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Lord Waddington: My Lords, many of us are aware that the whole idea of a European common defence policy has great dangers. I cannot accept with equanimity the new impetus given to it by the treaty in the amendments to Title V.
I do not subscribe to the view that the more we are integrated in Europe, the greater will be our influence abroad. The events following 11th September show how disastrous it would have been had there been in place a fully developed European defence policy, if, indeed, the wish of the German Chancellor had been fulfilled, and national sovereignty in foreign and security policy had finished up as no more than a product of the imaginationwhich is how he had described it in a speech shortly before the events of 11th September.
Europe is an essential part of the coalition against terrorismthe coalition so painstakingly and, I have to say, successfully put together. It was possible to put it together because states in Europe were able to respond in different ways and at different levelssome much more enthusiastically than others. When one thinks of all the different attitudes to the crisis that began with the events of 11th September, what chance
The European defence policy has never been about creating an additional military resource available to the EU. Recently, certainly, it has been about the EU having a say in how existing forces are used, and particularly how our own forces are used. It is about our committing to a European force a substantial partperhaps the larger partof our operationally available fighting forces, and the risk of our gradually losing the power to use those forces without the approval of our European partners.
We should be looking not just at the immediate effect of what was agreed at Nice, but at the general direction in which we are going. There is reason to be worried. The real risk is that we shall gradually be drawn into a European defence policy which prevents our acting unilaterally in support of America or in our own interests. The point made by my noble friend Lord Pearson of Rannoch is particularly apt in relation to this amendment and when one considers this particular proposal. It is easy to look at the fine script and say, "What are you worrying about? We have a veto over this. We could deny them their wishes when they ask for a commitment of British troops". But the more we create a framework like this, the more we take on obligations, and the more difficult it is to resist the taking on of more obligations. I am very worried about the whole direction in which European defence policy is going. I repeat that we are jolly lucky that we did not have such a policy in place on 11th September.
Lord Pearson of Rannoch: My Lords, in support of my noble friend's amendment, perhaps I may ask the Minister to specify the new meaning of two provisions which were already in the treaty as agreed at Amsterdamthat is, they were not new at Nicebut which may be given a new meaning and impetus by what is new in the Nice treaty.
As my noble friend Lord Howell said, what used to be the Political Committee of the European Union, which judged and guided military and other interventions, is now the Political and Security Committee. There must be some significance in that.
Lord Grenfell: My Lords, I find it rather strange that noble Lords opposite keep praying in aid the American relationship and saying that all these matters are going to make our relationship with the United States more difficult. If that were the case, one would have thought that they would have said so, but they have not. They have said exactly the opposite. They have welcomed these arrangements.
As regards what the noble Lord, Lord Pearson of Rannoch, has just said, I remind him that the commitment of national assets to any EU-led operations would be based on "sovereign national decisions". So what is the problem? I do not believe that it is good enough for noble Lords opposite to continually tell us that all of this undermines our relations with the United States and undermines NATO. If that were the case the United States would have said so and they have not.
Lord Williamson of Horton: My Lords, I would like to reassure the noble Lord, Lord Pearson of Rannoch, that I am not speaking on behalf of my noble friend. But I do know the noble Lord, Lord Pearson of Rannoch, himself because he is often on his feet. I intervene briefly on these amendments because they are important, dealing with defence and security. Despite my earlier due diligence I do not intend to intervene on all the amendments that we are discussing at Report stage.
Furthermore, in Amendment No. 10 there is a proposal to carry a "declaration" into the list of treaties under the European Communities Act. A declaration does not have treaty force and I believe it is bad law if not totally inadmissible because the other parties to the treaty would not recognise the declaration as having treaty force. I make that point, but as we are at Report stage we need to be a little careful about how we propose to legislate.
I now turn to the substance of the amendments. The principal effect of the amendments to Article 17 of the Treaty of European Union is to take out many references to the Western European Union. I do not see any difficulty about that. Time has moved on and we do not need those detailed points in the treaty any more.
It is true of a number of the amendments, but I shall take Amendment No. 3 as an example. I am sure that the noble Lord, Lord Pearson of Rannoch, will be absolutely delighted to learn that its effect is to take out something which was included in the treaty by the Treaty of Amsterdam. That is where it came from. We
I have one other point. I am sometimes a little sada feeling which I believe is shared by other members of Select Committeesbecause we work a long time on some of these issues. There was a very extensive examination of the European security and defence policy and in particular the proposed rapid reaction force, known in specialised circles as the rapid reaction capability, I believe. We reported to the House in July 2000 and again in December of that year. We are about to report again to the House in a matter of weeks. So there has been an extremely thorough look at these issues.
Quite rightly, the committee had some reservations and I shared them. It wanted the defence policy to create capabilities to strengthen and not to rival the alliance, but, subject to certain reservations, it welcomed the initiatives which had been taken. There was a thorough examination. It has been discussed in the House. I believe that the development of policy, subject to some of those quite justified queries and reservations, seems to have been generally welcomed. I welcome it myself. I would not wish to have added to the Bill the amendments we are now discussing.
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