» Wednesday, May 10, 2006

European Union

Put that it sounded as if the Prime Minister was "pretty desperate to lay claim to ownership" to something that was going to happen anyway, the PMOS replied that first of all, the Prime Minister was the person who made the speech in Europe, and even at the time, people remarked that it was going to change the agenda in Europe. What our EU Presidency showed was that it had changed the agenda, and the question people asked in June was: very good speech, but was it just rhetoric? The PMOS said that the EU Commission paper today showed that it was reality. What it also showed was the growing consensus that there was in Europe was on the agenda that we set out at Hampton Court on issues such as energy, which was not on the agenda before.

Asked was if it not the case that the new face of Europe policy was being fleshed out as a return to the EU constitution, the PMOS replied that it was not. The EU constitution was focused on institutions, and this was focused on delivery. As Chancellor Merkel said yesterday, on completing the single market as her number one priority, be it in terms of energy liberalisation or in creating a European energy grid which could only be of benefit in that it gave Europe much more bargaining power in the world energy market. The PMOS said it was also about bringing down protection barriers across Europe. All of those were things that we had been developing and arguing a case for for a long time. The coincidence of our Presidency with the circumstances that we found ourselves in June posed a big question mark for Europe, but it also gave us an opportunity to seize it and push the agenda forward. What today showed was that we had done so.

Asked if the Prime Minister thought that there was an opportunity now to reintroduce or redraft the constitution, the PMOS replied that the Prime Minister had been quite explicit about this since June, and he had not changed his view. What Europe needed to focus on before it went back to questions about the constitution was changing the context. By changing the context, it showed that Europe was delivering on practical terms for European citizens, rather than focusing on items such as the constitution.

Asked if the Prime Minister thought that the constitution was dead and should never be revisited, the PMOS replied that there were institutional issues which had to be addressed about how Europe with 25 worked, and the Prime Minister was quite open about that. What the Prime Minister also believed was that that should not be the first priority that was faced at the moment. The first priority, therefore, was to address issues such as energy liberalisation, economic reform, and how there could be greater co-operation on security to fight the terrorist threat.

Put that it had now been many months since the constitution was "killed off" and did the passage of time not suggest that a lot of institutional reform that was seen as essential for the proper running of an EU 25 was not necessary at all, the PMOS said anyone who had attended a European Council saw the problems of operating in an coherent way of Europe 25.

Asked if it was causing problems, the PMOS replied getting decisions made was not an easy process, therefore, at some point, those issues that be addressed. The PMOS said that if a consensus was formed about the way in which Europe had to change, then real change could be made in people’s priorities. The European Commission paper today said that.

Briefing took place at 10:00 | Search for related news

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