Friday, November 09, 2007

The truth about those treaties

I fear that nobody is being very clear about the Constitutional Treaty and its replacement the Reform Treaty. Perhaps some of those who fear these treaties would like to know what they actually say. Perhaps they wouldn't and would prefer to rely upon the scare tactics of The Sun and it's American proprietor.

Firstly, the EU like the UK (and unlike the USA) does not have one document which can be called its constitution. Like the UK, the EU's constitution consists of several documents and conventions about working methods. In the case of the UK, the documents are individual Acts of Parliament. In the case of the EU, they are treaties. Whilst the new Reform Treaty is not a constitution in itself, it is one of the many documents which would make up the constitution of the EU. It would of course have been clearer to have the constitution embodied in just one treaty, but people were frightened of the word "constitution".

Secondly, the two treaties are very similar but neither of them do what their critics say they do. They pose no threat to the UK's supposed independence (unlike, I would suggest, our relationship with the USA). In fact, either treaty would make the EU more democratic and its institutions more accountable

The next three posts set out the effects of the two treaties and how the Reform Treaty varies from the Constitutional Treaty.


Tristan said...

Our relationship with the USA does not threaten our independence. Our relationship with the EU potentially does - it writes many of our laws (which we fail to scruitinise properly) and controls our trading relationships. That takes away some of our independence.

Whether the benefits outweigh the losses I don't know.

When the writers of the constitution come out and say this treaty is in essence the constitution it does make me wonder. I think pro-treaty people protest too much in trying to distinguish it.

Of course, it being the (almost) the same as the constitution isn't necessarily a bad thing - the constitution may have been a good thing - I don't know...

Jeremy Hargreaves said...

I'm not sure you're right that our relationship with the USA does not threaten our independence. Our commitments to it (and other states, including European ones, but it is the USA that really calls the shots) under the NATO Treaty, far outweigh any commitments under EU Treaties: for example committing us to sending troops to war, without any UK veto. No EU legal commitment comes close to this!

And no other EU state or the EU itself has military bases on UK soil over which we have no control, as the US does, and uses as bases for aggressive military operations.

Our perception of our respective relationships with the USA and with the rest of the EU are completely unbalanced!