.comment-link {margin-left:.6em;}

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Supreme ruler of the universe?

Sunday is becoming a very bad day for my blood pressure especially when I open the paper to find articles like this. The Observer tells us that yesterday Tony Blair launched his campaign to become the first fully-fledged President of the European Union.

My first reaction was who is standing against him and where do I sign up to campaign to prevent this disaster. I had started to draw up canvassing schedules and plan out leaflets in my head. A letter-writing campaign to the papers, followed by a big push on postal voters and a slick telephone canvassing operation must be on the cards I thought. Surely, there is a liberal alternative I can vote for.

Alas, it turns out I do not have a vote, nor do millions of my fellow citizens in Britain or anywhere else in Europe for that matter. It seems that the new-look President will be appointed by EU leaders without any reference to us at all. What a travesty.

I wholeheartedly support my party's position of holding a referendum on Britain's continuing membership of the EU rather than on the proxy issue of its constitution, but even Gordon Brown must realise that appointing Tony Blair as European President will make such a plebiscite very challenging indeed. If we are to remain in the European Union then we need to make it more accountable and democratic, not less.
Well said, Peter.
I love the way the Observer puts it without any apparemt sense of irony:
Blair set out his vision of modern European democracy

This is all just too horrible....

I don't want to see that man ruling over me again in any way.

I don't see why other Europeans have to put up with him either.

I want a democratic Europe.
The moment Blair signed the Lisbon Treaty, he was guaranteed high office. It was so obvious. The man is so self serving he'd literally sell his grandmother. Why are you surprised? He's sold the rest of us down the river.

In your 2005 election manifesto, your leader said of any further EU Treaty,
"If any Government propose to agree to a major shift in control or any transfer of significant powers from member states to European institutions, or to agree to any alteration in the existing balance between member states and those institutions, there should be a referendum of the British people".

This is the manifesto promise you were elected on in 2005.

Well, the Lisbon Treaty IS that major shift, there WILL BE a transfer of significant powers, there WILL BE an alteration in the balance between member states and the EU, so why are you ratting on your pledge?
I am not surprised nor do I accept that the Lisbon Treaty is the major shift you say it is. However, my party is proposing a referendum on the more fundamental issue of whether we should remain in the EU or not. It seems to me that this is far more sensible than have our commitment chipped away by sceptics who want to undermine Britain's membership without facing up to the real issues that entails. It also gives people the chance to vote against the Lisbon Treaty by voting 'No' in such a referendum if that is their wish.
Of course you don't accept that it's a major shift, because that would mean you'd have to honour your manifesto pledge, and as far as you are concerned, the words turkey & Christmas would suddenly become a tad to real for comfort. Consistently, all opinion polls show an overwhelming majority of the British people want a referendum on this treaty. The result would be an overwhelming NO!

Can you say in all honesty - with hand on heart - that the following are NOT a major shift in the relationship between the EU and the member states?

1. A full-time EU President?

2. An EU Foreign Minister?

3. An EU diplomatic service ('External Action Service') for the new Foreign Minister?

4. A big extension of majority voting and change to our voting strength, greatly reducing our influence over EU laws?

5. A single legal personality for the EU to make international agreements in its own right and represent its members on international bodies, reducing Britain's influence in the world?

6. Major steps towards an EU justice system, including the power to set common rules on legal procedures by majority vote, the power to define criminal offences (already being exercised), and the re-introduction of a European Public Prosecutor? The expansion of Eurojust to include not just the co-ordination of investigations but their "initiation", with further expansions possible by majority voting?

7. The extension of the powers of the EU's growing police force, EuroPol, to include the ability to 'implement' operational action? (EuroPol to retain its immunity from criminal prosecution)

8. A reference to the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights - rather than making it part of the treaty - which will still give it full legal force?
Don't forget, serious doubts have been raised about the value of the government's claimed 'opt out'. This 'Charter' asserts the vague ability of un-named authorities to inflict "limitations" of basic rights "if they are necessary and genuinely meet objectives of general interest recognised by the Union" (Constitution Article II-112)

9. The official inclusion of the Council as an EU institution obliging it to put the aims and objectives of the EU before those of the citizens of the member states?

10 Increases in EU power over social policy, social security, employment and public health policies?

11. Loss of veto in God knows how many more policy areas?

And even though you might believe it is NOT a constitution for the European Union, there are those far more competent than you who have made it very clear that it is:

"Every provision of the Constitutional Treaty, apart from the flags, mottos and anthems, is to be found in the Reform Treaty. We think that they are fundamentally the same, and the Government have not produced a table to contradict our position."
Michael Connarty MP (Labour), chairman of the European Scrutiny Committee - debate in Parliament, 10 December 2007

"I have taken on the work of comparing the draft of the new Treaty of Lisbon with the Constitution on the 'nine essential points' published on this blog.To my surprise, and, to tell the truth, to my great satisfaction, these nine points reappear word for word in the new project. Not a comma has changed! The only thing is that you have to really look for them because they are dispersed in the texts the new Treaty refers to, namely the Treaties of Rome and Maastricht. The only difference is that the qualified majority voting is put off until 1 November 2014, while with the Constitution, it would have come into force straight after ratification. I do not see the interest of this delay and I think we could have done without it."
Valery Giscard d’Estaing, former French president and chief architect of the EU Constitution - VGE blog, 23 November 2007

"We believe that the red lines will not be sustainable. Looking at the legalities and use of the European Court of Justice, we believe these will be challenged bit by bit and eventually the UK will be in a position where all of the treaty will eventually apply to the UK. If they can't get these things firmed up, we think they will leak like a sieve."
Michael Connarty MP (Labour), chairman of the European Scrutiny Committee - BBC Radio 4, 9 October 2007

“Taken as a whole, the Reform Treaty produces a general framework which is substantially equivalent to the Constitutional Treaty… Even with the ‘opt-in’ provisions on police and judicial cooperation in criminal matters, and the Protocol on the Charter, we are not convinced that the same conclusion does not apply to the position of the UK.”
House of Commons European Scrutiny Committee report, 9 October 2007.

However hard you try and spin your way out of it - you were elected on a solemn pledge to hold a referendum on any further significant power grabs by the EU, NOT on some waffling, promise of an in/out referendum you'll never have the power to demand or grant.
As always, you are fence- sitting.

Is there any wonder politicians are held in such low esteem by the voters when they continue to treat the electorate with such brazen contempt.
Be assured Mr. Brown, this disgraceful affront to British Democracy will come back to haunt both you and your party.
I beg you to search your conscience and do the right thing.
Well.. if you will read the Observer!

When I read about the evils of drink, I gave up reading!
Well Jo, I am not Mr. Brown nor am I a member of his party. You are clearly mistaking me for somebody else. Even the manifesto extract you quoted and on which you have based your latest comment is wrong. What the 2005 Liberal Democrat manifesto on this subject actually said is this:

"Membership of the EU has been hugely important for British jobs, environmental protection, equality rights, and Britain's place in the world. But with enlargement to 25 member states, the EU needs reform to become more efficient and more accountable. The new Constitution helps to achieve this by improving EU coherence, strengthening the powers of the European Parliament compared to the Council of Ministers, allowing proper oversight of the unelected Commission, and enhancing the role of national parliaments. It also more clearly defines and limits the powers of the EU reflecting diversity and preventing over-centralisation. We are therefore clear in our support for the Constitution, which we believe is in Britain's interest - but ratification must be subject to a referendum of the British people."

As it happens I was not elected on that manifesto as I am a member of the Welsh Assembly not of Parliament. However, I support what it says.

My party's proposal to hold a referendum on our membership of the EU in my view goes way beyond the commitment in our manifesto as it enables a debate on the real issue, should we remain in the European Community or not? I would much rather have that debate than the sort of meaningless proxy discussion you are proposing purely for the purpose of undermining our membership.

I am a committed European, you it seems are not. I recognise that if the European project is to survive then it needs to evolve so as to be fit for purpose, but more importantly to become more democratic and accountable. The Lisbon Treaty goes some way towards achieving that but more work is needed. However, the it does put the EU on a firmer footing from which we can argue for further reform.

By asking for a plebiscite on the issue of whether we should stick with that reformed institution or walk away from it I believe that we have fulfilled our manifesto pledge. I cannot see why you should be so afraid of that.
The Liberal Democrat Manifesto pledge is very very clear.

"ratification must be subject to a referendum of the British people."

I repeat
"ratification must be subject to a referendum of the British people".

"ratification must be subject to a referendum by the British people".

You have not answered my question. And I knew you wouldn't.
Actually I did answer your question, it is just not the answer you wanted.

As I said there is no new constitution so there is no need for a referendum on it. However, the Liberal Democrat manifesto makes it clear why the Treaty is a good idea and at least we are offering a referendum on which you can express a view. Labour is not whilst the Tories, not matter what they say, have never held a referendum on anything, even Maastricht.
President of the EU? Oh no, oh no, oh no....Blair has his sights set firmly on being the ruler of the world.
If he gets the job his first task should be sorting out the EU accounts. Auditors have refused to sign those from the last THIRTEEN years!
Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?