Greeks have missed great opportunity

By GEOFFREY VAN ORDERNConservativeWE have just had the handover of the half-yearly EU Presidency from Greece to Italy. The past six months saw the agreement on the accession of ten more States to the EU in 2004.

By GEOFFREY VAN ORDERN

Conservative

WE have just had the handover of the half-yearly EU Presidency from Greece to Italy. The past six months saw the agreement on the accession of ten more States to the EU in 2004.

The one useful contribution the Greeks could have made to this process would have been to bring about a fair solution to the Cyprus question - recognising the very legitimate concerns and interests of the Turkish Cypriots as well as the Greeks. Regrettably, this great opportunity was lost.


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Nothing has been done to kick-start the depressed European economies. No effective action has been taken to curb uncontrolled immigration and the massive abuse of the asylum system. In spite of the mid-term review and some reforms, the Common Agricultural Policy remains a costly and complicated distortion.

Relations with the United States are at an all time low. And we had a taste of things to come when we saw that British and other interests were being represented in Washington at the EU-US Summit by Messrs Simitis, Prodi and Solana. This is something we would have to get increasingly used to if the idea of a permanent EU President and of an EU Foreign Minister are accepted.

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These proposals are contained in the text of the draft Constitution for Europe, which was handed to Ministers at Thessaloniki on 20 June and which foresees a further massive shift of sovereign powers from Britain and other Member States to the Brussels eurocracy.

I am quite clear that no British Government should agree to such a constitution unless it has the support of the British people through a referendum. I am equally clear that the British people would say "No".

I had rather hoped that the first act of the incoming Italian Presidency, heralded by Silvio Berlusconi in the Parliament on Wednesday, would be to bin the constitution and set about drafting a Simplified Treaty that would call a halt to further political integration, return powers to the member states, and focus on creating a really effective and dynamic single market. But I must have been dreaming. Mr Berlusconi wants to be the man who delivers a second Treaty of Rome, this time a Constitutional Treaty, for signature in December. Instead of falling in with the European Commission's agenda of building a Greater Europe what a pity he doesn't concentrate on a few practical matters that require urgent attention.

Geoffrey Van Orden MEP can be contacted at 88 Rectory Lane, Chelmsford, CM1 1RF or at gvanorden@europarl.eu.int

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