European Union lawmaker complains British PM Blair

A European Union lawmaker on Wednesday complained over what he called British Prime Minister Tony Blair's lackluster involvement in EU matters and his presidency of the 25-nation bloc.Britain holds the rotating EU presidency, but Blair has spoken in the European Parliament only once, telling the assembly in a well-received speech in Brussels in June that the bloc must chart a new course after French and Dutch voters rejected the EU Constitution.

Blair, whose country holds the presidency until December, was chided for not personally addressing the EU assembly at any of its four-day plenary sessions in Strasbourg, France.

However, by custom, EU leaders only visit the parliament only twice during their country's presidency of the EU, at the beginning and at the end.

"We have lost the President of the (EU) Council. From what we hear he is the British Prime Minister Tony Blair, although nobody has seen or heard of him since the summer recess ended," said Austrian conservative Othmar Karas in a mock missing person's bulletin circulated at the EU assembly. "Useful indications concerning his whereabouts and especially his activities will be gladly received by the European citizens."

Karas' statement reflects the disillusionment of many EU deputies with Britain's EU presidency. Both center-left and center-right groups have criticized Britain for not doing enough to solve the current EU budget crisis and leading a debate on the future of the EU, and more specifically the EU's constitution. I.L.