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The BBC's Nicholas Jones
"He's gone further than before in calling for a federal government"
 real 28k

Saturday, 13 May, 2000, 15:34 GMT 16:34 UK
Storm over federal Europe call
Vote in the European parliament
Increasing the power of Europe is a sensitive issue
By Europe correspondent Angus Roxburgh

The German Foreign Minister, Joshka Fischer, has called for the creation of a full European federation with its own parliament and government.

The proposal prompted a stormy reaction in Britain.

A spokesman for Prime Minister Tony Blair played down the remarks, saying Mr Fischer was speaking in a personal capacity.

But Michael Portillo, the Shadow Chancellor, said the comments were proof that the vast majority of politicians in Europe wanted full political union.


Joshka Fischer: Federal ambitions
Joshka Fischer: Federal ambitions
Mr Fischer has never been shy about declaring his federalist views, but this speech has proved highly controversial.

Stressing that he was expressing his own opinion, rather than German Government policy, the foreign minister said the course of European integration needed nothing less than a European parliament and a European government which really would exercise legislative and executive power within a federation.

The completion of political integration, he said, would depend decisively on France and Germany.

He also held out the prospect of a hard core of integrationist states forging ahead without the others, and, by implication, he included Britain among those others.

Superstate agenda

The Conservatives said the speech exposed, in the words of Francis Maude, the shadow foreign secretary, Europe's superstate agenda.

The prime minister's spokesman pointed out that Mr Fischer's views were held only by a minority.

That is true at the moment.

But there is also little doubt that each new stage of European integration does prompt many European politicians to argue for even more.

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11 Apr 00 | Business
Europe expansion on course
14 Oct 99 | Business
Is the UK ready for the euro?
10 Dec 99 | Europe
Blair prepared for EU isolation
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