Luxembourg ambassador solution for troubled EU is compromise

news: Luxembourg ambassador solution for troubled EU is compromise

LUXEMBOURG’S AMBASSADOR to Portugal believes the European Union will continue, despite the recent crises rocking the core member states. Speaking at his embassy’s annual summer garden party last week, Alain De Muyser admitted to The Resident that the Union was “in trouble”, but said there was “no going back”.

The ambassador said that Europe needed to discuss Plan D (economic flexibility and social protection, regulation and opening up to world markets) as well as Plan B (Plan Blair – reform) and Plan C (Plan Chirac – tariff-based protectionism). He spoke as Luxembourg ended its rotational six-month presidency of the EU, in which he described his country’s role as that of “honest broker”, in what had become “a battlefield for national interests”.

De Muyser said that the spirit of the Lisbon Agreement signed in 2000, when Portugal headed the presidency, was “still valid, alive and kicking”, despite the initial forecasts that Europe would catch up with the US “taking longer than anticipated”.

The ambassador also stated that France and Holland’s decision not to ratify the EU Constitution in referenda held by those two countries was disappointing and revealed the public’s concern at the lack of transparency within the EU. However, he said the public needed to understand that too much transparency wasn’t good either and that a balance had to be struck between telling the public everything and telling the public nothing.

He said that, during his country’s presidency, the EU had successfully adopted the Statute for Members of the European Union Parliament, “the culmination of a long process and a great deal of work”.

“The EU is suffering from some trouble at the moment, but there’s no going back and these problems have made clear that individual countries have their own agendas and its pointless trying to deny it,” he said. “Overall, Europe is moving forward as it has been for 50 years, but, of course, there needs to be some political compromise, particularly on financial issues. Ministers need to be more transparent, democratic and efficient, but that doesn’t mean revealing everything.”

Luxembourg itself is due to go to the polls on July 10 in a referendum, despite an EU agreement to extend the deadline for ratification of the EU Constitution.

During its presidency, Luxembourg debated the new System of Trade Preferences for 2006-2008, focusing on poor and developing countries most in need, including those hit by the tsunami last December. An integral part of this system is to support developing countries and reduce poverty by encouraging them to generate revenue through international trade.

European Union Commissioner, Durão Barroso, has also called for a serious debate about Turkey’s membership bid for the EU, saying that the country’s bid was partly responsible for voters in France and Holland rejecting the EU Constitution. The future of the Constitution was thrown into doubt after both Holland and France voted ‘No’.

Sweden, Finland, Portugal, the United Kingdom, Denmark, Ireland and the Czech Republic have now postponed their own efforts to ratify the Treaty. Luxembourg’s Prime Minster, Jean-Claude Juncker, has said he will resign if his country rejects the Constitution on July 10.

Last week, UK Prime Minister, Tony Blair, whose country takes over the presidency of the EU from Luxembourg this month, said the EU was “facing a crisis in political leadership and must change to win back public support”. Barroso also said that consensus was “vital to avoid paralysis in this decisive moment in the EU’s history”.

Last week, further division opened up within the EU’s core members, after the UK refused to give up its annual three billion euro refund from the EU budget, unless there were reforms to farm subsidies. He said that spending 40 per cent of the EU’s total budget on farm subsidies was “too high”. Blair, addressing the EU Parliament, also added fuel to the fire by saying: “I do not think Europe quite realises the competition challenge it faces from countries like China and India.”

Germany’s Chancellor, Gerhard Schröder, has blamed both the UK and Holland for the gravest crisis in the EU’s history. He said it was a shame that the 10 new EU member states had offered to cut their EU income to reach a deal when they were much poorer and talked about a profound crisis in Europe. Chris Graeme