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Monday, 7 October, 2002, 17:17 GMT 18:17 UK
Rebranding could create 'United Europe'
Laeken demonstration
"United Europe" could be the way ahead
The man overseeing the big debate on the future of the European Union has suggested rebranding it to make it seem more relevant to ordinary people.

Valery Giscard d'Estaing, in an interview with the UK's Financial Times newspaper, hinted that his preferred new name for the EU would be United Europe.

"'United' is a strong word: it is a united continent, united in the constitutional sense," he said.

Other suggestions reportedly under consideration include United States of Europe - but Mr Giscard d'Estaing suggested that this title might, misleadingly, imply a federal union.


Europe has become too complicated, with too much hostility

Valery Giscard d'Estaing
Mr Giscard d'Estaing, 76, is chairing a major convention examining all aspects of the union's future development.

He made clear in the interview that he did not support granting extra powers to the European Commission in the spheres of economic and foreign policy.

Instead, his preferred way ahead was for greater co-operation between member states, he said.

Valery Giscard d'Estaing
Valery Giscard d'Estaing heads the 105-member forum
"Collective decision-making, the practice of organised co-operation, is winning ground," he said.

"Our proposal is to make things work in a more unified way. Europe has become too complicated, with too much hostility."

He did suggest, however, that the European Commission could gain new powers in areas such as justice and home affairs.

Part of the convention's brief is to help the European Union "reconnect" with its European citizens, many of whom regard it as a distant bureaucracy.

Mr Giscard d'Estaing said one possible solution would be to create a special congress, mixing members of national parliaments with the European Parliament.

Summer deadline

The convention's proposals are due to be formally unveiled next summer.

Mr Giscard d'Estaing said he believed the report could be adopted by the end of 2003 with only minor changes.

"If the work has been sufficiently perfected, four or five meetings of prime ministers or foreign secretaries should be able to finish things off - but not a big diplomatic debate reopening things," he told the Financial Times.

Despite his optimism, the work of the convention is expected to prove contentious, as members seeking a more federal union battle with those who wish to leave powers in the hands of the member states.

See also:

28 Feb 02 | Europe
26 Feb 02 | Europe
13 Dec 01 | Europe
15 Dec 01 | Europe
30 Apr 01 | Euro-glossary
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