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Peter Hain, Europe Minister
"We need plain speaking on Europe"
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Tuesday, 17 July, 2001, 09:10 GMT 10:10 UK
'Cut Euro-babble', says minister
European Parliament
EU officials and politicians speak in 'Eurobabble'
Europe Minister Peter Hain has criticised government colleagues for caricaturing the debate over Europe.

He called for "plain speaking" on the issue and the banning of "Euro-babble", which turned off ordinary people from the important issues.

You have either got to be a Eurosceptic or a Euro zealot - neither of these is true

Europe Minister Peter Hain
Mr Hain, who described the European Union as a "historic achievement" which had brought warring countries together as never before, is due to make a major speech on the subject on Tuesday evening.

But interviewed on BBC Radio 4, he gave no clearer indication of when the government would begin to assess whether the UK should give up the pound and join the euro.

Plain speaking

"We have seen a caricature of the debate about Europe in the British media, by British politicians including government figures, and by Euro-leaders," he told the Today programme.

"We need plain speaking on Europe, to talk about the issues that really matter - jobs, food safety, the environment, social justice - rather than reducing it to cliche.

Peter Hain
Peter Hain: Not a pro-EU zealot
"You have either got to be a Eurosceptic or a Euro zealot - neither of these is true.

He said the government, like the British people, were "practical Europeans".

The EU should begin the process of re-engagement with the people whose lives it affects by banning "Euro-babble", Mr Hain said.

"We need to get the message out that Europe is about a huge historic achievement of uniting once warring countries, of now seeking to enlarge beyond the old Iron Curtain and ending not just the remnants of the Second World War but also the remnants of the Cold War.

"These are the big issues, the big prizes for Europe in the future."

In his speech to Labour party members in London on Tuesday, Mr Hain is expected to criticise European politicians and officials for talking in "summit speak".

In Tuesday's Independent newspaper, he says the pitiful turnout in the last European elections shows the big gap between the EU and its citizens.


In the article he describes the language used at summits as "virtually unintelligible to a new Europe minister like me, let alone an average voter".

His comments are in line with a Downing Street campaign to reconnect the EU with its citizens.

They should not be "trapped in a time-warp caricature of doughty Britons versus fiendish foreigners".

"We must engage, positively and determinedly, with our European counterparts," he said.

"We must get stuck in to win the argument to build our kind of Europe: a Europe of the people, not a Europe of the elites."

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See also:

08 Jun 01 | Europe
Ireland rejects EU expansion
30 Apr 01 | Euro-glossary
Nice Treaty
30 Apr 01 | Euro-glossary
13 Apr 01 | Europe
The euro non-revolution
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