Europe: Cook warns EU of sacrifices ahead

In remarks which appear calculated to bring Britain even closer to the European political mainstream, Mr Cook said existing members of the EU would have to sacrifice "narrow national interests" for the goal of "a return to the Europe our grandparents knew".

The alternative would be to allow the divisions of the last 40 years to fester; to replace the Iron Curtain with "a Velvet Curtain separating the haves from the have-nots". Addressing the Hungarian Parliament at the start of a visit to prepare for the launch next year of EU membership negotiations with Hungary, Poland the Czech Republic, Estonia and Slovenia, the Foreign Secretary stressed the reforms which must be tackled by applicant states.

But equally, he said, the EU would have to confront its own problems, even if that entailed sacrifices. "Without reform, enlargement will remain beyond reach. And for reform to happen, we will all have to accept that our common interest in a modernised and expanded union outweighs narrow national interests".

The Foreign Secretary's remarks signal the Government's willingness to promote not only "Agenda 2000", the package of reforms to the EU's expensive agriculture and regional-development policies, but also a shake-up of the bloc's outdated decision-making machinery.

Limiting the size of the policy-steering Commission, and reweighting the votes of individual governments in the law-making Council of Ministers are both viewed as pre-conditions to enlargement but heads of government ducked them when they were negotiating the Treaty of Amsterdam last June.

Mr Cook's speech in Budapest was calculated to convey a message of complete and unequivocal British support for enlargement. The "prize" would be peace and stability but also the ability to tackle organised crime, drug- trafficking and pollution. It would also open up trade opportunities, with a free market stretching "from Budapest to Birmingham".

Enlargement to Eastern Europe was also the policy championed by the Conservatives, who saw widening Europe as an opportunity to stymie any further moves to federalism.

Mr Cook sought, however, to draw a clear distinction between the two approaches, stressing to Hungarian leaders that Britain under Labour stood a much better chance of being able to deliver. "As a result of having respect inside the European Union, we can be a more effective ally to our friends outside." The claim that Labour's "fresh start" with Britain's EU partners has been paying off in terms of influence appeared to have been successfully conveyed in Budapest. Gyula Horn, Hungary's Prime Minister, said he welcomed the new government's backing for enlargement "for its own sake and not merely to avoid deepening which was the attitude of its predecessor".

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Area Sales Manager - OTE £42,000

£28000 - £42000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: You will be joining a leading s...

SThree: Associate Recruitment Consultant -Engineering -Renewable Energy

£18000 - £23000 per annum + competitive: SThree: As an Associate Recruitment C...

Recruitment Genius: B2B Media Sales Professional - Work From Home

£20000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Enjoying rapid growth we contin...

Recruitment Genius: B2B Media Sales Professional - Work From Home

£20000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Enjoying rapid growth we contin...

Day In a Page

Seifeddine Rezgui: What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?

Making of a killer

What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?
UK Heatwave: Temperatures on the tube are going to exceed the legal limit for transporting cattle

Just when you thought your commute couldn't get any worse...

Heatwave will see temperatures on the Tube exceed legal limit for transporting cattle
Exclusive - The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Swapping Bucharest for London

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Meet the man who swapped Romania for the UK in a bid to provide for his family, only to discover that the home he left behind wasn't quite what it seemed
Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

Solar power will help bring down electricity prices over the next five years, according to a new report. But it’s cheap imports of ‘dirty power’ that will lower them the most
Katy Perry prevented from buying California convent for $14.5m after nuns sell to local businesswoman instead

No grace of God for Katy Perry as sisters act to stop her buying convent

Archdiocese sues nuns who turned down star’s $14.5m because they don’t approve of her
Ajmer: The ancient Indian metropolis chosen to be a 'smart city' where residents would just be happy to have power and running water

Residents just want water and power in a city chosen to be a ‘smart’ metropolis

The Indian Government has launched an ambitious plan to transform 100 of its crumbling cities
Michael Fassbender in 'Macbeth': The Scottish play on film, from Welles to Cheggers

Something wicked?

Films of Macbeth don’t always end well - just ask Orson Welles... and Keith Chegwin
10 best sun creams for body

10 best sun creams for body

Make sure you’re protected from head to toe in the heatwave
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - Milos Raonic has ability to get to the top but he must learn to handle pressure in big games

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon files

Milos Raonic has ability to get to the top but he must learn to handle pressure in big games
Women's World Cup 2015: How England's semi-final success could do wonders for both sexes

There is more than a shiny trophy to be won by England’s World Cup women

The success of the decidedly non-famous females wearing the Three Lions could do wonders for a ‘man’s game’ riddled with cynicism and greed
How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth: Would people co-operate to face down a global peril?

How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth

Would people cooperate to face a global peril?
Just one day to find €1.6bn: Greece edges nearer euro exit

One day to find €1.6bn

Greece is edging inexorably towards an exit from the euro
New 'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could help surgeons and firefighters, say scientists

'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could become reality

Holographic projections would provide extra information on objects in a person's visual field in real time
Sugary drinks 'are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year'

Sugary drinks are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year

The drinks that should be eliminated from people's diets
Pride of Place: Historians map out untold LGBT histories of locations throughout UK

Historians map out untold LGBT histories

Public are being asked to help improve the map