Thursday

13th Dec 2018

Prodi issues call to arms

  • ROMANO PRODI - "There is nothing anti-American in what I am saying." (Photo: European Commission)

The President of the European Commission, Romano Prodi, on Wednesday, told EU leaders that it was time to militarise or be left by the wayside.

In a keynote address to the European Parliament, Mr Prodi said "The moment of truth for Europe's foreign and defence policy has come."

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"The choice is clear: do we want to be left out, all of us, from the management of world affairs? Or do we want to play a part, on an equal footing with our allies, in building a new world order?"

Mr Prodi sought to impel EU institutions and national governments to support building joint defence capabilities by upping the stakes considerably, claiming Europes very future may hang on the way it faces up to the current crisis.

Do not miss the opportunity

The Presidium of the Convention on the Future of Europe is due to submit defence proposals next month after its President, Valéry Giscard d'Estaing meets with heads of state in Athens.

The Commission's president would like to see the recommendations go further beyond merely the results of the convension's working group, which did not even reach agreement over member states having the duty to defend each other if one is attacked.

"I appeal to all its members: let us not waste this opportunity!" he pleaded.

His intervention was broadly backed by parliamentarians who feel estranged with what Green leader Daniel Cohn-Bendit described as the US' mission to "free the world with the help of god."

Mini summit welcomed

Mr Prodi welcomed a Belgian initiative - backed by France, Germany and Luxembourg - to hold a mini summit on augmenting the EU's defence capabilities.

The meeting is scheduled for the 29 April in Brussels, shortly after leaders meet in Athens.

He stressed that the door should be left open for all member states to join in, but told journalists later that a "more cooperative stance from some member governments" was needed.

The UK has so far been luke warm about the prospect fearing such a move would undermine NATO and so Europe's partnership with the US.

President of the Parliament Pat Cox was of a different opinion. "A series of mini-Europes falls short of the one Europe we need and want."

A proxy war

Mr Prodi's spokesman later denied reports that the president wanted to see the end of NATO.

"The view of the President is that NATO should in future have two strong pillars, an American and a European one. In fact, the President wants to strengthen NATO. "

But the message was clear, Europe will not be dictated to.

"We Europeans are not from Venus, as some would have us believe. The peoples of this old Europe have a long and bloodthirsty past behind us" Mr Prodi said in what will be seen as a snipe at some in the current US administration.

"A past that has taught us to base our Union in law and to work for an international order founded on right, not on might. But we know that humanitarian policies alone are not enough. And it is not enough to outstrip the other main players in the area of development aid policy."

"We know the world will not take heed of us until we put an end to our divisions. Until we stop relying on the European Union for economic growth and the United States for security" Mr Prodi said, before insisting "there is nothing anti-American in what I am saying."

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