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Hungarian Foreign Minister Rejects 'Two-Speed' Europe

Foreign Minister Laszlo Kovacs said on 19 February after talks in Budapest with his Italian counterpart Franco Frattini that the idea of a "two-speed Europe" is "very negative," and might "lead to the collapse of the EU," AP and Hungarian media reported.

Kovacs emphasized, "it is in the very essence of the EU to help the new [member] countries catch up, to diminish differences instead of widening them." The so-called "two-speed Europe" French-German concept emerged after failure to reach agreement on the planned EU constitution. France and Germany suggested that a group of EU members might move ahead towards closer integration, with the other group to follow at a later stage.

Frattini agreed with Kovacs, saying, "The two-speed Europe makes no sense" and that "Europe must be built by all." But Frattini also emphasized that an agreement on the planned EU constitution needs to be reached quickly. Both ministers called for stronger trans-Atlantic ties and Frattini added that those ties should also be extended to the Mediterranean basin.

(RFE/RL 20.ii.04)

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