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Baroness Amos: My Lords, my noble friend's proposal that we wait to write presidency conclusions until after the meeting is a somewhat novel one. It would have our officials and others in the international community somewhat concerned, but I shall pass it on.
With respect to the issue of Iraq and the 200 million euros that will be pledged by the EU later this week, individual European member states will also be pledging in relation to that. The decision was taken by the Commission on behalf of European Union countries.
Lord Hannay of Chiswick: My Lords, I thank the noble Baroness for the Statement from another place that she has repeated. On the defence issues that she raised, will she confirm that the relationship between the European Union and NATO continues to be based on an agreement reached last December, known as the Berlin Plus agreement? Will she also confirm that nothing that has been said or proposed within the European Union involves going outside, cutting across or undermining that agreement? In those circumstances, some of the excitement leaked to the press by the representatives of the US Administration seems a little premature, to put it mildly, and is not likely to produce the best reaction from the European side.
Unlike the noble Lord, Lord Wallace of Saltaire, I entirely support the view that territorial defence should not be included in the treaty. This country has never given a territorial guarantee to anyone who is not a member of NATO. The arrangements under the Western European Union were limited to countries that were also members of NATO. To go outside that would be a big innovation, and one that I would not welcome. If one considers the implications of giving a territorial guarantee to Cyprus, for example, one immediately understands why it is not a wise course.
Will the noble Baroness confirm, on the size of the Commission, that the most important issue is the number of portfolios rather than the number of members of the Commission? If the number of members is to meet the concerns of smaller member states and is going to start on a rising trend againwhich I, personally, would deploreit is crucial that the Commission is not subdivided into little penny
Baroness Amos: My Lords, I totally agree with the noble Lord, Lord Hannay. Berlin Plus remains the agreement governing the EU/NATO strategic partnership and is at the core of the EU/NATO relationship.
The issue of the size of the Commission is still under discussion as part of the process. I take the noble Lord's point about the number of portfolios. One issue for which we argued strongly in the context of the IGC was the placing of development in the Commission. Those discussions will continue.
Lord Waddington: My Lords, can the noble Baroness the Leader of the House help me? Why do the Government continue to say that the logic of those who say that the draft treaty would undermine our independence involves taking Britain out of the EU? Is that not entirely illogical because the new constitution cannot come into effect without the agreement of all? If we object, the constitution will not come into effect but the EU will continue, as will our membership. So it is absolute rubbish to talk about the logic being that we shall leave the EU if we object to the constitution or any part of it.
Baroness Amos: My Lords, I do not agree with the noble Lord. One of the reasons that these new constitutional arrangements are coming into effect is because the EU is expanding to some 25 members so there is a process of simplifying and pulling together the rules of the European Union to make it easier for 25 members to operate in a situation where currently only 15 operate. One of the reasons it is so important that that is done by unanimity is to ensure that those issues that are important for individual member states are kept outside these proposals so that they are contained within the treaty arrangements that already exist.
Lord Maclennan of Rogart: My Lords, will the noble Baroness robustly reject any implication that the convention produced a constitution which favoured large nations over small nations, and note that the Spanish Government, who have raised some objections, recently said that the Nice settlement was not cast in stone? Will she note also that a number of small member states, or states to be members after May, have, subsequent to the publication of the draft treaty, held referenda which massively supported adhesion to the European Union in the full knowledge of the terms of the draft treaty? Will she also accept that reduction in the size of the Commission is no more against the interests of small countries than it is against the interests of large countries? It enhances the
Baroness Amos: My Lords, the noble Lord is quite right that the convention process seeks to ensure that those countries that will join the Union next year as well as existing members of the Union are able collectively to discuss these issues. Part of its purpose is to ensure that small and large nations can make decisions on the future shape of the European Union. I entirely agree with the noble Lord that the effectiveness, efficiency and accountability of the Commission are very important indeed. That is one of the reasons that we feel strongly that this exercise of seeking to simplify and make more straightforward the various treaties of the Union is so important.
Lord Stoddart of Swindon: My Lords, first, I remind the noble Baroness the Leader of the House that in 1975 the country voted to remain in a common market. The European Union did not come into being until after the Maastricht Treaty had been signed. That is an important point. Secondly, will the noble Baroness confirm whether under the defence arrangements there will be a European army which will support a European foreign policy? I hope that she can clear that up. Thirdly, can the noble Baroness say why the Government have now agreed to a number of items which they would not agree to, or said were not relevant, following the Treaty of Nice? I refer to the semi-permanent president of Europe, the European Charter of Fundamental Rightswhich they assured us would not be contained within any treaty and which is now to be contained in the new treatya legal personality, which we were assured would not be agreed to, and a European Union foreign minister. The latter will obviously be a powerful post which will give membership not only of the Council but also of the Commission, making that position extremely powerful, and probably greater than that of any of the Prime Minister.
Baroness Amos: My Lords, on the question of the charter, we support a clear statement of the rights, freedoms and principles that EU institutions should respect. The noble Lord is quite right that we supported the European Charter of Fundamental Rights at Nice three years ago but we did so as a political declaration; it was not clear enough for legal use. We shall make a final decision on incorporation of the charter into the draft constitutional treaty only in the light of the overall picture at the IGC. Therefore, that decision has not been taken with respect to incorporation.
With regard to defence, we consider that the discussions on ESDP were extremely valuable. We welcome the proposals to develop a capabilities agency to update the Petersberg tasks and to create a solidarity clause. With respect to all of the ESDP proposals, those matters are still under discussion. The noble Lord will be aware that, for example, the force that went into the DRC was a French-led force with other European countries contributing to that force. There was no European standing army as such.
Does the noble Baroness agree that one of the priorities in considering this draft constitution is to deal with the ritual plunder of the financial resources of the EU, as it is, and to get to the root of these fraudulent practices which have been going on and on? If the noble Baroness agrees with me, was that discussed and, if so, what was said about it?
Baroness Amos: My Lords, I am not aware of that particular issue having been discussed over the weekend. However, the noble Lord will be aware that for many years there has been a reform agenda within the Commission not only looking at issues of financial probity but also seeking to improve the overall effectiveness and efficiency of the Commission.
Lord Lea of Crondall: My Lords, as regards counting sides, the noble Lord, Lord Stoddart, for whom I have great respect, is not now on our side. But be that as it may, the noble Lord, Lord Stoddart, referred to the referendum of 1975. It was the only referendum on Europe that we have had but it was not about the European Union. We should have had a referendum on the European Union that came into being after the signing of the Maastricht Treaty. Were not the party opposite in power at the time of the Maastricht Treaty? Therefore, is it not a bit much for them to get on their moral high horse and say that it is absolutely essential to have a referendum now?
Would it not be much better if noble Lords on all sides of the House were clear on the Government's main negotiating lines in the intergovernmental conference? I have not heard any of them being unpicked. However, we do not hear from all sides of the House that this country is united behind a great deal of the Government's negotiating position on the intergovernmental conference which we want to see succeed, not least because of the need to make provision for enlargement.
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