Financial News

  • 2 June 2014, 17:38

Blair: 'Dangerous To Ignore' EU Election Results

Tony Blair has warned Europe it would be "complacent and dangerous" if it fails to reform itself following a surge by anti-immigration and eurosceptic parties.

He warned UKIP's victory in the UK and that of Marine Le Pen's far-right National Front in France was a "wake-up call" on the need for change and "cannot be ignored".

Voters last month dramatically altered the make-up of the European Parliament by increasing the number of MEPs from the populist, eurosceptic Right.

In a speech to the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) in London, the former British prime minister said: "The victories of UKIP in the UK and the National Front in France and the election of parties across the continent on explicitly 'anti-the-status-quo in Europe' platforms signify something. They cannot be ignored.

"The election results matter. They are a wake-up call to Europe and to Britain. Our response in Europe, as in Britain, should be to lead, not follow."

He went on: "So when some European politicians say that despite the showing of the far-right nonetheless there is still a majority for a pro-Europe position, that is true, but it is also complacent and dangerous."

Prime Minister David Cameron has promised to overhaul Britain's relationship with Europe.

Mr Blair also appeared to criticise Mr Cameron's plans for a renegotiation and in-out referendum on Europe by 2017 and said "a new approach" should involve "minimum treaty change".

He called on pro-Europeans to "make the debate more than about the repatriation of certain competencies and rules".

Mr Blair said: "The moment is right for Europe to think carefully about where it goes from here, and how it reconnects with the concerns of its citizens and how it changes in order better to realise its ideals in a changing world.

"It has to be a debate elevated to a Europe-wide level, with Britain playing a leading role, not just a negotiation of Britain's terms of membership.

"It has to be about what is good for Europe as well as what is good for Britain."

The intervention came with Mr Cameron embroiled in a row over who should take over as the next president of the European Commission.

He has reportedly said Britain could quit the EU if Jean-Claude Juncker - the former leader of Luxembourg who the Prime Minister sees as a symbol of Europe's past - is elected.

According to German publication Der Spiegel, he is reported to have said: "A figure from the 1980s cannot resolve the problems of the next five years."

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