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Lord Grenfell: I believe that it has been said that a misunderstanding repeated often enough may begin as an embarrassment but usually ends up as a matter for widespread mirth. I do not know how many times I have heard it repeated in this House as regards the Treaty of Nice that reform of the CAP does not require a change to the treaty; that reform of the CAP is going forward on a parallel track and will continue until it is completed. But to try to put the CAP into the Treaty of Nice does not make any sense whatsoever.
I have always looked with great dismay at the Treaty of Nice, because it is ironical that we should be saying that it was a treaty to pave the way for an enlarged community and yet we are putting more and more difficulties in the path of the applicant countries. We are saying, for instance, that they could not join unless they accepted that they had to have rules in this or that direction, and as a result of a step taken last year, for instance, they had to have an involved system of works councils and bargaining in the workplace which have nothing whatsoever to do with the normal rules of any club. That was how I reacted to the way in which the noble Lord, Lord Watson, looked at the matter.
Lord Watson of Richmond: Would the noble Lord accept that, by definition, the applicant states have applied to join the European Union as defined by the existing acquis communautaire? That is a matter of historical fact. Whether the noble Lord likes the European Union as it exists within the present acquis communautaire is another matter: whether he believes that they would like a different kind of Europe is a matter for speculation. I have heard that the candidate countries are absolutely determined to join the European Union as it is at present defined by the acquis communautaire. A number of countries have made it quite clear, for example, that they would like to join the European monetary union and the euro when it becomes a reality.
Lord Waddington: It is certainly not what I would like, but that is not at issue at all. I am just saying that I doubt very much whether it was wise or proper, in advance of saying that these countries could join the Union, to impose more and more rules which had nothing whatsoever to do with completion of the single market.
We were discussing this earlier. I would not have risen had it not been asserted by the noble Lord that all the changes that have taken place are meat and drink to the countries which wish to join. I think that is complete and utter nonsense. If those countries had been consulted about some of the extensions of qualified majority voting provided for in the Nice Treaty, they would have asked, as I do, what on earth that has got to do with enlargement of the community. It quite clearly has nothing to do with it.
Lord Monson: It seems to be glibly imagined by enthusiasts of greater European integration that the electorate of the Republic of Ireland will tamely come to heel and reverse their recent decision before long,
The noble Lord, Lord Watson of Richmond, said that the ratification of the Nice Treaty by all member states is a necessary step towards enlargement. He is absolutely right. Is it seriously imagined that enlargement can take place with countries not knowing how many votes they will have in the Council of Ministers and how many seats they will have in the European Parliament?
It is also glibly imagined, I am afraid, that there will be no problem about admitting Cyprus while continuing to keep Turkey at arm's length. The Greeks certainly want that to happenthere is no secret about thatbut others are rather more discreet. The Germans secretly aim towards that situation. If that were to happen, it would without any question be a breach of the Zurich agreements. Turkey would not take it lying down and it would have the most serious consequences. We should reflect upon this matter.
Lord Stoddart of Swindon: When I spoke to the previous group of amendments, I referred to a meeting about regionalisation being held at Exeter, chaired by the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Bristol. That of course was a slip of the tongue; it should have been the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Exeter. I apologise to the right reverend Prelate and sincerely hope that I have caused him no difficulty with his right reverend friend.
As to the amendment, I am the odd man outno, I am not quite the odd man outbecause I do not believe that enlargement will be good for the Community or for this country. I say that I am not the odd man out because I understand that Sir Edward Heathwho, as noble Lords will know, is no political friend of minetakes the same view; that is, that enlargement may well do a lot of damage to the Union rather than improve it.
There is some evidence that this will be so. After all, we started out as the Common Market; we became the European Economic Community; we then became the European Community; now we are the European Union. So virtually at each enlargement we have found that there has been not only a widening but a deepening.
Lord Stoddart of Swindon: I am glad that a noble Lord said "Hear, hear". It confirms what I am saying. At each stage there has been a deepening, and with that deepening has come centralisation. That, I fear, is what will happenand, indeed, is happeningthrough this treaty. There will be a greater accrual of powers to the centre and a greater bureaucratic control by the centre.
Whether we like it or not, it is becoming increasingly obvious from the messages coming from heads of state, from members of the Commission, from Members of the European Parliament and from Parliament itself, that that is not the intention. The intention is to build a state of union, and a good many of the necessary building blocks are there. I believe that that would be a disaster for Europe because, as we have found in the past, as various bits of the new state find themselves disadvantaged in relation to other bits of the state, they will rebel and the whole edifice will fall apart.
That will be so especially if we are not preparedI am not sure that we are prepared at the moment, although we may be later onto have a much bigger central budget. The United States has a central budget of 25 per cent of GDP. If you are going to redistribute and bring countries up to a standing which is acceptable throughout, you will need central taxation. Indeed, we have already seen signs of that. The Belgian presidency said that there would be a need for direct taxation levied by the European Parliament, and the European Parliament believes that there should be a central tax levy.
That is what is facing us. I do not know whether people in this country understand that. When the MacDougal Committee reported on expansion in, I think it was, the 1970s, it said that we would need at least 7.8 per cent of GDP to be raised as central taxation for redistribution in an expanded community. But 7.8 per cent of our GDP is about £78 billion. We have to grasp these kinds of issues if we are to go ahead with a successful expansion.
I do not believe that it is possible. I do not believe that people are prepared to accept what goes with real expansion, real enlargement. I believe that, because of that, the whole project will collapsewhich would not bother me; I should be delightedand endanger the existing community. The Committee should take that into account.
Lord Tugendhat: Perhaps I may delay the Committee for a minute and a half or so because I should not like the debate to end without a single Conservative voice being raised in favour of the Treaty of Nice. I say that because the Treaty of Nice is designed to bring about a result that has been the objective of successive Conservative governments over the years.
I realise that many noble Lords on these Benches, and many other of my friends and colleagues in the Conservative Party, have changed their positions somewhat in recent years, but the fact remains that the original objective of Conservative governments (that is, to bring about the enlargement of the Community) was a good objective in the interests of this country and of a wider Europe.
I agree with my noble friend Lord Howell that it is an absolute disgrace that enlargement was delayed so long after the fall of the Berlin Wall. He is absolutely right in that, as in many other things. If we were by any mischance to reject the Treaty of Nice after the Irish referendum that has already been referred to, that would make the task of enlarging the EU immeasurably greater. I cannot believe that either my noble friend or many others who have been in the Conservative Party a long time or have served in Conservative governments would want that to happen.
I hope that the Treaty of Nice will be passed as it stands. It is a curate's egg, by no means perfect in all respects and has some features that I would have preferred not to see, but it is designed to bring about a result that would be in the interests of Britain and Europe and one for which the Conservative Party has fought over many years.
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