Examination of Witnesses (Questions 60-67)|
MP AND MR
TUESDAY 16 JULY
60. With his views on this subject I am afraid
I would not be entirely enthusiastic about the outcome.
(Peter Hain) Perhaps you might take that up with him.
Remember, there is a British Government position and then there
is a position which may or may not be adopted by national parliamentarians.
61. Your position is that you are wary and inclined
but you are not going to rule it out?
(Peter Hain) We are inclined to look at it just to
see what it means.
62. You have got the most brilliant lawyers
in the Foreign Office who would be able to advise you on what
a legal personality means. I might even dare to presume to tell
(Peter Hain) Chairman, since Bill has invited my brilliant
diplomat sitting next to me to advise the Committee, perhaps he
(Mr Baird) We want to look at exactly what the consequences
of a full legal personality in the Union would be and how you
could draft to limit the consequences of that within the intergovernmental
pillars. The fact is of course that at the moment in the CFSP
Pillar and, by consequence, in the JHA Pillar, you have a power
to enter into agreements, which is a limited form, but the question
is what would be the difference if we moved from that limited
form. We want to look at these issues and they are very complex
Chairman: I am sure it is very interesting for
the constitutional lawyers. One last point.
63. It is simply this, that, as with the question
of trade, when you deal with the United States the European Union
speaks there with one voice and that is the final negotiator in
respect of these extraordinarily important matters. This moves,
if you apply the legal personality to the European Union, away
from intergovernmentalism into the whole of common and foreign
security policy etc as being spoken to by the European Union with
one voice. I do not need to elaborate any more. It is extremely
significant if you go that way, and I of course would fight it
all down the line.
64. Chairman, I have always understood everything
that Mr Cash has said to be premised on the idea that the European
Union has a legal personality already and therefore to admit that
it has not rather undermines many of the points that were made
previously. Could I just ask the Minister to say that in assessing
this with a weary eyewith a wary eye
(Peter Hain) Sometimes weary as well.
65. Sometimes weary, always wary eye,
(Peter Hain) You spend a week in Brussels on these
matters and you get a bit weary.
66.will he say that the criterion that
he would apply to that would be a pragmatic one, looking at what
is best in terms of Britain's long term interest and, just as
we have already this legal personality in relation to trade does
mean that in Britain's economic interests we have that powerful
voice in relation to world trade matters, there may on an ad hoc
basis be other instances where that legal personality is desirable
too? Will he confirm that he will proceed on a pragmatic basis
and not just on the basis of deciding in advance, as Mr Cash is
suggesting he does, but actually looking at each case on its merits?
(Peter Hain) Yes, subject to some pretty powerful
constraints. I cannot see it applying in common foreign security
policy, for example. That is one instance where that would not
67. Minister, thank you very much. It has been
a very interesting session. I had a thought during the discussions
today that you may be reaching the term of your office when you
will be one of the longest serving European ministers because
the tenure of previous European ministers has not been so long,
so it is nice to see you keeping up the good work and I would
like to thank you very much for coming along. I was particularly
impressed by Mr Cash's recommendation of our report to you. He
wrote a minority report and he put down 153 amendments and still
thought it was an excellent report. Thank you very much for coming
(Peter Hain) Thank you, Chairman. Could
I say that your reminding me that I am about to exceed the longest
serving minister makes me a little concerned. I hope to be here
for a while yet.