Kinnock in row on EMU timing

Single currency: Commissioner breaks ranks to demand debate over timetable and enlargement



Neil Kinnock was at the centre of a political storm in Brussels yesterday after he questioned two of the EU's most firmly entrenched aims. In a private speech, the Transport Commissioner and former Labour leader questioned whether Europe will be ready for a single currency on time, and said he doubted whether the European Union should be rushing towards accepting new members in the East

Mr Kinnock was yesterday summoned to explain himself to the Commission President, Jacques Santer. When he made the speech, Mr Kinnock underlined that he was speaking as an individual, not on behalf of the Commission. "I stress that these are the views of a Commissoner and not the views of the Commisson, indeed in many respects I acknowledge that I may currently be in a minority."

But the speech raised hackles within the European commission as it appears to breach the collective responsibility of the EU's executive bureaucracy, and challenges a fundamental tenet of policy.

Speaking to business managers in Bracknell on Friday, Mr Kinnock said that "the prospect of monetary union (not in 1999 by the way, that is still unrealistic in my view, just as 1997 has been) should not, of course, be approached fatalistically."

Mr Kinnock also said the timetable for enlargement was "unrealistic" and gave the EU's neighbours false hopes. The expansion process should be slowed down, he said, and the EU should offer far more help to its east neighbours in preparing for eventual membership. The West ought to take the approach to the East that was taken towards the war-ruined economies of Europe in the 1940s and 1950s.

Aides say that the former Labour leader has become frustrated by the lack of realism which pervades some Brussels policy-making. The comments may also echo the more sceptical line on Europe which the Labour Party has been expressing in recent weeks.

Mr Kinnock called for a "real debate" on the costs and risks of the changeover to a single currency and suggested the economic criteria for joining, set out in the Maastricht treaty, should be extended. Each country's record on employment, investment and productivity ought to be taken into account, he said, in addition to the economic and monetary criteria currently required.

The Labour Party, which is taking a cautious line on European integration ahead of the next election, will have read Mr Kinnock's comments with interest. Tony Blair, the Labour leader, maintains close contact with Mr Kinnock, although a Labour spokeswoman made clear yesterday there had been no consultation between them before the speech. Labour has made no commitment to go ahead with monetary union in 1999, should it win the next election, saying the decision should be taken nearer the time. Although Labour supports moves towards enlargement, it accepts the process could take time.

Mr Kinnock said it would ultimately be in Britain's interests to join a single currency. "The choice will be between membership of a monetary union and domination by a monetary union," he said. He attacked people who were "foaming at the mouth over 'losing the Queen's head' or 'conceding monetary power' ".

But Mr Kinnock said he believed his views would become "conventional" within the relatively near future.

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
i100 In this video, the late actor Leonard Nimoy explains how he decided to use the gesture for his character
Robert De Niro has walked off the set of Edge of Darkness
news The Godfather Part II actor has an estimated wealth of over $200m
Arts and Entertainment
Fearne Cotton is leaving Radio 1 after a decade
radio The popular DJ is leaving for 'family and new adventures'
Robbie Savage will not face a driving ban
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Life and Style
Nearly half of all young people in middle and high income countries were putting themselves at risk of tinnitus and, in extreme cases, irreversible hearing loss
health Nearly half of all young people in middle and high income countries are at risk of tinnitus
It was only when he left his post Tony Blair's director of communications that Alastair Campbell has published books
people The most notorious spin doctor in UK politics has reinvented himself
Arts and Entertainment
arts + ents
Life and Style
Arts and Entertainment
James Franco and Zachary Quinto in ‘I Am Michael’
filmJustin Kelly's latest film tells the story of a man who 'healed' his homosexuality and turned to God
Arts and Entertainment
Public Service Broadcasting are going it alone
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Sauce Recruitment: Retail Planning Manager - Home Entertainment UK

salary equal to £40K pro-rata: Sauce Recruitment: Are you available to start a...

Ashdown Group: Front-End Developer - London - up to £40,000

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Creative Front-End Developer - Claph...

Recruitment Genius: Product Quality Assurance Technologist - Hardline & Electric

£18000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The role in this successful eco...

Ashdown Group: QA Tester - London - £30,000

£28000 - £30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: QA Tester - London - £30,000 QA Tes...

Day In a Page

HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

Time to play God

Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

MacGyver returns, but with a difference

Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

Tunnel renaissance

Why cities are hiding roads underground
'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

Boys to men

The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

Crufts 2015

Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
10 best projectors

How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

Monaco: the making of Wenger

Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

Homage or plagiarism?

'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review
A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower: inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

Inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower