ePolitix | 7 June 2006
Hague backs EU-US free trade zone
William Hague has called for a free trade area to be established between the EU and US.
The shadow foreign secretary was set to say in a speech to an Open Europe event in London that the economic principles behind the two leading economic blocs should be extended beyond their own borders.
He argued that the idea has backing from other member states.
"A transatlantic free trade area’s benefits are needed," Hague was set to say.
"It is an idea whose time has come and should be championed by the government of the United Kingdom."
He said that the repeated failure of the Doha round of trade talks to secure a deal must make the EU ready to adopt alternative strategies for growth.
"We must, without abandoning the aim of future success, look for other ways to break down barriers to trade," he says.
"I have been surprised by the breadth of support across Europe for a transatlantic free trade area.
"It is a logical extension to the single market. If we think that removing barriers to trade within Europe is a good thing - removing the transatlantic barriers would be even better."
Signalling a warmer tone from the Conservatives towards the EU, Hague nevertheless argued that there is a "widely held conviction" among the British public that EU integration "has gone far enough".
"There should be no integration without consent. Under a Conservative government there would be no Treaty changes that transfer more competences to the EU without a referendum," he said.
And despite reports that Tories in the Brussels parliament are on the verge of splitting over party leader David Cameron’s plans to leave the federalist European People’s Party, Hague insists he is committed to delivering the policy.
"Sometimes decisions in politics upset people," he told the BBC.