28th Mar 2017

Barroso urges UK's Brown to become EU team-player

With British media speculating on when Tony Blair will hand over power to finance minister Gordon Brown, Jose Manuel Barroso has advised Mr Brown to become more involved in the European project.

In an interview with UK weekly The Spectator, Mr Barroso argues that Mr Brown will have to learn to stand up for British interests through backing common European goals.

Dear EUobserver reader

Subscribe now for unrestricted access to EUobserver.

Sign up for 30 days' free trial, no obligation. Full subscription only 15 € / month or 150 € / year.

  1. Unlimited access on desktop and mobile
  2. All premium articles, analysis, commentary and investigations
  3. EUobserver archives

EUobserver is the only independent news media covering EU affairs in Brussels and all 28 member states.

♡ We value your support.

If you already have an account click here to login.

  • Mr Barroso urged Mr Brown to be more involved in Europe for the sake of Britain (Photo: EUobserver)

"If I may use the phrase, this is a club - and Britain has a great tradition of clubs. And you cannot go to a beef-eaters' club and say you are a vegetarian. You have no influence," pointed out the commission president.

He added that "until now Mr Brown has not been one of the EU's big players - even at finance minister level - because of Britain's refusal to join the euro," the Telegraph reported.

Gordon Brown is described by British press as one of the most eurosceptic ministers in the Labour government.

He has resisted calls for introducing the euro in the UK, arguing that the British economy is not ready as measured by "Brown's five economic tests," including euro entry impact on jobs and investment in the UK.

He also reportedly influenced Tony Blair's resistance to the EU budget agreement last June which threatened to provoke a crisis among the bloc's leaders, already disappointed by the failure of the EU constitution in French and Dutch popular polls.

Following the December budgetary deal under the UK presidency, Mr Brown has recently re-opened the issue on the grounds of different views on how the so called "British rebate" from the EU budget should be calculated.

He is a stern supporter of European economic reform and has rankled EU colleagues by his preachy style. But in a major speech last month, Mr Brown himself argued the UK should redefine its role in Europe.

"Some present the issue of Europe as in or out, empty chair or total subjugation. I see it differently," he said, according to BBC.

Even if the UK stays out of the euro, it should strive "to complete the single market in utilities, energy, telecommunications and services generally and in particular financial services," he added.

He also said London should stop lamenting the lack of reform on the continent and instead work more closely with European partners, leading the way on change.

According to the Telegraph, Mr Barroso's comments on Mr Brown were received in a "relaxed" way in the UK treasury, while some insiders defended their boss by pointing out that he had been the "leading voice" in recent EU financial decisions such as tax harmonisation moves.

Poland snubbed twice in EU summit fiasco

[Updated] Poland tried and failed to block EU summit conclusions shortly after failing to block Tusk’s re-election as Council chief, prompting bitter accusations.

Poland isolated in bid to remove Tusk

Poland appears increasingly isolated in Brussels as it seeks public support to unseat Donald Tusk as president of the European Council.

Rome summit tries to restart EU momentum

EU 27 leaders in Rome to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the signing of Treaty of Rome, in bid to counter rising challenges after Brexit. But new ideas are scarce.

News in Brief

  1. UN dinner for Cyprus leaders to restart stalled peace talks
  2. Nato moves summit forward so US can attend
  3. EU clears US chemical giants merger
  4. Merkel's party wins test election
  5. Theresa May to offer Scotland more powers after Brexit
  6. Turkey might hold referendum on EU membership
  7. Gazprom to file applications for Nord Stream 2 this week
  8. Northern Ireland power-sharing talks collapse

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Belgrade Security ForumCall for Papers: European Union as a Global Crisis Manager - Deadline 30 April
  2. European Gaming & Betting Association60 Years Rome Treaty – 60 Years Building an Internal Market
  3. Malta EU 2017New EU Rules to Prevent Terrorism and Give More Rights to Victims Approved
  4. European Jewish Congress"Extremists Still Have Ability and Motivation to Murder in Europe" Says EJC President
  5. European Gaming & Betting AssociationAudiovisual Media Services Directive to Exclude Minors from Gambling Ads
  6. ILGA-EuropeTime for a Reality Check on International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination
  7. UNICEFHuman Cost to Refugee and Migrant Children Mounts Up One Year After EU-Turkey Deal
  8. Malta EU 2017Council Adopts New Rules to Improve Safety of Medical Devices
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Energy Research: How to Reach 100 Percent Renewable Energy
  10. Party of European SocialistsWe Must Renew Europe for All Europeans
  11. MEP Tomáš ZdechovskýThe European Commission Has Failed in Its Fight Against Food Waste
  12. ILGA-EuropeEP Recognises Discrimination Faced by Trans & Intersex People