Daily Archives: February 5, 2007

The next summit of European Union leaders is still a month away, but Brussels diplomats are already busy drafting the conclusions of the March Council. Somewhat surprisingly, these over-long and bland documents end up being hotly-contested by ministers and heads of government during the actual meetings. Even more astonishing is the spectacle of spin-doctors earnestly briefing journalists about their government’s triumph in getting a certain word or phrase included in the final text.

In theory, Council conclusions should be significant. They represent, after all, what the 27 heads of government can agree on during one of their four annual get-togethers. But as David Harrison points out in a thoughtful article on the Council’s workings for the Centre for European Reform, the regime is ripe for reform.

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Great to have some feedback on my recent comment about Britain’s attitude towards Europe post-Blair. But some people in Brussels would chuckle at the idea I’m some kind of self-loathing federalist Brit – a species which admittedly can be found in this habitat.

My point is not that Britain should sign up to a federalist agenda (indeed there aren’t many countries left that are still pushing it, apart from Belgium), but rather that there exists a great opportunity for Gordon Brown or David Cameron to shape the EU in a way that helps the UK.

As a French MEP told me the other day: "The Brits are winning in Europe. So what is their problem?" Indeed one of the reasons cited by French politicians for the No vote to the constitution is that it was too Anglo-Saxon.

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