Irish Prime Minister Bertie Ahern, who takes over the rotating six-month EU presidency on Jan. 1, 2004 has lashed out at the idea of a "core Europe" or "two speed Europe" as proposed by Germany and France.
In an interview with French daily
Le Monde on Tuesday, Irish Prime Minister Bertie Ahern-- who will assume the Presidency of the EU on 1 January 2004 -- has attacked the idea of a 'core Europe'. Mr Ahern said, "the idea of a 'two speed Europe' or of a 'hard core', where certain countries would try to implement their agenda separately from the others, does not correspond to the common philosophy of the union". He continued, "I really do not see what would justify a 'two speed Europe' and I am not convinced of its eventual advantages". With these words, the future EU President may be setting himself up in opposition with the EU's 'motor', France and Germany, who are at the heart of the drive to establish a 'core Europe'. Despite the undoubted difficulty of his position in having to restart talks over the Constitution, Mr Ahern remained upbeat about the EU and Ireland's place in the union. The Irish are amongst the most pro-European citizens in the union, said Mr Ahern, alluding to one of the reasons why - "our GDP has doubled in the past ten years because we were in Europe".