Blair: ‘EU treaty good for UK’
But what is it that is so good for the United Kingdom? It very much depends which side of the fence one is on: whether one is a sheep or a goat, so to speak. As expected, the text upon which the ‘Reform Treaty’ will be based is essentially the Constitution re-clothed. It simply removes the ‘C’ word altogether. It also eliminates overt references to anything contentious, thus, the primacy of EU law over national law is sustained, but there will simply be no new reference to it. Those things which are ‘good for the UK’ include:
There will be, for the first time since the fall of the Roman Empire, a President of Europe. He shall be called ‘Mr President’, and his term of office shall be two-and-a-half years.
There will be an EU foreign minister, but he shall be called the ‘High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy’. Snazzy title, huh? Just to avoid the clarity of the term 'foreign minister', but it amounts to exactly the same thing.
The Commission will be reduced to 18 members, selected on a system of rotation. There will therefore be five-year periods when the UK has no commissioner.
The EU acquires the much longed-for status of a legal personality. It will be able to enter into agreements, sign treaties, and strut itself on the world stage with all the legal status of a sovereign state. Doubtless its eyes are seats at the UN and to the Security Council, to add to its seats on world trade and finance bodies.
There is a clear directive, indeed, a direct order, in the clause: ‘National parliaments shall contribute actively to the good functioning of the Union’.
The UK has an opt-out from the Charter of Human Rights, but this will be subject to legal interpretation, and history tells us which way those judgements go. This opt-out will be found to be worthless. The EU has thereby established a ‘Bill of Rights’, superceding the English Bill of Rights and all such foundational constitutional contracts which have assured the British people of their liberties for centuries. Since the EU has authority to overrule national laws which are incompatible with the European Court of Justice, the court is rendered supreme.
It was the late great James Hacker who observed of the EU that it has 'the organising ability of the Italians, the flexibility of the Germans, the modesty of the French, topped up by the imagination of the Belgians, the generosity of the Dutch and the intelligence of the Irish'. Remarkable perception quite lacking in any minister or prime minister since.
There is, however, one glimmer of hope in this 'Reform Treaty' for the UK. For the first time, an EU treaty includes an article for the process for voluntary withdrawal of a member state from the union. And therein this ‘treaty’ is indeed ‘good for the UK’, for it that one clause lies our salvation; our survival as an independent, sovereign nation.