France leads thrust for tighter EU links

In a move which bodes ill for Britain, France yesterday attacked plans for new power- sharing in Europe, saying that they were "feeble" and did not go nearly far enough.

As Malcolm Rifkind, the Foreign Secretary, told his European partners that Britain would oppose an end to frontier checks and harmonisation of criminal justice policy, Herve de Charette, the French Foreign Minister, demanded far tougher common measures.

"France will not accept a treaty which is so feeble," Mr de Charette said. "Do we want to take our responsibility together in Europe - yes or no?"

Germany also indicated yesterday that it would like the proposals to be toughened up. Next Monday, at a Franco-German summit, more hard-line ideas are likely to be set out which look certain to deepen John Major's isolation at the Dublin summit where the treaty will be discussed next week.

The French attack came just 24 hours after publication of a draft text, by the Irish presidency of the European Union, which now forms the basis for negotiations on how to rewrite the Maastricht treaty in readiness for acceptance of new member states. In effect, the text maps out the path that Europe should take towards further integration in the next century. The overall tone of the proposals is federal and, in some places radically so. But, in order to maintain a semblance of consensus the Irish drafters have left many sensitive issues open to discussion. It is the vagueness of the plans that has annoyed some member states.

At a meeting of foreign ministers in Brussels yesterday, the first to discuss the text, Mr Rifkind made it clear that Mr Major would oppose most of the plans at the Dublin summit next week. In particular, he will oppose far-reaching ideas for establishing a common home affairs and justice policy for the EU. A new British "opt out" in this area is clearly envisaged. Giving the community powers over immigration and asylum would be "positively damaging", Mr Rifkind said.

He also made it clear that Britain would oppose plans to give the Brussels institutions powers to make policy on job creation, which he described as "political". "They would not create a single job," he said.

Calls for the Western European Union, the EU's defence arm, to become part of the EU as its de facto army for peace-keeping missions would be opposed. And Britain would also block ideas for increasing the powers of the European parliament and reduction of the national veto. Mr Rifkind accused his partners of engaging in "splendid rhetoric" about "the moment of truth", but questioned what benefits their proposals would bring.

However, several countries - led by France, Spain and Germany - wanted the home affairs and justice plans strengthened to give Europe new joint weapons in the fight against drug trafficking, terrorism and illegal immigration. In Dublin, Mr Major will have to explain why maintaining British "sovereignty" in these areas is more important than what Mr de Charette spoke of as Europe's mission to counter the "menace of terrorism and organised crime".

Life and Style
The Google Doodle celebrating the start of the first day of autumn, 2014.
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black and Ed Stoppard as her manager Brian Epstein
tvCilla Episode 2 review: Grit under the glamour in part two of biopic series starring Sheridan Smith
Sport
David Moyes and Louis van Gaal
football
News
Former Governor of Alaska Sarah Palin, left, with her daughter, Bristol
newsShe's 'proud' of eldest daughter, who 'punched host in the face'
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Sport
New Zealand fly-half Aaron Cruden pictured in The Zookeeper's Son on a late-night drinking session
rugby
News
A cabin crew member photographed the devastation after one flight
news
Life and Style
Carol O'Brien, whose son Rob suffered many years of depression
healthOne mother's story of how London charity Maytree helped her son with his depression
Life and Style
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
The cover of Dark Side of the Moon
musicCan 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition? See for yourself
News
Rob Merrick's Lobby Journalists were playing Ed Balls' Labour Party MPs. The match is an annual event which takes place ahead of the opening of the party conference
newsRob Merrick insistes 'Ed will be hurting much more than me'
Voices
A new app has been launched that enables people to have a cuddle from a stranger
voicesMaybe the new app will make it more normal to reach out to strangers
News
Liam Payne has attacked the media for reporting his tweet of support to Willie Robertson and the subsequent backlash from fans
peopleBut One Direction star insists he is not homophobic
Life and Style
healthFor Pure-O OCD sufferers this is a reality they live in
Life and Style
Sexual health charities have campaigned for the kits to be regulated
healthAmerican woman who did tells parents there is 'nothing to be afraid of'
Life and Style
fashion
Arts and Entertainment
The John Peel Lecture has previously been given by Pete Townshend of The Who, Billy Bragg and Charlotte Church
musicGodfather of punk will speak on 'free music in a capitalist society'
News
peopleAt least it's for a worthwhile cause
News
Shoppers in Covent Garden, London, celebrate after they were the first to buy the iPhone 6, released yesterday
tech
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

Pharmaceutical Computer System Validation Specialist

£300 - £350 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Pharmaceutical Computer ...

High Level Teaching Assistant (HTLA)

£70 - £90 per day: Randstad Education Birmingham: Higher Level Teaching Assist...

Teaching Assistant

£50 - £80 per day: Randstad Education Birmingham: Randstad Education is the UK...

Senior Java Developer - API's / Webservices - XML, XSLT

£400 - £450 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client is currently ...

Day In a Page

A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments