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Blair says EU must modernize or lose out

On the eve of a summit meeting aimed at healing Europe's ideological divisions, Prime Minister Tony Blair of Britain called Wednesday for a transformation of the European Union's economic approach and warned critics that Europe needed to embrace globalization if it wanted "to put the EU back together again."

The speech to the European Parliament in Strasbourg was greeted equally with heckles and applause, suggesting the difficulties Blair will face Thursday when he plays host to an informal summit meeting in Hampton Court, near London, aimed at reviving Europe's stagnating economies and reconciling political differences.

"A summit to relaunch a paralyzed Europe has been downgraded to a friendly chat," said Monica Frassoni, co-leader of the Greens in the European Parliament.

Blair's speech marked a sharp contrast to a fiery speech he made to Parliament in June when Britain assumed the rotating six-month EU presidency, when his calls for radical reform were greeted with rapture in Parliament.

But Wednesday, Blair inspired a generally muted response. Lawmakers came to life only when the prime minister made a quip about Hampton Court, the location of the summit Thursday and the former residence of Henry VIII.

"As Henry VIII said to his wives, I won't keep you long," Blair said.

Analysts said Blair was trying to show humility at a time when Europe's ideological rifts are widening.

"He is trying to lower expectations ahead of the summit," said Charles Grant, director of the Center for European Reform, a London-based think-tank.

Even his biggest supporters were cautious.

by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Oct 27th, 2005 at 03:22:00 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I am impressed by the change in tone in the commentary before and after that speech

  • before, it was "Europe is failing, Blair will explain how it can be (as) successful (as Britain)

  • after, Blair is "humble", "surprisingly pro-European", talking about topics dear to the French, i.e. making "real efforts" at finding a compromise

What a brilliant game of managing expectations. If no deal is struck, it will the fault of those obstructive, self-doubting, embittered French; if one is struck, it will be thanks to Blair's brilliant diplomacy; and any deal is likely to be closer to Balir's initial positions after the bombardment kindly provided by the media...

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Thu Oct 27th, 2005 at 04:33:48 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Given what Henry VIII did to some of his wives, if I was a MEP, I wouldn't be reassured...

"Dieu se rit des hommes qui se plaignent des conséquences alors qu'ils en chérissent les causes" Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet
by Melanchthon on Thu Oct 27th, 2005 at 06:08:55 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Is
the Center for European Reform, a London-based think-tank
PNAC 1 1/2 ?

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Oct 27th, 2005 at 06:18:48 AM EST
[ Parent ]
From their website:
The Centre for European Reform is a think-tank devoted to reforming the European Union. It is a forum for people with ideas to discuss the many social, political and economic challenges facing Europe. It seeks to work with similar bodies in other European countries, in North America and elsewhere in the world.

The Centre for European Reform is pro-European but not uncritical. It regards European integration as largely beneficial but recognises that in many respects the Union does not work well. The CER therefore aims to promote new ideas and policies for reforming the European Union.

The Centre for European Reform makes a point of bringing together people from the worlds of politics and business. Most of our meetings and seminars are by invitation only, to ensure a high level of debate.
The conclusions of our research and seminars are reflected in our publications, as well as in the private papers and briefings that senior officials, ministers and commissioners ask us to provide. The CER's work is funded by donations from the private sector. It has never received money from governments or EU institutions.

As an independent organisation, the CER has published work by people from parties across the political spectrum.



A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Oct 27th, 2005 at 06:40:23 AM EST
[ Parent ]

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