|Previous Section||Back to Table of Contents||Lords Hansard Home Page|
Lord Pearson of Rannoch: Perhaps I may try to answer some of that from my noble friend. Like the noble Lord, Lord Stoddart of Swindon, and my noble friend Lord Willoughby de Brokewhose amendment I supportI fear that enlargement may be a serious mistake for the continent of Europe. I do not understand why the Conservative Party still thinks that enlargement is a good idea. I say to my noble friend Lord Tugendhat, if I could have his attention for a moment
Lord McIntosh of Haringey: Would the noble Lord prefer it if we left, to allow the debate to continue in private? I feel intrusive.
Lord Pearson of Rannoch: The Minister is of course free to leave but I do not think that that would improve the quality of our debate.
I was saying that I do not understand why the Conservative Partyon whose Benches I still sit, justgoes on saying that enlargement is a good idea. I had the privilege of sitting on your Lordships' Select Committee from 1992 to 1996, which I am no longer allowed to do. In those days, the position of the then Conservative government was entirely clear. It supported enlargement because it thought that "widening" would lead to "weakening" of the centrethe powers of Brussels and so on.
If we did not know before, we know for certain nowwith the Treaty of Nice before usthat "widening" definitely leads to "deepening". It cannot be widened without increasing the powers at the centreof Brussels. I am at issue with my party. I understand why it adopted that position but suggest that it is no longer tenable.
I accept also that the political classes at least in most of the new democracies of eastern Europe want to join the European Unionalthough my noble friend Lord Howell revealed that many of the peoples of eastern Europe and some of their political leaders are beginning to wake up to what joining the EU may
In earlier debates, the noble Baroness, Lady Symons, has said that proper or sufficient enlargement of the kind that the Government would like to see is not possible without the Treaty of Nice, but it is. The EU has been enlarged on several occasions when new applicant countries have joined. Even with the Treaty of Nice, there will need to be a separate treaty of accession with each country that joins. If people want enlargement, they certainly do not need the protocol. Enlargement can be achieved country by country. Voting can be adjusted, as in the past, as each new country joins.
We Euro-realists love the Europe of nationsthe continent of different cultures and glorious civilisationsbut hate the Treaty of Rome, the European Union and everything that comes out of it. We believe that democracy is the guardian of peace in Europe and elsewhere. On the whole, democracies do not provoke conflicts but forced or premature conglomerations of disparate nations nearly always end in disaster. I could give the Committee many examples, including Northern Ireland, the Middle East, most of Africa, Yugoslavia and the Trans-Caucasus. The recipe for conflict and aggression is some form of undemocratic or even fascist leadership and a lack of true democracy.
If applicant nations from central and eastern Europe can keep their democracies and trade freely together and with their neighbours under NATO, we shall see peace and prosperityand not run the risk of the European dream descending into the conflict that I fear lies ahead.
Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: I thank the noble Lord, Lord Howell, for the interesting way in which he moved Amendment No. 34 and spoke to Amendment No. 34A in the name of the noble Lord, Lord Willoughby de Broke. The protocol is important but that is not the only issue. I was seized with a huge
The noble Lord gave an illuminating description of his visit to Budapest and elsewhere in central and eastern Europe last week and said that he had not been tackled about the Treaty of Nice. His experience cannot be so different from mine. When people are worried about an issue, they tend to raise it. I agree wholeheartedly with my noble friend Lord Radice. I am sure that if people had not wanted the noble Lord to support the treaty, they would have said so. Most of the people to whom the noble Lord spoke probably did want him to support the treaty today. No one is disputing that in a number of European countries there will be some people who disagree with their government. But it is a function of democracy that we deal with the elected governments of the day, and with the view that they put forward on behalf of the people whom they represent.
The noble Lord spoke again about his vision for Europe in the future. He set it out with the same eloquence when we debated the Bill at Second Reading. He steered a course between his European credentialsof which I am sure he is justifiably proudand the position of his party. However, I felt that in raising the points that he did, he was properly addressing the issues that are to be raised at the IGC in 2004: for example, defining and de-limiting the European Union's competence; simplifying the treaties which the noble Lord, Lord Howell, criticised; making those treaties easier to understand to the ordinary citizens of Europe; improving accountability and transparency; and the role of national parliaments. When the noble Lord spoke about the "enormous complexity", he was quite right. That is why his view hasif I may draw this from his remarksat least some points of commonality with that of the Prime Minister; namely, that these subjects should rightly be discussed at the next IGC in 2004.
The noble Lord went on to say that the simple mechanical processes are important. Indeed they areand they are here in the protocol. The protocol sets out the changes to the institutions of the European Union, the European Parliament, the Council and the Commission, which are in the Government's view essential for the European Union to enlargeI believe the word I used previously to the noble Lord, Lord Pearson of Rannoch, was "successfully". It is an important mechanical key, as the noble Lord, Lord Howell, said, and I use his phraseology. It is not the only key, but it is certainly an important one. First, to mention a relatively minor matter, we need to repeal the protocol on the institutions which was agreed at Amsterdam. It has obviously been overtaken by the Nice treaty.
Amendment No. 34 by the noble Lord, Lord Howell, would strike out only Article 3 of the protocol concerning vote re-weighting. Amendment No. 34A by the noble Lord, Lord Willoughby de Broke, would strike out the whole protocol. That is the difference between the two amendments. Either way, the
First, we are re-weighting the Council votes to give the United Kingdom and other big member statesthat is, Germany, France and Italymore power relative to the small or medium-sized member states. The effect is that the UK's relative voting powerI stress the word "relative" in relation to current membersgoes up. Whereas under the present arrangements we have three times the voting power of Denmark, following the agreement at Nice we shall have four times its voting power. That is a fairer distribution in relation to our population size. There could be a blocking minority, consisting of Germany and two of the other three countriesthat is, the United Kingdom, Italy and France.
Secondly, agreement was reached at Nice on a new level of seats in the European Parliament following enlargement. Its overall size will increase to 732 in an EU of 27 members. The number of UK MEPs will fall to 72 from the current 87 seats. We discussed this in some detail during the debate at Second Reading.
It is the Government's position that this is a good deal for the United Kingdom. In designing a system for almost double the current number of member states it was inevitable that the United Kingdom would have fewer seatsparticularly if the size of the European Parliament was to remain manageable. But the reduction will be gradual.
Thirdly, it was agreed at Nice that, once the EU reaches 27 member states, there will be less than one commissioner per member state, chosen on a basis of equal rotation. Again, that is an important reform, which will help to keep down the size of the Commissiona point with which I am sure many Members of the Committee have a great deal of sympathyso that is a manageable size after enlargement.
So we have in the protocol the arrangements that will enhance Britain's power in the Council, relative to the small and medium-sized countries; and which will reform the Commission and keep the Parliament to a manageable size, but with significant numbers of MEPs remaining. We believe that the changes are in the interests of the United Kingdom.
I turn briefly to the points made by the noble Lord, Lord Willoughby de Broke. My noble friend Lord Grenfell is right. Reform of the CAP does not require treaty change. The noble Lord may feel that treaty changes are desirable, but they are not mandatory. That was the point that my noble friend was making. We shall negotiate on the CAP, as I have had occasion to state previously, and as the noble Lord noted, the chapters with the applicant countries have not yet been opened, but they will be opened by the beginning of next year. One would, of course, expect all those who are going to negotiate on such issues to adopt a tough negotiating position. I would do so; so would any other sensible negotiator. The point is what is negotiated in the end, not the position that people adopt in prospect.
|Next Section||Back to Table of Contents||Lords Hansard Home Page|