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Britain’s former Prime Minister Tony Blair emphasized the need for a democratically elected European Union president, with expanded powers, as a means to solve the Continent’s economic crisis during a keynote speech in Berlin, Germany.
“In a move interpreted by some as a job application, the former prime minister said the EU could do with a strong leader approved by the people,” The Telegraph reported.
“He also warned that too deep a political divide between Britain and the core eurozone countries could lead towards a break-up.
“‘Out of this European crisis can come the opportunity finally to achieve a model of European integration that is sustainable,’ said Mr Blair. ‘A Europe-wide election for the presidency...is the most direct way to involve the public.’”
Later in the article, the media outlet quoted Mr. Blair as stating, “I would give a stark warning: if eurozone structures end up with a Europe that is fundamentally divided politically as well as economically; rather than a Europe with one political settlement that accommodates different levels of integration within it, the EU as we know it will be on a path to break up.”
Mr. Blair also called on the United Kingdom to examine its position on the European power bloc.
The Guardian reported, “In one of his most important speeches on the EU since leaving office, he told the Council for the Future of Europe in Berlin: ‘It is massively in Britain’s interest not to play short-term politics with this issue. Personally I would like to see the UK take a constructive role in shaping this new union.’”
Mr. Blair is not the first European leader to float the idea of altering the current union.
During his State of the Union 2012 address in September, European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso also called for greater integration in what he called a “decisive deal for Europe.”
“If we want economic and monetary union to succeed, we need to combine ambition and proper sequencing. We need to take concrete steps now, with a political union as a horizon…We cannot continue trying to solve European problems just with national solutions.”
He added, “The world needs a Europe that is capable of deploying military missions to help stabilize the situation in crisis areas. We need to launch a comprehensive review of European capabilities and begin truly collective defense planning…A deep and genuine economic and monetary union, a political union, with a coherent foreign and defence policy, means ultimately that the present European Union must evolve.”
In an article by The Christian Science Monitor titled “Europe needs a central government to manage its debt crisis,” former Polish Prime Minister Marek Belka also stated that the EU needs a central leader.
“An obvious way to solve the problem of legitimacy in the EU is for the direct selection of executives for EU institutions by popular elections. That would give all citizens a chance to participate in political communication and influence decision-making processes. For this, a pan-European public opinion—a European demos—is necessary. Only from such a demos can a pan-European agenda be developed that defines the interests that can unify people from different countries.”