EU crisis an opportunity for change, ministers say

27th June 2005, Comments 0 comments

27 June 2005, WARSAW - Senior ministers from European Union power houses Germany and Britain agreed on Monday in Warsaw the crisis now plaguing the European Union was an opportunity for much-needed change. Great Britain's Minister of State for Europe Douglas Alexander insisted reform of the E.U. budget was necessary to rev-up the bloc's competitiveness. In line with British Prime Minister Tony Blair's recent comments outlining the priorities of Britain's upcoming six-month stint as E.U. president, Alexande

27 June 2005

WARSAW - Senior ministers from European Union power houses Germany and Britain agreed on Monday in Warsaw the crisis now plaguing the European Union was an opportunity for much-needed change.

Great Britain's Minister of State for Europe Douglas Alexander insisted reform of the E.U. budget was necessary to rev-up the bloc's competitiveness.

In line with British Prime Minister Tony Blair's recent comments outlining the priorities of Britain's upcoming six-month stint as E.U. president, Alexander pointed to spending reform to invigorate competitiveness and the labour market as a top priority.

Britain takes up the E.U.'s rotating presidency on July 1 and has insisted on tackling the controversial issue of cutting spending on farm subsidies that now gobble up some 40 per cent of its annual budget. French and German farmers derive most benefit from the payments.

Germany's Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer said the bloc "must" and "will go forward" and agreed a "melting" of subsidies over time was necessary.

Meanwhile French Foreign Minister Phillipe Douste-Blazy vowed France was firmly behind the E.U.'s further eastward enlargement. Bulgaria and Romania plan to join the 25-member bloc in 2007.

Analysts note that France's recent 'no' to the bloc's proposed constitution was to some degree a backlash against last year's entry of 10 new poor members in the east.

Poland's Foreign Minister Adam Daniel Rotfeld said E.U. newcomer Poland could act as a motor for further integration at a time when the bloc is threatened with disintegration over the failure to reach a compromise on 2007-13 spending plans and the French and Dutch vetoes of the proposed constitution.

Fearing failure in referenda planned in other member states, E.U. leaders have since shelved the document pending further debate.

Fischer, Alexander and Douste-Blazy were in Warsaw on Monday for the beginning of Poland's five-day-long annual ambassadors' council gathering the foreign diplomatic corps accredited to Warsaw.

DPA

Subject: German news

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