Previous SectionIndexHome Page

Peter Hain: I have given the answer to the right hon. Gentleman on several occasions. The treaty does not include reform of the CAP. Legally under the treaty, agricultural reform is not necessary for those countries to ratify the treaty to enable their accession and, therefore, for enlargement to occur. Has he understood that point?

Mr. Ancram indicated assent.

Peter Hain: As I have already said, of course, such reform is desirable. That is why we have already started a process of reform—it began in 1999, and it will

17 Oct 2001 : Column 1188

continue. In the meantime, 10 of the 12 applicants have already opened the chapter on agriculture, and those negotiations will proceed.

Mr. Ancram: The right hon. Gentleman gives us the answer that reform is not legally necessary, but only about half an hour ago he said that his view of Europe was a practical one. How will an enlarged EU be paid for without reforming the CAP? He should take further advice from his officials on that point because, once again, he is in danger of misleading the House. I shall now give way to my hon. Friend the Member for Wantage; I promised him that I would.

Mr. Robert Jackson: My right hon. Friend is a true friend of enlargement—indeed, I agree with that point of view—but it seems absolutely clear to me, and I hope that this will commend itself on reflection to my right hon. Friend, that to put the agriculture issue on the table before enlargement would effectively prevent enlargement from happening, because to do so would call forth vetoes from all the member states that have a great stake in the existing structure of the CAP. The significance of 2006 is that it is the year in which it has been agreed that negotiations will take place on whether to increase the own-resources ceiling. That is a point at which we could exercise our veto to enable reform of the CAP to take place.

Mr. Ancram: To return to the racehorse analogy with which I started, at some risk, my hon. Friend may be dealing with carts and horses, rather than with two things that have to run alongside each other. I am asking the Minister an important question: without having done the work on reform of the CAP, how can he know that it will slot in at the time of accession; and can he actually say that the EU will be financed? That is very difficult to answer in the affirmative, and he has not sought to do so.

Dr. Ladyman: I should like to deal with the other side of the coin. If we were to take the right hon. Gentleman's argument to its logical conclusion—throwing out the Nice treaty and achieving enlargement by different means, thereby delaying it until 2006—the cost to British non-agricultural business would be nearly £4 billion, according to the figures that he has accepted as representing the benefit of enlargement. Is he prepared to pay that price?

Mr. Ancram: I have never said that I want to delay enlargement until 2006. I was saying that one of the great co-operative leaders in the EU—one of the partners—has said that he is not prepared to change the CAP until 2006. So the hon. Gentleman's question is better addressed to him than to us. We have made it clear throughout that it is taking far too long for enlargement to happen. We want it to happen as quickly as possible; we are not the obstructionists. We will not be led down the path to further political integration behind the smokescreen that has been raised about enlargement.

I am happy to admit that we do not support further political integration. Indeed, we believe that it will only further alienate people from the institutions and processes of the EU. We have long made clear our view that further political integration will create a one-size-fits-all Europe, which would seriously undermine the basis for the

17 Oct 2001 : Column 1189

sustainable, prosperous and harmonious Europe, in all its diversity, that is our aim. In pursuit of that, we would want some powers to be returned to national Parliaments, where the national interests can be most effectively pursued. That does not mean that we are anti-European, as our opponents like to suggest.

I had an Italian grandmother; I am by blood a European, but my belief in Europe is one of a Europe of nations, which are happy to be part of Europe so long as we retain our basic national rights of self-determination. The simple fact is that political integration is the enemy of an enduring community of nation states. It cannot be argued that the treaty of Nice was not integrationist. It includes several integrationist measures, including the extension of qualified majority voting, to which I have already referred.

Mr. Bill Rammell (Harlow) rose

Mr. Mark Hendrick (Preston): Will the right hon. Gentleman give way?

Mr. Ancram: I shall make some progress; I have given way often.

Extended QMV will make it even more difficult for our Government to block measures that are not in our national interest, and we should never forget that that is what we are all elected by our constituents to the House to serve. We have consistently opposed the extension of QMV for many years. We did so in our 1997 manifesto, and we continue to oppose it now.

This is part of the salami-slicing tactics by which integration proceeds and national self-determination is diminished. We believe that the salami has been sliced through quite far enough.

Yet alongside the treaty in the annexe lie two further integrationist initiatives. First, I shall deal with the charter on fundamental rights. The European Commissioner for Justice and Home Affairs, Antonio Vitorino, said in Lisbon on 13 May 2000:

That is what the Commissioner believes; we could not have put it better ourselves.

The Government may seek to belittle the importance of the charter and I am sure that they will insist that they will block its incorporation in 2004. We shall have to wait and see, but the fact that it is integrationist cannot be doubted. In its extradition measures, it would increase the chances of interference in the ability of a democratically accountable British Government and politically accountable Ministers to act against threats. Instead, it would put decisions in the hands of unaccountable European judges. It would operate alongside the European Court of Justice, thus creating two sets of integrationist judges. Even unincorporated, it would undoubtedly affect the judgments of the court, which will seek inspiration from it as it does from other fundamental rights instruments.

17 Oct 2001 : Column 1190

The Commission's report on the legal nature of the charter of fundamental rights of the European Union was published on 18 October 2000. It states:

As a Scottish lawyer, I look to the right hon. and learned Member for North-East Fife (Mr. Campbell), who also shares the distinction of being qualified in the Scottish law. Like me, he will remember the strengthened force of principles in the Scottish law, which, after all, is part of the European tradition. When the report uses the word "principles", I believe that they have special significance.

Mr. Wayne David (Caerphilly): Surely much of what the right hon. Gentleman said about the charter is redundant because, as the Government have made clear and as is clear in the treaty, it is a political declaration.

Mr. Ancram: I do not think that the hon. Gentleman has listened to what I and the Commission have said. The courts will take inspiration from the charter in the way that they take inspiration from other fundamental rights instruments. The courts, in their interpretation, will ensure that what is in the charter will, in practice, become law. The charter is integrationist and interventionist.

The second initiative is the report on European security and defence policy, which discuses how the rapid reaction force will relate to NATO. I will leave the more detailed analysis of that to my hon. Friend the Member for West Suffolk, who will wind up for the Opposition. However, although we have long supported the concept of pan-European defence co-operation in pursuit of the Petersberg tasks, we have firmly registered our opposition to the proposed rapid reaction force and we will continue to do so.

If ever the importance of NATO, and of our relations with the USA within it, has been clearly demonstrated, it is now. We must do nothing that would undermine the value of those relations within NATO. However, the rapid reaction force would endanger those relationships at this time.

Ms Gisela Stuart (Birmingham, Edgbaston): I share some of the right hon. Gentleman's concerns, but members of the Foreign Affairs Committee have just returned from a two-day trip to meet representatives of the Belgian presidency, and we talked to members of NATO yesterday. No one there sees any threat at all. Can he substantiate his fears when even NATO does not have them?

Mr. Ancram: We must consider not just the present but the future of such a proposal. Essentially, what is being proposed are the beginnings of a European army. The proposal already envisages a command, logistics and planning structure independent of NATO and the ability to act without the approval of NATO. That would undermine the relationship that I have mentioned.

Next Section

IndexHome Page