Merkel to present short ‘foundation treaty’ at summit to fast-track agreement by end of year
According to Welt, the outline of the new EU treaty is becoming clear, with
The Sun and the Evening Standard report that Tony Blair yesterday came under pressure from Labour MPs not to sign away new powers at the 21-22 June summit. Austin Mitchell said “If there is any surrender of sovereignty there should be a referendum on it.” The BBC reports that former Europe Minister Dennis Macshane accused supporters of a referendum of having a “bigger agenda”, arguing that “They can't call for full withdrawal so the referendum on any new treaty is the next best thing.” He conceded however that "Europe is working well economically and frankly at times I wish the constitutional debate would go away, but unfortunately we do need a clearer rule book on
The IHT reports that EU Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso yesterday said that the new EU treaty would probably revive controversial aspects of the rejected constitution, including a new permanent EU president, a foreign minister and a revamped voting system that would reduce national vetoes and diminish the power of countries like
Open Europe Director Neil O’Brien appeared on the BBC’s Daily Politics programme, arguing that the UK Government are “negotiating in secret – they’ve already said they won’t hold a referendum on the final text of it – and we think that’s incredibly undemocratic, because this ‘new’ Constitutional treaty really contains exactly the same things as the old one”.
Paul Stephenson from Open Europe has an article on Conservative Home, warning that the UK Government’s much-reported “red lines” are a distraction from the real concessions being made. “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%.” [emphasis mine]
Gideon Rachman, writing in the FT, argues “The words in the constitution will change. But the substance will remain the same.” He dismisses the arguments of those opposed to a referendum on the new treaty, writing that “If the French and Dutch had voted in favour of the constitution, there is no doubt that their verdict would have been hailed as a historic endorsement of political union in
He concludes that “The sceptics have always argued that the
Writing in the Independent, Simon Carr’s sketch picks up on Margaret Beckett’s performance before the EU scrutiny committee last week: “In the matter of the amending treaty that will replace the constitution she wouldn't say anything”, denying that there was anything to be discussed, claiming that there was “no debate” to comment on. For more, see Open Europe’s blog.
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