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Monday, November 8, 1999 Published at 04:24 GMT


World: Europe

Blair and Schroeder plan Third Way

Bringing the winning Third Way to Europe

Prime Minister Tony Blair has promised to work with newly-elected German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder to extend the "Third Way" concept across a more integrated Europe.


The BBC's William Horsley: "Mr Schroeder is, in some ways, a German Mr Blair"
Writing for the German newspaper Welt Am Sonntag ahead of Mr Schr_'s first official visit to the UK on Monday, Mr Blair also said Germany had come to terms with its Nazi past and "moved on".

The prime minister wrote that he and the chancellor would discuss ways to extend their shared political vision - the "Third Way" or "Neue Mitte" in German - into the mainstream of European politics.

And in a move likely to inflame the Conservatives, Mr Blair argued that Europe needed closer economic cooperation and reitierated his vision of a pan-European defence capability divorced from Nato.

Pro-European

In the article printed on Sunday, Mr Blair described Mr Schroeder's election as "welcome and exciting" and said that the two men "have much in common".

"It is in the Neue Mitte - Third Way that the mainstream European debate is now taking place," he said.

The Third Way can be loosely described as a move away from both the radical free market policies of Thatcherism and the old socialist Labour centralised state based on "tax-and-spend".

Mr Blair says it is rather a combination of democratic socialism and liberal ideas based firmly within European politics.

Restore confidence

In a clear attempt to distance himself from the previous, Conservative government's anti-European stance, Mr Blair called for "more economic co-operation to make Europe more competitive".

"We need to promote jobs through the Single Market and by removing rigidities in product capital and labour costs," he said.

"Above all we need to tackle the global financial crisis. I want to discuss with the Chancellor the immediate steps we are taking to restore confidence in the international financial institutions and the reforms we are planning to set them on a new direction in the longer term."

Credible Europe

A European defensive union was also needed, he said, although not at the expense of Nato.

"But, to complement [Nato], Europe should be able to act on its own in a credible way where the US does not wish to participate," he said.

"This is not just a question of institutions. We have to identify the gaps in Europe's capability and plug them. That means planning together and planning for the long term."

Mr Schroeder is in the UK for talks with the prime minister on a wide range of issues, including the global economic situation, enlargement of the European Union and reform of the EU's Common Agriculture.

The chancellor will also give a speech at the Confederation of British Industry Conference this week.

The Third Way - a definition as might be seen in a dictionary

Third Way, n. [New Labour] 1. An amalgam of democratic socialism and liberal ideas, which acknowledges the changing landscape of European politics.

2. A rejection of clashing economic ideologies in favour of promoting macro-economic stability as an end in itself.

Example: Tony Blair, 21 September 1998: "The Third Way is the route to renewal and success for modern social democracy... It seeks to take the essential values of the contra and centre-left and apply them to a world of fundamental social and economic change: and to do so free from outdated ideology."



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