Andrew Duff on the EU convention
FAITHFULLY reflecting the deep division across European political society, Euro MPs last week failed to take a position on Iraq. A resolution deploring the war, drafted by the Socialists, Liberals and Greens, was defeated by a combination of Conservatives and Communists along with UK Labour and some Dutch and Danish Liberals.
FAITHFULLY reflecting the deep division across European political society, Euro MPs last week failed to take a position on Iraq. A resolution deploring the war, drafted by the Socialists, Liberals and Greens, was defeated by a combination of Conservatives and Communists along with UK Labour and some Dutch and Danish Liberals. A resolution from the centre-right supporting the war was roundly rejected.
Faced with paralysis in both the Council and Parliament, it now falls to the Convention to redesign the Union's common foreign, security and defence policy. As Valery Giscard d'Estaing well knows, this is no easy task.
No constitutional provisions, however perfected, could have withstood such a savage rupture in Franco-British relations as we have seen over Iraq. Neither France nor the UK has commanded the famous 'qualified majority' in the Council. It is their historic inability to agree over Europe's relations with America that so undermines the Union.
The Convention must try to analyse where US policy towards Europe is headed before making its proposals. Our suspicion is that America has killed off NATO. On top of the fairly gratuitous way Washington now treats it, next year's enlargement of the Atlantic Alliance from 19 to 26 members is clearly intended to widen NATO without deepening it. By contrast, meanwhile, the EU's own enlargement goes according to plan - albeit minus Turkish North Cyprus (a collateral victim of the Iraq crisis).
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From the mood in the Convention, it is clear that the European Union once wider and deeper will not want to be pushed around by the Americans or, for that matter, the British.
A core group will emerge to take forward the EU's security and defence identity. Whether the UK is in or out of that federal core is its own business. London may deplore and deride the federalists but it will have its work cut out to stop them.
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Andrew Duff chairs the Liberal caucus in the Convention. He is Liberal Democrat MEP for the East of England