Friday, 12 October 2007
The European Treaty
A major story which will continue to dominate British politics in coming weeks is the proposed Reform Treaty. After the so-called 'Constitution' was rejected in referenda held in France and the Netherlands, a new treaty was proposed that would amend the existing treaties - and provide the institutional reform needed for an enlarged Union.
The debate in the UK has centered upon how far this proposed treaty corresponds to the failed “Treaty establishing a Constitution for Europe” (the Constitutional Treaty). This week the House of Commons European Scrutiny Committee brought out a report which concludes
"As far as the substance of the Reform Treaty and its comparison with the Constitutional Treaty are concerned, we accept that references to the “constitutional concept” or “constitutional characteristics” in trying to distance the present proposals from the creation of a Constitution are less than helpful. What matters is whether the new Treaty produces an effect which is substantially equivalent to the Constitutional Treaty. We consider that, for those countries which have not requested derogations or opt outs from the full range of agreements in the Treaty, it does, and refer readers to the table in the Annex to this report."
The report can be found at http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200607/cmselect/cmeuleg/1014/1014.pdf
As you would imagine this has stimulated a lively debate. The eurosceptic press have stressed the 'substantially equivalent' point, and ignoring the qualification "for those countries which have not requested derogations or opt outs from the full range of agreements in the Treaty" - of course the UK has sought and gained such derogations and opt-outs.
The Government's position can be found at http://www.fco.gov.uk/servlet/Front?pagename=OpenMarket/Xcelerate/ShowPage&c=Page&cid=1139992024177
The current draft text of the treaty can be viewed at http://www.consilium.europa.eu/uedocs/cmsUpload/cg00001re01en.pdf