Britain slams EU fast-track strategy
Tuesday 21 January 1997
David Davis, Minister for European Union, made clear at a meeting in Brussels that if other countries wanted to pool powers without the rest, the go-ahead must be given by all member-states. The European Union was "not a franchise operation" he said, adding that the institutions of union were the "common property of all". His comments put Britain at loggerheads with the French and German foreign ministers, who spoke out together in favour of majority voting on issues of flexible power-sharing.
"The key point is more majority decisions," said Klaus Kinkel, the German Foreign Minister. "We cannot get stuck. The European motor must not stall. It must keep running, and France and Germany must march side-by-side."
The ministers were speaking after the EU's first substantial discussions on how "flexible" decision-making might work. Flexibility, which would allow some countries to integrate without all member-states, is now viewed as the key to a more workable union.
It has become the most contentious issue on the table of the Inter-Governmental Conference on EU reform, as the talks enter the final haul before the EU summit in Amsterdam in June. In recent weeks John Major has taken a conciliatory line on flexibility, suggesting to European partners that Britain is not opposed to creation of a multi-speed Europe, which would allow Britain to opt out of policies it does not favour.
But Britain appears to have been taken aback by the way in which other member-states - particularly France and Germany - intend to use flexibility to push for deeper power- sharing in areas ranging from defence and immigration to taxation and monetary union.
Yesterday Mr Davis said the Franco-German ideas on flexibility were an attempt to "by-pass" the veto and that was "not acceptable". He said a "majority" of other member-states were expected to support the British position on flexibility.
If other countries were pushed by the British veto into power-sharing outside the treaty, this would not threaten Britain, he said.
British obstruction on flexibility was not the only cause of unease among EU leaders yesterday, as more evidence appeared of concern about progress towards economic and monetary union. Hans Tietmeyer, the Bundesbank president, criticised Europe's political leadership for failing to win the public round to the euro, saying they had been too ready to blame economic problems on the Maastricht treaty.
In an interview with the International Herald Tribune yesterday Mr Tietmeyer blamed European countries, including Germany, for faltering economically because they had failed to react quickly enough to the rising power of Asia, the growth of Eastern Europe and revival of the US.
Mr Tietmeyer repeated a call for strict interpretation of the Maastricht treaty when Europe's leaders decide early in 1998 which countries qualify for EMU. "The treaty is the treaty, and if politicians stick to that, then we will have to select the countries in a restrictive way," he said.
Fracking is turning the US into a bigger oil producer than Saudi Arabia
Missing Malaysia Airlines plane: Details emerge of two young Iranians using stolen passports in search for a better life
Three-quarters of Britons are saying it wrong - the top ten most common mispronunciations
Oscar Pistorius trial: Forensic analyst says athlete 'was not wearing prosthetic legs' when he smashed locked toilet door with a bat
Missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370: ‘Alright, good night’ – last words from cockpit revealed amid growing confusion
Britain's top vet sparks controversy with call for ban on slashing animals' throats in 'ritual' slaughters for halal and kosher meat products
Katie Hopkins continues campaign to become Britain's most hated talking head with poorly timed Bob Crow tweet
Exclusive: Impact of immigrants on British workers ‘negligible’
No EU referendum under Labour: Ed Miliband to reveal that vote on membership is ‘unlikely’ in next Parliament if party wins power
Grace Dent: Who cares if she spells it Barraco Barner? Gemma Worrall is more employable than some bookish arts graduate
Ukraine crisis: Russia pledges to 'retaliate against sanctions' as Ukrainian president says Crimea vote will not be recognised
- 1 Hells of residence: Inside Macedonia's horrifying student accommodation - where the walls are green and the food is black
- 2 First Kiss video: Filmmaker gets 20 strangers to make out on YouTube with awkward results
- 3 Grace Dent: Who cares if she spells it Barraco Barner? Gemma Worrall is more employable than some bookish arts graduate
- 4 Rampaging elephant smashes up house but then 'saves crying baby trapped under debris'
- 5 Ian Wright breaks down in ITV documentary charting his rise to Arsenal and England striker
£20,000 to £25,000: IT Connections Ltd: Graduate C / C++ Developer / Electroni...
£25,000 to £35,000: IT Connections Ltd: C / C++ Software Engineer / Windows / ...
£50,000 to £60,000: IT Connections Ltd: C++ / Java / Senior Software Developer...
£23500 - £50000 per annum: Randstad Education Plymouth: Randstad Education is...