Germany wants faster progress towards a federalist Europe
Saturday 13 May 2000
Germany is pulling away from Britain and moving closer to France again as it seeks to build a federalist Europe, the German Foreign Minister, Joschka Fischer, signalled yesterday.
In a speech certain to provoke the ire of Eurosceptics in Britain, Mr Fischer was outlining his vision of a two-speed Europe, with an exclusive club of states bound by a common government at its core. Countries reluctant to proceed with the pace set by the group would find themselves in a second division, excluded from decisions.
Mr Fischer said the European Union's unwieldy structure and the crisis of the euro had thrown up a multitude of questions, to which there was one answer: "The transition from a union of states to full parliamentarisation... And that means nothing less than a European Parliament and a European government which really do exercise legislative and executive power within the Federation." Aware of the resonance of the "f-word" in the British context, Mr Fischer apologised to "our friends in the United Kingdom".
"I know that the term 'federation' irritates many Britons," he added. "But to date I have been unable to come up with another word. We do not wish to irritate anyone." Irate Eurosceptics will nevertheless seize on his statement as evidence of German ambition to abolish national sovereignty. Britain took a lead three years ago in opposing Franco-German ideas for a two-speed Europe, and now Germany clearly wants to go beyond that.
Mr Fischer spoke of a "centre of gravity" formed perhaps by the countries that have agreed to join monetary union. This group would form a common parliament and elect a president. Membership of this club would be open to all EU states, but they would have to fulfil entrance criteria.
He stressed he was merely expressing his "personal opinion", but his speech echoes efforts by his government to revive the Franco-German axis.
Realising that Britain continues to be hampered by its ambivalent attitude to monetary union, Berlin feels compelled to work more closely with Paris on the next stage of EU reforms. A set of joint proposals is expected to be tabled at the next EU summit.
As Voltaire once said, “Ice cream is exquisite. What a pity it isn’t illegal”
- 1 Mother fed her daughter tapeworms to make her skinny for beauty pageant
- 2 Crystal Palace next manager latest: Palace consider Ally McCoist - EXCLUSIVE
- 3 Richard Dawkins on babies with Down Syndrome: 'Abort it and try again – it would be immoral to bring it into the world'
- 4 ALS ice bucket challenge co-founder Corey Griffin drowns, aged 27
- 5 Tim Sherwood column: 'It started as a three-horse race but turned into the Grand National'
'Alien thigh bone' on Mars: Excitement from alien hunters at 'evidence' of extraterrestrial life
West poised to join forces with Assad in face of Islamic State
Pamela Anderson rejects ice bucket challenge because of ALS experiments on animals: 'Mice had holes drilled into their skulls'
James Foley 'beheaded': Isis video shows militant with British accent 'execute US journalist' – as hunt begins for killer
ALS ice bucket challenge co-founder Corey Griffin drowns, aged 27
Richard Dawkins on babies with Down Syndrome: 'Abort it and try again – it would be immoral to bring it into the world'
Scottish independence: English people overwhelmingly want Scotland to stay in the UK
Isis threat: Cameron wants an alliance with Iran
Michael Brown shooting: Chaos erupts on the streets of Ferguson after autopsy shows teenager was shot six times – twice in the head
Bin bag full of cats' heads discovered near Manchester's Curry Mile
Disgusting, frustrating, but intriguing: how the country really feels about its politicians
£50000 - £60000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Network Engineer - CCNP, Hedge Fu...
£60000 - £70000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Senior Network Engineer-CCIE, Mul...
£30000 - £50000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Network Infrastructure Engineer (...
£35000 - £45000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Network Engineer (CCNP, BGP, Mult...