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Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: I do not believe that that is so. I believe the position is clear in what I have just said to my noble friend. The deficits, if they are incurred in exceptional or temporary circumstances, will not impede us from taking any kind of military action. I do not believe that my noble friend's point is one that has real locus.
I should like to turn to the security and defence provisions. The Amsterdam Treaty clarifies the security provisions of CFSP. Let us be clear. NATO is the bedrock of our security. At Amsterdam we secured a treaty change which underlined the primacy of NATO in European defence. At the same time we improved arrangements aimed at enabling Europeans to make a more effective contribution to the security of their continent.
The noble Baroness, Lady Williams of Crosby, expressed anxiety that members of the EU and NATO had not engaged in serious dialogue over the enlargement of their respective organisations and that this reflected an inability to co-ordinate European foreign policy. But one should remember that NATO is a collective defence organisation; the European Union is not. As other Members of the Committee have said, not all EU members share the same strategic perspective and defence commitments. Indeed, not all future members may share them. So the criteria for the two enlargement processes are different. Countries involved in both processes will naturally have taken the issues specific to each into account in their overall policy-making and in their discussions with partners. But it would not be right for the EU to have a say in the expansion of NATO. Nor vice versa.
Amsterdam brings welcome clarity to the provisions agreed at Maastricht on this key question of the EU role in security and defence and its implications for NATO. I remind the Committee that it was Maastricht that introduced the concept of an EU common defence policy and common, or collective, defence. At Amsterdam a majority of partners wanted to go further, by committing to an EU common defence and integration of the WEU into the EU.
We succeeded in resisting those changes, which would have undermined NATO. In doing so, we managed to clarify Maastricht in a way that underlines the primacy of NATO. The treaty explicitly states that "partners who are members of the alliance see their common defence realised in NATO."
Lord Wallace of Saltaire: Perhaps the noble Baroness will allow me to intervene. I was reading some of the comments in the senate ratification debate on NATO this morning. All of them make clear that from an American perspective the expansion of NATO and the expansion of the EU are clearly linked. It is part of
I was talking about the clarification of the Maastricht position in the treaty under discussion. The treaty explicitly states that partners who are members of the alliance see their common defence in NATO, and the treaty also makes clear, as Maastricht did not, that there can be no EU common defence or EU/WEU integration unless and until all member states agree by unanimity in the European Council and, further, endorse the decision in line with their own constitutional requirements.
Like the Maastricht Treaty, the Amsterdam language on the relationship between the EU and the WEU reflects the difficulty in reconciling opposing views among partners of how the relationship should work. Most would like to see the WEU set on the path to integration into the EU. Together with our partners who shared our concerns, we prevented this. The EU and WEU remain separate organisations with their own decision-making procedures. Amsterdam confirms that only the WEU, not the EU, has an operational military capability and that decisions on military operations undertaken by the WEU on the EU's behalf will continue to be taken in the WEU.
At the same time, Amsterdam takes important steps towards a more efficient, practical approach to handling crises under the common foreign and security policy. It makes clear that the WEU will be the channel whereby the EU can call on an operational military capability in support of its own non-military crisis management activity. The WEU's so-called "Petersberg tasks", referred to by my noble friend Lord Shore, include humanitarian and rescue tasks, peacekeeping tasks, tasks of combat forces in crisis management, including, of course, peacemaking. They are included in the treaty. It not only underlines the EU's political commitment to crisis management, but it also usefully confirms the range of activities which the WEU may carry out on the EU's behalf.
The treaty makes clear the commitment to a closer working relationship between the EU and the WEU, aiming particularly at more effective arrangements for assessing and planning a co-ordinated response to any crisis. The protocol to Article J.7 of the treaty recognises the importance of strengthening this practical co-operation. The treaty also promotes a greater role for neutral partners in European crisis management, where they have a valuable contribution to make. The effects of these changes will be to strengthen Europe's crisis management capability in a way which we believe will not weaken but support the primary role of NATO in European defence.
I hope that I have covered most of the detailed questions which your Lordships have raised. I realise that I may not have dealt with one or two questions. Indeed, I believe I should say something on the provisions regarding scrutiny.
We are committed to enhance national parliaments' role in the EU and to strengthen the UK scrutiny system. On the intergovernmental pillars, we confirmed to the scrutiny committees of both Houses our decision to reinforce arrangements for formal parliamentary scrutiny. My right honourable friend the President of the Council published a memorandum in January setting out our proposals to strengthen the scrutiny system. Those proposals include extending the scope of the scrutiny reserve and fuller reports to Parliament on Council meetings as well as greater scrutiny on the intergovernmental pillars. The memorandum was sent to the committee of the noble Lord, Lord Tordoff, whose views on it we would warmly welcome. We look forward to hearing from the noble Lord and his committee in due course.
Lord Pearson of Rannoch: Would the Minister mind confirming a point which I put to her noble friend Lord McIntosh of Haringey in Committee on Tuesday about the effect of the scrutiny reserve? Is it still the position that Her Majesty's Government will not agree to any directive or piece of legislation in Brussels unless the scrutiny reserve of the scrutiny committees of both Houses of Parliament has been lifted? Is that still the position?
Lord Pearson of Rannoch: I do not believe that regulations could apply. Any form of European action or legislation should be subject to the scrutiny reserve of both Houses of Parliament. Can the Minister say whether that is still the case?
In closing, I should say something about the remarks from my noble friend Lord Bruce of Donington. I was sorry that he felt it necessary to raise questions about the Civil Service. I have had the privilege of working with civil servants over the past 20 years. I have worked with them in every single government department. My own experience is that civil servants are assiduous in their briefing. Indeed, the Foreign Office has been extraordinarily assiduous in briefing me for the very many debates that I have had in your Lordships' House. The wide range of briefing that I am called to bring to your Lordships' attention allows me to say that they are very thorough indeed. Any shortcomings in the way in which I have presented the arguments are entirely mine
Lord Stoddart of Swindon: I shall be very brief because my noble friend has done an extremely good job, and charmingly, in replying to the debate. I am concerned about three matters. First, in Article J.9 it says,
Can my noble friend comment on that in relation to our position as a permanent member of the Security Council? Can she also answer the question I asked about our position as a permanent member of the Security Council and that it will not be undermined? As regards the high representative, can I have her assurance that if ever she hears him call himself or herself, "the ambassador of the European Union" she will slap him or her down very quickly?