George Osborne, the UK Conservative Party's lawmaker in charge of Treasury policy, said that the European Union should drop many of its political objectives and focus on reforming its economy.
Osborne and an ally of leader David Cameron, said efforts to integrate the 27 nations into an ever-closer political union are misguided. He attacked Prime Minister Tony Blair and Chancellor of the Exchequer Gordon Brown for failing to change the political debate in Brussels. „The European Union has not understood that it needs a complete change of direction,” Osborne said in a speech in London today, according to remarks issued by his office.
„It hasn't understood that today the primary challenge we face is an economic one not a political one.” Cameron in July said he'll pull out of a grouping of European parties in the European Parliament in 2009, delaying delivery on a pledge made before he was voted to head his party last December.
Cameron has also urged EU nations to shun any efforts to revive a draft constitution. Successive Conservative leaders since John Major, who led the party until 1997, have called for more power to be devolved from European institutions and have ruled out the UK ever adopting the euro as its currency.
„For my generation the question for Europe is not how to unite but how to compete - not only within Europe, but with the rest of the world,” Osborne said. Osborne wants greater efforts to strip away aid to farmers and greater efforts to remove trade barriers for services companies. The Conservative Party has a lead of 11 percentage points over Labour, a poll in the Independent showed yesterday, while a February 20 poll in the Guardian showed Labour headed for its biggest defeat since 1983. „We know the Chancellor's delivered the sermons about reform,” Osborne said. „Where is the evidence that anyone in Europe has taken the slightest bit of notice. Foreign policy is about results. Gordon Brown has achieved none.” (Bloomberg)