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However, we have to find mechanisms to make this scheme work. There is no doubt that annual targets within a five-year budgetary period would be enormously helpful in knowing what is going on. It would be perfectly possible to put in place a reporting system that would make this achievable. I beg the Minister to take this matter away and look at it seriously.
Lord Rooker: I was far too subtle or modest when I responded to the debate; I hid my argument. I flagged up the fact that there is an annual reporting framework in Clauses 28 and 29. We will certainly take away this issue and what has been said this afternoon to see whether we can find a mechanism to improve the reporting accountability set up in those clauses. That would be the right place to do it, but it is a question of finding a mechanism.
Frankly, I am sitting here thinking that in perhaps five years time I will want an annual target to screw a Minister to at this Dispatch Box and that it is much better to get it done now than to be arguing then. There is an annual reporting framework in Clauses 28 and 29we may get to those clauses today, although that is subject to progress. We will certainly take this matter away, but I cannot give a commitment. We will come back on Clauses 28 and 29 to see whether we can build in a better reporting system for annual accountability to the House.
Lord Redesdale: Before I thank the Minister for that response, I should say that the purpose of this amendment was not to hold the Minister to account for political gain. The issue on all sides of the Committee is that this is a complicated process. The Minister said that 50 per cent of carbon dioxide is outside the Governments remit, but that is one of our major
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We have not moved this amendment on a political basis, although I have been lobbied by vast numbers of people who have written wonderful letters to me, saying, Dear Lord Redesdale, Youre taking part in the Climate Change Bill. Can you make it stronger? Thank you very much. That is a fine form of lobbying. It seems that we are moving forward. We are not wedded to the wording in the amendments that we have tabled; there is value in the amendments tabled by the noble Lord, Lord Taylor, and it is unfortunate that the noble Lord, Lord May, is not here to debate his amendment, which I hope he will bring back another time. However, the Minister said that he might well look at this again and that some form of compromise can be reached and introduced into the Bill before the next stage. That is a very welcome position. On that basis, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.
The Lord President of the Council (Baroness Ashton of Upholland): My Lords, with the leave of the House, I shall now repeat a Statement made in another place by my right honourable friend the Prime Minister.
With permission, Mr Speaker, I would like to make a Statement about the European Council held in Brussels on 14 December, which focused on two major concerns: the reforms Europe must make to meet and master the global challenges we face for competitiveness, employment, secure energy and climate change and issues of security, in particular Kosovo, Iran and Burma, that we must confront together.
I start with the most immediate concern facing the summit: the best way to bring about a satisfactory resolution to the status of Kosovo. Kosovo is the last remaining unresolved issue from the violent break-up of the former Yugoslavia. In the light of the recent failure by the parties in the troika process to find a negotiated way forward, the European
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The principles of our approach are, first, that Europe takes seriously its special responsibility for the stability and security of the Balkans region. Indeed, it is thanks to the sustained efforts of NATO troops and the diplomacy of the United Nations and the European Union that a safe and secure environment has been maintained. But, secondly, we were agreed that the status quo was unsustainable and that we needed to move forward towards a settlement that ensures what we called a,
Fourthly, we also reaffirmed that a stable and prosperous Serbia fully integrated into Europe is important for the stability of the region. The Council encouraged Serbia to meet the necessary conditions to allow signature of its stabilisation and association agreement and expressed our confidence that Serbia has the capacity to make rapid progress subsequently towards candidate status. Indeed, the conclusions of the meeting of European Foreign Ministers last week reiterated the European Unions support for enlargement more generally, and we also look forward to recognising the progress made by both Croatia and Turkey at this weeks accession conference in Brussels.
The UN Security Council will discuss the issue of Kosovo with representatives from both Belgrade and Pristina on 19 December with the aim of giving Russia an opportunity to accept a consensus on the way forward. If this proves impossible, we in Britain have always been clear that the comprehensive proposal put forward by the UN special envoy, Martti Ahtisaari, based around the concept of supervised independence for Kosovo, represents the best way forward. And while we are rightly focused on the immediate priority of bringing the status process through to completion in an orderly and managed way, the European Council agreed that it is also important that we address the longer-term challenge of ensuring Kosovos future economic and political viability. I welcome the commitment made by the European Union to assist Kosovos economic and political development. Planning is now under way for a donors conference to follow shortly after a status settlement.
The Council also discussed Iran and there was agreement on a united European approach. Here again, the power we wield working with all the EU is greater than if we acted on our own. As I have made clear repeatedly, Iran remains in breach of its international obligations. In September, Foreign Ministers from the E3+3 agreed that until there were positive outcomes from Javier Solana and the International Atomic Energy Agencys discussions with Iran, we would seek tougher sanctions at the United Nations. The latest E3+3 assessment is that sufficient progress has not been made.
The European Council conclusions call on Iran to provide full, clear and credible answers to the IAEA and to resolve all questions concerning its nuclear activities. The European Council reiterated its support for a new UN resolution as soon as possible. In addition, we agreed to decide on new measures that the EU itself might take to help resolve this situation at the January meeting of Foreign Ministers. These should complement UN measures or substitute for them if the Security Council cannot reach agreement.
Iran has a choiceconfrontation with the international community leading to a tightening of sanctions or, if it changes its approach, a transformed relationship with the world from which all would benefit.
As set out in the Councils conclusions, the EU also reaffirmed its deep concern about the unacceptable situation in Burma, and makes clear that if there is no change in the Burmese regimes approach to political negotiations and basic political freedoms, we stand ready to review, amend andif necessaryfurther reinforce restrictive measures against the Burmese Government. The Council also reaffirmed the important role of China, India and the Association of South-East Asian Nations in actively supporting the UNs efforts to establish an inclusive political process leading to genuine national reconciliation.
For our part, we believe that the forthcoming visit of the UN envoyProfessor Gambariis critical. It is essential that the Burmese Government meet the demands set out in the UN Security Council statement of 11 October to: release all political prisoners; create the conditions for political dialogue, including relaxation of restrictions on Aung San Suu Kyi; allow full co-operation with Professor Gambari; address human rights concerns; and begin a genuine and inclusive process of dialogue and national reconciliation with the opposition.
In particular, the regime should respond to the constructive statement of Aung San Suu Kyi of 8 November and open a meaningful and timebound dialogue with the opposition and the countrys ethnic groups.
The Council also agreed that a key part of the EUs external agenda is how we canby working togethermaximise our influence in tackling global poverty. The Council agreed that the European Commission should report by April next yearhalf way to 2015on how the European Union is meeting its commitments to the millennium development goals, and how we can accelerate our progress.
In addition to these issues of international security and development, the Council conclusions and the special declaration on globalisation also set out the challenges that the European Union must now address on globalisation.
First, we agreed to maintain our focus on economic reform, with a renewed focus on modernising the single market so it enhances the European Unions ability to compete in the global economy. We must have full implementation of the services directive by 2009 and we must continue to work together towards further liberalisation in the energy, post and telecoms marketswhere market openings could generate between €75 billion and €95 billion of potential extra economic benefits and create up to 360,000 new jobs. Investment in research, innovation and educationand removing barriers to enterpriseare also essential.
Secondly, we confirmed our commitment to free trade and openness. The priority is securing a successful outcome to the Doha trade round, which would deliver gains to the global economy approaching $200 billion by 2015, equivalent to 0.6 per cent of global income and bringing significant benefits to rich and poor countries alike. We will also promote better EU-US trade links.
Thirdly, we agreed to do more to develop mechanisms for co-operation within the European Union and with countries across the world to tackle security challenges like terrorism, illegal immigration and organised crime. We renewed our commitment to the EU counterterrorism strategy and to co-operate on counter-radicalisation work.
Fourthly, we will work together to deliver our commitments to tackle climate change, including the target of reducing emissions by 20 per cent by 2020, or 30 per cent as part of an international agreement. And building on the significant progress made last week in Balian agreement on which the Environment Secretary will report to this House tomorrowwe must help negotiate an ambitious post-2012 international climate change agreement. And Europe must also now step up funding, including through the World Bank, to help the developing world shift to lower carbon growth and adapt to climate change.
It was agreed at the last Council meeting that the presidency would bring forward a proposal for a new reflection group. This was announced in October. At this later meeting, the Council invited Mr Felipe González Márquez, assisted by two vice-chairs, Mrs Vaira Vike-Freiberga and Mr Jorma Ollila, chairman of Shell and Nokia, to,
I can also tell the House that today we are publishing the European Communities (Amendment) Bill, which contains the institutional changes to accommodate a Europe of 27 members and will include the safeguards that we have negotiated to protect the British national interest: the legally binding protocol that ensures that nothing in the Charter of Fundamental Rights challenges or undermines the rights already set out in UK law and that nothing in the charter extends the ability of any courtEuropean or nationalto strike down UK law; legally binding protocols that prescribe in detail our sovereign right to opt in on individual justice and home affairs measures, where we consider it to be in the British interest to do so, or alternatively to remain outside if that is in our interest; a declaration that expressly states that nothing in the new treaty affects the existing powers of member states to formulate and conduct their foreign policy, and that the basis of foreign and security policies will remain intergovernmental, a matter for Governments to decide on the basis of unanimity; and an effective veto power on any proposals for important changes on social security, so that when we, Britain, determine that any proposal would impact on an important aspect of our social security system, including its scope, cost or financial structure, we can insist on taking any proposal to the European Council under unanimity.
With the publication of the Bill that legislates for the amendments to the European Communities Act, Parliament will now have the opportunity to debate this amending treaty in detail and to decide whether to implement it. We will ensure sufficient time for debate on the Floor of the House, so that the Bill is examined in the fullest of detail and all points of view can be heard. That will give the House the full opportunity to consider this treaty, and the deal secured for the UK, before ratification.
In addition, I can tell the House that we have built into the legislation further safeguards to ensure proper parliamentary oversight and accountability. To ensure that no Government can agree, without Parliaments approval, to any change in European rules that could in any way alter the constitutional balance of power between Britain and the European Union, there is a provision in the Bill that any proposal to activate the mechanisms in the treaty that provide for further moves to qualified majority voting, but which require unanimitythe so-called passerelleswould have to be subject to a prior vote by the House. In the event of a negative vote, the Government would refuse to allow the use of the passerelle. The Bill also includes a statutory obligation that any future EU amending treaty, including one that provided for any increase in the EUs competence, would have to be ratified through an Act of Parliament. So Parliament would have absolute security that no future change could be made against its wishes.
I said in October that I would oppose any further institutional change in the relationship between the European Union and its member states, not just for this Parliament but for the next. I stand by that commitment. This is now also the settled consensus
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Finally, let me conclude with the discussion on the most immediate economic issues: concerns about the economic consequences of the global financial turbulence that started in America in August. The Governments first priority in the coming weeks is to ensure the stability of the economy and to have the strength to take the difficult long-term decisions necessary. The Council agreed that the whole of the European Union must now turn its attention both to the immediate measures necessary and the long-term strengthening of international capacity to secure greater financial stability. The announcement made earlier this week by central banks in the major financial centres that they will provide liquidity to ease tension in the financial markets must now be built upon. As we agreed, supervisory authorities in different countries need to co-operate effectively across borders in exchanging information and in the management of crises and contagion.
The European Council conclusions emphasised that macroeconomic fundamentals in the EU are strong and that sustained economic growth is expected. But we concluded that continued monitoring of financial markets and the economy is crucial, as uncertainties remain. The Council underlined the importance of work being taken forward both within the EU and with our international partners to improve transparency for investors, markets and regulators; to improve valuation standards; to improve the prudential framework, risk management and supervision in the financial sector; and to review the functioning of markets, including the role of credit-rating agencies.
The European Council will discuss these issues at its spring 2008 meeting on the basis of a progress report by the Finance Ministers Council and by consideration of the financial stability forums work to date. As agreed by Chancellor Merkel, President Sarkozy and myself in October, the progress report should examine whether regulatory or other action is necessary. I have invited Chancellor Merkel and President Sarkozy to London so that we can discuss the proposals in the paper we agreed and issued a few weeks ago. The measures are important to strengthening the international communitys role in addressing financial turbulence across the world, showing the importance we attach to taking the tough long-term decisions to ensure, in testing times, the stability of the economy.
Mr Speaker, the conclusions of the Council state specifically that in the institutional framework we expect no change for the foreseeable future. The protections that have been agreed in the amending treaty defend the British national interest. In the Bill introduced today, we are legislating for new
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Does the noble Baroness accept that last weekends shall we, shant we treaty signing was perhaps the most humiliating public event experienced by this country since we have been in the European Union? Anyone who knows anything about Parliament and government knows that the dates of summits and Liaison Committee meetings are discussed months in advance. The Liaison Committee in another place is not so discourteous or so blind to Britains interests that it would not have agreed to a new date. The idea that a diary clash prevented the Prime Minister joining in the signing ceremony is preposterous. I do not want the noble Baroness to repeat excuses no one believes; it is more important that we understand the reasons. Why on earth did he do this? Who advises him? Did he consult the noble Baroness?
Whatever your approach to the treaty, the shameful spectacle of foreign leaders sniggering while Her Majestys Foreign Secretary sidled up alone to sign the document was humiliating, and the spectacle of our Prime Minister signing at a desk alone, like a naughty schoolboy kept in detention, was embarrassing. What was the point of it all? The snub alienated our partners in Europe without fooling anyone. Perhaps he hoped Mr Murdoch would not notice. After this farce, let no one on the Government Front Bench ever again raise their finger and point at anyone in this House and say that they would leave Britain isolated in Europe. The image of the Prime Minister sitting alone will haunt us for years to come.
The noble Baroness may try one riposte to these criticisms. She could say, Ah, but you wouldnt have signed the treaty at all. If she said that, she would be quite right; we would not have signed. We would not have supported the loss of the veto in so many areas, we would not have pushed for further institutional integration and we would not have signed anything without holding to the undertaking we gavewe all gaveto holding a referendum. But had we reached an agreement as the Government did, no other party leader would have staged the Lisbon farce that we saw last weekend.
On the substance of the summit, we are reassured that the new reflection group is said explicitly not to be able to discuss institutional matters. But is it not disappointing that it is equally not permitted to consider current EU policies? Where does that leave, for instance, the Lisbon process? The communiqué says that it is delivering. That is a bit of old new Labour-speak for you. Where is it delivering? How many EU directives and regulations have been
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There is much in the conclusions about migration. There is talk of a common asylum policy within two years, common rules on the return of illegal immigrants, and so on. In light of the Governments failures in this area over the past 10 years, will the noble Baroness assure the House that nothing here will be allowed to delay overdue action by this Government to contain immigration and deport illegal entrants?
There is talk of a mobility agreement with Moldova. What, if anything, was agreed about the atrocious sex-trafficking from Moldova and some other east European nations? On Kosovo, the situation is extremely perilous. What assurances were received from EU countries about assisting with security in that regionor, indeed, in Afghanistan under a UN or NATO ambit? As the noble Baroness will know, there are in Kosovo some of the greatest treasures in the form of medieval wall paintings in Orthodox monasteries. In light of past cultural depredations by all parties in the Balkan conflicts, what steps are being taken to safeguard and secure not only minorities but also their spiritual and cultural inheritance?
On Iran, Europe agrees that the nuclear weapon should be kept beyond Iranian hands. So what progress was made in persuading other EU countries that new export credits should be banned and access to the EU financial system restricted? Is the noble Baroness certain that the EU has the legal power to take action against Iran?
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