WHY YOU CAN'T TRUST

NEW LABOUR

In a 1995 party conference report, "The future of the European Union", Blair insisted:

"Labour does not support the establishment of a European army or proposals to give the EU a military competence". Nov 2000 saw the EU Rapid Reaction Force. The Times, 24.2.00, reported that the MOD was planning for 'possible formation of an EU army by 2010' and training troops in other forces' establishments!

Justice, home affairs, asylum & immigration matters should stay national ('inter-governmental'). Now Blair is prepared to put them all under majority voting, (although still claiming to oppose a European Public Prosecutor).

"A Europe that has the wholehearted consent of its peoples". Which explains why he steadfastly refused to offer a referendum for months, and even then one wasn't explicitly promised in his speech of 20.4.04!

"We reject permanent opt-outs". Can we trust Blair to maintain the veto on 'significant' foreign policy, defence, taxation, a European Public Prosecutor, etc? Read on...



Although the Treaty draft has 'intergovernmental' action on foreign policy, Blair still wants to Europeanise it. If a previous UK government has agreed a policy, a new one would be bound not to oppose it under the Treaty of Nice.

And although a veto is read into current & new Treaties it is little-known that a longstanding European Court ruling holds that where an 'internal' policy has been agreed, it should have a common 'external' policy to support it. (cf. Case 22/70, 'ERTA', in 'Security of the Union', Federal Trust, 1996).

Balance that against the perceived 'veto' on defence matters .

Ironically Blair since said that he'd reject any Treaty without an EU President or the right of national parliaments to scrutinise European law for 'loss of sovereignty' (FT, 19.5.03). His Nov 2002 speech in Cardiff redefined 'sovereignty' beyond our ability to say 'No'. Gordon Brown, whose aid for church repairs was forbidden by the EU, might not agree!

Ambrose Evans-Pritchard noted that before 2001, the Government opposed an EU Constitution, but has decided it would "consume too much political capital" to oppose it. (Telegraph, 16.10.02)

In his book "Ayes to the Left", 1995, Peter Hain warned political and monetary union was "economically disastrous & politically dangerous". Before becoming 'Europe Minister'.

In a Foreign Office pamphlet, "The EU treaties in under 300 words", 2001, Hain said: "As Minister for Europe, I make a point of telling it like it is on Europe, in plain English". So why claim creation of nothing less than "a new constitutional order" (FT, 22.3.02) is now just "tidying up"?



New Labour's untrustworthiness continued into 2004.

The Independent, 15.5.04, pointed out that after the collapsed December 2003 Brussels summit, Blair argued that Britain had won concessions. He told the Commons that consensus was close on 82 issues, including changes to the draft that were "important" for the UK to ensure the veto remained in areas such as tax and social security.

But the text for ministers to discuss on 17.5.04 was almost identical to the previous one. It still included proposals to axe the national veto in limited areas of taxation and social security, some foreign policy issues and criminal law.

The Scotsman, 25.5.04, later reported that Blair was warned by the Dutch government that he will be forced to give up his "red lines" on the proposed European Constitution for the sake of consensus.

The Sun, 2.6.04, warned that Britons could face prosecution by the EU for crimes which do not exist under UK law, in a U-turn by Tony Blair. It predicted he would surrender huge powers to Brussels to appoint a European Public Prosecutor - described as an unelected supercop who will have greater powers than Britain's Crown Prosecution Service.

Blair had repeatedly rejected the plan for an EU prosecutor in the past. But it was revealed he has dropped his objections under pressure from France. An unnamed Foreign Office official was quoted: "It is not something that we would go to the wire to fight against. It is difficult to object to this measure.".

Although the Government tellingly said that it currently sees no need for one, the eventual text agreed on 18.6.04 enabled the EU to set up the Prosecutor, subject to a UK veto.

The Telegraph, 19.5.04 noted that Foreign Secretary Jack Straw had told EU foreign ministers that Britain was open to give up our veto on criminal procedures so long as there was genuine protection of national interests.

The 'emergency brake' safeguards adopted on 18.6.04 were based on a worthless declaration on national traditions and a vague right of appeal to EU leaders. Delaying impact - but not stopping it.

The Government had previously rejected the clause outright, warning that it could "cover almost any aspect of criminal procedure during an investigation, prosecution, and conviction".

But an EU diplomat told the Daily Telegraph Britain had changed tack as pressure mounted for harmonisation after the Madrid bombings.

Straw said bluntly that there would be no deal unless Britain got its way. "If we do not get the key red lines for the United Kingdom then we won't sign up for this constitutional treaty."

But EU officials noted the term "key" red lines, taking it to mean that lesser lines could be rubbed away.

The Telegraph added that Britain was 'totally isolated' on a clause that would allow the rest of the EU to abolish Britain's 2bn-a-year budget rebate - which is resented by most other member states. That seems to have been preserved on 18.6.04 - but for how long?

Complex rules on energy were removed from one draft but then restored. The UK can act only if the EU doesn't want to. With our North Sea oil flow set to fall within the decade and world oil demand to rise, the EU could ration our oil EU-wide in the name of the single ("internal") market.

The EU has been looking at energy ('carbon') taxes. Although the rules give a veto on what is "primarily" a fiscal (tax) measure, the EU could use other pretexts (e.g. environment) to claim that any tax move was 'secondary'. (The 1996 Working Time Directive was an employment measure dressed up as 'health & safety').

Some would argue that Blair's 'red line' on tax did not exist before the Constitution, as the European Court has already made a number of tax rulings (e.g. the Safir case).

We must never forget Blair's weasel words that he would reject 'permanent opt-outs', no doubt related to another spurious excuse that he would never allow Britain to be 'isolated' in Europe.

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Date this page compiled: 17 June 2003, link updated 13 December 2004.