Clinton endorses EU eastward extension

Fifty years after the Marshall Plan, US pledges support but not cash

Invoking the spirit of the Marshall Plan, the massive United States aid programme for post-war Europe, Bill Clinton yesterday called for a new drive to secure a united Europe with swift enlargement to the east.

Speaking in the Hague, at a ceremony to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Marshall plan, the US President said: "We have a second chance to complete the job that Marshall and his generation began."

Mr Clinton also used the occasion to endorse the European Union's latest moves towards deeper integration, saying that integration was "good for Europe, for the US and therefore for the world".

Coming just two months before the EU launches the first stage of eastwards enlargement, by pronouncing on the readiness of would-be member states to join, Mr Clinton's words will be taken as strong encouragement by eastern and central European states. However, the day-long celebrations were marked by elaborate symbolism and visions of grand design, rather than substance or pledges of Marshall-style money.

Mr Clinton said: "We cannot simply say to the countries of central and eastern Europe we want you to develop democracy and economic prosperity - and good luck." But he also stressed that European aid to eastern Europe must come from further private investment, and political support in building democracy.

Wim Kok, Prime Minister of the Netherlands, which holds the EU presidency, said as much as $100bn could be needed simply to build the infrastructure in prospective eastern European members in readiness for union. He proposed a Euro-Atlantic conference later this year to promote ways of channelling private funds towards such projects. "It is only because of the sheer magnitude of these needs, that most of the money will have to come from pri- vate investment," Mr Kok said.

The gathering at The Hague came the day after the US President and other European leaders had joined in equally momentous speech-making at the signing of a new security pact between Nato and Russia in Paris. Picking up the Paris themes of partnership and unity, they yesterday asserted that what the Nato-Russia pact had achieved for security, they were determined to achieve now on an economic level.

Much was said about "summoning the spirit of the Marshall plan", and Mr Clinton, in particular, emphasised how the European Union institutions of today had in many ways sprung from way the Marshall programme encouraged European countries to co-operate.

In the evening Mr Clinton unveiled a statue of General George Marshall in Rotterdam, the Dutch city flattened during the war and rebuilt into the world's busiest port with the help of Marshall funds.

"The Marshall Plan offered a cure not a crutch. It was never a hand-out, it was always a hand up ... The European nations grabbed that lifeline, cooperating as never before with a common programme of recovery," he said.

Asked whether his support for continued European integration extended to backing economic and monetary union, Mr Clinton again invoked the Marshall approach, by saying it was up to Europeans to further their integration. "The United States does give clear support to integration - we are not only not threatened by it, we are excited by it and support it. But it is up to you to do it and with your own timetable," he said.

President Clinton and Europe's leaders, who avoided mention of current EU-US trade disputes and signed instead new small-scale trade agreements, spoke of the need to maintain strong US-EU ties.

"Today I affirm to the people of Europe - as George Marshall did - America stands with you. We have learned the lessons of history. We will not walk away."

However, Mr Clinton's emphasis on the US bequest to Europe of peace and prosperity may well have caused irritation in some capitals, particular Paris, where trans-Atlanticism is not always a favourite theme. Jacques Chirac, the French President, was absent from yesterday's ceremony, no doubt pre-occupied by the elections.

Tony Blair, the Prime Minister, also stayed away, sending John Prescott, Deputy Prime Minister in his place. Mr Blair will have his own private meetings with Mr Clinton in London which the latter visits today.

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Life and Style
life
Arts and Entertainment
Cold case: Aaron McCusker and Christopher Eccleston in ‘Fortitude’
tvReview: Sky Atlantic's ambitious new series Fortitude has begun with a feature-length special
Voices
Three people wearing masks depicting Ed Miliband, David Cameron and Nick Clegg
voicesPolitics is in the gutter – but there is an alternative, says Nigel Farage
Voices
The veterans Mark Hayward, Hugh Thompson and Sean Staines (back) with Grayson Perry (front left) and Evgeny Lebedev
charity appealMaverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
News
i100
News
people
Sport
Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho
footballThe more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Life and Style
Vote green: Benoit Berenger at The Duke of Cambridge in London's Islington
food + drinkBanishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turn over a new leaf
News
Joel Grey (left) poses next to a poster featuring his character in the film
peopleActor Joel Grey comes out at 82
News
i100
News
business
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

Ashdown Group: Marketing & Sales Manager

£40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A reputable organisation within the leisure i...

Tradewind Recruitment: Science Teacher

£90 - £140 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: I am currently working in partnersh...

Recruitment Genius: Doctors - Dubai - High "Tax Free" Earnings

£96000 - £200000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Looking for a better earning p...

Recruitment Genius: PHP Developer

£32000 - £36000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A rapidly expanding company in ...

Day In a Page

Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

Isis hostage crisis

The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

Cabbage is king again

Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
11 best winter skin treats

Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

Paul Scholes column

The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

Frank Warren's Ringside

No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee