In These New Times

A new paradigm for a post-imperial world

A new EU treaty? I see trouble ahead

Posted by seumasach on March 12, 2010

This is what I referred to when writing about Britain’s double game on Europe being exposed.

“A European Monetary Fund must create no financial or legal obligations on
Britain.”

This quote from Tory shadow minister seems to confirm that Britain will break with Europe over this. After all, it is Gordon Brown who champions the IMF as the instrument of global governance i.e. world domination by Wall Street and the City. EMF is a step too far for the British oligarchy.

James Kirkup

Telegraph

9th March, 2010

So, Angela Merkel says a new European Union bailout fund would require changes to existing EU treaties.

Now, I might be getting a bit excitable here, but I think this could be cause serious headaches for both Labour and Conservatives alike.

Start with the technical stuff. The reason Mrs Merkel is talking about treaty change is that the Treaty on the European Union (Maastricht, to you and me) both allows the creation of a single European currency, and forbids one member-state bailing out another. So if the EU is create its own European Monetary Fund to save Greece (and whichever member goes bad after Greece) then the treaty must change. So far, so good.

But hang on: when the Lisbon Treaty was ratified by the UK (yes, without a referendum), the Prime Minister promised that there would be no more institutional changes in Europe for up to a decade.

He made the pledge several times, including in the Commons.

For instance, Gordon Brown told MPs:

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. [Hansard, 22 October 2007]

So, if there is to be a proposed change to the Maastricht rules (meaning a new “amending treaty”), will the Prime Minister stick to that line and oppose it? Or is he prepared to accept “further institutional change”? As I write this, I don’t know, because Downing Street doesn’t seem to know the answer. I’ll update this as soon as I get some clarity.

UPDATE: No 10 has confirmed that the policy is unchanged. UK opposes further institutional change in this parliament or the next. As for Mrs Merkel’s remarks, Mr Brown’s spokesman says: “We don’t actually expect further institutional change.”

(For the sake of completeness, I should report that, asked about the UK position on an EMF, the PM’s spokesman said: “I don’t think the Government has a position on that.”)

And what about the Conservatives? Well, they’ve given an almost categorical promise that any new treaty would automatically mean a referendum.

A Conservative Government would change the law so that never again would a government be able to agree to a Treaty that hands over areas of power from Britain to the EU without a referendum. [CCHQ website]

Now, a lot of people (including, I suspect, many who read this) would heartily welcome any EU referendum in the UK.

But Europe isn’t part of the Tory election grid. Being seen to make dire threats of referenda is not part of the image CCHQ wants to construct. So on this side of the election at least, Mrs Merkel’s talk of a new treaty could cause some Conservative discomfort too.

UPDATE: Yup, the Tories are rather tight-lipped on this. I have some comments from Mark Francois, the shadow Europe minister, saying “A European Monetary Fund must create no financial or legal obligations on
Britain.”
But there’s no comment on a referendum. The Conservatives are not, it seems, keen to pick a European fight right now.

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