French minister warns EU project risks 'collapse'

29th August 2006, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, Aug 29, 2006 (AFP) - France's European affairs minister warned on Tuesday that the construction of the European Union was at risk of collapse, two years after its big bang expansion to 25 members.

PARIS, Aug 29, 2006 (AFP) - France's European affairs minister warned on Tuesday that the construction of the European Union was at risk of collapse, two years after its big bang expansion to 25 members.

Describing the state of the union as "alarming", Catherine Colonna said the EU was "suffering from a kind of wasting disease, a general fatigue that bodes ill for its ability to answer the needs of its peoples."

"Can the European Union carry on at this pace for long? Can Europe even take crucial decisions any more?" she asked French ambassadors gathered for an annual conference in Paris.

"We need to fundamentally jumpstart the situation, if we are to avoid the risk of a collapse of European construction, a slow and inexorable dilution."

The EU was plunged into disarray following the French and Dutch rejection of a draft constitution aimed at preventing decision-making gridlock following the bloc's expansion from 15 to 25 members in 2004.

To illustrate the bloc's "lengthy decision-making process", Colonna cited the example of a services directive drafted in 2004, which will not come into effect before 2008.

She also said more and more decisions were being taken at intergovernmental level, amid a "near-universal suspicion of integration (between EU members), which was long held up as an objective."

From forest fires in southern Europe to the problem of illegal immigration in the Mediterranean — problems that affect many of its members — she said the EU had failed to find recipes for joint action.

"Enlargement fundamentally changes the nature of the European project, but we are acting as if the process of European construction is just the same but with more participants," she said.

Europe should aim to be a "power in the process of globalisation", she said. "It should do fewer small things but more great ones". "That is what its citizens have come to expect from it."

Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

0 Comments To This Article