|Monday, 16 July 2007||
Cynicism re the upcoming EU “Reform Treaty” on the part of former Italian Prime Minister Giuliano Amato, fromer British Minister for Europe Denis McShane and Commission Vice-President Margot Wallström – for your information:
Former Italian Prime Minister Giuliano Amato: “If people understood what was going on they would ask for a referendum.”
Denis MacShane: Please stop calling it a Constitution – “The game isn’t over yet.”
At a meeting of the Centre for European Reform yesterday, Thursday 12 July, EU officials discussed their strategy for adopting the EU Constitution without a referendum. Former Italian Prime Minister and Vice-Chairman of the Convention which drew up the EU Constitution Giuliano Amato said, “They decided that the document should be unreadable. If it is unreadable, it is not constitutional, that was the sort of perception. Where they got this perception from is a mystery to me. In order to make our citizens happy, to produce a document that they will never understand! But, there is some truth [in it]. Because if this is the kind of document that the IGC will produce, any Prime Minister – imagine the UK Prime Minister – can go to the Commons and say ‘Look, you see, it’s absolutely unreadable, it’s the typical Brussels treaty, nothing new, no need for a referendum.’ Should you succeed in understanding it at first sight there might be some reason for a referendum, because it would mean that there is something new.”
Former British Europe Minister Denis MacShane called on EU leaders to stop admitting that the new text is the same as the old text: “Could you ask President Prodi back in Rome not to say this is a Constitution; could you ask President Barroso not to say we’re creating a new form of empire, because, well, words mean something. A referendum arose in Britain not because the anti-European right wanted it? It was people like Timothy Garton-Ash, newspapers like the Guardian, the Independent, it was the Liberal Democrat party – all nominally pro-European – all insisting on a referendum. So please, as a serious bid to about the only elected person here – do not assume the IGC is a done deal, do not assume a fusion of the President with the Commission will not cause controversy? Do not assume the Dutch Labour party will not call a referendum. Do not assume that the Conservative Party in this country, with the help of the Liberal Democrats, will not insist on a referendum. The game isn’t over yet? The language is vital. The use of the word Constitution was wrong. I suggest saying it’s still a Constitution, President Prodi and other European leaders, is wrong.”
Peter Altmaier, State Secretary at the German Federal Ministry of the Interior said: “The new EU treaty is good news for the pro-Europeans because as was said by the Vice-President of the Commission, most of the substance of the former treaty was preserved … The pro-Europeans were joined by the French President Nicolas Sarkozy, who at the very early stage was advocating a mini-treaty, but then realised after the French presidential election that he would of course regain the leadership role for France in Europe if he was ready to accept almost everything as was in the old constitutional treaty. And then Angela Merkel responded to that by accepting the idea that the substance should be preserved.”
Comment by Open Europe: The sheer cynicism of the pro-euro-constitution lobby – and particularly their childish delight in the belief that they will be able to fool the public by changing a few words – is quite stomach-churning.
During a session of the European Scrutiny Committee on Thursday 12 July, EU Commission Vice President Margot Wallström stated that Germany was determined to “not have an open debate” in treaty negotiations because it would be “misused by those who do not want to see more European Integration”.
On the German Presidency’s strategy for negotiating the new treaty behind closed doors, Wallstrom told MEPs that “they wanted to prepare the text as far as possible and then not have an open debate or misinterpretation and what have you, but probably this was their plan… I agree that this is the bad side of it – that people would say, ok, so these negotiations, they are done behind closed doors, and we will not be informed, and we will not be really able to give our voice into the debate”. She suggested that open negotiations were not favoured by Berlin “maybe because they think this will be misused by those who do not want to see more European Integration.”
In response to concerns raised by MEPs over a controversial new clause in the ICG mandate (which states “National parliaments shall contribute actively to the good functioning of the Union”, Wallstrom said, “It’s inconceivable that a national parliament would act against the interests of the European Union”, but nonetheless admitted that the wording was “an unfortunate formulation”.
Sources: Open Europe press summary, Friday 13 July; Parliament Live, 1 hr.11 minites in; Daily Telegraph, Independent