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It is not Britain's farmers who need their financial support cutting; it is the absurd level of support for French farmers that needs to be reduced if we are to get control of the CAP.
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We can build on the success of the accession countries, both economically and politically. As I said in our debate last week, about 5,000 UK companies now export to central Europe, attracted by the low costs of that area. Our trade with those countries is growing 10 times as fast as our trade with the rest of the world. Politically, many of those countries share the view of a Europe in which the nation state is as valued a concept as it is here in the United Kingdom. As The Economist put it:
"whereas the traditional builders of Europe were suspicious of nationalism and keen to build up supranational institutions at the expense of the nation state, many of the Central Europeans are still joyfully reasserting their own national identities after decades of Soviet domination."
What of the constitution itself? We have made our objections clearnot just what we do not want in principle, but the detailed elements that we find unacceptable. We do not want the EU to be given the trappings of statehood: a President, a Foreign Minister, a diplomatic service and the ability to sign treaties in its own right. Those are not the tidying-up exercises that the Government pretended they were, but are steps on the road to creating a state of Europe. We do not want the EU to be given greater responsibility for the foreign and defence policies of all member states. The constitution would allow the EU to define the collective strategic interests of member states and to create an EU Foreign Minister to formulate and implement Union foreign policy and to represent the Union diplomatically. It would require member states to
Mr. Curry : Does my hon. Friend accept that the rules of the CAP apply to farmers across the European Union, subject to whatever national discretion is allowed to Governments? In fact, the Governments of different parts of the United Kingdom are applying them rather differently in present circumstances. Therefore, we can take action to reduce support for farmers and we can take action to increase support for farmers, but we cannot take action to reduce support for French farmers.
Dr. Fox: What we can do is ensure that we are not discriminating against efficient farmers. The UK has an extraordinarily efficient farming sector. The problem with so much of the CAP is that it is formulated in a way that helps inefficient farming. We need substantial reforms of the CAP because, as the Foreign Secretary said, a vast amount of money is going to a very small number of recipients. That cannot in any sense be just.
No one would disagree with the proposition that an EU of 25 needs different working arrangements to an EU of six, but as bland as institutional change sounds, it is far from simply greater efficiency. What is being
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proposed in the constitution represents the transfer of yet more powers from the people of Britain to the people of Brussels, with the giving up of up to 63 vetoes, reform of QMV and the removal of the veto on criminal justice, which is greatly different to what we have at present. I believe that that would require the specific consent of the British people were the proposal to go ahead.
The legal systems of member countries vary widely. They represent deep, culturally different attitudes about the relationship between citizen and state. Beyond the international crimes legitimately discussed in the constitution, the broad notion of so-called "judicial co-operation" challenges each member state's unique approach to criminal law. The idea of creating a European prosecutor who would be able to investigate and try certain types of cases does not seem objectionable at first glance, but when it comes to the definition
Dr. Fox: I will give way when I decide, not when the Foreign Secretary decides. I understand why he does not like us discussing the details of the constitution, but when it comes to the extension of criminal law, it is of profound importance to this country and to the House.
Dr. Fox: It is reasonably widely accepted that farmers in the United Kingdom are far more efficient in what they produce and in their manpower than those in countries such as France. I do not want to get any further into views on the efficiency of French farmers, but we could probably establish a reasonable consensus across the House on the fact that British farmers are a good deal more efficient than most of our European partners tend to be.
The hon. Gentleman thought that I said that, but the whole point of what the Foreign Secretary said today was that neither the British Government nor the collective European leadership have the courage to declare the constitution dead by bringing an end to the ratification process. The Prime Minister promised us that this country would have a referendum if the process of ratification continued. If other countries are to continue the process of ratification, and if the treaty is not dead, as the Foreign Secretary tended to suggest
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today, the British people must be given a referendum, because these issues are of fundamental importance to how we govern the UK and the powers that this House has in relation to that.
The charter of fundamental rights is one of the most essential elements of the constitution. It would be the bedrock of constitutional law in the EU. Judges in Europe would accrue new powers over legislation in this country. The Government have said that the charter is sufficiently explicit about limiting its own application. That has been one of the Government's central arguments about why we should not fear that part of the constitution, but I draw the Foreign Secretary's attention to a paper by Richard Wilkins and Marya Reed on the subject, which is in the Library. They compared the development of law in the United States to what is happening in the EU, saying:
"Comparative constitutional history suggests that, despite its own proclamations to the contrary, the Charter may well alter substantially the respective powers of the EU and its nation states. Like the Charter, the Bill of Rights appended to the United States Constitution was initially intended to apply only to the federal government, not the member states. Over time, however, and precisely because the requirements of the Bill of Rights were deemed to be 'fundamental to the American scheme of justice', constitutional provisions that were initially drafted to apply only to the federal government became generally applicable to all government entities, federal or state."
"This comparison suggests that the Charter will almost certainly broaden EU control over a significant range of social policies. As a result, and over time, member states may be required to submit to a more expansive EU will in human rights, social services and other areas".
"the EU constitution is the birth certificate of the United States of Europe . . . the constitution is not the endpoint of integration, but the framework for as it says in the preamble, 'an ever closer Union'."
It is becoming clear to all but the most blinkered Eurocrat that the rejection of the constitution and the accession of the 10 new member states is producing a new dynamic and will create a new direction for Europe. The Conservative party, hon. Members and politicians in other member states must recognise that it is not possible simultaneously to believe in a more flexible Europe and an ever-closer Union. The logical end point of an ever-closer Union is union, while the logical end point of a more flexible Europe is a completely different dynamic.
We cannot have a meaningful debate about Europe unless we frankly acknowledge that an ever-closer union of states is not our intent. We must cut ourselves free from the resentment that so many feel about the ratchet effect that is pulling us towards an unwanted destination, if we are ever to give a positive view of how Britain's constructive engagement with a more decentralised, more outward-looking Europe could benefit the people of Britain and the people of Europe, which is not to say that other countries that want to see greater political integration should be stopped from pursuing it.
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