Dutch PM rejects claim 'big three' threaten EU

19th February 2004, Comments 0 comments

19 February 2004 , AMSTERDAM — Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende has rejected concerns that the three-way summit between the British, German and French leaders is a threat to the unity of the European Union.

19 February 2004

AMSTERDAM — Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende has rejected concerns that the three-way summit between the British, German and French leaders is a threat to the unity of the European Union.

But Balkenende urged the union's "big three" to co-operate with the rest of the EU. "These three countries, the large countries, have to be aware of the fact that they have to co-operate with other countries," he was quoted saying.

Speaking during a visit to the Slovakian capital Bratislava on Wednesday, the Dutch prime minister said it was good that the three nations were engaged in talks despite the divisions that opened up over the issue of Iraq last year.

France and Germany were strongly opposed to the joint US-British invasion of Iraq and a deep crisis opened up within Nato ranks.

Germany's Gerhard Schroeder, French leader Jacques Chirac and British Prime Minister Tony Blair started a three-way summit in Berlin on Wednesday, rejecting allegations that they are trying to grab power in the EU.

The talks are focused on the future of the EU and economic reform, but other European leaders have raised concern that the three were trying to dominate an expanded EU, BBC reported.

But Balkenende dismissed the accusations, saying he would only become concerned if a situation was created where Germany, France and Britain could decide everything. He said such a situation would never develop.
 
Balkenende visited the Czech Republic and Slovakia this week in preparation of the Netherlands assuming the six-month EU rotating presidency in the second half of this year.

He said stimulating co-operation between EU member states will be the focus of the Dutch presidency, a French AFP report said.

Slovakia is one of 10 European nations set to gain admission to the union in May. Eight of the 10 countries are former Communist countries.
 
Balkenende arrived in Athens on Wednesday afternoon for a meeting with his Greek counterpart, Dutch news agency ANP reported.

[Copyright Expatica News 2004]

Subject: Dutch news

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