|Author (Person)||Abbott, Dennis|
|Series Title||European Voice|
|Series Details||Vol.8, No.21, 30.5.02, p7|
THE Convention is more likely to back a Europe based on nation states than a federal system with the European Commission as its centre of gravity, says Peter Hain, the UK's minister for Europe.
He believes that his view is shared by most of the Convention membership - and especially representatives of those countries bidding to join the EU in 2004.
The UK position, which is shared by France, was underlined during a private dinner at Downing Street between Tony Blair and the Convention chairman, Valéry Giscard d'Estaing, on Monday - their second meeting in less than two months.
Hain, giving evidence to the House of Lords' European Union select committee, said: 'Giscard...knows that he has in the Convention a great majority of states, I would say with the exception of two or three at most, that are totally opposed to the superstate idea. They want inter-governmentalism to be the foundation of the European Union. They want a strong Commission, yes, and they want an influential Parliament, yes, but they do not want a persistent competence creep upwards.'
Hain said he had found it 'heartening' to discover during his recent visits to EU candidate countries that most backed the inter-governmentalist approach.
Added Hain: 'The ten that are likely to have concluded negotiations by the Copenhagen Council in December and the other three, that is to say Romania, Bulgaria and Turkey...also present at the Convention, have only recently got their independence and their hard-won nationhood and they are not in the business of giving it up a little over ten years after getting it to some kind of Brussels-dominated federal superstate.
'They are very much for the British agenda - our ideas for Council reform, for a more effective Commission...for making sure the competencies reflect a proper distribution between the European and the national and, for that matter, the regional level.'
Hain said he did not expect German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder to make much progress with his call for an EU-wide system of taxation, which is also backed by Romano Prodi, the Commission president.
The minister added that he was confident Giscard would build a consensus in the Convention and that he had been struck by how closely the former French president listened to Blair.
The Convention on the Future of Europe is more likely to back a Europe based on nation states than a federal system with the European Commission at its centre, says Peter Hain, the UK's minister for Europe.
|Subject Categories||Politics and International Relations|