Tuesday, 2 September 2003


David Heathcoat-Amory, a member of the Convention on the Future of

Europe, reveals the true meaning of the proposals for a European


On Friday 20 June, the political landscape of Europe will be transformed

by the arrival of a new European Constitution. For on that date, Valéry

Giscard d’Estaing will present his new Constitutional draft to the

Thessaloniki Intergovernmental Conference (IGC).

It is now clear that the new Constitution will endow the Union with far

greater powers than the existing EU already enjoys, writes David

Heathcoat-Amory MP in The European Constitution and what it means for

Britain, published today, Tuesday 17 June 2003 by the Centre for Policy


Many more decisions on foreign policy, criminal justice matters and

economic and employment policies will in future be taken in Brussels,

not Westminster.

The author, who has served on the Convention on the Future of Europe for

the past 15 months, shows how the approach of the Convention was

integrationist and instinctively hostile to suggestions that EU powers

should be devolved (see pages 13 onwards). He condemns for instance the

process by which contributions from Convention members were limited to

two minute speeches.

He acknowledges that at the IGC changes will be made – but the scale and

scope of the undertaking will remain. The result is a new constitutional

order for the Union and its member states, with profound implications

for parliamentary democracy and the principles of self-government.

The new Union will have a permanent President and a Foreign Minister;

the European Commission, the European Parliament, and the European Court

of Justice will all gain new powers; national parliaments will be the

losers. The gap between the Union and its citizens is set to widen.

This is not, as the Government (uniquely) claims, a “tidying-up

exercise”. (See the attached sheet for examples). Indeed, the author

lists six specific areas in which the Government itself has promised a

veto (see page 34).

Most other member states have announced that the final Constitution will

be put to national referendums. Denmark, Ireland, France, Spain,

Portugal, Austria and Italy are all likely to hold referendums with

others still to declare. In the Convention itself a German campaigning

group has obtained signatures from 95 members of the Convention calling

for national referendums.

What if a referendum were held and the result ‘no’? The author describes

the true legal position: the country concerned could not be ejected from

the EU but could negotiate a relationship with the Constitution member

states from a position of strength.

The British Government has no mandate to ratify such a major

constitutional change without a referendum. In contrast to Maastricht,

the 2001 Labour manifesto contained no reference to the Convention or

any proposal for a European Constitution.

The European Constitution founds a new Union, with incalculable

consequences for the way we are governed, by whom, from where and by

what powers. The author concludes:

“The Government’s refusal to admit a referendum is based on deceit and

cowardice: deceit, in trying to disguise the importance of the

undertaking; cowardice, in not having confidence in their own arguments.

This must be challenged by all who believe that democracy is more

important than expedience, and that Constitutions must be decided by the



1. The European Constitution and what it means for Britain, by Rt Hon

David Heathcoat-Amory MP is published today, Tuesday 17 June 2003 by the

Centre for Policy Studies, 57 Tufton Street London SW1P 3QL. Price

£7.50. The full document can be downloaded from www.cps.org.uk/euconvention.pdf

2. David Heathcoat-Amory has been Member of Parliament for Wells since

1983. He was appointed Minister for Europe in the Foreign Office in

1993. In 1994 he became Paymaster General at the Treasury and resigned

from the Government two years later over the issue of Europe. He was

made a Privy Councillor in 1996. He has served on the Convention on the

Future of Europe for the past 15 months as a member from the House of


3. The Centre for Policy Studies has been at the forefront of the

analysis of the European Constitution. In February 2003, it published A

Defining Moment? A review of the issues and options for Britain arising

from the Convention on the Future of Europe by Norman Blackwell. On 6

May 2003, the CPS held a private seminar to inform selected journalists

on the workings of the Convention, which in turn contributed to the wide

media coverage of this subject in the weeks that followed.

4. Contact details:

David Heathcoat-Amory: 020 7219 6370 (House of Commons)

0783 148 3125 (mobile)

Tim Knox 020 7222 4042 (office)

(Editor, CPS) 020 7587 0220 (home)


The Government has repeatedly described the European Constitution as a

‘tidying up exercise’.

The following proposals in the new Constitution can be compared to

equivalent clauses in the existing EU Treaties:

1. Legal personality

New: The Constitution establishes a Union, which ‘shall have legal

personality’ (Articles 1-1 & 6).

Existing: ‘By the Treaty, the High Contracting Parties [i.e.

member states] establish among themselves a European Union (TEU Article


Note: The existing intergovernmental treaties are replaced by a new

legal entity, the Union, founded by the Constitution, separate from

member states.

2. Primacy of Constitution and Union Law

New: The Constitution, and Union law, ‘shall have primacy over the

law of the Member States’ (A. 1-10).

Existing: No equivalent Treaty reference.

Note: The primacy of EU law has hitherto been established by European

Court of Justice case law only and is not unconditional. The primacy of

the Constitution is an entirely new concept.

3. New powers

New: The Union shall have ‘exclusive competence’ over competition

rules, common commercial policy, the customs union, the ‘conservation of

marine biological resources under the common fisheries policy’, and to

make international agreements (A. 1-12).

Existing: The EU possesses such exclusive Treaty powers only in

regards to the customs union.

4. New areas where member states cannot legislate if the Union chooses

to do so

New: The Union shall ‘share competences’ with member states in most

policy areas, including transport, energy, social policy, ‘economic,

social and territorial cohesion’, the environment and consumer

protection. ‘Shared competence’ is defined to mean that member states

cannot legislate if the Union chooses to do so. (A. 1-11 and 13).

Existing: No such category of powers exists. There is no EU

responsibility over energy.

5. Coordination of economic and employment policies

New: ‘The Union shall adopt measures to ensure coordination of the

economic and employment policies of the Member States’. (A. 1-14)

Existing: No such powers or instructions exist under the Treaties.

6. Harmonisation of criminal justice rules and procedures by QMV

New: Harmonisation of criminal justice rules and procedures by

Qualified Majority Voting. Provision for a European Public Prosecutor

(A. 111-166, 167 and 170).

Existing: No QMV; no legislation allowed on national criminal

procedures, eg trial by jury, habeas corpus. No criminal prosecutions by

the EU.

7. A European President and a European Foreign Minister

New: A full-time European President and European Foreign Minister

who, ‘shall conduct the Union’s common foreign and security policy’ (A.

1-21 & 27).

Existing: No such positions exist.

8. Most national vetoes to disappear

New: Qualified Majority Voting becomes the norm, and is extended in

more than 20 areas where the national veto currently exists, including:

§ criminal justice and policing

§ asylum and immigration

§ social security

§ intellectual property

§ energy

§ culture

§ civil protection

§ certain aspects of company taxation

§ initiatives by the European Foreign Minister.

David Heathcoat – Amory MP.

Late News:

The final draft includes a provision for all remaining vetoes to be

surrendered by the European Council without the need for National

Parliament assent or referendums.

This important pamphlet, essential for everyone who wants the inside

perspective on what the new EU Constitution will mean for Britain, is

available to e-mail subscribers at the reduced price of five pounds inc.

p&p (standard cover price: seven pounds fifty pence).

To order one or more copies please send a cheque to the Publications

Officer, Centre for Policy studies (www.cps.org.uk), 57 Tufton Street, London SW1P 3QL.