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TUAEUC digest 17/01/08

Parliamentary debate on Constitution: Brown to use boredom as 'key weapon'

Fraser Nelson has a detailed piece in the Spectator discussing strategies for the parliamentary debate on the renamed EU Constitution. He notes that "Labour aims to hold the inevitable Commons vote on whether there should be a referendum early, so as to resolve the matter as quickly as possible", whilst "Labour strategists privately admit that boredom will be a key weapon in the debate, as they seek to bury all the embarrassing points in the jargon which has for years been used by Brussels as camouflage." Meanwhile, David Miliband will try to keep his party united by working "to portray the Treaty as enforcing Labour priorities (children's care, international aid and the environment)". However, one Labour backbencher said "Some of us have marginal seats to win back... We have to be able to look our constituents in the eye".

Nelson notes that the Lib Dems' current stance is like a "carefully arranged apple-cart", which was devised by Menzies Campbell despite party heavyweights such as Vince Cable being in favour of a referendum, and is "intended as a compromise and distraction" to paper over splits on the issue.

Nelson also notes that "Brown is very aware of this public resentment, and will strike a Eurosceptic pose again once the Lisbon Treaty is behind him. He took no pleasure in any of this, regarding it as Tony Blair's noxious unfinished business". Nelson believes that Brown may try to declare legal supremacy for English law over EU law, noting that "Ideally this jurisprudential missile would be best launched six months before an election - long enough for him to take credit, but not long enough to be tested in the courts".



European Parliament gags debate on ‘Lisbon’ Treaty

In an article in the Telegraph Dan Hannan MEP describes how the European Parliament broke its own rules and procedures this week by stopping a group of MEPs from speaking in opposition to the Lisbon Treaty. Hannan suggests that "By refusing to countenance any opposition, the European Parliament has put itself morally in the wrong. And, by failing to follow its own procedures, it has put itself legally in the wrong."


Giscard: EU Constitution will go ahead even if a country fails to ratify

During his speech to the French Assembly yesterday Valery Giscard d'Estaing criticised the fact that the Lisbon Treaty is "practically impossible" to read. Comparing the Treaty to the original Constitution, he said, "the content is very close, but the presentation is different. You can't say that the treaty is simplified, because it's longer than the one before."  He also said that if one or more countries does not ratify the Constitution, "that will not prevent the adoption of the text.  That is when these countries will have to ask for a special status or leave" the EU.  Giscard ruled himself out of becoming EU President, saying, "I am past the age for this type of job".

Le Figaro

Pro-Lisbon Treaty NSPCC in receipt of EU funding

EU referendum blog reports on how the NSPCC, which has come out in favour of the Lisbon Treaty, receives substantial EU funding. The blog argues that "the NSPCC has its fingers in the EU pie up to its armpits, and its 'third-party support' [for the Lisbon Treaty] is simply another example of the EU buying up NGOs to extend its influence into organised civil society."

EU referendum



Fair trial groups attack EU prison plan

The Telegraph reports that fair trial campaigners have given warning that there will be miscarriages of justice under EU plans to hand over Britons tried and convicted in absentia by foreign courts. The proposals, to be agreed by Baroness Scotland, the Attorney-General, at a meeting of EU justice ministers next week, enshrine "procedural" guidelines setting out the circumstances for quick extradition of people convicted in their absence. Human rights and civil liberties campaigners fear the new EU rules breach a fundamental principle of British justice: that defendants must have their day in court to defend themselves. Britain does not convict people or hold trials in their absence but many EU countries, including Belgium , France , Spain Greece and Italy , do so on a regular basis.


TUAEUC has produced a new pamphlet outlining why trade unionists should demand a referendum on the renamed EU Constitution. It has also produced a document arguing the democratic case against the EU Constitution (below) and copies of both are available free on request