Friday, 22 June 2007
Since the early 1970s British policy has set its face against propping up ailing industries or companies with masses of state aid, a policy which has subsisted to this day, with the dishonourable exception of the money given for squalid electoral reasons by Labour to the moribund Rover concern at the time of the 2005 election.
At the 1975 referendum, the European project was sold to us as creating a level playing field in terms of trade and competition (no mention was ever made of handing over such things as immigration, employment, justice and foreign policy to Brussels, as you might imagine) which would be in the natural national interest of the UK which espouses free trade and and end to protectionism.
Now that is to be abandoned. Protectionist states such as France and Italy will take this a a legal green light to pump its ailing industries with lots of loot to keep them afloat. It will be used to keep British and other overseas companies excluded from French markets. And the ECJ will go along with it, abandoning its former firm stance against such destruction of the level playing field.
The British people have been betrayed by this. A fundamental plank for the securing of our consent to the EU is to be destroyed. Regardless of Blair's so-called 'red lines' this change must trigger not just a referendum on further integration but on the continued membership of the United Kingdom in the EU.
If we concede the legal personality issue, it’s all over chaps.
That plus all the existing institutions such as the Parliament, the Council of Ministers, The Commission, would create in the EU all the indicia of a sovereign state contemplated by The Montevideo Convention on the Rights and Duties of States, signed at Montevideo, Uruguay on 26th. December 1933. Although only signed by nineteen Latin-American nation states, Article 1 of the Convention sets out the four criteria for statehood that have frequently been recognized as an accurate statement of customary international law:
“The state as a person of international law should possess the following qualifications:
(a) a permanent population;
(b) a defined territory;
(c) government; and
(d) capacity to enter into relations with the other states.”
Blair’s red lines matter not a fig. This is what it is all about. If you throw in primacy of EU law, the EU Defence Force, The Foreign Minister (whatever he or she gets called) and the permanent presidency, it becomes like the elephant in the front room: if it looks like a superstate, if it sounds like a superstate and if it smells like a superstate, then it is a superstate.
Hark! Is that the sound of jackboots crunching on the drive already?
“We are only demanding one thing - that we get back what was taken from us,” he said at the opening of the EU summit in Brussels, chaired by German chancellor Angela Merkel.
“If Poland had not had to live through the years of 1939-45, Poland would be today looking at the demographics of a country of 66 million.”
Poland's current population is 38 million.
The German delegation will doubtless be irritated by this but frankly they should squirm and look at their feet instead.
Britain, on the other hand, should tacitly support this line: after all we were allies in that conflict and many Poles fought and died alongside British and Empire troops or flew Hawker Hurricanes and Supermarine Spitfires with great courage and élan in the Battle of Britain. Thereafter we rather abandoned them to their fate. We owe them a debt of Honour and supporting them now would be a small repayment of that debt. Any Nation whose Army has the guts to charge advancing tanks with horsed Lancers is worthy of our admiration, after all.
Po-faced Politically Correct Europhiles will surely be outraged at this breach of their “For God’s Sake Don’t Mention The War” rule and will have that look about them that The Huntsman calls "The Lemon Squeezer Look" (Ingest juice of two lemons at once and then look in mirror: that's what it looks like!). That will equally surely warm the cockles of every Eurosceptic’s heart.
Barroso showed his frustration at continued objections to the new EU treaty from Britain and Poland by giving warning that it would not be in their long-term interests to rock the boat, and he told them to stop talking of “red lines and vetoes”. He launched an ill-tempered attack on countries that he thought were hampering this week’s talks on a treaty to replace the failed constitution.
Britain has set out more “red-line” objections than any other country and the Poles are digging in hard for a review of voting weights because they believe that the proposed new system will give Germany too much power.
“It is not in the interest of any member state to be in a position that is seen as hard- liner,” Mr Barroso said before the summit, which starts in Brussels tomorrow. “Please avoid appearing as blocking. This is not intelligent, this is not in your interest,” he said.
“It may be useful for some national consumption for some time, but it will not be useful in the medium and the long term. Defend your positions, but don’t come with these red lines and vetoes.” Mr Barroso added: “Failure would set back our work across the board.”
Someone should tell this functionary to get his nose out of our business but quick. It is outrageous that he should seek to lecture us in this way and Blair ought to be reading him the riot act tonight for this piece of gross mischief.
He should tell Barroso that it is for the British people to decide what is and what is not in our interests. His bullying comments will only inflame the British people further against "The Project".
One thing though: if (and The Huntsman is not holding his breath, you understand) Blair vetoes this whole shoddy business, we will all be thrilled if, as predicted, it sets back their dirty work across the board.
Thursday, 21 June 2007
Before we all run off at the mouth about what a nice guy he is, everyone should be FORCED to read this cheery little piece (here).
If that does not tell you just how scary Blair's proto-Fascist scheme to inflict ID cards upon Free Englishmen for the first time in peace-time, then you are brain-dead.
Blair, Brown and Beckett have been out trying to persuade us that they are going to veto any EU deal on the revival of its ill-fated constitution which fails to meet their so-called red lines. We shall watch with interest what actually happens.
The red lines are:
No Charter of Fundamental Rights
No Surrender of control over the judiciary and policing
No EU Foreign Minister
No Diminution of the British veto on anything “that can have a big say in our own tax and benefits system”
There are a number of problems here.
Firstly the EU Nabobs are threatening to introduce the Charter of Fundamental Rights by the back door by the so-called process of ‘cross-referencing’. This involves incorporation of the Charter by linking an explicit reference in the treaty itself to some other document which does so mention it. Sneaky. The ECJ will then take great delight in ruling that we did in fact sign up to it after all and even if we did not it is still EU law, so there.
The EU Foreign minister problem is a red herring. The really important thing is the issue of ‘legal personality’ for the EU. This would give the EU the right to make treaties and be members of International organizations in its own right and then to claim that it supercedes all the nation states thereby. You do not need a Foreign Minister to do that.
In addition it may be useful to recall that the Constitution also sought to make us subject to a common foreign policy. If that stays in,, who needs a Foreign Minister?
The Legal Personality issue, plus all the existing institutions such as the Parliament, the Council of Ministers, The Commission, would create in the EU all the indicia of a sovereign state contemplated by The Montevideo Convention on the Rights and Duties of States, signed at
(a) a permanent population;
(b) a defined territory;
(c) government; and
(d) capacity to enter into relations with the other states.”
We stand on the edge of losing our status as a sovereign nation state. Let us beware the weasel words of the Quislings who are planning to betray us. Demand a referendum now!
Tuesday, 19 June 2007
It is as yet not clear precisely what he is saying but if, as seems to be the case, this means that any sort of cession of power will trigger a future referendum, then this is greatly to be welcomed.
In addition it will do something to assuage the rumblings of dissent that have been rising since the desperately poorly handled Grammar Schools issue temporarily prostrated the party, though Mr. Cameron would do well to remember that policy on Europe does not stop here.
Meanwhile the Quislings continue to plot the demise of the United Kingdom. We have heard all this talk of 'red lines' and 'opt-outs' before. Red lines end up being fudged or abandoned; 'opt outs' end up being over-ruled or outflanked by the ECJ.
Why not just say to the EuroNabobery, for a change, "No." or "Thus far and no further, so don't even mention these things again and waste our time"?
The trouble with these Euro huddles is that when the EuroFederalists eventually isolate the UK from the rest, like a pack of hyenas, they end up forlornly trying to defend their position like a lion tries to defend its kill. So the hyenas circle and circle about nipping in every now and then to seize some tasty chunk until the poor lion has nothing left. Saying "No" at the outset would avoid this sort of humiliation.
Keith Vaz, on the Daily Politics, opines that you should only have referendums when you "really" need them: i.e. when you think you will win them. Quite.
Monday, 18 June 2007
The weekend has seen a series of very mixed messages concerning the forthcoming negotiations over the further progress of the EU Constitution.
Firstly there is the suggestion that Blair might be after or be offered the new 2½ year (renewable once) post of Full Time President of the European Union. This positively ghastly idea is apparently being touted by new French President Nicolas Sarkozy who will today appear in public with a hankie pressed to his nose after having a serious and somewhat unexpected nosebleed administered to him by the ever-fickle and feckless French electorate which appears to have actually reduced the number of seats for the right rather than deliver a Sarkozy landslide.
Sarkozy has obviously well-judged his man. Blair’s Peacock Prince Grand Tour of recent weeks has revealed a man of unmitigated hubris whose smug self-belief knows no bounds. What better trick to pull to get your own way than to play to Blair’s deep-seated vanity, engaging in unahamed sycophancy in suggesting that no better candidate exists for this post.
Although the usual sources have tried to pour water on the story, there are some intriguing ideas as to why he might go for it.
Firstly, Blair could claim to be a universally admired statesman, so popular with his fellow Euro Nabobs that he was their first choice for the post.
Secondly, if he can slip this one past the British Public,
Thirdly he can do a Kinnock by setting himself up for an eye-wateringly large pension at the end of it all: that will help pay the mortgage. The Empress could be co-opted as an MEP, so that, like Tescos, it will be a case of ‘every little helps’.
Meanwhile the ‘Amending Mini-Treaty’, which is not a constitution, can be signed off without a
Fourthly, Blair can make a little show of being the reluctant bride in all this, only to be coaxed along by his EuroNabob chums into finally accepting the post: “Oh, if you really insist…duty calls”, he will say.
This may well be why Brown has sent BuffHoon out over the weekend to suggest that a referendum is still on the cards. He has NOT promised to hold one as some papers have suggested, merely not ruled it out. That is classic spin, of course, trying to suggest one thing when another is true. But it might make sense if Brown really fears Emperor Tony is going to sell us all into EuroSerfdom and grab the loot for himself: what better way to greet him the day after the 80% ‘No’ referendum result than to say “Sorry, Tony, I did try, honestly, but the people have spoken!”.
We will all have to wait and see.
Wednesday, 13 June 2007
I have been unable to source it more particularly than that, however, so apologies all round to the appropriate copyright holders for my inability properly to give proper attribution.
Lesson of the Mountain Republic
"Switzerland is a near-perfect democracy - so it won’t join the EU, says Daniel Hannan MEP
If the EU is as bad as I think it is, why do countries keep queueing up to join it? I have been wrestling with this question for years. Now, I think I have the answer.
Membership of the EU can be good or bad for a country overall; but it is invariably good for some people within each country, namely its politicians, diplomats, civil servants and lobbyists. Brussels offers them hugely lucrative career opportunities. Most MEPs take home more than their prime ministers.
During the 2004 accession referendum, an Estonian newspaper calculated that a civil servant who transferred from Tallinn to Brussels, doing the same job at the same rank, would increase his salary 27 times. It was precisely these people, of course, who were negotiating Estonia's entry.
The Norwegian and Swiss governments keep applying to join, for similar reasons - although, so far, each attempt has been rejected in a referendum.
I spent Easter in Switzerland, the best and purest democracy on Earth. But its politicians see EU membership as a way of sidestepping the tradition of referendums.
"The Swiss are very conservative," a charming liberal-leaning MP told me. "They vote 'no' to almost anything." And your problem with that is? "No, really, you must understand. They vote against all taxation, they vote against immigration, they vote against sharing sovereignty with other states, they vote against minority rights..."
No wonder the level-headed Switzers are against the EU. Where their system is predicated on the maximum devolution of power, the EU's is founded on precisely the opposite principle: 'ever-closer union'.
Where Switzerland is a near-perfect democracy, Brussels is designed to allow interest groups to advance agendas that wouldn't pass the ballot box. Which system delivers the more prosperous and contented polity? As the Americans say, go figure."
"Business people in the UK have fallen out of love with the EU in recent years. It isn’t hard to see why.
Brussels has produced a torrent of costly regulation. Of the 22,000 pieces of legislation on the EU statute book, more than 12,000 have been introduced in the ten years since 1997, compared to 10,000 during the forty years from 1957 to 1997. The EU law book now runs to a staggering 170,000 pages.
Such huge number make the eyes glaze over. But its worth remembering that even a single regulation can shut down an industry. For example, last week the commission casually banned the manufacture of traditional barometers, and closed down a whole industry with the stroke of a pen.
A study by the British Chambers of Commerce, using the government’s own impact assessments, found that EU regulation has cost the UK economy £40 billion since 1998 alone. According to a recent ICM poll of 1,000 UK chief executives, 54% of businesses think that the cost of EU regulation now outweighs the benefits of the single market.
So far a lot of media attention has been focused on the issue of giving up the veto in new areas, and moving to qualified majority voting (QMV). But even more importantly, the constitutional treaty proposes to change the way that votes are taken in the areas where majority voting does apply. That’s very significant because majority voting already applies to about half of EU legislation.
Under the proposed new system the number of member states votes needed to block a new law would be substantially increased. Meaning that in areas where the UK is currently blocking legislation with the help of a couple of other countries, we would need to find even more allies if we wanted to carry on blocking the proposal.
Overall, academic work shows that the new voting system would reduce the UK’s power to block legislation by almost 30 percent. This means that the EU would inevitably be producing even more regulation, with even higher costs for business.
Despite this, a recent joint paper from two pro-euro groups, “Business for New Europe” and the Centre for European Reform, attempts to make a “business case” for adopting the new version of the constitutional treaty. It makes for pretty extraordinary reading.
The paper argues that: “Under the new system, those opposing a law would find it slightly harder to block it. But that should not concern the UK or businesses, since most of the draft laws coming out of the Commission are liberalising measures.”
Ah, so no need to worry then. Business can trust the lovely European Commission to always uphold its interests - even if the UK Government is opposed to a given measure.
This is clearly a mad argument. However, the report will be formally launched at an event next monday, entitled 'Why treaty change matters for business and for Britain'. Intriguingly, CBI Director General Richard Lambert is among those taking to the podium. Europhile hacks have been briefed that he will support the line taken in the paper and swing the CBI behind a campaign for the constitutional treaty (as it once campaigned for the euro). But if he does so, he risks splitting his membership.
Former CBI Director-General Digby Jones said back in 2004 that his organisation’s key concerns on the original EU Constitution were clear: “We don’t want anything that weakens UK control of decisions on employment law, financial regulation or energy policy.' But the new voting system would weaken the UK’s control of all of these issues and more besides.
Even just looking at the proposals that are currently in the pipeline, we can see that less power would mean trouble for UK business - never mind anything nasty that might be further down the line.
The UK and a few other liberal states are currently blocking the Temporary Agency Workers Directive, which would give the temporary workers the same rights as permanent workers. The UK has more temporary workers than any other EU country (700,000), and lots of businesses, particularly the smaller ones, rely on them. If the measure came through it would be more expensive to hire temp workers, reducing competitiveness and increasing unemployment. The BCC has warned strongly against this coming into force, saying that it will lead to reduced employment opportunities for those who need it the most.
France, Spain and others, backed by the EU Commission want to get rid of the derogation that allows the UK to opt-out of the EU’s 48 hour working week. The UK is able to block it through alliance with a few other member states. But under the revised Constitutional Treaty, the UK might need to either extend its list of allies or accept giving up its opt-out. The DTI estimates that losing this opt-out on the working time directive would cost the UK economy £9 billion a year.
The idea that Britain should hand over its powers, safe in the belief that the Commisison has changed its spots is ludicrous. Yes, Portuguese Commission President Jose Barroso has talked a good game, and promised a more business-friendly approach. He has even promised to roll back EU regulation. But what has actually happened?
The Commission promised a ‘bonfire of the diktats’, and talked about axing over 200 regulations. But how many have gone? Just two. The Commission last month finally managed to get rid of the “knots in wood” directive from the 1960’s and the 1968 food packaging sizes regulation. It would be fair to say that this will not transform the European economy – particularly given that the EU adopts about 1,200 pieces of new regulation a year.
There are several well intentioned free marketers in the Commission. But they seem unable to make a difference. Industry Commissioner Gunter Verheugen has taken the extraordinary step of going on the record to complain that powerful civil servants have tried to obstruct his deregulatory moves. He says that EU mandarins often take the view that “more regulation equals more Europe.”
Let’s look at the big picture. Given Europe’s chronic decline in international competitiveness relative to China and the US, the EU needs to be regulating less, not more. Is it really in the interest of British business to reduce the UK’s power to stem the flow of EU regulation? For the sake of UK business we need a referendum to call a halt to this, and force a fundamental shift towards a real reform agenda in Europe."
If we cannot achieve deregulation from the EU then, in the national interest of the United Kingdom and its people, we call on the government to allow a referendum on our continuing membership of the EU.
When France and The Netherlands voted to kill the EU Constitution, it was then said that the EU Constitution was totally dead. Many did not believe this and were sure that in due course the mummy would be removed from its sarcophagus, its bandaging unwound, the stake removed from its heart and the silver bullet excavated from its brain. Thus revived it would, by the use of smoke and mirrors, obfuscation and lies, be represented to the people of the EU as an amending treaty, unworthy of a referendum.
"Yesterday's Times ran quite a good cartoon featuring Brown and Blair as magicians struggling to pull a rabbit out of the EU hat.
The analogy is bang on. The key to a good magic trick is to distract the attention of the audience. And that is exactly what the government is up to in Brussels.
Government spinners keep briefing hacks that it is fighting with its back to the wall to see off all kinds of plots to give the EU more power. The story for domestic consumption is that although the talks are awfully tough, the Government is successfully handbagging its EU partners into submission in the negotiations.
This is mostly baloney. By focusing the attention on a few of the more contentious issues, voters and the media lose sight of everything that the Government is giving up without a fight. Most notably: the creation of a powerful new EU President; a new EU Foreign Minister who would "automatically" speak for us at the UN; and a new voting system which would reduce the UK’s voting strength by about 30%.
While Tony Blair will sign up to the broad outline of a deal in June, Gordon Brown will be in charge of the nitty-gritty of negotiations in the run up to December when the revised Constitutional Treaty is expected to be finalised. In order to avoid holding a referendum, he is desperate for headlines along the lines of "Brown bashes Brussels". He will proclaim "victory" and then sign up to the new treaty.
The Government is already starting to talk about what its immutable 'red lines' are. In reality, most of them are already agreed.
Brown will demand that the symbols of the EU like the flag are dropped. But then hey, they already exist. The reference to the primacy of EU law over national law will be 'axed'. But then most of Brussels thinks that this legal principle is already in force.
Ditto the charter of fundamental rights.
Although most other countries would like it in the new text - it is not a prerequisite. (It is after all, already coming into force by the back door - see for example the creation of the Fundamental Rights Agency in Vienna.)
As The Sun reported yesterday the Germans have already agreed with Blair to ditch the Charter from the revised Constitutional Treaty in order to bag a far greater prize - the abolition of national vetoes over justice and home affairs.
Vetoes are a tricky subject for the Government - they represent a clear transfer of power to the EU level - and clearly cross what is becoming known as the "referendum threshold". In all likelihood the Government will give up the veto in some of the less high profile areas but it will want to be seen to make a stand in areas such as Home Affairs.
The deal is already pretty clear:
The Government will give up the veto on home affairs, but in order to hide this they will be allowed to resort to that old mainstay of EU politics - impenetrable jargon. They will probably secure some sort of fudge: for instance, giving up the veto and replacing it with an "emergency brake", a "joker card" or an "opt-in". Despite what they claim, this will not be as effective a safeguard as a good, old fashioned "no". Just ask yourselves, if it was, why would pro-integration EU leaders be so happy to accept it? If it was really as good as a veto, why bother?
What this argument over vetoes and opt-outs will do however, is act as a smokescreen to distract us from the real meat of the issue. Quite simply, if provisions on justice and home affairs are included in the new treaty as a community competence, it will hugely increase the control of unelected EU judges and bureaucrats over crime, policing and immigration policies.
The European Court of Justice (ECJ) would become the highest criminal court in the land - something which has been resisted by successive UK governments over the years. The Commission would be able to take the UK to the ECJ if it disagreed with its criminal law and procedures - giving EU judges an unprecedented license to change the UK's substantive criminal law. EU bureaucrats have already signalled that they would use this to force us to change our laws on detaining terror suspects.
EU member states would no longer be in charge of proposing which areas of criminal law they want to cooperate on - this would be left to the Commission to decide and drive forward.
Perhaps even more significantly, the UK would also lose its ability to agree extradition treaties with other countries such as the USA or Australia. Our lopsided treaty with the US is a disgrace - but at least we can vote to change it. Once Brussels runs things you can forget it. And don't think for a second that Brussels is better at standing up to the US - have a look at the even more lopsided 'deal' the EU has just done on air travel.
Similarly, we could see the loss of our ability to agree deportation agreements with countries such as Libya. Any ruling on their legitimacy would also be overseen by judges in Luxembourg rather than the House of Lords.
One argument about vetoes which the Government has skilfully managed to avoid to date is the question of the veto over aspects of foreign policy.
Agreeing to set up an EU Foreign Minister would probably also entail agreement to introduce several new areas of majority voting in foreign policy. For example, the original version of the Constitution proposed that votes on policies or actions proposed by the EU Foreign Minister would not be subject to national vetoes. Funny how the government are not saying whether they will reverse that...
In fact this is an old wound. The UK Government strenuously opposed the inclusion of majority voting on foreign policy in the old EU Constitution. Jack Straw said that this clause was "simply unacceptable", but ended up rolling over and accepting it. Unsurprisingly, we haven't heard anything from the Government on this issue in the current negotiations.
The effort to play down the importance of the text leads Europhiles to make some curious arguments. On the World at One yesterday a spokesman for the Centre for European Reform argued that a referendum was no longer necessary because the new version only contains about 20% of the old text.
Leaving aside the percentage figure, (actually it contains all the important things, just none of the original bumf), this is a pretty extraordinary argument - especially when you remember that voters in France and Holland overwhelmingly voted against these ideas. Would it be OK if Gordon Brown lost the next election in a record landslide defeat, but then demanded to stay in office, promising to carry out only 20 percent of the Labour manifesto? It won't wash.
Over the next six months we can expect plenty of spin, lies and tactics of distraction form the Government over the revised Constitutional Treaty. That the talks are being conducted behind closed doors and away from public scrutiny will give them a big advantage. That's why we need to step up the pressure now, so we can force them to keep their promises by holding an open and democratic debate backed up by the promised referendum."
Anyone who doubts that the EU is, by the present revival of its Constitution by another name, striving for de facto and de jure statehood should contemplate the The Montevideo Convention on the Rights and Duties of States, signed at
Although only signed by nineteen Latin-American nation states, Article 1 of the Convention sets out the four criteria for statehood that have frequently been recognized as an accurate statement of customary international law:
(d) capacity to enter into relations with the other states.”The EU already has the first two. The institutions, with the powers and competences conferred upon them by the EU Constitution, of the EU are all those that any State requires to exercise the untrammeled political authority of a government. And the creation of an EU Foreign Minister, backed by an obligation on members to support common EU Foreign policy, fulfills the last requirement.
It is vital that we have a referendum on what Blair is plotting to foist upon us.
We reproduce here the first of these articles by Nick O'Brien, Director of OpenEurope.
"Here we go again. EU leaders are meeting in two weeks time to re-launch the constitutional treaty which was rejected by French and Dutch voters in 2005.
In fact, delegates appointed by the 27 leaders have been meeting behind closed doors since the start of the year, trying to thrash out a deal, and the outline of the new version is already starting to become apparent from leaks.
Their collective strategy for pushing through the revised text is even clearer. For once, the EU has learned from its mistakes. There will be no more referendums, and no more negotiating in public. There will be no fireworks. Unlike last time, EU leaders won’t go around boasting about how it is “the capstone of a federal state” or “the birth certificate of a United States of Europe”.
But the contents will be largely the same. As Angela Merkel explained in a leaked letter to other heads of Government, the plan is “To use different terminology without changing the legal substance” while making a number of “presentational changes.”
Such cynicism isn’t confined to Angela Merkel. A group of EU “wise men” including Chris Patten have already published a draft of an “amending treaty” in which they propose to “take over almost all the innovations contained in the constitutional treaty” and “only leave aside the symbolic changes that were introduced by the constitutional treaty – such as the title of the treaty and the symbols of the Union.”
The Government seems to think this will be enough to fool the public. Tony Blair now argues that “If it is not a constitutional treaty so that it alters the basic relationship between Europe and the member states, then there isn’t the same case for a referendum.”
But hang on a minute. The PM never did accept that the original constitution changed our relationship with the EU. When he originally announced the promise of a referendum in April 2004 he insisted that “The treaty does not and will not alter the fundamental nature of the relationship between member states and the European Union… Parliament should debate it in detail and decide upon it. Then, let the people have the final say.”
Brown is striking a eurosceptic pose. For example, the Sunday Times yesterday reported that Brown will fight off the attempt to bring back the full constitutional treaty by, er… signing up to a new “treaty” which, although it has most of the same proposals, will no longer have the word “constitution” in the title. Pretty tough negotiator, eh?
It won’t wash for a single second. So much of what is going to be in the revised constitutional treaty is exactly the same as in the first one.
Institutional changes which are almost certain to reappear include an EU President; an EU Foreign Minister and Diplomatic Service; and a new voting system which would cut the UK’s power to block legislation by 30%.
The Government argues that the new version will no longer have the “characteristics of a constitution”. But what sort of document is it that sets up a President and Foreign Minister and determines how decisions are made, if not a “constitution”?
In reply to a question from Kate Hoey just after the French and Dutch “no” votes Jack Straw made it clear that you could only see an EU president and EU Foreign Minister set up in “constitutional” treaty:
KH: I am sure the Foreign Secretary would agree that among the things that are synonymous with the European Union are back-door and back-room deals. Will he assure me that one matter that he would certainly submit to a referendum is the creation of a Foreign Minister and a European President?
JS: Those points are central to the European constitutional treaty, and of course I see no prospect of their being brought into force, save through the vehicle of a constitutional treaty.
It’s blindingly obvious that these proposals are constitutionally significant. Setting up an EU President would mean setting up another powerful, independent Brussels institution. Control of the 3,500 civil servants in the Council Secretariat would give the President a substantial power base – and the president would have an incentive to expand its own powers. Indeed, the new President would fundamentally change the nature of the legislative process in Brussels. Instead of negotiations between the supranational Commission and a national head of Government (with a vested interest in protecting the rights of member states), negotiations would in future take place between one unelected, independent Brussels institution and another.
Many also see the President as a stepping stone to a US-style President of Europe. The author of the constitutional treaty, Valery Giscard d’Estaing, has already suggested that the new President of the Council will later be merged with the President of the Commission, and be directly elected. Nicolas Sarkozy has also recently backed making the President directly elected. During the negotiations on the constitution Jack Straw said the UK “would have preferred to have explicit separation of those two posts”. The UK Government tried to block an amendment which allows the two posts to be merged, but it later gave way.
The new treaty is likely to include the “EU Foreign Minister” proposed in the original constitution. In itself this would create a powerful supranational official, and give the Commission a role in foreign policy which the UK has long opposed. Former Europe Minister Denis MacShane has predicted that “The voice of the future Union Minister for Foreign Affairs will be louder than that of the ministers of each nation.” It’s not clear what would happen if member states took a different line to the Foreign Minister, which creates the dangerous possibility of sending mixed messages to the rest of the world.
However, on top of this, the constitutional treaty also proposed that the EU Foreign Minister should have various new powers – for example: to “automatically” speak on behalf of member states in key international meetings like the UN security council; to make proposals which would then be decided on by majority vote; and to run a powerful independent EU Diplomatic Service. During the negotiations on the constitution the UK opposed all three of these ideas, but later gave way.
The UK will insist on changing the name of the “Foreign Minister” (and possibly the ‘President’) to something less emotive in the new treaty, but it is not clear whether the UK will also insist on taking away the substantive powers which would come with the roles. As Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi has pointed out: “as long as we have more or less a European Prime Minister and a European Foreign Minister then we can give them any title.”
The problem with the EU is that there is never a plan B. They just try to stuff plan A down voters throats again and again until they swallow it. And because the EU is so complicated, and so un-transparent, they often get away with it.
As Luxembourg’s Prime Minister Jean-Claude Juncker famously explained:
“we decide on something, we leave it lying around and wait and see what happens. If no one kicks up a fuss, because most people don’t know what has been decided, we continue step by step until there is no turning back.”
That’s why we need to start kicking up a fuss now. The debate about the new constitutional treaty is a significant fork in the road. If the leaders of the EU get away with pushing it through without referendums then they will press on with further steps to deeper integration.
French President Nicolas Sarkozy has already said that while the new text will cover “the most urgent priorities… in the longer term, root-and-branch reforms remain essential.” European Commission President Jose Barroso has hinted that once the revised constitutional treaty is in place, “nothing rules out the possibility of certain more ambitious aspects later on.”
So what sort of Europe do we want? Is it a Europe where failing policies like the CAP are allowed continue for decades? A Europe which maintains unfair trade barriers against developing countries? A Europe which is long on rhetoric about the environment, but allows emissions to rise in practice? A Europe where decisions go on being made in secret, by people who are not elected - and seemingly cannot be punished even if they are corrupt?
EU leaders should have changed course after the French and Dutch referendums, but they didn’t listen. We need an opportunity to finally end “integration by stealth” once and for all - and make a fresh start. "
This reminds us of the shameless and brazen nature of the EU diktat. The EU Nabobery is utterly undemocratic, with an attitude of 'if the people disgree, change the people'.
All remotely interested in maintaining the United Kingdom as a free and independent nation should pay attention to what is about to be done in our name and then resist it.