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Thursday, 24 January, 2002, 18:28 GMT
Hain appointed to key EU convention
Peter Hain
Mr Hain will represent the UK Government
Europe Minister Peter Hain is to be the UK Government's representative on the body charged with charting the future of the EU.

Mr Hain - along with Conservative MP David Heathcoat-Amory and Labour's Gisela Stuart - will be representatives of the Westminster Parliament on the committee.

It is an honour - and challenge - to be chosen as the Government's representative

Peter Hain
Former French president Giscard d'Estaing is to head the 105-member convention, which has the duty of analysing the EU's shortcomings and to propose structural changes.

Foreign Secretary Jack Straw said Mr Hain was "the right man to put across Britain's views on the future of Europe".

The convention, set up last month during the EU leaders' meeting at Laeken, Belgium, will draw up a package of possible alterations to the EU's treaties.

With up to 10 new member states due to join in 2004 they will also look at the working practices of the EU.

Mr Hain said: "It is an honour - and challenge - to be chosen as the government's representative.

"The Convention will allow the EU to consider its successes and to develop practical ideas as to how it might overcome its shortcomings.

"It will help us build Britain's view of Europe: focused on delivery, not process."

Crucial role

Mr Straw went on to list some of the areas in which he believes the EU had been a "success story".

"It has helped fight crime, protect the environment and boost jobs, trade and prosperity," he said.

"But everyone accepts that it needs to reform to deliver these practical benefits more effectively and better to connect with Europe's citizens, not least as Europe expands from 15 to more than 20 member states.

"Final decisions will of course be taken by member states, but the Convention has an important role in developing ideas for possible reform."

Mr Straw added that it was "essential" that the views of the UK Government were heard before going on to say that the consultation process which is to be undertaken was unprecedented in terms of the number of people it would talk to.

"It will ensure that the Convention tackles the practical issues that count to people - jobs, crime, prosperity and security," he said.

See also:

15 Dec 01 | Europe
Profile: Giscard d'Estaing
21 Jan 02 | Europe
French veteran demands EU perks
15 Dec 01 | Europe
EU prepares major reform
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