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Row over 'United States of Europe'

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Should the EU be renamed the United States of Europe?


LONDON, England -- A proposal to rename the European Union the United States of Europe has been criticised in Britain.

The idea was floated by former French President Valery Giscard d'Estaing, who is chairing the Convention on the Future of the EU.

UK Prime Minister Tony Blair welcomed the first draft of a constitution for Europe drawn up by the Convention, which included the controversial suggestion.

However, Welsh Secretary and former Europe minister Peter Hain said the name United States of Europe was "frankly not on."

And British eurosceptics seized on the document as evidence that Britain is being dragged into a federal superstate.

Hain, who has retained his place on the Convention despite his move last week from the Foreign Office to the Welsh Office, told the BBC: "United States of Europe was one option. Europe United was another -- Europe United sounds like a football team to me.

"United States of Europe frankly is not on, we won't accept that.

"I have just been at a meeting of some of the smaller countries, they are totally opposed to it, it is not a runner.

"I think we will end up with where we are -- something which people know, which is the European Union.

"But the substance of the issue is not the labels. We are encouraged by this report ... the reality is that this is a draft which anchors the European Union to the nation state -- a union of sovereign nation states not the federal superstate."

The draft constitution is only a summary of the Convention debate so far and final proposals are not due before next summer.

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