Thursday, February 20, 2003
Entrails Watch - 20th February 2003, 21.25

Attempts to reform the Growth and Stability Pact, supported by France, Germany and Britain (since we have to follow the rules even though we don't belong to the Euro), and allow more flexibility on deficit financing are opposed by many of thesmaller countries.

Gordon Brown, UK economy minister, wants to see the reforms succeed, arguing that Britain needs to run deficits to fund long-delayed investment in public services. If the reforms are vetoed, opponents of Britain joining the euro could seize the chance to say that membership of the single currency would force cuts to spending on hospitals and schools.

The EU will provide state funding to pan-European parties that contribute to European awareness, recognise the Charter of Fundamental Rights, support the principles of democracy and a state based on the rule of law. They must be represented in a third of all states and will receive £5.6 million. Thieves! Eurosceptics and nationally based parties need not apply as Nigel Farage proudly pointed out. Now we know how Labour will fund its overdraft!

The commission admitted yesterday that it would be "pretty hard" for Eurosceptics to get any cash, but said that parties would not be banned. (A curious statement since it infers that one could put the words "for now" after the sentence).

And finally, some Belgian rot from Guy Verhofstedt, their Prime Minister, on the need to re-balance NATO. Another reason to get out of Brussels if this is their perception of Europe:0

Indeed, Europe is developing its own priorities and focus. Increasingly, the EU is seen as a model of multilateral co-operation, as a mediator and peace keeper in complex conflicts, as a continent sensitive to social and ecological challenges. It is a continent that realises that its own wealth remains fragile as long as most people in the world are hungry. That is why Europe needs its own foreign policy. Yet that will only be credible if it is based on a European defence policy. This is the paradox we must face in the years ahead: the more people march in our streets in favour of peace, the more urgent it becomes to develop a true European defence.



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