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Bolting the stable door…

The Telegraph reports that Britain is to reopen attempts to change key sections of the proposed European constitution despite warnings by its chief author that this risks undoing months of painstaking negotiations.

The Government will issue a White Paper in early September setting out its ‘red lines’ – the issues that it will not compromise on – in the final round of bargaining for the constitution that will be launched by European Union leaders in October. Senior officials said the issues include a determination to remove a mutual defence pact that would undermine Nato, clauses regarded as a backdoor attempt to harmonise taxation, and proposals for an EU public prosecutor.

For once the Conserative opposition sounds almost reasonable. Bernard Jenkin, the Conservative defence spokesman, said:

They said the constitution was just a tidying-up exercise. They have realised late in the day that it’s much more than that. Even if they win on their red lines, they have already given much more away, not least the principle of having a constitution in the first place.

Mr Jenkin maintains that, despite phrases ostensibly respecting countries’ obligations to Nato, the draft constitution would give the EU primacy over the transatlantic alliance. It is not yet clear how far Britain will resist the proposals to create a common defence policy.

Valery Giscard d’Estaing, the former French president who presided over 16 months of debate at the European Convention, has warned all sides that tampering with the text risks creating a free-for-all.

And we wouldn’t want that, right?

9 comments to Bolting the stable door…

  • R C Dean

    Seeing as the purpose for NATO – containing the Soviets – has gone away, I tend to think that NATO should go away as well. It has demonstrated its utter uselessness in the post-9/11 world, so I wouldn’t shed any tears if it went toes-up.

    If the EU Constitution contributes to getting the US forces out of Europe, I would regard that as a silver lining in an otherwise dark cloud.

  • Guy Herbert

    Note, too, the extraordinarily accomplished negotiation style: these are the issues we care about. So the Commission can work from the “red lines” as the UK’s opening offer.

    Good thing that the civil service (as any member of it will tell you, given half a chance) is the best in the world. Just think what a bad one would have done in this position.

  • Britain out of the EU… any other ‘solution’ is bullshit. The EU need us more than we need them and so the EU simply does not have the ability to impose harsh trade penalties.

  • EU Delenda Est

    ‘And we wouldn’t want that, right?’

    Bring it on!

  • Lorenzo

    The ivory tower comment from Giscard is a achievement in arrogance all by it self. What matters is to avoid tampering with his seminal work not having a constitution that has popular support or even the support of member governments. Nor is he particularly concerned with a constitution that works no no we must avoid having a free-for-all that might result in changes to his creation.

    I think the best thing that could happen is if the people of Europe got a chance to vote on the bloddy thing unchanged. That should ensure its demise.

  • Yeah the French know the British do well in chaos and they do not. More chaos the better!

  • Julian Morrison

    I think what Giscard is really worried about, is that the “free-for-all” will consist of countries, including Britain, having second thoughts about the idea of having a constitution at all, and potntially ripping the thing up and good riddance. That’s why he’s worried about anyone “starting the avalanche”.

  • Sandy P.

    Tony’s found some balls??

    Or did W give him a pair of steel-toed shit-kickin’ cowboy boots??

  • Sandy P.

    Oh, and RC, we’re not leaving, we’re just moving to lower-priced real estate.