European Council

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 1:08 pm on 24th March 2005.

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Photo of Tony Blair Tony Blair Prime Minister 1:08 pm, 24th March 2005

In relation to the services directive, of course we support it. The only issue for the European Council, which is a discussion that produces conclusions, was whether we should withdraw the directive. That was firmly rejected by the majority of countries round the table. There will be a legislative process in any event, but the Council agreed that any changes have to be made in the course of that process. There will be some amendments, but they should not touch on the essential nature of the directive, which is right and necessary and will bring benefits.

In relation to CAP reform and the services directive, the point to emphasise is the importance of qualified majority voting. There is no way we would get any of the changes—on the CAP, on the services directive or on the single market—without QMV.

In respect of Iraq, I would point out that other countries—most notably, recently, Australia—have decided to put in troops. I can assure the right hon. Gentleman that the position of myself and other European Union leaders, except those with parliamentary resolutions to which they have to adhere—although they remain fully supportive of the mission in Iraq—is that we stay in Iraq until the job is done. The job is being done. Iraq is on its way to democracy, there is a huge spirit of enthusiasm there for the future, and the security problems are increasingly being dealt with by the Iraqis themselves. However, we must ensure that the security forces are in the proper position to be able to guard the Iraqis against the terrorist threat that they face. We must also ensure that Iraq can continue to make steady progress towards democracy. That is our position and, I assure the right hon. Gentleman, it is the position of the other European countries.