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Europe D66 European Parliament

'Blair not credible as European leader'

   Fri 23/11/2001

“Giving a speech is one thing, having a policy is quite another” Euro MP Lousewies van der Laan said today on BBC ‘Newsnight’ in reaction to the Prime Minister’s Europe speech, “You can not argue in favour of Europe and at the same time pander to outdated stereotypes like 'excess bureaucracy and over-regulation'.” The speech is replete with contradictions which point to a lack of a real vision on Europe.

Dutch Liberal Democrat MEP Lousewies van der Laan is not impressed by the Prime Minister’s Europe speech held this morning in Birmingham. “The speech is full of contradictions and his actions do not correspond to his words."

On BBC 'Newsnight" she pointed to the recent dinner on Afghanistan at nr.10 Downing Street as an example of Blair's contradictions: "In his speech he talks about 'respecting the rights of small and large countries", when only three weeks ago he had a dinner with 3 large countries to which our Prime Minister, Wim Kok, had to invite himself. Unless his actions correspond to his words he is not very credible as a European leader."

Tony Blair analyses Britain's relationship with Europeas a catalogue of missed opportunities. "It is important that the Prime Minister recognizes this, but where was he 8 months ago when he negotiated the Treaty of Nice, which fails to make Europe more democratic and more accountable? Where nothing was undertaken to reform the costly Common Agricultural Policy he complains about."

The Prime Minister's solution - "strenghtening national parliamentary control" - is not only a vote of no confidence in the current Labour MEP's, but also contradicts his support for the Treaties of Amsterdam and Nice, which both substantially increased the powers of the European Parliament. His call for a "Europe of nations" means more inter-governmentalism, i.e. more secret meetings of Council of ministers and less democracy and accountability.

"The Prime Mininster has gotten the tone right, but now he still needs to work on the substance" concludes van der Laan.