Dr Charles Tannock

Member of the European Parliament for London

Labour's 'red lines' and the EU Constitution

The Daily Telegraph - November 27th 2003

Sir

Much is being made by the Government of its "red lines" at the Rome inter-governmental conference, which is debating the draft proposed Constitutional Treaty. They claim they will never give up the veto on key areas of national sovereignty - namely taxation, social security, defence and foreign affairs (leading article, Nov 26).

But not enough attention is being given to the "Passerelle" clauses, which effectively give the right to the European Council (heads of state or government) acting unanimously to abandon the veto in the Council of Ministers for legislation in tax matters and social security (Article 24.4 in the draft Constitution). More ominously, the same seems to apply to implementation of the Common Foreign and Security Policy, which by definition includes security and defence (Article 40.1).

This would seem to suggest that if the current government decided a particular foreign policy, or even to deploy British troops under the EU hat in combat, then any subsequent government, even if elected to change that policy, would be impotent to do so if under Article 39.8 the previous government in the European Council had voted by unanimity for QMV for subsequent implementation. This would efffectively mean one government would bind its successors even in areas such as security and defence.

Charles Tannock MEP
Conservative Foreign Affairs Spokesman
Brussels.