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David Miliband: ‘A Strong Britain in a Strong Europe’

David Miliband: ‘A Strong Britain in a Strong Europe’

Categories: Latest News

Monday October 26 2009

  British Foreign Secretary, David Miliband, spoke today at the International Institute for Strategic Studies on the topic of ‘A Strong Britain in a Strong Europe’.

His speech can be read in full here, with excerpts below:

European foreign policy has grown up in fits and starts over a generation. In some areas we have sustained a consistent focus. Next year will mark the 30th anniversary of the Venice Declaration, a visionary text which set out the basis for a two state solution for Israeli-Palestinian peace, and has guided European diplomacy in the Middle East ever since.

‘The trouble is that at the moment the European whole is less than the sum of its parts. Outside Europe people are confused about what we care about and what we are willing to do. Inside Europe it is not much better; different countries have pet projects, but there is not sufficient common purpose.’

‘What is clear is that in the modern world size, cohesion and decisiveness matter. A Britain of 60 million people, however brilliant our armed forces, intelligence services, and diplomats, however distinctive our business and cultural brand, is not going to be a global player of weight and power except through alliances.

‘The Lisbon Treaty provides the opportunity and responsibility to rethink and redefine the EU’s external action. The principles, the framework and the policy decisions will still be decided by unanimity, so every country retains its veto. What Lisbon does do is create the right vehicles for us to implement a serious common policy where countries decide to do so. It strips out duplication, by creating a High Representative representing both the External Relations Council of nation states and the Commission.

‘Geographically, our first responsibility is to the Western Balkans. European membership is the only prize big enough to elicit compromise and reform from historical rivals with vested interests and entrenched views.

‘No-one believes that in the next twenty years the EU could or should double in size again. But if we fail to use our power to break down the barriers between the EU and its neighbours, freeing up trade, investment, and travel, and welcoming new members, we will all – not just aspirant members – pay a significant price.

‘I know there are people who are uncertain about wider membership, including for Turkey’s. But I believe that most of the concerns are based on a static and frankly out of date view of what modern Turkey is. Turkey is an emerging giant on our doorstep. If we are to ensure we have more than one source of energy from the East, Turkey will be vital. If we want to tackle drugs and international crime routes we likewise have to bring Turkey into the family of EU countries. And perhaps above all, if we want to show that being European is about values not race or religion, having a Muslim country with a secular public realm within the EU can only strengthen us. There are many issues still to resolve, and the obligations are not just on the EU, but if Turkey reached the standards we have set on human rights, addressed the role of the military and the separation of powers, it would be unconscionable, in my view, for us to turn them down for EU membership.
‘For Britain, we have values to extend, interests to defend, and ideas to advance. We have lived, in my view, for too long with a false choice between a strong British foreign policy and a strong European foreign policy. A British foreign policy which rejects Europe will condemn us to the margins. A strong British foreign policy which embraces Europe is the best way to project our values and interests around the world, not at the expense of our roles in NATO, the G20 and the Commonwealth, not at the expense of our relationship with the US, but as a vital partner to them.


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