'Live and let live' Howard seeks Tory ceasefire on Europe

The Tory leader Michael Howard has unveiled his "live and let live" strategy on Europe – a policy which, he said, will enable member states to co-operate more closely without sacrificing their national sovereignty.

During a speech to the Konrad Adenauer Stiftung in Berlin, the Conservative Leader outlined his vision of a more "modern and mature" approach to European policy development.

According to Mr Howard, issues such as tariffs and cross-border pollution could be left to Brussels but, individual member states should be able to decide whether to retain wholly national control or whether to co-operate with others.

"Every member state should be allowed to administer for itself those policies which do not directly and significantly affect the domestic affairs of other member states," he said.

"The nations of Europe should come together as a series of overlapping circles: different combinations of member states should be able to pool their responsibilities in different areas of their own choosing."

He denied that the policy would create a two-speed Europe – as nations sharing the same direction but not final destination.

He said: "I don't want to reach the destination that some of our partners may aspire to. But I don't want to block their aspiration."

Mr Howard said that individual countries negotiating specific opt-outs had caused "tremendous tension" – tensions which could be ironed out through an "enhanced co-operation formula".

"It would enable us to strike a new deal on Europe. Those member states wishing to integrate more closely would be free to do so. It would not be necessary for them to drag Britain and quite possibly some other member states kicking and screaming in their wake. And we would say to our partners: ‘We don't want to stop you doing what you want to do, as long as you don't make us do what we don't want to do'," he said.


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