Blair Launches Europe Debate

In his speech to the European Parliament today, UK Prime Minster Tony Blair sought to initiate a more wide-ranging debate about where Europe is heading.

The result of the French and Dutch referendums have, in his view, little with the actual text of the Constituitional Treaty to do. Instead, they signal ”a wider and deeper discontent with the state of affairs in Europe.”

Then, it is not a crisis of political institutions, but a crisis of political leadership.

People in Europe are posing hard questions to us. They worry about globalisation, job security, about pensions and living standards. They see not just their economy but their society changing around them. Traditional communities are broken up, ethnic patterns change, family life is under strain as families struggle to balance work and home. We are living through an era of profound upheaval and change.”

Then, leadership must be given. ”When such change occurs, moderate people must give leadership. If they don’t, the extremes gain traction in the political process. It happens within a nation. It is happening in Europe now.”

The Blair vision of Europe is certainly not without its critics, as has been obvious during the last few days. But its a vision with a clarity and relevance in this age of accelerating globalisation that few others so far have managed to demonstrate.

I – for one – find much to like in what he has to say.

2 Responses to Blair Launches Europe Debate

  1. AndersJ skriver:

    I completely agree. The irony of it all is that European leaders have taken turns to malign the prime minister as obstructionist and obdurate. His refusal to yield on budgetary issues are branded as disgraceful.

    But there is no rush to decide on the budget now. And the real disgrace lies in an EC budget that, though windowdressing with the ambitious goals of the Lissabon agenda, still dishes out half of its funds on protectionist agricultural schemes deleterious (harmful) to everyone but, in many cases at least, Western European farmers.

  2. Sven K skriver:

    Leadership, yes, but too late.

    So why leadership, why not referendums on all these important issues?

    The political failure to build stable and secure nations is a failure of our democracy.

    But you cannot argue with those who claim no resonsibility and at the same time demand more power to destroy, and less power to the surpressed masses of our time.

    Neither the time of Stalin, nor that of Hitler, but the mess of our time would eventually be remembered as, let´s suggest, ”the Carl Bildt era”.

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