Monday, September 22, 2003
Blair has shown that he is still trying to walk the tightrope between America and Europe. In his meeting with Schroeder and Chirac, the media concentrated upon the clear divisions between the three leaders. France was unwilling to shift from its prepared position: demanding that the occupied country should be placed under the authority of the United Nations. Germany, mindful of the Chancellor's forthcoming visit to the United States, was accommodating and mused about a more supportive role.

However, it was Blair who made more concessions in order to stay at the "heart of Europe". On the issues that the Franco-German axis had recently communicated its concern, Britain obediantly fell into line: a common defence, a growth pact, infrastructure projects and reform of the REACH directive.

In order to maintain a semblance of unity in European affairs, Blair followed the initiatives of France and Germany. The war in Iraq has taken its toll: it has ensured that Blair is even less willing to articulate a distinct British position in Europe. He has to demonstrate his pro-European credentials by towing the line that the Franco-German axis have laid out. Hence his position on the Constitution and the Euro.


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