Page last updated at 15:06 GMT, Thursday, 21 February 2008

Brown calls for faster EU reform

Gordon Brown and Jose Manuel Barroso
The pair did not discuss if Tony Blair should be the EU's first president

UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown has said economic reform within the European Union "must accelerate" if the 27-nation organisation is to prosper.

He has also described the EU as being "essential to the success of Britain, and a Britain fully engaged in Europe is essential to the success of the EU".

Mr Brown spent three hours meeting European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso in Brussels.

He said the EU must "stand together" to be "a force for stability and justice".

'Sustainable world'

Mr Brown told a news conference in the Belgian capital: "We must focus on the issues that really matter to our citizens - prosperity and jobs, security and climate change."

He stressed: "We must accelerate economic reform to enable European citizens and businesses to compete."

He said he hoped Europe should lead the way in "building global prosperity", creating a "sustainable world", helping the reconstruction of fledgling nations and leading the fight against global poverty.

Despite speculation, Mr Brown said there was no discussion of whether former premier Tony Blair should become the EU's first president when the post is created in 2009.

In addition, aides said "very constructive" talks were also held on Thursday with sometime critic and EU Trade Commissioner Peter Mandelson.

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