Monday, October 22, 2007

The EU Reform Treaty: The View from Spain

A friend of mine just emailed this.

Here's the view on the Treaty from Spain. In an editorial in El Mundo of Saturday it was stated "....The new Treaty conserves the core of the Constitutional Treaty......In reality, the Treaty rejected in 2005 by the French and Dutch has hardly been changed..." Couldn't be any clearer! I'm a simple sort of guy. So, in order to clear this up, can someone please set out in simple language the differences (if there are any) between the Constitution and the Reform Treaty so the public can decide. We can't trust the politicos to do this but there must be an independent body who can.

Indeed. Anyone like to help?

David Cameron made a pretty good first of it in the House of Commons in response to the Prime Minister's statement this afternoon.

The Irish Prime Minister says it’s 90 per cent the same. The Spanish Foreign Minister says it’s 98 per cent the same. The German Chancellor says “The substance of the Constitution is preserved. That is a fact”. Why does he think all of them are wrong and he is right? What’s more, isn’t it the case that even his own colleagues don’t believe him. His new Trade Minister, Lord Jones of Birmingham, days before his appointment, said: “This is a con to call this a treaty – it’s not. It’s exactly the same – it’s a Constitution”. His colleagues on the Labour-dominated European Scrutiny Committee say the EU Treaty is “substantially equivalent” to the constitution - even for Britain. They say that pretending otherwise, as the Prime Minister keeps doing, is “likely to be misleading”. Next the Prime Minister says even if it’s a constitution for other countries it isn’t for Britain because of our opt outs and our red lines. Will he confirm the red lines don’t include the EU President, the single legal personality, the vetoes or the ratchet clause? That’s why his Hon Friend who helped to draft the Constitution described the red lines as “red herrings”.


Anonymous said...

We could - but why bother ?

Even if there was a vote on the 'reform' treaty, and it was turned down by the Brits, concepts like a democratic choice mean zilch, zip, nada in Europe.

They would push it through, or just rename it and pass it anyway.

Better out than in, I say...

The Creator said...

It is zero surprise that none of the supporters of the Treaty have been able to highlight the key differences between it and the Constitution. If, as they claim, these differences exist, how hard can it be to say what they are?

The conclusion is inescapable.

Tony said...

Open Europe has published a pdf that compares the text of the treaty with the constitution, which shows quite how similar they are.

The Huntsman said...

Iain : the link is to a book called "El Mundo: Desde El Aire" on Amazon. Could you check your source as I would like to read it in the original.

many thanks

Anonymous said...

all good point iain. sligvhly off subject but does anyone know why the spectator blog refuses to publish comments it doesnt agree with?

Anonymous said...

This is all so boring. How about something really exciting, like the latest gripping news and speculation about the dramatic Liberal Democrat leadership battle?

I can hardly wait to hear the latest hot-off-the-press stuff about what Tweedlelibdem's* been saying now, or maybe it was Tweedlelibdum*.

*with acknowledgements to ConHome

Anonymous said...

Yawwwnnnnnn. Every day this week Cameron has harped on about a ref, its getting boring, and he is getting boring.

I look forward to the commons debate, sould be intersting hearing Cam Vague and the quiet one denouncing the Social Chapter which has given workers, women and the disabled stronger and better work and human rights......SHAME ON YOU !!!!

Anonymous said...

As a relatively newcomer to political blogs I find them quite addictive and very helpful when trying to fine tune my own views on particular subjects. The overwhelming feeling however is of frustration at the political establishment that seems determined to disenfranchise me (and millions of others).

They behave like the pox doctor in Hogarth’s Marriage a la Mode (The Inspection - No.3)

Faced with a desperate client seeking a cure for what at the time was incurable the pox doctor bleeds them dry of funds and then pretending to provide a cure poisons them.

I have no hesitation in casting Gordon Brown as the doctor and the rest of the Labour Party as Pox Doctors Clerks, their task being to sing the praises of their principle and make the electorate pay before they are allowed to consult him.

This particular Pox Doctor has a wonderful instrument to guide him, his Moral Compass, passed to him by his father. All who mention it speak as if it were infallible.

Many readers will know that a compass is subject to two corrections. Variation – a result of the magnetic pole being displaced from the true pole and Deviation - caused by the magnetic field of ones own ship resulting in a variable error depending on the direction of the heading. It seems to be Deviation that is causing the governments confusion, their only recourse is to a Compass Adjuster who will shove rod magnets and large pieces of soft iron into specially designed apertures in the binnacle holding the compass. The result will be a reliable corrected compass.

Perhaps this is what is needed.

Anonymous said...

What percentage of the text of the EU Constitutional Treaty is contained within the Reform Treaty?

Do you want to tell me or shall I calculate it instead?

qaq said...

It's obvious isn't it. The Treaty has a lot less than the Constitution as it has only 6 letters in it compared to 12. For this very obvious reason we don't need a referendum as most of those that have to use their fingers to count aren't old enough to vote yet and too obese to see their toes.

Newmania said...

Conservatives are wise to concerntrate on the honesty issue . They are right on the whole question but this will confuse the the Press and why give brown a cover he does not deserve
Consider, though , the basis upon which the Referendum was originally offered. Was it because there was a fundamental loss of sovereignty? Mais Non .
This is what B Liar had to say in 2004
“( a Press campaign) is all nonsense , myth, designed to distance people’s understanding of what Europe is truly about and loosen this country’s belief in its place in Europe ...It is right to confront this campaign head on”. There is a no admission there was any fundamental loss of sovereignty. The reason for the plebiscite was merely to clear the air .
“ Parliament should debate the treaty in detail , decide upon it .Then let the people have the final say”....

OK got that. Now lets pull up the ladder and proceed to the entirely different view of the treaty espoused by Mazola Milliband . In order to avoid a referendum he is at pains to show what a profound change the ” Old “ Constitution was and how the Reform treaty is entirely different “
“,,,The constitution that was signed in 2004 got rid of the previous EU treaties and created a new re-founding document of the European Union”, by way of contrast the 2007 reform treaty “ ...does not do that , it leaves in place the existing structure and puts forward some institutional reforms .”

The Old Constitution was not a profound change in order to win a referendum but the old Constitution ,at the same time, “was a profound change” in order to avoid having one at all. Cunning .

Polly filler is another serially inconsistent liar. In her recent Guardian article she argued that in view of the complexity of the agreement this was... “ ..the stuff of representative government” . In other words we mere mortals are just to thick to know which way to vote. Clearly she would be horrified at the thought of an untutored electorate taking a mallet to 300 years of Constitutional refinement by entering the Common Market in 1972 . Well no actually , she considers us to have been amply endowed with the requisite perspicacity for that task.

. Of course we need a referendum and in the words of Anthony Blair “Let the issue be out , let battle be joined”

Unknown said...

We need to wake up to what has already happened with regard the EU. Our population looks like it is growing to about 75 million by the middle of the century because we have allowed so many in from new EU countries by accident! Is this not enough to demand a referendum. Brown cannot be trusted not to cause more damage. We need a chance to stop this madness!!!

Anonymous said...

How is GG allowed to sign this damn treaty in Decemeber before it is properly debated in Parlaiment?

John Trenchard said...

its not enough to just ask for an EU Treaty- we need to have a referendum on whether we stay in the EU or not.

Devil's Kitchen said...


The fundamental differences are as follows:

1) The flag and the anthem have been dropped.

2) The "constitutional concept" has been dropped.

This latter point means that this Treaty achieves the same powers as the Constitution but via a different mechanism.

Essentially, the Constitution made amendments to the existing Treaties and then collated them into one document.

The Reform Treaty does the same thing; it makes the same amendments but does not bother to collate the Treaties into one document.


The Remittance Man said...

It's simple.

In those countries that did ratify the constitution: the reform treaty is 90/95/99% the same so the electorate need not worry their little heads. No further debate is necessary.

In those countries where ratifcation did not take place or where a referendum might derail the process: the reform treaty is nothing like the constitution and is simply a tidying up exercise. The electorate need not worry their little heads. No further debate is necessary.

This treaty is all things to all men. Provided it can be argued that a public debate or, heaven forbid, a mandate is necessary.

Anonymous said...

The Dishonest nature of the CONstitution is obvious when it comes to the issue of the EU flag and anthem. They SAY no flag and no anthem BUT read the treaty and you find that regions(thats us) can use them IF they so choose for EU evens Etc. Nothing wrong with that you may say? But read a bit more and you find the bit about regional governments must work toward a common Euro identity and national pride in europe as a country and to work toward a feeling that a citizen is a citizen of Europe. Nothing wrong with that you may say BUT remember that flag and anthem? How does a state instill pride and national belonging in the state? Yes you guessed it! flag and anthem! So the treaty says that regions dont have to use the flag and anthem BUT they will in the future! Honest Eh?

Anonymous said...

We are still waiting for the final version, as latterly amended in Lisbon. The juridico-linguists still seemingly have to play with a few bits of it.

Based on what has been released to date, it is absolutely fair to say that the text is overwhelmingly the same as the old Constitution. Perhaps 98% if you are counting it in terms of untouched paragraphs, 95% if you count changing totemic contentious issues (including the dropping of items like the flag and anthem, or the motto, which don't need to be mentioned in the text anyway).

There is an amazing degree of naivety amongst certain Labour supporters on this, to which motley number we can now clearly add the Independent.

Having had to put up with analysing every formal draft since the Convention when the thing was first bolted together, my own judgment is that the Son of the Constitution is less than what Giscard d'Estaing, Amato, Dehaene and the others may have wanted, but it remains a fundamentally integrationist text. In that respect, they have succeeded - not least because the Convention was originally set up in response to the Laeken Mandate, itself a response to why the EU cause kept losing in referenda! They have snatched integration from the jaws of public hostility.

Many of the implications of its clauses have yet to be fully taken on board by the media. That's why Brown's threat of playing a long game when taking the text through Westminster is another disastrous play by him. It means that there'll be a brand new EU Constitution disaster story rolling out every single week. Just some of the most recent teasers can be found on the Bruges Group website...

Ewan Watt said...

As a rebuttle to Brown's remarks that only Ireland is having a referendum, Cameron should highlight the polls in every EU country calling for a referendum.

Anonymous said...

I certainly want to help, Iain: I'll be blogging more about the Treaty once I get shut of some especially onerous legal work next week, and throughout the passage of the Bill.

There are a few differences... but they're pretty minor. The European Scruninty Committee was quite right to call it "substantially equivalent" to the Consitution. They should have had the courage to say more clearly that that was so in relation to the UK as much as any other member state.

David Boothroyd said...

To Lee Rotherham. What we have here is not naivety by pro-Europeans but the same sort of whipping up of ludicrous scare stories by anti-Europeans.

What percentage of the Constitutional Treaty is replicated in the Reform Treaty?

Anonymous said...

To David Boothroyd:

1. Almost all of it, depending merely on how you count the final percentile (see above).

2. I didn't say naivety by "pro-Europeans"; I said by "Labour supporters", especially those knifing the likes of Gisela Stuart.

3. On "ludicrous scare stories by anti-Europeans", care to mention which stories in particular you are thinking of (and please don't mention any of the false stories the FCO invented as Aunt Sallies)? Also who you are referring to as the "anti-Europeans"? I am very pro-European myself. I am just anti- the political unification.