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Baroness Jay of Paddington: My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Tordoff, for welcoming the Statement. I am also grateful to him for saying that he believes that the Select Committee will welcome some parts of this treaty. That is very important in terms of your Lordships' scrutiny.

With regard to the number of Commissioners, the detail has not been finalised. It may be that a further indication will be given following subsequent

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meetings. The principle is that after the EU reaches 27 members, the Commissioners will rotate. As I understand it, that principle would enable smaller countries, which the noble Lord, Lord Rodgers, was concerned would perhaps not get their fair share of the cake, to be involved. Of course, it would mean that there would be occasions when the larger countries might not have a Commissioner for the whole of a presidency. That is one of the reasons why there was such concern to reweight the voting in a way that would enable the larger countries to retain their potential for a veto.

Lord Shore of Stepney: My Lords, we must await a copy of the revised draft of the treaty, about which, as was rightly said by my noble friend, we have to be patient. But the Statement begins and continues with a fundamental error. It begins with the most obvious and fundamental error; namely, that a copy of the presidency conclusions has been placed in the Library. I believe that we would all agree that one cannot judge a statement without having the presidency conclusions. There is a copy of a document purporting to be the presidency conclusions in the Library of the House and in the Vote Office--the trouble is that it is dated 8th December and the authors are COREPER, who wrote it on the second day of the conference. In other words, it does not relate to the conclusions reached on the fourth or fifth day, depending when one begins counting. Therefore, it is virtually worthless and empty. All we have heard thus far is the Statement repeated by my noble friend, which, inevitably, cannot be particularly comprehensive.

Having laid out that rather fundamental, preliminary point, perhaps I may take up the very important surrender of the veto, which needs to be emphasised. That is the vital provision about enhanced co-operation, which enables a vanguard group to go ahead without unanimity towards that ever-closer union that a number of our continental friends undoubtedly wish to achieve, whatever our reservations may be. The veto--the unanimity rule--that we previously held on that provision--namely, that it could not go ahead unless all the other parties agreed--has gone over the whole area of the treaty of economic union of the EC. It has also gone on that pillar which deals with home affairs and justice. It has been retained only in the pillar that deals with foreign policy and defence. That is a major surrender and a matter of some considerable concern.

I put to my noble friend the Minister the hope that a more serious presentation of what has been lost in this attempt to carry forward without success--

Baroness Farrington of Ribbleton: My Lords, will my noble friend accept that he is taking an undue amount of time with his remarks, given the number of noble Lords who wish to speak on the Statement?

Lord Shore of Stepney: My Lords, in that case, I shall complete my sentence by saying that this has been a failed attempt to carry forward what should have

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been the joint aim of us all; namely, the extension of the European Union to take in the eastern European applicants.

Baroness Jay of Paddington: My Lords, I am grateful to my noble friend for his final remarks about our acceptance of the need to extend and enlarge the European Union. I can only apologise to him for the state of the supporting paperwork. I had hoped that I had made the position clear, although, obviously I had misspoken--indeed, it appears that my right honourable friend may have misspoken--in terms of the opening remarks of the Statement regarding the final version of the presidency's conclusions. As I said at the beginning of my remarks, I have had some doubts about the way in which some of the conclusions already existed on paper. Indeed, as I pointed out, the treaty is not yet available.

On the question of enhanced co-operation, I shall write to my noble friend when full details are available. However, I believe that the right of veto on any system of enhanced co-operation, under whichever pillar, is still available. The question is how that is presented to the Council. It was previously a matter of it being automatically referred, but I understand that it now has to be positively proposed by different members of the Council, depending on the particular pillar in question. I shall write to my noble friend in that respect.

Lord Lamont of Lerwick: My Lords, can the noble Baroness confirm what she said to my noble friend Lord Howell; namely, that the Charter of Fundamental Rights will be purely declaratory? I say that because the document to which the noble Lord, Lord Shore, referred specifically says that the question of the charter's force will be considered "later". Is that just an example of the document that has been placed in the Library being wrong?

Further, perhaps I may warmly welcome the retention of the veto both on taxation and on social security. I refer the noble Baroness to the fourth from last paragraph of the Statement, which says that the Government had been warned before that they would be "isolated" on the question of social security. Can the noble Baroness confirm that Britain was in fact totally isolated on the question of social security? Indeed, Britain was the only country that did not want harmonisation of social security. Does the noble Baroness also recall that the Prime Minister said before the election that he would never allow Britain to be isolated again? Can she confirm that it is only because the Prime Minister has abandoned the naivety of that approach that we have achieved this successful outcome?

Baroness Jay of Paddington: My Lords, I do not wish in any way to concur with the noble Lord's view of the Prime Minister's motives, or, indeed, skills in achieving this outcome, but I am grateful for his congratulations on what has been achieved. When my right honourable friend speaks of being isolated in

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Europe, he speaks about being isolated in circumstances where we do not succeed in achieving what we wish to achieve and appear to be acting entirely against the interests of ourselves and of everyone else.

On the question of the charter of rights, I can tell the noble Lord that it was proclaimed as a political declaration. The reference to the issue being looked at later means that it would be reconsidered in 2004 in the context of the new IGC. But that would be a review without any prejudice to the outcome. Any change would always require unanimity. As the noble Lord knows, it is certainly not the intention of this Government to see it as anything other than a political declaration.

Lord Roper: My Lords, I am pleased, but not surprised, at the progress that was made at Nice on defence. However, there is one phrase in the Statement which I hope the noble Baroness can further elucidate. It reads:


    "The next step is for the two organisations, the EU and NATO, to agree on the necessary arrangements".

Can the noble Baroness tell the House whether that agreement will be more likely to come about now that proper provision has been made for the non-EU members of NATO, such as Turkey, to play a full part in the arrangements? Can she say what the timetable would be for such an arrangement? Further, can we have an assurance that the European Union will not become operational in its military activities until such an agreement with NATO has been reached?

Baroness Jay of Paddington: My Lords, I am happy to tell the noble Lord that the answer to his final question is yes; that will be so. However, I am afraid that I do not have information regarding the possible timetable. But, certainly, as far as concerns Turkey, that will obviously be a help.

Lord Tomlinson: My Lords, is my noble friend the Leader of the House aware of the wide welcome that there is on this side of the House for the Prime Minister's endeavours at Nice? He has managed to combine two imperatives by getting the enlargement agenda firmly on the rails, while at the same time protecting essential national interests. As regards enlargement, is my noble friend in a position to confirm that the agreement reached at Nice in this respect reaffirms the timetable of the end of the year 2002 as being a feasible date for negotiations for enlargement to be concluded, and that, therefore, applicant countries could have aspirations of participating in the next round of the European elections in 2004? To that end, there are still important decisions to be taken, not least the one referred to by the noble Lord, Lord Howell; namely, the whole question of CAP reform.

Baroness Jay of Paddington: My Lords, I am grateful for my noble friend's accurate assessment of the way in which the Prime Minister conducted these negotiations and achieved the dual ends to which he

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referred. On the position of applicant countries, we shall certainly be ready by the year 2002 for that to take place. However, as I believe I said in reply to the noble Lord, Lord Rodgers, although it says in the Statement and in the supporting documents that we hope, for example, that those countries that are in a suitable position will be able to be at the table in the 2004 IGC, their participation in the European elections is not specific. But, again, if further information of greater detail becomes available, I shall write to my noble friend.

When replying to the noble Lord, Lord Howell, I am afraid that I forgot to reply to his point about the common agricultural policy. I am grateful to my noble friend Lord Tomlinson for reminding me of that omission. Of course, the noble Lord is right: the CAP is something that we, as a Government, would very much wish to see changed and reformed. Indeed, that is something for which we have been working for some time. However, as noble Lords will be aware, it was not on the agenda at Nice. It was not a case of failing to deal with the matter. It may be regarded as a rather inappropriate omission, but it was not a failure. The Government have been engaged in working on the issue for a very long time.


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