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Hague vow over UK-Europe influence


William Hague vows to increase UK influence over Europe

William Hague vows to increase UK influence over Europe

William Hague vows to increase UK influence over Europe

Foreign Secretary William Hague has vowed to increase Britain's influence in the European Union by boosting numbers of UK nationals in the corridors of power at Brussels.

Mr Hague accused the previous Labour government of allowing a "generation gap" to develop over its 13 years in power, by neglecting to ensure enough British officials won key posts in EU institutions.

Numbers of British officials at director level in the European Commission have fallen by one-third since 2007, and numbers of UK posts by 205 overall, he said. Although it represents 12% of the EU population, the UK has just 1.8% of staff in entry-level positions at the Commission.

In a speech at the Foreign Office, Mr Hague will say: "It is mystifying to us that the previous government failed to give due weight to the exercise of British influence in the EU.

"They neglected to ensure that sufficient numbers of bright British officials entered EU institutions, and so we now face a generation gap developing in the British presence in parts of the EU...

"As a new Government, we are determined to put this right."

The drive to increase UK representation in Brussels will form part of a new approach to foreign policy designed to extend British global reach and influence, Mr Hague will say.

And he will explain that this could involve anything from strengthening personal relationships with other countries' ministers to exploiting the appeal of British culture and heritage or using new means of communication such as text message and Twitter.

"In opposition it became increasingly apparent to me that the previous government had neglected to lift its eyes to the wider strategic needs of this country, to take stock of British interests, and to determine in a systematic fashion what we must do as a nation if we are to secure our international influence and earn our living in a world that is rapidly changing," Mr Hague will say.

"In recent years, Britain's approach to building relationships with new and emerging powers has been ad hoc and patchy, giving rise to the frequent complaint from such governments that British ministers only get in touch when a crisis arises or a crucial vote is needed."