The Danish Parliament’s notoriously rigorous scrutiny of EU activities did not stop its serving as the venue for two seminars for World and European Federalists in October.
The first seminar on the future of the United Nations had as scheduled speakers Per Stig Moller, the Danish (Conservative) Foreign Minister, Niels Helveg Petersen, the former (Radikale Venstre) Foreign Minister and Sir Peter Ustinov, President of the World Federalist Movement (WFM).
The Danish politicians presented a contrast to what their British party equivalents might have been expected to say. The Danish Conservatives are very pro-European while there are strong anti EU views on the far left and right.
Moller reported Danish hopes of a UN Security Council seat in 2005-6.
Pedersen could not explain why Denmark supported the Iraq war. He felt that the UN was not sufficiently efficient; there was a need to improve its regional activity and for a revived Trusteeship Council to assist collapsing states.
Ustinov spoke amusingly but I wonder how far he got all his mimicry through to an international audience consisting largely of good but not native speakers of English, the working language.
Bill Pace, Executive Director of WFM, informed the audience of the historical background to the Bush foreign policy.
The afternoon was devoted to a seminar on EU involvement with the UN. Lucio Levi of MFE, the Italian member organisation of both WFM and the Union of European Federalists (UEF) and Andreas Bummel of WFM put the case for an EU presence in the UN Security Council.
Other speakers included Peter Luff of the One World Trust and Bruno Boissière, Secretary General of UEF, who described the EU as despite imperfections a possible model for other regions of the world.
Lawrence Fullick, Treasurer of Federal Union, managed to quote Eartha Kitt while explaining British semi detached attitudes to Europe.
A notable contribution came from the Rev James Christie, a Canadian WFM member also involved in the United Nations Association. The WFM UNA linkage was also notable among the Danes whose UNA provided much hospitality for the meetings.
On the second day while WFM members attended their own Council meeting UEF members supported the launch of UEF’s new Danish section held in an historic half-timbered house which the British failed to destroy when burning Copenhagen to the ground in 1807. The founders generously conducted the meeting in English which caused no problem for any Danes and greatly helped several UEF members who attended. The best known member of the UEF Denmark leadership is Professor Finn Laursen, a political scientist well known in Federal Trust, UACES and other international academic circles.
After the formal meeting a seminar of the draft EU Constitution was led by Laursen, Erik Boel, of the Danish European Movement, and Guido Montani, MFE. Boel emphasised the need to promote citizens’ rights. A discussion developed on how frequently new Conventions and IGCs would be needed.
As well as the European Movement there was also support from members of New Europe, a group seeking to convert anti Europeans on the centre left to a more pro European line.
Finally a short briefing for UEF participants brought those who are not as well informed as Federal Union Newsletter readers up to date with UEF’s very interesting plans for the future.
This article was contributed by Lawrence Fullick, a member of the Executive Committee of Federal Union. He may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org. The opinions expressed are those of the author and not necessarily those of Federal Union.