Brown puts Britain at the heart of Europe

By stafff

Gordon Brown has put Britain at the heart of Europe, following a meeting in Downing Street with the new EU president.

Former Belgian prime minister Herman van Rompuy, spoke opposite Mr Brown at a press conference following their meeting today, as the two men took the first tentative steps towards establishing a more coherent co-operative strategy.

The two men focused on climate change and the economy as the main issues facing the EU.

“Half the UK’s international trade is with Europe,” Mr Brown said.

“The opportunity for Britain in Europe is real. We thrive being at the heart of a prosperous Europe.”

The British prime minister insisted that the EU establish free trade agreements with countries outside the economic block, starting with Korea.

He also called for revised economic forecasts, stating the current 0.7 per cent growth forecast for 2010 was too low and that “European growth ambition is not good enough for the future”.

He added: “Unemployment is at ten per cent. It is unacceptably high and we have to take action to deal with that.”

Both men also offered their thoughts on Haiti.

“All of us have been deeply moved by the plight of Haiti and its people,” Mr van Rompuy said.

“This is a test of our ability to co-ordinate our actions together,” Mr Brown added.

He insisted on the need to “begin reconstruction for a country that for too long has been immersed in poverty and now tragedy”.

He added: “Every picture that comes out Haiti tells a human story of tragedy. The question is how can we make most effective all of the compassion the whole of world wants to show to Haiti.”