Germans say action must follow words

Britain is under mounting pressure to offer further concessions on Europe to clear the way for a new EU constitution at the Amsterdam summit in four weeks. The Prime Minister, Tony Blair, will be presented with a detailed list of demands when he meets fellow EU heads of government for the first time in Noordwijk on Friday.

The new government's "fresh start" on Europe was welcomed at the first meeting between Foreign Secretary Robin Cook and EU colleagues in The Hague yesterday but Germany made it clear it now wants action to match the Europe-friendly rhetoric.

Warning that Amsterdam would be a "night of the long knives", Klaus Kinkel, the German foreign minister, said Britain must go even further. The government's olive branches, which include pledges to sign up to the social chapter and surrendering the national veto over limited areas represent a huge reversal of Tory policy but Bonn is holding out for more power sharing on defence and an ambitious plan to pool sovereignty on justice and home affairs. "The British have moved, but there are obviously still points where it would be nice if they moved even further," Mr Kinkel said.

Reflecting Germany's wish to inject fresh impetus into the treaty negotiations, he warned that key reforms to how the EU operates remain to be negotiated and a breakthrough will require eleventh-hour trade-offs. Mr Cook sought the understanding of colleagues for Britain's insistence on retaining border controls and passport checks on EU citizens entering the UK and its rejection of moves to give Brussels legislative power over internal security, strictly a matter for loose co-operation between the capitals up to now.

He stressed the extent to which Britain has already demonstrated its pro-Europe credentials by embracing the social chapter, a controversial employment chapter to be incorporated into the new treaty, qualified majority voting in four areas new powers for the European Parliament and a generally constructive tone.

But new draft-treaty texts tabled by the Dutch EU presidency yesterday outline demands which Mr Blair will have little option but to block unless he can forge strong alliances in advance of what one diplomat described as the "final big poker session".

They effectively exclude Britain from decision-making on such matters as immigration and visa policy if it opts out of proposals to create a passport-free travel zone for EU citizens within five years. The proposals would give new powers to the European Commission and the European Court over such questions for the first time in response to German and French demands for an effective policy to combat organised crime.

According to the Dutch plans, which are backed by Germany and France, member- states would enjoy no right of veto over immigration policy decision after three years of the new treaty taking effect.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
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

Austen Lloyd: Commercial Property Lawyer - Cheshire

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: CHESHIRE MARKET TOWN - An exciting and rare o...

Austen Lloyd: Residential Property Solicitor - Hampshire

Excellent Salary : Austen Lloyd: NORTH HAMPSHIRE - SENIOR POSITION - An exciti...

Recruitment Genius: Gas Installation Engineer

£29000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Gas Installation Engineer is required ...

Recruitment Genius: Domestic Gas Technical Surveyor

£28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Domestic Gas Technical Surveyor is req...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Drifting and forgotten - turning lives around for ex-soldiers

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Turning lives around for ex-soldiers

Our partner charities help veterans on the brink – and get them back on their feet
Tove Jansson's Moominland: What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?

Escape to Moominland

What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?
Nightclubbing with Richard Young: The story behind his latest book of celebrity photographs

24-Hour party person

Photographer Richard Young has been snapping celebrities at play for 40 years. As his latest book is released, he reveals that it wasn’t all fun and games
Michelle Obama's school dinners: America’s children have a message for the First Lady

A taste for rebellion

US children have started an online protest against Michelle Obama’s drive for healthy school meals by posting photos of their lunches
Colouring books for adults: How the French are going crazy for Crayolas

Colouring books for adults

How the French are going crazy for Crayolas
Jack Thorne's play 'Hope': What would you do as a local politician faced with an impossible choice of cuts?

What would you do as a local politician faced with an impossible choice of cuts?

Playwright Jack Thorne's latest work 'Hope' poses the question to audiences
Ed Harcourt on Romeo Beckham and life as a court composer at Burberry

Call me Ed Mozart

Paloma Faith, Lana del Ray... Romeo Beckham. Ed Harcourt has proved that he can write for them all. But it took a personal crisis to turn him from indie star to writer-for-hire
10 best stocking fillers for foodies

Festive treats: 10 best stocking fillers for foodies

From boozy milk to wasabi, give the food-lover in your life some extra-special, unusual treats to wake up to on Christmas morning
'I have an age of attraction that starts as low as four': How do you deal with a paedophile who has never committed a crime?

'I am a paedophile'

Is our approach to sex offenders helping to create more victims?
How bad do you have to be to lose a Home Office contract?

How bad do you have to be to lose a Home Office contract?

Serco given Yarl’s Wood immigration contract despite ‘vast failings’
Green Party on the march in Bristol: From a lost deposit to victory

From a lost deposit to victory

Green Party on the march in Bristol
Putting the grot right into Santa's grotto

Winter blunderlands

Putting the grot into grotto
'It just came to us, why not do it naked?' London's first nude free runner captured in breathtaking images across capital

'It just came to us, why not do it naked?'

London's first nude free runner captured in breathtaking images across capital
In a world of Saudi bullying, right-wing Israeli ministers and the twilight of Obama, Iran is looking like a possible policeman of the Gulf

Iran is shifting from pariah to possible future policeman of the Gulf

Robert Fisk on our crisis with Iran
The young are the new poor: A third of young people pushed into poverty

The young are the new poor

Sharp increase in the number of under-25s living in poverty