17 2 mins 15 yrs

constitution%20amend%20small.JPGLuxembourg’s Prime Minister Jean-Claude Juncker can afford to be a little more honest about the EU Constitution that our own dissembling politicians.  Representing a land-locked country with a population of around 1/16 of London, independence doesn’t have such an appeal.  In this interview with Belgian newspaper Le Soir, he discusses the recent conference to agree the new "amending treaty" (AKA the Constitution in drag.)  Here are some excerpts:

"I’m not responsible for the explanations that others give. But I’m slightly perturbed by the fact that the principle desire of certain of my colleagues round the table was to reach an agreement that could be passed without holding a referendum. I’m astonished that they fear the people. It’s always possible to explain that what is in the interests of Europe is in the interest of our country."

Q: Even with regard to the British?

"The British, that’s different. Certainly there will be transfers of sovereignty. But would it be wise to draw people’s attention to this fact?"

Q: Regarding the ratification of the treaty, many things could happen …

"There are two problems. The countries who said “yes” to the constitutional treaty can explain that the substance [of the new treaty] is the same. Those who still haven’t ratified and those that said “no” however have the biggest problems; they wanted referendums because of the enormous transfers of sovereignty in the constitutional treaty. But in the new treaty, the transfers of sovereignty are exactly the same in terms of magnitude. I’ve already said that the process of the intergovernmental conference will be difficult, but I think it will succeed, and I think, or rather hope that the treaty will be ratified within the time limits."


(Hat tip to EU Referendum, who register the interview here.) 

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17 thoughts on “Shh … don’t tell the British!

  1. Its quite clear reading the link that he is fed up with us and wants us out. Very clever of him!

  2. You think? I didn’t pick up on that. Still if that’s what the guy wants …

  3. I think i read some other stuff of his elsewhere – he has a habit of putting his foot in it! But he is aggravated about the concession we gain. Particularly this time around. He is all for us jumping on social policy – stuff that

  4. Alison –

    But he is aggravated about the concession we gain.

    Alistair Campbell would have too much shame to give that explanation!

    It’s clear that a constitution will be agreed. It’s clear that almost the last vestiges of our sovereignty will be transferred to a bunch of unelected, unaccountable foreigners.

    So, do you still think we can stay in and reform the EU then?

  5. Id be quite happy to see a referendum for a nos of reasons – but yes id rather we stayed in and reformed from the inside as i think its more in our interests and we can do with the new crop of leaders. Contrary to what people here think im more keen to see us take control of this bloc than see us on the outside looking into a bloc that will impact on us anyway.

    "It’s clear that almost the last vestiges of our sovereignty will be transferred to a bunch of unelected, unaccountable foreigners".

    Two things here when we all talk about sovereignty and id be interested to hear back from both of you:

    1) We give away our sovereignty on issues like asylum and have done for decades – signing treaties – they impact on us massively – yet we dont vote on them.

    2) One in five of our leading companies has become foreign-owned – a buying spree unprecedented in our or any comparable western country. Nearly all our investment banks are foreign-owned, as are many of our utilities and strategic sectors, including steel production. Centrica, owner of British Gas, is widely expected soon to receive a bid from the Russian GazProm; and *the Chinese government* has just set up a $200bn fund to buy foreign companies, with Britain among its top targets. This would be commie STATIST China.

    Over the past few years there has been an massive loss of British sovereignty. Noone gives a damn

  6. Alison,

    Point 1:
    if you have a bank account, you can write a cheque. You can also sign a letter authorising someone else to have "power of attorney" over your money. Now only they can write your cheques.

    In the first instance, you have sovereignty. In the second, you have ceded your sovereignty to another.

    Britain in 1970 could agree treaties on anything they liked with any other country. Now we can’t, except in a very limited number of areas, which will decrease with the new "(don’t call it a) constitution".

    In any case, the issue of whether we have a referendum rests upon the manifesto commitment of this Government, rather than a precedent. Their argument for refusing the referendum is based on this not being the constitution, but to all intents and purposes it is (I agree with the Spanish, Irish, Luxembourg, German governments etc who make the same point). As Juncker says, in some areas this is even more integrationist than Giscard’s effort.

    On the second point, I am unhappy by so much foreign ownership in this country, but this rests more on my patriotism than an economic argument. Such foreign ownership doesn’t affect sovereignty in any legal sense, as far as I can see .

  7. Ill come back to you on one when im not so tired! Re a referendum also as i think it might be a good thing. But re point 2 which is more straight forward. It does to a degree. The recruitment of graduates from British universities diminishes, decision-making migrating abroad, of top jobs being reserved for the nationals. The Royal Bank of Scotland resisted the attentions of Citibank 20 years ago because of its importance to Scotland, and has grown into one of the world’s top banks. No such prospect now exists for O2, the British Airports Authority, P&O, Hanson and Abbey National – to name just a few. This (arguably like much!) impacts more on lives than the EU

  8. Alison –

    No, I’m not playing your game. Conflating the decisions of shareholders in a free market with politicians giving away our rights to govern ourselves, to unelected and unaccountable foreigners, is absurd. If you need the difference explaining to you then find someone with more patience.

    Do yourself a favour and learn about the history of your own land. Especially, learn about your own country’s constitutional history and of the blood spilled to ensure that we became and stayed a self-governing people.

  9. I dont thanks Pete. But next time you bleat on about the commies ill be laughing

  10. Alison – you are prouder than most here about Britain. Nothing has eradicated our identity more in the past two decades than what you describe above. ‘Steamrollering over our sovereignty’ is about right.

  11. Interesting debate. Alison, there’s little indication that we would become more protective of our national interests even if we did become fully paid-up members of the new EU. The French have more of a tradition of looking after their own interests, and I don’t think Sarkozy will change this much. He is more concerned with freeing-up the labour market to the benefit of France. For us it would be a major ethos-change, I agree – no one has batted much of an eyelid at the "Britain for sale" phenomenon. But what will cause us to think again on this internally?

  12. Sara – Essentially I would rather we led this bloc than followed. The Eu is about big business and will benefit us to a large degree. My point is this is all about the march of globalisation and if we are going to argue from the angle of sovereignty we need to worry about where we sit in that global process and also – how we allow the Britain For Sale situation to grow. To argue about one and ignore the other makes no sense as this is all linked into big business. So much so that unions want a referendum to force a no vote and get the thing redrawn to their liking. Thats about as subtle as the guy in the post. Im angling for Britain in control and calling the shots. But id welcome a clearer debate on both issues (EU and buy outs)

  13. Alex,

    what are you saying exactly. Alison says a few different things, which one are you alluding to?

    "Steamrollering over our sovereignty" – good phrase! However, it’s important to bear in mind who’s been driving the steamroller – whatever power the EU has in this country, they didn’t take it by force, they were handed it by British politicians and civil servants.

    Alison, with all this talk of Britain leading, playing a central role etc, it’s important to remember the supranational element of the EU. Even if Britain looks good on the dancefloor, the Commission is spinning the discs and the ECJ owns the nightclub.

  14. Alison –

    Essentially I would rather we led this bloc than followed. The Eu is about big business …

    It’s this kind of thing which makes me think you don’t understand even the basics of the matter. The EU is a proto-country. With the signing of the constitution it will become that country with Britain a colony. Your argument was out of date in the 1980s. To talk of Britain leading it, you may as well talk of California leading the US.

    As for globalisation, we are the original globalisers. But we gave that up and turned our backs on trading freely with the world when we joined the protectionist EEC. We now can’t sign a single trade agreement with a single non-EU nation. If you want Britain to prosper in a globalised world, then hope for us to leave.

  15. Pete – After what you incorrectly quoted on another thread about the EU councils I dont pay much attention to what you have to say.

    Richard – Much of late has increased the power of the council of ministers (favoured by Britain) and the directly elected European parliament at the expense of the technocratic commission so im not sure about that anymore. There has been a decade or so of pretty wishy washy arguments saying that the UK could prosper just as well OUT of the EU. The UK needs to negotiate a relationship with that EU before any decisions are made to leave to ensure our future, how would that work in your view?

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