Hain to sit on EU working convention

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Indy Politics

Peter Hain, the minister for Europe, was appointed to a high-powered inquiry into the future of the European Union last night in an attempt to enhance Britain's influence over its outcome.

The decision is a U-turn by the Government, which said last month it would not send a minister to sit on the convention, which will draw up proposals for a new governing treaty for the EU.

Mr Hain's appointment ends speculation that the former cabinet minister Peter Mandelson would land the job. Mr Mandelson was on a Downing Street shortlist that also included the Labour MP David Miliband, who served on an EU working party last year.

Government sources said the main reason for appointing Mr Hain was that other EU countries were sending the Europe minister to sit on the convention. They said Mr Hain enjoyed a good working relationship with his French and Dutch counterparts.

Jack Straw, the Foreign Secretary, said: "It is essential that the British Government's views are heard. As Europe minister, Peter is the right man to put across Britain's views on Europe's future."

Mr Hain said: "The convention will allow the EU to consider its successes and to develop practical ideas as to how it might overcome its shortcomings. It will help us build Britain's view of Europe; focused on delivery, not process."