Giscard: EU Treaty is the Constitution Rewritten
By Toby Helm, Chief Political Correspondent
Last Updated: 2:23am GMT 30/10/2007
Valéry Giscard d'Estaing, the architect of the abandoned European Constitution, has admitted that the document has been rewritten by EU leaders in a different order just to avoid the need for referendums.
The statement by the former French President - who chaired the body of more than 100 European politicians that framed the original constitution - has led to new calls for Gordon Brown to grant the British people a vote.
In an open letter to the French newspaper Le Monde, Mr D'Estaing sought to clarify his view on the differences - if any - between two treaties. "Looking at the content," he wrote "the result is that the institutional proposals of the constitutional treaty….are found complete in the Lisbon Treaty, only in a different order and inserted in former treaties.."
He made clear that the purpose of the rewritten Treaty (now called the Lisbon Treaty) was to make people think the new version did not merit being put to the people in referendums.
"Above all, it is to avoid having referendums thanks to the fact that the articles are spread out and constitutional vocabulary has been removed," he added.
Less than two weeks ago Gordon Brown gave his blessing to the EU Reform Treaty at a meeting of European heads of state and government in Lisbon.
He said there was no need for the Government to honour its 2005 election manifesto promise to hold a referendum because the redrafted version was much less far reaching than the defunct Constitutional Treaty.
Labour never had to honour its pledge to hold a referendum because before it could hold one, the Constitutional Treaty had already been rejected by voters in both France and the Netherlands.
To come into force a new European Treaty has to be ratified in each member state - either in a referendum or in a vote in the national parliament.
While Mr Brown and David Miliband, the Foreign Secretary, have stuck to the line that many of the big changes have been removed from the text, a string of other top EU politicians have confessed that it is the same as the constitution in all but name.
Mark Francois, the Tory spokesman on Europe said that Mr d'Estaing had "let the cat out of the bag."
"The man who chaired the body which drafted the original EU Constitution has now confessed that its revived version, the so-called Reform Treaty, was deliberately drafted to try and avoid the people of Europe having their say on it.
"The French people were allowed a vote in 2005 as were the Dutch, and the Irish will now get a vote on the revived version - so why can't the British people have their say too. "
More than 110,000 have signed The Daily Telegraph's "Let the People Decide" campaign for a referendum.
The latest YouGov poll for this paper showed almost twice as many people would vote "No" (38 per cent) as "Yes" (20 per cent) if a referendum were held. 43 per cent said they were undecided.Publishers wishing to reproduce photographs on this page should phone 44 (0) 207 931 2921 or email firstname.lastname@example.org