Saturday

4th Feb 2023

Hard words from Schroder against Blair

  • Chancellor Schroder - Hardening the battle fronts (Photo: Eurpean Commission)

German chancellor Gerhard Schroder has put himself on confrontation course with prime minister Tony Blair following strong comments about his British counterpart on Tuesday (21 June).

While not referring to Mr Blair directly by name, the chancellor said that the EU's "values" were under threat since the collapse of the summit last week.

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"There is a special European social model to protect that has developed on the continent," said Mr Schroder.

"Those who want to destroy this model due to national egotism or populist motives do a terrible disservice to the desires and rights of the next generation" the chancellor added.

The words were another reference to accusations levelled at Mr Blair directly after the summit that all London wants out of the EU is a free market zone.

The talks collapsed after Mr Blair refused to accept a compromise deal on the annual British rebate unless EU leaders agreed to look into reforming the farm subsidies in 2008.

The current EU president, Luxembourg leader Jean-Claude Juncker, attributed the collapse of the talks on the budget to the clash of two opposing visions.

Speaking before the Luxembourg parliament on Tuesday (21 June), Mr Juncker compared Mr Blair's vision of Europe to a "large shop where all the products are white" and where one is unaware of the "origin and composition".

His own vision, by contrast, is of a "Europe of solidarity where the richer countries support the poorer countries".

Blair on the attack

But despite the harsh words emanating from Germany and Luxembourg and supported by France, Mr Blair is holding tough.

In a guest comment for mass-selling German Bild newspaper on Wednesday, the British leader once again outlined why he believes the common agriculture policy is outdated and how more money needs to be spent in other innovative areas.

He also strongly rejected the accusation that he sees Europe just as a free trade zone.

But it is not an entirely lonely front, he has strong support from Sweden, another country that had threatened to veto the talks unless there was some movement on farm subsidies.

Swedish prime minister Goran Persson visited the British leader in London on Tuesday and emerged after the meeting full of praise.

According to Swedish papers, Mr Persson said "He is a world politician, no other European politician can speak to the people in the 25 countries like Blair can".

He also indicated that Stockholm is firmly on London’s side when it comes to the divison between British ideas and the "old ideas" about Europe.

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