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Thursday, 7 December, 2000, 17:46 GMT
Maude calls for 'flexible' EU
Francis Maude
Maude: 'The EU has reached a fork in the road'
As EU leaders gather in Nice for the first day of an historic summit, shadow foreign secretary Francis Maude has set out his vision of Europe's future.

He said it was time Britain's leaders realised there was a middle way between an outdated European superstate and pulling out of Europe altogether.


The superstate agenda is alive and well and living in Nice

Francis Maude

In a speech in London on Thursday, he called for an "open, flexible" EU, a network of nations rather than a politically integrated superstate.

And he rounded on Tony Blair and the 'Britosceptics' who, he said, did not believe Britain was strong enough to be a major force the post Cold War world in its own right.

Breeding resentment

Mr Maude said the EU leaders had reached a "fork in the road" and had to choose between a Europe which "celebrates diversity" and going down the "route of uniformity".

"I am for the ever closer union among the peoples of Europe.

"But the relentless political integration, the one way street to the European superstate, is the enemy of that union, not its friend.

"There is, sadly, no sign that the architects of Nice have understood that relentless integration breeds division and resentment.

"The superstate agenda is alive and well and living in Nice," Mr Maude said.

Maude's Nice recipe
No more Qualified Majority Voting
No fundamental rights charter
No steps towards European integration
No Euro-army
A clear timetable for enlargement
Reform of Common Agricultural Policy

The shadow foreign secretary made his remarks just days after the Northern Ireland Secretary Peter Mandelson insisted that moves to an ever closer Union were over.

Fiscal federalism

Mr Maude continued saying the Nice plan to set up an EU "economic government" was the beginning of fiscal federalism.

"Under the plans to be agreed at Nice, the EU will be empowered to authorise massive financial transfers between the member states to counteract the unbalancing effect of a one size fits all interest rate.

"Despite the fact that Britain is not part of the eurozone, it will be included in the agreement" he said.

He also criticised what he saw as moves towards a European Public Prosecutor and common European law.

And he spoke out against an EU army, saying that closer European military co-operation needed to be within the NATO framework.

The Charter of Fundamental Rights, which includes the right to strike, would also represent a step backwards for Britain, Mr Maude added.

Enlargement

Mr Maude said the Nice summit would not remove the remaining obstacles to enlargement of the EU.

He said EU leaders needed to dismantle the Common Agricultural Policy, to deal with the more agricultural economies of the central and east European countries.

Unless this happens, he said, enlargement remains a distant prospect.

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See also:

05 Dec 00 | UK Politics
Blair seeks 'flexible' Europe
06 Dec 00 | UK Politics
Row over 'secret EU superstate'
04 Dec 00 | UK Politics
EU summit provokes war of words
23 Nov 00 | UK Politics
Cook sustains Euro attack
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