13 February 2004
BERLIN – British Prime Minister Tony Blair has rejected claims that deepening Franco-German-British cooperation was aimed at allowing the three nations to dominate the European Union.
“It’s important to realize this is not about trying to create some kind of directorium at all,” said Blair at a joint news briefing in Berlin with German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder.
The British Prime Minister was speaking ahead of a meeting next week in Berlin between himself, Schroeder and President Jacques Chirac, which is expected to focus on ways of driving forward plans for a European constitution.
Blair insisted that the “big three” were not seeking to exclude other EU states, but he noted that when the bloc expands to 25 members on 1 May, not all countries would be able to work together to tackle problems.
The British leader cited the example of Iran last year when the foreign ministers of London, Paris and Berlin won a pledge from Teheran to open its nuclear programme to United Nations inspectors to show it was not trying to build nuclear weapons.
Blair’s remarks come prior to a Franco-German-British summit in Berlin Wednesday, which has raised concern among some EU members that the three countries want to run the union.
“A directorium comprised of several nations” would split Europe, warned Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini.
The German government on Wednesday confirmed it planned to join a small military unit proposed by France and Britain to serve as an EU crisis reaction force.
Each of the three countries will contribute 1,500 troops, said a German government spokesman.
Subject: German news