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Dr. Godman: My constituency is Greenock and Inverclyde. The right hon. and learned Gentleman said that there could be no EU enlargement without CAP reform. How optimistic is he that such reform will take place in the next two or three years?

Sir Teddy Taylor: No chance.

Dr. Godman: That embittered critic of the EU,the hon. Member for Rochford and Southend, East (Sir T. Taylor), shouts that there is no chance of that, but I directed my question to the right hon. and learned Member for North-East Fife (Mr. Campbell). Is he optimistic that CAP reform can take place in the next two or three years?

Mr. Campbell: I apologise for describing the hon. Gentleman as the "hon. Gentleman for the Scottish constituency". I suppose that I run the risk of equating him with "Macbeth", the Scottish play whose title is never mentioned: if I call him "the Scottish constituency", his name may never be mentioned again.

I have some anxiety about whether the CAP can be reformed, but enlargement cannot take place if it is not. The common agricultural policy cannot be sustained if the agricultural industries of Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic are admitted. Pressure will be applied from all directions to try and achieve CAP reform, but we must be realistic: if it is not achieved, enlargement will not take place. Europe sometimes does best when it is presented with a precipice and is able to respond to very considerable pressures. Without movement or change, what is on the table becomes impossible to attain.

Sir Michael Spicer: Will the right hon. and learned Gentleman give way?

Mr. Campbell: No, I want to make progress.

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I was dealing with the question of subsidiarity.The Liberal Democrat party argues for a constitution for Europe, to define and limit the powers of European Union institutions, to clarify and simplify treaties, to enhance transparency--a matter about which I shall say more in due course--and to prevent the unnecessary accumulation of powers at the centre. A constitution would also set out the rights of individual citizens.

It is perhaps too much to expect the IGC to achieve all that in the year 2000, but it most certainly should begin that process. A constitution for Europe would provide a stable, legitimate and accepted framework for future development, but we must make Europe's institutions more democratic and accountable. It has already been hinted in the debate that we should start with a powerful freedom of information regime--as powerful as the regime that may be established in Scotland, and possibly rather more powerful than what appears to be proposed for the rest of the United Kingdom.

The European Parliament should have equal status in law making with the Council of Europe. It should also have the power to vet and veto the appointment of every Commissioner, and to dismiss individual Commissioners. The size and working methods of the Commission must be streamlined, and there needs to be the reweighting of votes to which the Foreign Secretary referred.

The procedures of the European Court of Justice must also be streamlined. Justice delayed is justice denied, in Europe as elsewhere. It would be ludicrous if the beef problem were to take two years to resolve because of the sclerotic nature of the procedures of the European Court of Justice. As a lawyer, I can argue with some justification that those procedures must be streamlined.

The Council should vote in public. There should be a presumption that its proceedings be public unless good cause is shown.

Mr. Bercow: The risible protocol on the application of the principles of subsidiarity and proportionality in the treaty of Amsterdam obliges member states to respect and uphold the existing institutional balance and acquis communautaire. Do the Liberal Democrats favour any change to those?

Mr. Campbell: I thought that I had made that clear. I set out the principles by which I thought that the intergovernmental conference should work, the strategic objectives that it should adopt and the elements of reform necessary to make the Community's institutions much more transparent and accountable. The strategy must be to decide how best we can entrench subsidiarity and define the limits of the European Union.

That takes me to the European security and defence identity. When we last discussed that only a week or 10 days ago, much of the debate centred around a rather fine textual exegesis of the speech that Mr. Strobe Talbott delivered in September in London. Many said that the speech was against the ESDI. Those who read it know that it clearly sets out that the United States Government support a European security and defence identity subject to a number of entirely reasonable and sensible conditions.

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It sometimes appears to me that the visceral anti-Europeanism of some of our Conservatives prevents rational discussion of the future of European defence. Their contributions are confined to predictions of damage and detriment that are wholly unjustified by the facts or political reality. Let us suppose that the shadow Foreign Secretary is right that the Prime Minister's enthusiasm for the ESDI is related to his unwillingness to make the sort of commitment that we urge upon him in relation to the single European currency. If trading in Europe is to be condemned, there is much anecdotal evidence to suggest that the previous Government acquiesced in the recognition of Slovenia in return for the right to opt out of the single currency.

Mr. Donald Anderson: Croatia

Mr. Campbell: I beg the hon. Gentleman's pardon, it was Croatia. I do not know whether the second proposition is as inaccurate as the first.

Mr. Cash: It is true.

Mr. Campbell: An hon. Member who may be better informed than I am says that it is true. To accuse this Government of trading in Europe comes a little ill if there has been previous such trading.

We should not allow that to prevent us from considering the merits of the proposal. We criticised the Government's strategic defence review because it dealt dismissively with Europe in 11 or 12 lines. The position changed almost as we were debating it in the House. The Prime Minister was speaking elsewhere, or at least giving an interview to a journalist that appeared the day after the debate. He said that there had been a change in Government opinion. We welcome that change, because it was considerably in the direction of the policy position that we had often argued for.

I regard the joint paper agreed between the Government and the Liberal Democrats to which the Foreign Secretary referred as a sensible contribution to the debate. There was some amusement about that among Conservative Members but when the Maastricht treaty went through the House, the Whipping was, to say the least, robust. The famous book kept in the Conservative Whips Office was well thumbed. I do not remember the Conservative Government objecting to the fact that in almost every vote of significance, they enjoyed Liberal Democrat support.

NATO remains, and must remain, the bedrock of United Kingdom and European security. It is our collective defence. Europe's security would not be enhanced in any way by allowing the transatlantic relationship to be dismantled. The ESDI will succeed if it increases the operational effectiveness of European forces within NATO. It should allow European forces to act alone when the United States is unable or unwilling to contribute forces to joint actions.

The taxpayers of Europe will get better value from their defence budgets if their Governments work more closely together. In some cases, possibly under the influence of the defence capability initiative launched at the Washington summit earlier this year, Governments may have to seek to increase those budgets.

An effective ESDI can strengthen NATO and redistribute the burden of European security. It can answer the paradox whereby the United States calls on the

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Europeans to do more for themselves but when the Europeans show signs of doing so, the Americans feel that they are excluded. If the ESDI is to work, it requires a comprehensive European defence review.

We have some idea of where Europe is deficient: heavy lift, intelligence gathering, deployable forces, advanced technology weapons and joint command and control structures. We need a coherent strategy to address those shortcomings. We can take that agenda forward through the European defence review. subject to the following qualifications: all parties with an interest are consulted; all nations are involved and understand their responsibilities; there is no infringement of the national interests of member states; and we ensure that NATO is not undermined.

Conservative opposition to the ESDI is increasingly well documented. The Foreign Secretary, in what was then the absence of the Conservative defence spokesman, drew attention to the fact that he had gone abroad and given evidence that, on the face of it, was contrary to a Government policy. When he wondered what the consequences might have been if that had happened under the previous Government, I could not but think of the indignation that the then right hon. Member for Finchley, Baroness Thatcher, would have shown. Those of us who sat through those occasions when she was, shall we say, dismissive of Neil Kinnock, can only wonder how dismissive she would have been if it had come to light that a member of the Labour party had gone to Washington and given evidence before a congressional committee contrary to the policy of the then Government. That puts the matter into perspective.

What is absent from the debate is a genuine effort by the Conservatives to provide us with an alternative. I made this point 10 days ago. I am not still not clear from what the shadow Foreign Secretary said how he thinks that the relationship within NATO should be rebalanced or what assessment he has made of the likelihood of the United States playing as prominent a part in any future action as it did in Kosovo. How does he think that Europe should equip itself to cope with obligations that arise if and when the United States declines to become involved?

I see nothing suspicious in the joint declaration after the Anglo-French summit. It makes it clear that NATO is to remain the foundation of collective defence and that we are seeking autonomous capacity for the EU to launch and conduct EU-led military operations where the alliance as a whole is not engaged.

Some argue, particularly in the United States, that NATO should be given the right of first refusal. That proposition is worth exploring for two reasons. First, it emphasises the primacy of NATO. Secondly, if NATO is given the right of first refusal, it will compel the United States to make its mind up quicker and earlier than it was willing to in Bosnia or Kosovo, where American reluctance and reticence was very damaging to the joint effort, at least in the first instance.

So long as what we achieve contains no unnecessary duplication, does not discriminate against non-European Union members of NATO such as Norway and Turkey or against neutral members of the EU who are not members of NATO and there is no decoupling of the United States, the ESDI makes sense. It may not be a revolution, but it certainly makes common sense.

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We have had a demonstration again this evening of the increasingly sceptical position that the Conservative party takes in relation to the European Union. The Foreign Secretary has already pointed up that rather unambiguous passage in the speech of the leader of the Conservative party at his conference, when he said that the new treaty must contain a flexibility clause, or there would be no new treaty. As the Foreign Secretary rightly said, if there is no new treaty, there will be no enlargement. The words of the leader of the Conservative party did not so much draw a line in the sand as build a pretty impenetrable fortress. One cannot resist the observation that the loudest cheers at the Conservative party conference were for those who argued for complete withdrawal from Europe. That is rather close, some might think, to the policy of the UK Independence party.

It is now possible to ask the question which, as Isaid last week, was previously unthinkable. Are there circumstances in which, under a Conservative Government, Britain would seek to withdraw from the European Union? That tells us a great deal, but in particular it tells us why it would certainly not be in the interests of the United Kingdom for the Conservative party to represent us at Helsinki or any other EU summit for the foreseeable future.

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