Today I launch our logo and themes for the British Presidency of the European Union. In January, I shall set out our vision for Europe a for the Presidency in a speech.
Here at Waterloo Station, we can see the way the modern world has altered our relations with the rest of Europe. For most of this century travel to the continent was the privilege of an elite. In the 1960s came the mass-market package tour. This year this station alone has been the embarkation point for over 5 million journeys to France and beyond. The Channel Tunnel and Eurostar are powerful physical symbols of our ties to Europe.
Our presidency logo sums up my message today. The children who produced the stars for the logo worked in teams. We want a Europe that works together as a team. A Europe in which our countries retain their distinctive identities, as the children do in our logo, but work together to tackle common problems for the practical benefit of all.
In the coming year, as well as the EU Presidency, we will chair the G8 and the Asia/Europe meeting. This gives us a great opportunity to show the modern, vibrant, dynamic, new Britain to the wider world.
I see this Presidency as a test. A test for Britain and a test for Europe.
A test for Britain to show that we can and do offer strong leadership in Europe.
A test for Europe to show that it can embrace the need for change and reform.
The true Europeans today are those who believe in Europe cooperating and working closely together, but know Europe needs to reform. There is a global economic market in which Europe must compete.
There are forces of social change that are altering the very foundations of community and family life.
There is a Europe to the East knocking on our door, freed from the constraint of Communism and eager for entry into the EU. Britains Presidency comes at a time of immense challenge for Europe, needing every bit of leadership and purpose we can muster.
18 million people are out of work.
Eight years after the collapse of the Berlin Wall, the formal negotiations to widen Europe to embrace the new democracies of central and eastern Europe have still to open.
The cost and waste of the Common Agricultural Policy continue to grow year by year.
We have as yet shown ourselves insufficiently effective in enhancing our common security at home and abroad - whether by not tackling effectively the cross border problems of the environment, drugs and international crime; or by failing to face up collectively to external threats such as those posed by Saddam Hussein and ethnic cleansing in former Yugoslavia. I want our Presidency to build on the work of our predecessors and lead the process of change and reform. Our joint mission is to make Europe work for the people. A Europe that is closer to the peoples priorities: peace and prosperity, progress and partnership. In outline, these are our Presidency themes:
First, we must build support for what we call the third way in Europe. The focus for economic reform should be a social model based on improving the employability of the European workforce. This means education not regulation, skills an technology, not costs and burdens on business, an open competition and markets not protectionism. There is a way between old-style state intervention and laissez-faire and we must take it. The crucial tests will be in completing the Single Market and in labour market reform.
Second, we will work constructively with our partners to ensure that Economic and Monetary Union is launched successfully. It is in all our interests that monetary union works, We will play our part to ensure it does.
Third, we want to secure peace, democracy and security in a wider Europe by starting enlargement negotiations. I want to use our Presidency to ensure that the negotiations get off to a flying start. It is an historic mission on which prosperous Western Europe cannot turn its back. We will also press for the start of reform in the Common Agricultural Policy, Structural Funds and European institutions necessary to make enlargement a success.
Fourth, we will take forward common action on crime, drugs and the environment. Drug traffickers and money launderers do not respect borders. We must work together, if we are to have any hope of tackling these problems. We will judge the merits of proposals in these areas by the simple test of whether they work.
On the environment, we need to ensure that Europe takes the lead. The EU has a pivotal role to play at Kyoto. We must use our influence to carry both the US and the developing world with us. We must ensure effective follow-up during our Presidency.
Fifth, we will demonstrate that Europe can work together effectively and be a force for good in its relations with the outside world. Europe must play a major role on the world stage- a role that is open and outward looking, strong in its advocacy of free trade, human rights and democratic values. As the Presidency, we will work hard to build a stronger common foreign and security policy that is robust in the face of the threats that Europe faces.
There will of course be many other issues on the table during our Presidency. Dealing with whatever is on the agenda with despatch and efficiency is the hallmark of an effective Presidency. One problem we will certainly not lose sight of is the ban on the export of British beef, where we have to see some practical progress soon.
Finally, I want to involve the British people in our Presidency. A theme running through it will be greater openness and transparency: as part of this I am pleased to announce that our Presidency Internet Web Site is now on line. I also hope that during our Presidency we will be able to set up a system to allow EU Heads of Government to consult each other by means of video conference links.
We can only make Europe work for the people of Europe, if in turn the people of Europe feel they have a stake in what Europe does. Our Presidency is an opportunity to demonstrate that Britain now has a strong voice in Europe. That the indecision, vacillation and anti-Europeanism of the past have gone. And that we can at last play our part in building a Europe that works for the people and the people's priorities.