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As for the general proposition that this has kept the CSFP out of the supranational zone, we know that in fact there are 11 areas relating to foreign policy—there are many other areas as well—in which the veto has been removed. They are the proposals from the EU Foreign Minister; the design of the EU diplomatic service; the setting up of an inner core in defence; arrangements for terrorism and mutual defence provisions; urgent financial aid provisions; humanitarian aid provisions; the election of the EU Foreign Minister; civil protection; terrorist financial controls; the new EU foreign policy fund, which we will debate a little later; and consular issues. There are 11, for a start. So please could we examine much more carefully the assertion, which the Bill tries and fails to underpin?

The truth is that Mr Stubb highlights our fundamental concerns on this matter very well. He wants a Europe with a lead role on the world stage—a place in the sun, as it were—and a single voice about foreign policy. That is his conviction and, from his point of view, he is perfectly entitled to hold it; but from our point of view

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the thinking is flawed. The wide range of overseas issues are such that the interests of member states vary—and properly so; it would be very odd if it was otherwise. On some they come together and member states operate beside each other and, on others, they differ. It depends entirely. The idea that we can rely on our European partners always to promote our interests and maximise our contribution to world peace and stability—which is potentially a very great one—has been shown to be totally unsound.

On the humanitarian side—and we shall debate later overseas development aid and support—once we had transferred a large part of our aid and development budget to the European institutions, the emphasis is much more toward the Francophonie. As we know, the interests of the Commonwealth, which is the potentially most powerful network in the modern world, with the rise of Asia, and one in which we have a centre, have been largely neglected in European development negotiations, while those of other countries with ex-colonial links, such as Spain, Portugal and France, seem to be in a much stronger position to develop theirs.

The treaty calls for an,

in foreign policy. Those are the words out of the constitutional treaty—in other words, out of this treaty. Our foreign policy belongs in a networked world and, with the rise of Asia, has new needs and requires new platforms. We must have the flexibility to meet these entirely new conditions, which is why Amendment No. 15A is particularly important and one to which we should at least give some support, to give us the room to manoeuvre in this new world. The idea that we should have to consult the European Union Council on virtually every move before we take it, even when our direct security interests are affected in a new and original way, is unacceptable. We will no doubt come to that in more detail during the debate.

This is why the amendment needs to be moved. The amendments raise fundamental issues about how Europe can benefit its member states—and we are part of Europe—and how we can see the European region as something with which we want to be intimately concerned, as well as how, at the same time, we can have the freedom to operate in the networked world of foreign policy, which is different to the one in which the EU or the European Community before it was originally conceived. We need to raise our game, lift up our eyes to a different and modern world and develop foreign policy instruments that suit the world to come and not the world of yesterday. I beg to move.

Lord Wallace of Saltaire: I welcome this group of amendments. The whole element of common foreign policy is an important part of the amending treaty. There are some useful steps forward, and this Chamber needs to devote a certain amount of time to this group of amendments and the other things that come with it.

The noble Lord, Lord Tebbit, referred to one amendment as a wrecking amendment. I thought that

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most of the amendments to the Bill were intended to be wrecking amendments. Certainly I take Amendments Nos. 113 and 165 in the group as being wrecking amendments to the treaty; that is part of the game we are all playing.

Since I expect that our UKIP friends will quote a whole range of obscure documents which they say prove various consequences and so on, I have checked since our last Committee day one or two things that the noble Lord, Lord Pearson of Rannoch, said. He quoted from an LSE paper. It took some time to trace it because it had only the loosest possible association with the LSE. It was actually written by two retired Israeli mathematicians, one of whom taught at King’s College, London, until 20 years ago, but is loosely associated with the LSE voting power and procedures project. I will quote from it—and I have discussed this with Professor Machover, one of the authors. In the first page of the paper published by a small Brussels think tank four years ago, it says that the new voting rules will be,

and disadvantage the smaller states below that. Britain is one of the four largest states, so that does not seem to me to support the arguments made.

I have not only read the other paper but have discussed it in e-mails with members of the research team at Sciences Po. It is true that selective statistics will take you a long way; the paper says that the speed of decision-making has increased since enlargement but the number of legislative Acts—the quantity of legislation—has substantially declined. You can prove or disprove a certain amount with statistics. One has to congratulate Open Europe and all those organisations with the immense care they take to trawl through all this academic work.

Underlying differences on European co-operation on foreign policy lie behind these amendments. These Benches see closer co-operation with France and Germany as central to British foreign policy, and the European Union as the most useful framework through which to work. The Conservatives, as the noble Lord, Lord Howell, has made clear, see close co-operation with China as more important to British interests, and the Commonwealth as the most useful multilateral framework. Perhaps in his wind up he will explain whether a future Conservative Government will invite China to join the Commonwealth as a basis for closer co-operation between Britain and China in Africa, on which our interests are so clearly closely aligned.

I am puzzled by the Conservative Party’s foreign policy in this respect. I recall a number of Conservative Foreign Ministers working extremely constructively for closer European co-operation in foreign policy. I refer, for example, to the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, who in the British presidency sponsored in 1990-91 a report on closer foreign policy co-operation; I also refer to the noble and learned Lord, Lord Howe of Aberavon, and the noble Lord, Lord Hurd. The Conservative Party at that point recognised that the intergovernmental procedures for concerting European foreign policies were very clearly in Britain's national interest. I am sorry that in opposition since 1997 the Conservatives seem to have forgotten that.



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Some of these amendments go further than that. Amendment No. 113 of the noble Lord, Lord Blackwell, has echoes of the unilateralism of the Bush Administration—the repudiation of commitments made in the national interest by a previous Government. Those most unilateralist in the Bush Administration—Vice-President Cheney and others—would wish to repudiate most international obligations to which the United States has been subject, including many obligations to the United Nations, the Geneva Convention and so on. I hope that the noble Lord, Lord Blackwell, does not wish for a Conservative Government to go quite that far in that direction.

Amendment No. 165 seems to me—again this is a Front-Bench Conservative amendment—to be a defence of absolute sovereignty. As the noble Lord, Lord Howell, made clear, that involves no permanent alliances for Britain and balance of power politics—we shift from one set of temporary alliances to another, as good old England did in the 18th century. That is a very long way from where we are now. Closer co-operation for all countries is what we need to manage an increasingly complex and interdependent world, networked or not. The European security strategy—produced, as it happens, by a British author some years ago—was a useful focus on the ground on which we can build closer European co-operation. The institution of a higher representative for common foreign and security policy has provided us, particularly in the Middle East, with the ability to have a stronger European voice on a range of multilateral matters. The European Union External Action Service will also be of interest to Britain. The Daily Telegraph—that journal of record for Eurosceptics—noted on Saturday that Britain currently has resident UK representation in 139 of the 192 member states of the United Nations; that is, 53 states in which we do not currently have resident British missions. The European Union External Action Service will be very helpful in providing some resident missions in those additional 50 states.

The paranoia of Conservatives might be increased if I admit to the noble Lord, Lord Howell, that Alex Stubb is a former student of mine—and, even worse, a former student of my wife. He received his PhD from the London School of Economics. Before that he was a student in the United States. He is an extremely bright young man who has a very clear idea about how European and Atlantic co-operation work and how closer collaboration is what we all need to be moving towards. Co-operation between European states on Iran has been highly constructive. The record in the Western Balkans—in very different circumstances—has been good. Common actions in Africa have been effective. We need now to develop further co-operative foreign policy towards Russia and—pace the noble Lord, Lord Howell—towards China. It is in Britain’s national interests. The Conservative Party does not seem to understand that these are in Britain’s national interests, but I would suggest that the Conservative Party does not, at present, have a coherent foreign policy or a coherent European policy. We therefore resist these amendments.

Baroness Park of Monmouth: I want to ask some worm’s-eye questions.



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If this is going to happen, we are told that the EU missions will issue visas. Are they going to be issuing British visas? How are they going to be promoting, for instance, our trade interests, our defence interests and things like the British Council? You can be sure that if the Treasury sees any chance of closing our missions—on the grounds that there are these splendid new missions—it will. To some extent there will be an argument for it doing so. But foreign relations are bilateral relations between two countries. Of course we need what we are also being offered, but we do not need it instead of our existing, and very important, bilateral relations. There is a real danger in this regard. For instance, there are already around 7,000 EU people in special delegations around the world, and there will be a lot more. This will probably cost a lot of money. In a mission, are a Bulgarian, a German and a Finn really going to think, if there is a major trade opportunity, “We must rush and tell the British”? Are they going to be able to look after our defence interests? Are they going to be able to look after our cultural interests? It would not be reasonable to expect them to do so. I have considerable anxiety about the muddle that will result from having a situation where everybody is milling about, but nobody really knows who is responsible. I find it very difficult to imagine that we could issue British passports—or visas for that matter—in that way.

We are told at some stage—I cannot remember where—that the EU mission will be responsible for looking after our people if there is an emergency. I am sure that they would wish to do so, but there will be a lot of other citizens from other EU countries whom they will have to look after. They will not have the Navy or Army to do it. I can assure you—as somebody who has been responsible for getting people out of difficult countries—you have to have contacts with the police; you have to have contacts with the rebels or the putative rebels. I am not at all sure that an interesting, intelligent EU mission, without any real rooted relationships of that kind, would be able to do what a mission needs to do. I cannot help feeling that ordinary English people will get a bit worried if they feel that they may turn up in a country where there is no British representation.

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Unfortunately, it would apparently make a lot of sense for us to close our missions and use the EU, but it would not in the end make a lot of sense: it would be a very dangerous thing to do. I cannot help feeling that the ordinary man in the street needs to understand that. That is why I feel deep concern about the prospective EU foreign service, although I am sure that its intentions are excellent. However, it is not the same as having a mission of our own that has long-standing relationships with the countries.

I shall give a final example. Let us suppose that in Argentina we have an EU mission and we decide that we do not need a British mission—we may even lead on that—and that the EU as a whole decides that the right thing would be for the Falklands again to become the Malvinas. What are we going to do about that? It will be a very difficult situation. I therefore believe that we must think about the practical consequences of what are otherwise admirable ideas.



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Lord Robertson of Port Ellen: I think that I am about to die. It is said that before an individual dies, their whole life flashes before their eyes. I have that sense now. For 11 of the 18 years we spent in opposition, I was Front-Bench Opposition spokesman for foreign affairs. The noble Lord, Lord Howell, and I used to parade around television and radio studios talking to diminishing audiences about the intricacies of European legislation. I therefore feel back home again in this desert of European-itis, hearing almost exactly the same arguments. They go back to 1981, when I became a junior foreign affairs spokesman under my noble friend Lord Healey. I had been sacked as a defence spokesman because the whole team was not unilateralist. I then became shadow Minister for the Navy, and was consigned to the foreign affairs team under my noble friend Lord Healey. My noble friend Lord Anderson was part of that team and we were once asked how we divided up the work. I remember saying, “It’s actually quite easy. Denis does everything and we do the rest”. However, my noble friend Lord Healey did not do Europe, so I got it almost from the beginning.

From the Opposition Benches, I saw through the Single European Act—the biggest raft of Community legislation that these House of Parliament have ever passed. It was a most integrationist of Bills. I remember that the noble Lord, Lord Tebbit, voted for the Second Reading of the Single European Bill. I know that he found himself absent for subsequent stages of the Bill, but he certainly voted for it on Second Reading.

Lord Tebbit: Of course I voted for the Single European Act. I was one of the Ministers who were concerned with that Bill, as it then was, which contained perfectly clear measures limited in scope for the advantage of this country in trade policy. That was a clear, closely defined Act in which our interest was preserved. We used qualified majority voting to overcome the veto of our allies—the French in particular—against anything that would liberalise European trade. I would do the same again now, but I would not do it for foreign policy.

Lord Robertson of Port Ellen: The noble Lord makes the argument most succinctly, but he voted for it. The biggest extension of qualified majority voting since the treaty of Rome was established, and we saw that through. The noble Baroness, Lady Thatcher, was a great proponent of the Single European Act, although she claimed afterwards that Malcolm Rifkind had confused her at the time. I thought that I was turning the same green as the Benches as we spent nearly a year dealing with the Maastricht treaty, which took us decisively into the realms of foreign policy. The noble Lord, Lord Tebbit, was part of the unofficial Opposition on the Government Benches at that time.

I have heard before all the doom-laden prophecies of what would happen and I am hearing them again today. The reality is that in this world we need more Europe, not less. We need more unified voices on the complicated issues that face us all. I refer to the non-military threats that we face—we have a subsequent debate on military aspects. The list of challenges that we face includes terrorism, organised crime, economic instability, problems of migration, the effects of climate

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change and trafficking in narcotics, people, guns and cigarettes. None of these can be tackled, handled or managed properly on a single nation basis; therefore, the collective action of the European Union—the 26 nations which have voluntarily come together—makes absolute common sense. These are discrete issues that affect every citizen of this country; it is right and proper that the European Union should strive for a common policy on them, articulate that policy in as many avenues as possible and then do something about it.

Much is made of what the Lisbon treaty says about the achievement of a policy. The new, consolidated treaty says:

In a world where we face the kind of challenges that I have outlined—and that was not an exhaustive list—it seems eminently sensible and in the self-interest of the people of this country that we act together when we can, and diverge on the limited occasions when we believe that it is necessary.

Lord Lamont of Lerwick: I support Amendments Nos. 13A, 15A and 165. The noble Lord, Lord Wallace, described these as “wrecking amendments”. I make it clear that I support these “wrecking amendments” in a spirit of inquiry. In order to get answers to questions, it is necessary to have as wide a debate as possible. May I suggest to the noble Lord, Lord Robertson, that his life is not about to end? I think that he will be able to witness his party, in opposition, repeating many of these arguments again and again in future.

Eurosceptic I might be, but I have no problem with the idea of a common foreign policy, provided that it is based on genuine, shared interest. It seems absolutely natural that people who are geographical neighbours, countries of the same land mass, are bound to develop common concerns in foreign policy and in defence. I have always felt that, within the European Union, co-operation both on foreign affairs and defence is right, provided that it does not cut across our relations with the United States which, realistically, will provide much of the defence equipment and the support we need. However, the assumption that our interests will always converge is only that—an assumption. So is the wonderfully rhetorical phrase “ever-increasing convergence” of interests. They will not necessarily converge. For that reason, I suggest that a common foreign policy should not be a straitjacket, because there are likely to continue to be differences between us and our neighbours. That is why I support Amendment No. 15A, which concerns that part of the treaty that says we should consult before taking any action that could conflict with EU interests.

The great hesitation that I have about an EU common foreign policy is that it seems that so often an EU foreign policy is just rhetoric; it is so often just the lowest common denominator. A very good example of that happened the other day, when the Foreign Secretary made an announcement about Kosovo in the House

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of Commons, which he called an EU initiative. I have no doubt that the EU is doing certain things—I know that it is—in terms of offices, financial help and preparation with the relationship between Kosovo and the EU, but to call it a great initiative and advance in foreign policy, when there is a profound division within the EU about whether one should even recognise Kosovo, seems to be ignoring reality. A number of countries in the EU will not recognise Kosovo, including important countries such as Spain.

Iraq was another example of where there was absolutely no agreement within the EU; I am told that Iraq was hardly discussed at a formal EU level. Perhaps if there had been a common foreign policy we would have been constrained and would have avoided a very ghastly mistake, but I would not want to constrain our action for that reason and that reason alone. It seems to me that EU foreign policy is too obsessed with process rather than substance and that it would be far better to concentrate on implementing what we have got rather than always building new structures. It is right that we should examine those structures, and it is right that there should be wrecking amendments, as the noble Lord, Lord Wallace, called them, to find out just how constrained our foreign policy is or is not.

As my noble friend Lord Howell said, it is important that foreign policy should not be justiciable and that it should be decided on a unanimous basis; I very much welcome Article 10C and what it says about that. Then you have the areas, as my noble friend Lord Howell pointed out, where the ECJ can adjudicate between the CFSP and external policy. There must be some doubt about that, because the Government got a declaration about foreign policy into the treaty, showing that—as in other areas such as the European Charter of Fundamental Rights—they are saying, “Oh, this is fine, this is watertight, this is absolutely secure; but just in case it is not, we also have a declaration”. I think that we are right to pursue these things.

How is the office of the high representative different in substance from the Union Minister for Foreign Affairs in the constitutional treaty, which Mr Hain was very keen should not happen? He did not want there to be two posts, one for external affairs and one for foreign affairs, but they were merged in this treaty. The high representative will chair the foreign affairs council, even though he is a member of the Commission. That was something that Mrs Beckett tried to take out of the treaty at the last minute at Lisbon, and yet it is there. Why is that important? Surely it is just a minor point. Not at all, because to some extent it compromises the pillared approach that was in Maastricht; the approach that said that foreign affairs ought to be intergovernmental. The noble Lord, Lord Wallace, said that we on this side seem to be forgetting our enthusiasm for intergovernmental co-operation; not at all. Our amendments are tabled precisely because this treaty appears to take us a little bit away from intergovernmental co-operation to something that is much more supranational.


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