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". Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, the time has come for us to have things out with the British Presidency of the Council. It is time for us to get to grips with the politics of the European Council. As Mr Barroso wrote in his letter to the Council, to which Mr Poettering referred, ‘We need a strong and effective European Union, and I am prepared to fight for one’. Fifty or sixty years ago, the European project did not call forth enthusiasm from all the peoples of Europe. I was born where the borders of Germany, the Netherlands and Belgium meet, and when, 60 years ago, Paul-Henri Spaak or the Dutch Prime Minister or the Head of the Luxembourg Government turned up there and said that the Germans were getting more funding from the Marshall Plan, that we had to rebuild the country and establish the European Coal and Steel Community, I do not suppose that all the Luxembourgers, Belgians, Dutch and French people burst into applause. They, too, said, ‘What? That lot on the other side were over here only recently, wrecking our country and killing millions of people, and now they are supposed to be getting more money?’ And the people in positions of government said, ‘If you want peace in Europe, you have to have integration. This is the only way to go, and it is the way we are going, because we are convinced that it is the right one.’ That is why we call them statesmen and name buildings after them. There have indeed been times when Europe has been led by statesmen, but I get the impression that it is now led by businessmen whose only interest is in working out how much they can make out of the project. That is what makes the European Summit this weekend such an important one. It is not just about selling the new maths to Europe, for I have now learned that there is such a thing as new maths, according to which a reduced increase is the same thing as a reduction. That, though, is wrong; slightly increasing the British rebate is not the same thing as reducing it. That is certainly no way to bring about agreement; what really is needed instead is an attempt at putting Europe’s real needs in a financial framework. While I am on the subject of financial frameworks, let me say that my colleague Mr Walter always does a brilliant job of analysing the things that are put before us. In this Parliament’s proposals, set out in the Böge report, agricultural policy is given a share of 40% of the Financial Perspective over the next seven years. The British proposal gives it 44%. Our proposals are more up to date than what the Council has now put on the table. If we are talking about modern policy, that much is clear. Now, out of personal affection for the British Presidency of the Council, because the Labour Members are my friends and because I am very fond of you, Douglas, I will do something I do not usually do and speak English: To avoid any misunderstanding, I will now speak in English Six months ago, Mr Alexander, we all applauded when the President-in-Office of the Council set out his vision for reform, including great investment in research, education and the hi-tech future for our Union, and you repeated it today. In preparing these remarks today, I recalled what I learned at school about the United Kingdom: 10 April 1912 was the date of another launch of a hi-tech future for Europe. The crowds applauded enthusiastically, as they did when Tony Blair spoke here five months ago. They applauded enthusiastically as the symbol of that hi-tech future sailed from Southampton. The symbol was, of course, the . Today, we are on the . The captain is not Edward John Smith, but Anthony Charles Lynton Blair. Our captain has a huge advantage over poor Mr Smith. The iceberg is staring him in the face, but he still has time to avoid it. To avoid this iceberg, Mr Alexander, you have to sail in the direction of the Böge report. To be absolutely clear, let me give you our iceberg coordinates: Böge. Certainly not 1.03%. That is the centre of the iceberg. Do not sail in this direction or the and its crew will be lost. Choose another route and do it urgently. I strongly hope that, by the end of the week, Captain Blair will have avoided the iceberg and steered the British Presidency to a safe harbour and a secure financial future for the European Union. Mr Alexander, that is what I wish. Then you will have a successful British Presidency. Otherwise we will fail altogether in Europe. I recently had an interesting telephone conversation with Mr Barroso. After reading an interview with him in the and liking what I read, I phoned him up and said, ‘That was a good interview; it was a pleasure to read it’. I have to admit that his response down the phone line was a sharp one. He said, ‘Whenever you have criticisms of me, you write them in a newspaper; when you have something good to say about me, you phone me up. Why not give me credit for something in public?’ Well, Mr President of the Commission, I am doing it now. That is the right way to go about things – so fight! An overwhelming majority in this House support your position and oppose the line we have just heard taken by the Council, which will not move Europe forward or foster cohesion, but will make for less solidarity in it. That is something that this House will not take lying down! I would like to come back to what Mr Alexander said to this House; he referred back to what the President of the Council said six months ago. He was perfectly right in what he said, and we all heard him say it. He said something important that Mr Alexander has not quoted, and so I will. He said that, if there is a crisis in the European institutions, it is there because there is a lack of strong leadership in Europe. Five and a half months later, Mr President-in-Office, I get the impression that that is still the case, and let me tell you what impression my group gets: whatever country holds the Presidency – not just the British – we always get told the same thing by the Presidents of the Council. We are always told not to talk too loudly about Europe, not to plead its case too strongly, as it puts people off. It is clear that if the Heads of State or Government constantly talk Europe down, they cannot be surprised when Europe’s peoples get the idea that their Heads of State or Government are right. The state of affairs in the Council that you lament is one that you yourselves have brought about. To put it bluntly, we have now had it up to here; things cannot go on like this. In the European institutions generally, there is no crisis: Parliament acts and takes decisions; they may perhaps not always be the right ones, but, to take one example, a few days ago, we achieved a very good compromise on chemicals policy. That was this European Parliament in action. The Commission acts, perhaps not always in the right way, but it does take action; it is active. The only people in Europe who are in a permanent state of disagreement are the members of the Council of Heads of State or Government, and things have now got to such a pass that they cannot even agree on their own order of business without fearing a veto. If there is a crisis in the European Union, then it is above all a crisis in the European Council, and I hope there will be no repetition of it this weekend."@en1
"Good Ship British Presidency"1

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