Saturday, June 16, 2007

If I had known I would have been a little harsher

Though it wasn't his fault, Dale's poor attempt to justify the Tories EU policy seems to have been used to shove a far deeper and more serious piece on the upcoming summit. Helen Szamuely over at EU Referendum had also been commissioned, but she was dropped in Dale's favour.
Without permission I reproduce it here,

Angela Merkel's swan song
Another European presidency is coming to an end and once again we must admit that very few of the stated intentions have been achieved. The EU remains over-regulated, centralized and protectionist. Ah but she has managed to bring everyone on board for a new constitutional document that may or may not be a European constitution. Even that is questionable. What Frau Merkel will announce, contrary to the hysterical articles and statements the media, politicians and political analysts in Britain have been making, is her recommendation that an Inter-Governmental Conference (IGC) be called as soon as possible at which a new treaty would be discussed.

The point that a number of those making statements have missed is that according to the Consolidated European Treaties (already an effective constitutional structure) only an Inter-Governmental Conference can decide on a new treaty, no matter what its contents might be. What we are going to have in just over a week is a European Council, which can vote with a simple majority (thus the possible Polish veto is of little significance at this stage) to call an IGC.

In other words, the whole mess is being dumped on Portugal, who holds the next Presidency and whose Prime Minister has already expressed certain worries about being able to get the constitutional treaty through. Even that will not be the end of the story. Once the treaty is agreed to unanimously (another requirement) the treaty with its attachment, which is the Constitution, it has to be implemented in each member state and that might cause problems.

Of course, one has to see the text of the document that will be presented for discussion at the IGC but early indications are that it is not going to be all that different from the original. It will have long and detailed instructions on how member states are to legislate on economic and social matters. It will assert that the Constitution will be the source of the primacy of European over national legislation. Just to clarify matters: this primacy already exists but, at present, it exists in Britain by Parliament's will. Once the Constitution is through that will change. Other matters, such as an EU Foreign Minister and, possibly, a directly elected President as well as a change in voting rights and number of Commissioners are also likely to be there.

In other words it will be same old, same old, which raises the question of whether we should have a referendum in this country because the changes are so large constitutionally. It will be Gordon Brown's government that will have to grapple with those issues but the idea that a document that takes away Parliament's primacy for good, introduces a Foreign Minister who will overrule Britain's Foreign Secretary, and makes the Charter of Fundamental Rights part of the constitution is not large enough to be put to a referendum of the whole country is laughable. Gordon Brown must be made aware of the fact that the people of this country want a say in changes of that calibre.

However, even a referendum will not solve the problem of those aspects of the Constitution that have been brought in already, without any legal rationale. The European Defence Agency and the European Space Agency that were supposed to be set up only through the new treaty, have been set up, quite illegitimately. And that Charter of Fundamental Rights is already being used as a reference point in all legislation that comes from the European Union and cannot be rejected by Parliament. What are we going to do about that?

1 comment:

Helen said...

You are welcome