Richard North, 28/07/2004  

Not content with its so far limited military adventures, the EU must look further afield. So said Javier Solana, the EU foreign minister, speaking in Rome yesterday to an annual conference of Italy's 140 ambassadors at the invitation of Italian foreign minister Franco Frattini.

The EU must be able to act outside its borders if it is to ensure the security of its 450 million citizens, he told the diplomats. Europe was "confronted with a situation in which the security of our citizens requires that we act outside our borders". And, of course, to do so, it needed to re-examine its institutional framework.

"The Constitution seeks to answer this demand," said Solana, adding in impenetrable "Eurospeak" that the document reflected agreement on "a higher level of ambition the EU should have as an international actor".

What this presumably boils down to is that the EU should have a fully-fledged foreign policy, backed by its own military forces, but the real objective is similarly coded. Europe's partnership with the United States was "irreplaceable", said Solana, but "The US must treat the European Union as a full partner in an effective and balanced partnership. The European Union has to show the US that it is worthy of that title."

There you have it. The EU "level of ambition" is to match the US as an "international actor". Some target. But here in Yorkshire, we would say that Solana’s appetite is bigger than his belly.

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