ref date:30 Apr 2002 (eur)
European commission questions Blairs loyalty to EU
Roman Prodi ( president of the European Commission,) caused a huge row last night by stating the "UK" was so involved with its so called special relationship with teh USA that it (the UK) was NOT playing its full part in Europe.
In a speech to the Said Business School in Oxford, Mr Prodi argued Britain's special relationship with America did not give it "extra leverage" in the world; a view diametrically at odds with the prime minister's. Mr Prodi said: "I wonder what makes this great nation so confident when dealing with a vastly more powerful nation over 3000 miles away but afraid to play a full part in shaping the future of the continent to which it belongs, a part which in my opinion is indispensable".
"The answer lies deep within yourselves. It is your democratic choice but it often puzzles your friends and allies, me included."
Claiming that Europe could do more on foreign policy, an issue that had been misrepresented in Britain, he added: "So when you are faced with a decision on the euro, it is not surprising that many people are confused. They still try to squeeze the euro debate into the old language.
"But deep down it is a matter of deciding where one's future lies. It is a matter of political will and courage." In language that will be interpreted by his critics as a clear statement of intent on creating a European army, the EC president said work on enhanced defence co-operation within the EU was not over.
Stressing such moves were not directed against America, Mr Prodi noted: "Our friendship must develop, and it is developing, into a partnership of equals. Some people in the UK believe that supporting a strong Europe is betraying the US. That is not how I see it and how most of my American friends see it. Remember, the Americans wanted Britain to join the European project at the start, back in the 1950s."
Prodi is of course correct, that the European Union needs full time member committed to helping fellow Europeans, not to the
exclusion of all others, but with the realisation we ARE part of something bigger and more important now than
cold war, pro-NATO, take the US lead.