» Wednesday, October 17, 2007


The Prime Minister’s Spokesman started by drawing attention to a letter the Prime Minister had written to the Portuguese Prime Minister, in his capacity as President of the European Union, copied to all other Heads of State. The main message of the letter was about the need to move on from an inward-looking institution debate and start focusing all our efforts on the real issues facing Europe around economic growth, jobs, the environment and security.

Asked on a scale of one to ten how important the Prime Minister thought the Treaty was, the PMS said that he would not want to put a number on it; as the Prime Minister said in his letter, the Treaty is important in ensuring that the EU can function effectively. But as he also said, we have now had a long period of internal institutional debate and it was now time to move on from that.

Asked if the Prime Minister regarded the Treaty negotiations as getting in the way of priorities or if the list of priorities was something which would be achieved as the result of negotiations, the PMS said that the Prime Minister thought that it was clearly necessary to amend the Treaty as a result of enlargement. Once that process was concluded it would be time to move on and start focusing all of our efforts, not on internal inward-looking institutional issues that have consumed a lot of the EU’s energy in recent months and years, but on the issues that matter to real people.

Asked if the Prime Minister’s view was that there had been enough tinkering with the Treaty, the PMS said the Prime Minister had made clear that we had had a fairly long period of internal debate on these matters and we needed to get down to the nuts and bolts of economic reform in Europe in order to address some of the big issues around growth, jobs, the environment and security.

Asked if that meant the Prime Minister did not share the views of President Sarkozy re strengthening the EU, the PMS said it was not for him to interpret what President Sarkozy said. He went on to say that the Prime Minister has a great deal of respect for President Sarkozy, has worked very closely with him and would continue to work very closely with him. All leaders acknowledged that it was important that Europe was seen to be addressing issues that mattered to real people.

Asked if the Prime Minister thought that there were areas of the Free Trade Agenda where Europe should take a more protective stance, the PMS said that he did not want to comment on the details of specific negotiations, but as a general principal the Prime Minister thought that free trade was a good thing and he was in favour of open markets.

Asked if there would be discussions on Friday morning at the EU Summit re competing visions of globalisation in the EU, the PMS said that he would not characterise it in those terms, but clearly we would anticipate a discussion, which we expected would happen on Friday subject to details of the Treaty being finalised, about the general issue of how Europe responds to the challenges of Globalisation. The Prime Minister was setting out some of the issues today in that debate, which he thought should be focused on.

Put that the Prime Minister’s letter to President Barroso was written to be provocative in Paris, the PMS replied not at all; it was written in order to set out the Prime Minister’s views ahead of the Summit.

Asked if the Prime Minister was sticking to his thoughts about enlargement re Turkey, the PMS said the Government’s position on Turkey was well established and unchanged.

Put that the French Presidency was talking about trying to revive EU peacekeeping activities and asked if this was in reference to Africa, the PMS said that people should not read too much into particular references in this letter about peacekeeping.

Asked if the subject of Burma would be raised at the Summit, the PMS said that there had been a long discussion about issues relating to Burma at the Foreign Minister’s meeting on Monday and that that was the main substantive discussion.

original source.

Briefing took place at 16:45 | Search for related news

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