BRUGES, Belgium, Nov 15 (Reuters) Britain offered today a vision of the European Union as a ''model power'' not afraid to use military force, and a strong backer of free trade, in a speech delivered by Foreign Secretary David Miliband.
Miliband also said the 27-nation EU should expand to Turkey as soon as the country met the accession criteria, and consider extending its single market beyond immediate neighbours into the Middle East and North Africa.
''The EU will never be a superpower, but could be a model power of regional cooperation,'' Miliband said in a speech prepared for delivery in the Belgium city of Bruges, where Britain's then prime minister, Margaret Thatcher, in 1988 argued against a European federalist superstate.
''For success, the EU must be open to ideas, trade and people ... and it must be able to deploy soft and hard power to promote democracy and tackle conflicts beyond its borders,'' Miliband said.
Highlighting protectionism as a threat, Miliband appeared to respond to French President Nicolas Sarkozy, who said on Tuesday the bloc must protect its farmers and industries better to overcome a crisis of confidence due to the harsh forces of globalisation.
His speech, however, was in line with Sarkozy's call for greater efforts to build an independent European defence capability and to modernise NATO.
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