outstanding dossiers. The Prime Minister had said that he would try to talk to each of the heads of government. That might be through meetings at events such as the EU med Summit after Chogm or it might be by phone call. Whatever way was necessary to build consensus we would do. Clearly officials would be heavily involved. Clearly also the Foreign Secretary would be involved as would the FCO.

Briefing took place at 17:00 | Search for related news

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