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EU: Reform Treaty

Volume 696: debated on Tuesday 20 November 2007

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What assessment they have made of the statement by the President of the European Commission, Mr José Barroso, on the Radio 4 “Today” programme on 20 October, that “the [British] red lines are secure for the time being”. [HL12]

During an interview on the Radio 4 “Today” programme on 20 October, the President of the European Commission, Mr José Manuel Barroso, stated:

“What was negotiated by Britain clearly, clearly keeps what you call red lines for the time being. This is now established because this is primary law”.

When asked to clarify the words “for the time being”, Mr Barroso asserted:

“For the time being is until Britain changes its mind”.

As my right honourable friend the Prime Minister stated on 8 October:

“I believe that people will see that we have succeeded not only in getting our red lines but getting them put into so much detail in the amending treaty that the protections that we asked for in June are achieved in very great detail”.

The document has been placed in the Libraries of both Houses and sets out how the Government’s red lines are protected in the draft reform treaty, with commentary explaining each provision in detail.

asked Her Majesty’s Government:

Whether they will explain the methods the Prime Minister will adopt to deliver his promise not to support further European Union institutional changes over the next few years in the light of a statement of the Prime Minister of Portugal, Mr José Sócrates, commenting on the European Union reform treaty that “this Treaty is not the end of the story because there is no end”. [HL13]

All institutional change in the EU requires the support of all 27 member states. As my right honourable friend the Prime Minister said in his post-European Council Statement on 22 October in another place:

“I can confirm that, not just for this Parliament but also for the next, it is the position of the Government to oppose any further institutional change in the relationship between the EU and its member states”.—[Official Report, Commons, 22/10/07; col. 22.]

asked Her Majesty’s Government:

Further to the Written Answer by Lord Malloch-Brown on 10 October (WA 14), whether Parliament will be able to amend the new European Union treaty. [HL20]

As has been the practice with previous EU amending treaties, such as Maastricht, Amsterdam and Nice, the Government will publish a Bill giving effect to the treaty in UK law. Parliament can vote to amend this Bill, although some of the Bill’s provisions will be necessary for the UK to ratify the treaty. All treaties are made and ratified under royal prerogative. As has always been the case, Parliament cannot unilaterally amend any treaty, which in this case will have 26 other signatories besides the UK.

asked Her Majesty’s Government:

When a printed version of the European Union reform treaty, signed in Lisbon, will be available to Parliament. [HL81]

All intergovernmental conference papers, including draft versions of the EU reform treaty, have been placed in the Library of the House. The latest text, which has been prepared for discussion in the Jurists-Linguists technical translation group from 12 to 16 November, was circulated to Parliament on 31 October. We will continue to forward any further draft texts to Parliament as soon as we receive them.

We expect to lay the final EU reform treaty before Parliament shortly after formal signature by Heads of State and Government at the 13 December meeting.