Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Will America Follow the UK Down the 'Slippery Slope' of Unaccountable EU-Driven Global Governance? UK 'I Want a Referendum' Campaign Instructive

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...Why we need a referendum

EU leaders admit the new treaty is the same as the old EU Constitution

In the 2005 election the Government promised to hold a referendum on the proposed EU Constitution. Later that year, French and Dutch voters overwhelmingly rejected the Constitution in their own referendums.

But EU leaders refused to listen. They are now trying to reintroduce the rejected Constitution in the form of a new treaty. Although they have changed the name, the contents are almost exactly the same. This is a deeply dishonest process.

The author of the Constitution, Valery Giscard d’Estaing, says: “All the earlier proposals will be in the new text, but will be hidden and disguised in some way.”

The Spanish Prime Minister Jose Zapatero admits: “We have not let a single substantial point of the Constitutional Treaty go… It is, without a doubt, much more than a treaty. This is a project of foundational character, a treaty for a new Europe.”

The German Chancellor Angela Merkel says simply: “The substance of the Constitution is preserved. That is a fact.”

To find out more about what people across Europe are saying about the revised EU Constitution download our pamphlet: "They said it".
[ http://www.iwantareferendum.com/publication/theysaidit.pdf ].

Only 10 out of 250 proposals in the “new” treaty are different from the proposals in the original EU Constitution. In other words, 96% of the text is the same as the rejected Constitution. Of the few changes there are, very few are of any significance – for example, the new version of the Constitutional Treaty no longer mentions the symbols of the Union, like its flag and anthem. However, of course these symbols already exist.

The think-tank Open Europe has produced a side-by-side textual comparison of the old and new versions of the Constitution. You can download a copy here.

They said it: What people are saying about the new EU Constitution

The Constitutional Treaty – what does it mean in practice?

(2) Weakening our ability to say “no” to EU laws we don’t want

A new voting system would cut Britain’s power to block EU laws it opposes by 30%. The UK’s veto - our right to say no - would be given up in 60 new areas covering everything from employment law to energy policy.

This could mean, for example:

Higher fuel bills. The European Commission has proposed a huge increase in oil reserves, which would have cost the UK up to £3 billion to implement. Previously the UK was able to veto this proposal, but under the Constitution it could go ahead.

The Government was able to water down some of the most damaging aspects of the EU’s Financial Services Action Plan by forming a blocking minority with a number of small member states. Many of the proposals were purely intended to favour other EU countries over the UK, and could have cost the UK billions. With our power to block legislation cut this would not have been possible.

Inevitably even more regulation would be passed. According to the Government’s own figures EU regulation since 1998 has cost the UK £40 billion. The Constitutional Treaty would mean even higher costs. No wonder that polls show that 81% of UK firms want the EU to do less, not more.

The Constitutional Treaty – what does it mean in practice?

(1) Making it harder to fight crime

The Constitutional Treaty would give the EU considerable new powers over crime, policing and the law courts.

EU judges would gain power over justice and policing for the first time. The European Court of Justice would become the highest court in the land and would begin to set the UK's substantive criminal law. The Government has admitted that this would be a fundamental transfer of “national sovereignty”.

It would become illegal under EU law to try someone twice for the same crime. This would mean that criminals like Billy Dunlop, who was successfully convicted of murdering Julie Hogg when new evidence came to light 15 years after he was originally acquitted, would not have been convicted.

The Constitutional Treaty also states that “the severity of penalties must not be disproportionate to the criminal offence”, which could undermine the discretion of British judges to keep infamous killers like Rosemary West in jail permanently.

EU officials have already told a BBC reporter that they will use their new powers to pass judgement on the UK’s anti-terror laws. The BBC’s Europe Editor reported: “A Commission spokesman was telling me, “Well we’d want to look at things like Belmarsh, can you hold foreign suspects indefinitely?” The Commission don’t like it, so Britain could get hammered.”

The EU would gain other new powers over criminal justice. The EU’s police force, Europol, would be able to initiate investigations on British soil for the first time, making it more like a European version of America’s FBI.

This could have worrying implications. Unlike British police forces, Europol’s officers are largely unaccountable. They cannot be compelled to testify in court and are immune from prosecution for acts performed in the course of their duties. Europol also has its own problems with corruption – for example its offices were raided by Belgian police as part of a fraud investigation.

The European Prosecutor “Eurojust” will also get sweeping new powers. Johannes Thuy, a spokesman for Eurojust, confirmed that “We could compel the British police to make a prosecution.”
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The Constitutional Treaty – what does it mean in practice?

(3) Less control over asylum and migration

The European Court of Justice would gain substantial new powers to determine the rights of migrants. There would be far more rulings like the recent Chindamo case, in which the UK Government found itself powerless to deport the convicted murderer of school headmaster Philip Lawrence.

The Government has admitted that the proposals in the Constitutional Treaty will mean even more costly asylum and immigration appeals. In November 2006 Geoff Hoon said: “there is clearly a risk that adding what is in effect an avenue of appeal at a very early stage in the process might be an opportunity of further complicating our existing asylum and immigration processes.”

The Charter of Fundamental Rights, which would become legally binding under the Constitution, could also complicate attempts to deport terror suspects and other foreign criminals. This could lead to increased costs for UK taxpayers as migrants claim benefits while they wait for their case to be heard. It currently takes two years before the ECJ even begins to hear an appeal.

New rights set out in the Constitution are likely to erode the current strict limits stopping EU migrants from claiming benefits in the UK if they have not worked. A new “burden sharing” requirement means that UK taxpayers will have to pay for the upkeep of migrants even in other countries. The UK Government initially opposed most of these new EU powers – but it later gave way.

While there are a range of views about all these issues, most people think they should be decided in the UK by accountable politicians. But under the Constitutional Treaty the European Court of Justice would end up making what are essentially political decisions. If British politicians disagreed with these judges, it would be impossible to get the rulings overturned.
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The Constitutional Treaty – what does it mean in practice?

(4) More EU powers over our foreign policy and defence

The Constitution sets up an EU Foreign Minister, an EU Diplomatic Service, and gives the EU the right to sign treaties – just like a single country. It introduces majority voting into all kinds of foreign policy questions.

The Spanish Prime Minister has predicted that “We will undoubtedly see European embassies in the world, not ones from each country, with European diplomats and a European foreign service. We will see Europe with a single voice in security matters. We will have a single European voice within NATO. We want more European unity.” The British Government opposed many of these proposals, including the automatic right of the new EU Foreign Minister to speak on our behalf in the UN Security Council, but later gave in.

The Constitutional Treaty also sets up a “structured cooperation” group, in which the UK will participate. It states that members will have to achieve “approved objectives concerning the level of investment expenditure on defence equipment” and “bring their defence apparatus into line with each other”. A research paper by the European Federalists notes that “Structured Co-operation in the field of Defence is a significant step towards a Single European Army.”

German Chancellor Angela Merkel also said earlier this year that “Within the EU itself, we will have to move closer to establishing a common European army.”

Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi has said “When I was talking about the European army, I was not joking. If you don’t want to call it a European army, don’t call it a European army. You can call it ‘Margaret’, you can call it ‘Mary Ann’, you can call it any name.”

The Spanish Prime Minister Jose Zapatero has said that “Europe must believe that it can be in 20 years the most important world power… The Constitution is an important step in this direction.”

What this grandiose vision means in practice is that while British soldiers are being undermined in Iraq and Afghanistan for want of basic equipment, the EU wants us to divert billions of pounds to wasteful projects like the Galileo satellite system - because of its desire to play the role of a “superpower”. Regardless of what you think about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, this is bad for our armed forces.
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The Constitutional Treaty – what does it mean in practice?

(5) New EU powers over our public services

Health and education:

The Constitutional Treaty puts the EU in charge of public health, and ends the right of veto in this area. The EU would in future regulate medical standards. A new “right to preventative healthcare” could open the NHS up to a slew of costly ambulance-chasing lawsuits. The Constitution ends the veto over trade agreements in public services like health and education. So our Parliament would no longer have a say over deals which determine how these services are managed.

Public spending rules:

The UK Government has rightly criticised the EU’s public spending rules for discriminating against long term investment. But instead of fixing this problem the Constitution means that the EU’s guidelines on public spending would be more tightly enforced, as no member state will be able to vote against being censured under the Broad Economic Policy Guidelines.


Under the Constitution, Britain gives up the veto in transport. Jacques Barrot, EU Transport Commissioner, recently said that the EU wants to run EU wide road-pricing operations. The AA have warned that this would lead to a loss of privacy.

Public service management:

Equally importantly, the Constitutional Treaty does nothing to rein in the European Court of Justice, which in recent years has produced a string of rulings which make it difficult to prioritise NHS spending, and allows those who are willing to threaten legal action to jump the queue.
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The Constitutional Treaty – what does it mean in practice?

(6) It doesn’t sort out the EU’s chronic problems: cost and waste continue


Britain is paying £10.5 billion a year into the EU – more than we spend on the police. We have to pay in roughly twice as much as we get back, while countries that are richer than Britain take more out than they put in.

High prices:

The EU’s farm subsidies and trade barriers cost the average family of four £1,500 a year in higher prices and tax. The Constitution could make reform even more difficult by giving the European Parliament new powers over spending.


The new treaty does nothing to sort out the EU’s chronic problems with fraud. According to its own figures, the EU loses £1 million every working day to fraud. Its budget has not been signed off by its own auditors for twelve years in a row.

Hurting poor countries:

The EU’s protectionist trade barriers and farm subsidies cost the poorest countries in the world billions every year.


The EU now has 63,000 civil servants working full time churning out new laws. It spends £200 million a year just ferrying euro-MPs back and forth between its two parliament buildings in Strasbourg and Brussels every month.

Help us make politicians keep their promises

Gordon Brown is determined to stop you having a vote on the EU Constitution – despite being elected on a manifesto that promised the British people a referendum. If we are going to persuade him to change his mind, we need your help. This is your last chance to have a say…

Unlike previous treaties, the Constitutional Treaty would be self-amending. This means that in future the powers of the EU could be increased further without the need for any new treaty. Further vetoes could be given up by the Government without the permission of our Parliament.

Because EU leaders could vote to incrementally give the EU more powers, the constitutional treaty would reduce the level of scrutiny of future changes. If the Constitutional Treaty goes through, this could be the last ever opportunity to call for a referendum.
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