EU must overcome 'national egoism': Rotfeld

27th June 2005, Comments 0 comments

WARSAW, June 27 (AFP) - The EU must overcome "national egoism" and listen to its people if it is to resolve a political crisis, the Polish foreign minister said on Monday as he met with his German and French counterparts.

WARSAW, June 27 (AFP) - The EU must overcome "national egoism" and listen to its people if it is to resolve a political crisis, the Polish foreign minister said on Monday as he met with his German and French counterparts.

"The opinions of ordinary citizens have been ignored by their leaders," Adam Rotfeld said bluntly, joined by German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer, who said the worries of Europeans over enlargement and globalization had to be seen and understood.

The comments to an annual gathering of Polish ambassadors in Warsaw came nearly a month after the French rejected the European constitution in a referendum. Three days later, the Dutch turned down the draft as well in a massive setback for the EU.

"National egoism is starting to take the place of the values that created the EU," Rotfeld told ambassadors, labelling the impasse a "political crisis, not an institutional one."

But while Fischer acknowledged the importance of listening to the voters, he argued that solutions can be found at the EU level and not just on a national basis.

"Concerning the challenges of globalisation, Europe is a solution, not a problem," Fischer said.

In a barb at Britain, which at a mid-June EU summit refused to abandon a budget rebate unless France agreed to reforming the EU's huge agricultural subsidies, French Foreign Minister Philippe Douste-Blazy said "everyone, especially Great Britain, has to take responsibility."

European Union enlargement will be a failure without the funding of community policies, he told reporters.

"The solidarity of the 25 (EU members) is a priority for France and for us three (Germany, France and Poland). Europe's spirit, ambition and vocation is to stick together," Douste-Blazy said.

Britain's secretary of European affairs, Douglas Alexander, also addressed the ambassadors' meeting, stating that the top priority when Britain assumes the rotating EU presidency on Friday will be the fight against unemployment and the revival of the job market.

That fight includes budget reform for at present 40 percent of the EU budget goes to agriculture and five percent to job creation, he added.

"Politics dictated by fear and economic protectionism" will not help the 25 EU nations confront its challenges, Alexander said -- in a clear reference to the failed summit and tense relations between France and Britain.

Alexander did not take part in a separate meeting between Rotfeld, Fischer and Douste-Blazy, as part of the so-called Weimar Triangle.

Before the summit in Brussels, Poland had planned to invite Britain to participate in the Weimar meeting with the aim of advancing the budget talks, sources close to the matter told AFP.

But the idea did not meet with "any enthusiasm" on the French and German sides, sources said.

© AFP

Subject: French news

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