Tories Attack 'Dangerous' EU Blueprint
Epolitix - Published: Tue, 29 Oct 2002
A blueprint setting out the future shape of the EU is "very dangerous", the Conservatives have warned.
David Heathcoat-Amory, who is a member of the European convention, believes the draft constitutional treaty is the first step to united states of Europe.
"This draft constitution is a very dangerous document indeed," he told the BBC.
"We are only about halfway through this convention on the future of Europe, but already they have produced what they call a constitution for Europe, it is going to be organised on a federal basis and they are offering us all dual citizenship.
He said the document amounts to "an embryonic European state".
Valery Giscard d'Estaing, the convention's chairman, published draft document on Monday outlining the future shape of Europe's political institutions.
The former French president - who has compared his constitutional role to the US founding fathers - caused controversy by calling for the EU to be renamed the United States of Europe. Angered by his remarks, British officials said there was "not a cat in hell's chance" of the UK agreeing to the name change.
"If anything, it will be called the European Union," said one.
The former Europe minister, Peter Hain, welcomed the draft document but downplayed the name change debate.
"United States of Europe was one option. Europe United was another - Europe United sounds like a football team to me. United States of Europe frankly is not on, we won't accept that," he told the BBC.
"I think we will end up with where we are - something which people know, which is the European Union."
Elsewhere the 46 section draft - the work of a convention of 105 of Europe's great and good - has been welcomed guardedly as a cautious beginning to a "skeleton" constitution for Europe.
Hain believes that the proposals are a step in the right direction despite the controversy.
"The substance of the issue is not the labels. We are encouraged by this report ... the reality is that this is a draft which anchors the European Union to the nation state, a union of sovereign nation states not the federal superstate," he said.
The blueprint seeks to put the EU on a "federal basis" but will retain national sovereignty throughout the union. [THIS HAS BEEN LATER PROVEN TO BE UNTRUE ****]
"A Union of European States which, while retaining their national identities, closely coordinate their policies at the European level, and administer certain common competences on a federal basis," article one of the document states. [THIS HAS BEEN LATER PROVEN TO BE UNTRUE ***]
The new proposals would give the EU a single legal personality for the first time.
Article three of the draft envisages a new treaty merging justice and home affairs and foreign and security policy under one framework.
"This article establishes the general objectives [including] creation of an area of liberty, security and justice [and] development of a common foreign and security policy, and a common defence policy, to defend and promote the union's values in the wider world," says the document.
The Conservatives welcome the move towards a new treaty - which requires unanimous agreement - but have attacked plans for a common European defence policy. Timothy Kirkhope, the Conservative MEP and member of the convention, described the development as "dangerous".
"I suppose the good news is that this is to be a new treaty and not a constitution, and at present allows for a re-naming of the European Union which could again become the European Community - a distinct advantage in the preservation of the individual nation states," he said.
"The bad news is that the treaty wishes to pursue a European Common Defence Policy which would be an irresponsible folly and, if implemented, a dangerous and unmitigated threat to our security and the future of NATO."
Plans to establish a system of "dual citizenship" - where voters in member states retain national citizenship along with European citizenship - have also sparked controversy.
Peter Hain, the government's representative on the convention, expressed his surprise at the suggestion. "Nobody knows where this came from, it hasn't been discussed," he said. Britain will oppose the plan "if it means a sort of super, over-arching European citizenship that is not acceptable to us and won't be acceptable to the convention" promised Hain. [THIS HAS BEEN LATER PROVEN TO BE UNTRUE ***]
The draft also trails "the possibility of establishing a Congress of the Peoples of Europe" but fails to determine "its composition. the procedure for appointing its members, and define its powers".
But for member states not happy with the future direction and shape of the EU, Article 46 of the blueprint will provide an exit route "for voluntary withdrawal from the union".