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Resolved,

Mr. Bernard Jenkin (North Essex) (Con): On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. Within the constraints laid down by the business motion, which the House has agreed to, may I, through you, enter a plea to colleagues in all parts of the House?

There are before us important groups of amendments on three subjects, and it would be extremely unfortunate if the Committee were to spend all its time discussing external relations and we were not to get on to at least the defence amendments. Are there any entreaties that you can make to Members of the House to move the business forward so that we may discuss what the Government clearly would like to discuss—all parts of the treaty?

Mr. Deputy Speaker (Sir Michael Lord): The hon. Gentleman is quite correct. All the amendments before the Committee are extremely important. I would urge all hon. Members to bear that very much in mind as the debate in Committee proceeds. All that the Chair can do is make entreaties of the kind that he is asking me to make, and I do so most seriously. The speed with which we progress depends entirely on the length of the contributions made by hon. Members—Back Benchers and Front Benchers—and they ought to bear that in mind.


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Orders of the Day

European Union (Amendment) Bill


[5th Allotted Day]

(Any selected amendments to clause 2 relating to foreign, security and defence policy)

Further considered in Committee.

[Sir Michael Lord in the Chair]

Clause 2


Addition to list of treaties

4.57 pm

Mr. Mark Francois (Rayleigh) (Con): I beg to move amendment No. 258, page 1, line 12, after ‘excluding’, insert—

‘(i) Article 1, paragraph 16, inserted Article 9B TEU, paragraph 6 so far as it relates to the role of the President of the European Council in external representation of the Union; and

(ii) ’.

The Second Deputy Chairman of Ways and Means (Sir Michael Lord): With this it will be convenient to discuss the following: Amendment No. 253, line 12, after ‘excluding’, insert—

‘(i) Article 1, paragraph 24, inserted Article 10B TEU, paragraph 2, on joint proposals to the Council for recommendations to the European Council on the strategic interests and objectives of the Union; and

(ii) ’.

Amendment No. 156, line 12, after ‘excluding’, insert—

‘(i) Article 2, paragraphs 170 to 174, inserted Title V and Articles 188L to 188O TEC (TFEU) relating to international agreements; and

(ii) ’.

Amendment No. 254, line 12, after ‘excluding’, insert—

‘(i) Article 2, paragraph 173, inserted Article 188N, TEC (TFEU), on the procedure for international agreements between the European Union and third countries or international organisations; and

(ii) ’.

Amendment No. 157, line 12, after ‘excluding’, insert—

‘(i) Article 2, paragraph 175, inserted Title VI and Articles 188P and 188Q TEC (TFEU) relating to the European Union’s relations with international organisations and third countries and European Union delegations; and

(ii) ’.

Amendment No. 262, line 12, after ‘excluding’, insert—

‘(i) Article 1, paragraph 175, inserted Article 188Q TEC (TFEU), relating to European Union delegations; and

(ii) ’.

Amendment No. 93, line 12, leave out ‘any’ and insert—

‘(i) Article 1, paragraph 19, inserted Article 9E TEU relating to the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy; and


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(ii) any other’.

Amendment No. 103, line 12, leave out ‘any’ and insert—

‘(i) Article 1, paragraph 30, inserted Article 13a TEU relating to the role of the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy; and

(ii) any other’.

Amendment No. 263, line 12, leave out ‘any’ and insert—

‘(i) Article 1, paragraph 30, inserted Article 13a TEU, paragraph 3 relating to the European External Action Service; and

(ii) any other’.

Amendment No. 106, line 12, leave out ‘any’ and insert—

‘(i) Article 1, paragraph 33, inserted Article 15a TEU relating to questions on the Common Foreign and Security Policy; and

(ii) any other’.

Amendment No. 109, line 12, leave out ‘any’ and insert—

‘(i) Article 1, paragraph 37, amendments to Article 18 TEU relating to the role of the Presidency in the Common Foreign and Security Policy; and

(ii) any other’.

Amendment No. 110, line 12, leave out ‘any’ and insert—

‘(i) Article 1, paragraph 38, amendments to Article 19 TEU relating to Member States’ coordination of action within the Common Foreign and Security Policy; and

(ii) any other’.

Amendment No. 1, line 12, leave out ‘any’ and insert—

‘(i) Article 1, paragraph 38(b)(iii), relating to Member States which sit on the United Nations Security Council and the presentation of the European Union’s position; and

(ii) any other’.

Amendment No. 111, line 12, leave out ‘any’ and insert—

‘(i) Article 1, paragraph 39, amendments to Article 20 TEU relating to diplomatic and consular missions; and

(ii) any other’.

Amendment No. 112, line 12, leave out ‘any’ and insert—

‘(i) Article 1, paragraph 44, amendments to Article 25 TEU relating to the Political and Security Committee; and

(ii) any other’.

Amendment No. 264, line 12, leave out ‘any’ and insert—

‘(i) Article 1, paragraph 45, in respect of the repeal of Article 26 TEU relating to the role of the High Representative for the common foreign and security policy; and

(ii) any other’.

New clause 3— Common foreign and security policy—

‘The Secretary of State shall, not later than 1st January 2009, lay before both Houses of Parliament a report setting out the role and powers of the High Representative and External Action Service and how they differ from those of the proposed Foreign Minister and External Action Service in the Treaty establishing a Constitution for Europe.’.


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Mr. Francois: I begin by saying that I hear the entreaty made by my hon. Friend the Member for North Essex (Mr. Jenkin) in his point of order. I briefly remind the Committee that when the business motion was debated we pushed strongly for two days of discussion—one for common foreign and security policy, and one for defence. It was unfortunate that, due to the rigged manner in which the Government have allowed the treaty to be debated, when we finished our first three hours of debate, a number of Back Benchers, particularly on the Opposition Benches, were still rising and attempting to catch the eye of the Chair. Mindful of that, I shall do my best to be relatively brief in laying out the position that I wish to advance.

The treaty of Lisbon would have numerous and profound effects on foreign, security and defence policy—effects that would tend to enlarge the powers of the European Union at the expense of member states. Potentially, one of the most powerful agents of that change is the new president of the European Council, so our amendment No. 258 would remove the president’s foreign policy role.

The relevant provision in the treaty states:

or her—

The first fault with that provision is that it is definitely ambiguous. What is

to mean? That is nowhere absolutely specified in the treaty. Indeed, it is why it is now reported that the former Prime Minister, Tony Blair, has been raising queries about what the post might mean in practice. Is it not extraordinary that the man who, as Prime Minister, helped to bring the post into being never bothered to find out what it would mean in detail in reality?

Nevertheless, as my right hon. Friend the Member for Richmond, Yorks (Mr. Hague) showed so memorably last month when we began to debate the treaty, in the hands of a skilful politician, that post could prove powerful indeed. Over time, he or she could be presented as a counterpart to the American or the Russian President. He or she would have the chief role in determining what the European Council discussed, and would presumably have the Council secretariat at his or her disposal, although that is one of the matters that is yet to be finally determined. In contrast, the current system of rotating Heads of Government holding the presidency would end. No more would each member state have a turn at the EU’s helm, helping to give each country a vital sense of ownership of the EU’s business; instead, we would have this powerful central figure. So—

Mr. Kenneth Clarke (Rushcliffe) (Con): Will my hon. Friend give way?

Mr. Francois: Let me finish my sentence, then I will be delighted to give way. So because that article in the treaty, in our opinion, represents something of a blank
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cheque, which is likely to have a large amount written on it, we call for that article to be left out. Now, my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Rushcliffe (Mr. Clarke), as a former Chancellor, knows a lot about large amounts, so I gladly give way to him.

Mr. Clarke: I have great respect for my hon. Friend, although I know we do not agree. He was suggesting to his constituents and mine that there is a danger that the president of the European Council of Ministers will be equated with the President of the United States. Of all his arguments, is that really a sound one, given that all foreign policy will be made by unanimity among the Ministers of the member states and the president of the European Council of Ministers will have no executive or policy-making powers of his own? People sometimes describe the presidency of the United States as a rather weaker institution than is sometimes imagined, but to say that the European presidency is likely to be equivalent to the presidency of the United States is surely to take his otherwise interesting arguments to the lengths of extremism.

Mr. Francois: I thank my right hon. and learned Friend for his comment. I have two things to say in response. First, he will have noticed that I used the phrase “over time”. I was not implying that what I described would happen overnight. Drawing an historical analogy, one can see how in our own country the Prime Minister was originally one of a number of Ministers, but gradually took over the agenda of the Cabinet and began to drive policy. That happened over a period of time and is something that our right hon. Friend the Member for Richmond, Yorks has written about in great detail in some of his very good books. I am asserting that such a development could take place over time, not overnight. Secondly, my right hon. and learned Friend said that the new president would have no executive authority, but if, in effect, the president controlled the agenda of the European Council, that would be a powerful tool. Perhaps he and I have a different perspective on the matter, but I have tried to answer his point in detail.

Mr. Desmond Swayne (New Forest, West) (Con): Will my hon. Friend give way?

Mark Lazarowicz (Edinburgh, North and Leith) (Lab/Co-op): Will the hon. Gentleman give way?

Mr. Francois: I would like to make a little progress, because I promised to try to speak briefly. I shall take two interventions, but I hope that the Committee will forgive me if I then try to press on.

Mr. Swayne: My hon. Friend will recall that when the then Foreign Secretary, the right hon. Member for Blackburn (Mr. Straw), came to give a rather phlegmatic explanation of why the Government had reversed their position from opposing a referendum to favouring one on the previous treaty, he said that it was because there was going to be a permanent president of the Council. It was clearly a matter of importance to him.

Mr. Francois: My hon. Friend partly anticipates me, and he is entirely right to remind the Committee of that point.


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Mark Lazarowicz: May I pursue this interesting analogy with the Presidents of the United States and Russia? The President of the USA is, I believe, commander in chief of the US military—that was one of his functions right from the start of the formation of the United States. I am not saying that the hon. Gentleman is suggesting that the new European president would command some military force at this stage, but that parallel between the US President and the new role now being proposed is absurd. In suggesting that something might happen in future—many, many treaties hence, if it were ever proposed—he is presenting an Aunt Sally. The reality is nothing like what he suggests is in the treaty.

Mr. Francois: I thank the hon. Gentleman for his intervention, and I am glad to hear that he was not suggesting what he thought I was suggesting. He used the phrase “at this stage”. Such points are the reason why we wanted two days, not one, to debate these matters in detail. I repeat, I used the phrase “over time”.

Mr. John Redwood (Wokingham) (Con): Does my hon. Friend agree that there will be a common position in Europe on most of the important issues? Let us say that there is a common position on the middle east. Who would the Prime Minister of Israel or one of the Arab leaders wish to see if both the president of Europe—the custodian of the common position—and the British Prime Minister wanted to visit?

Mr. Francois: My right hon. Friend’s point is well made. He mentioned a common position. If it is true that Tony Blair is going to apply for the job, I would be interested to know whether there would be a common position in the Labour party on whether he ought to get it. We await the answer to that question with genuine anticipation.

Amendments Nos. 262 and 263 deal with the new EU diplomatic service and, in particular, with the high representative’s authority over it. The external action service—to give it its technical name—is a new institution in the treaty whose role has yet to be determined. Indeed, a leaked note from the Slovenian presidency makes that explicit. The Government are again asking the House and this country to sign a blank cheque. The post of high representative is a powerful one in itself, but with the diplomatic service at his beck and call, we should be in no doubt that the EU would tend not to supplement member states’ foreign policy so much as try to supplant it. Our amendments seek to address that possibility.

Amendment No. 1 is also important because it would amend the crucial clause relating to the high representative’s right to speak for the European Union at the United Nations Security Council when a common position is reached. As my right hon. Friend the Member for Richmond, Yorks said at the beginning of our earlier debate, its provisions—with a superficial change to the Foreign Minister’s job title—are identical to those in the EU constitution. As such, they were repeatedly and publicly opposed by the Government’s representatives in the negotiations on that document. As they put it at that time:


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