Wednesday, July 23, 2008

They still find it hard to understand

Open Europe the soi-disant "independent think-tank" that calls for the "radical reform of the EU" without ever specifying how it could be achieved, is all excited about William Hague's interview in the Financial Times this morning.

"Tories would seek to scupper EU Treaty" screams the headline. Worse, the first two paragraphs add:
An incoming Conservative government would lead a Europe-wide campaign against “the centralising ratchet” of the EU and seek to restore full British control over employment and social law, William Hague, shadow foreign secretary, has told the Financial Times.

Mr Hague, who could be foreign secretary within two years if the Tories win the general election, says a Cameron administration would seek to scupper the EU’s Lisbon treaty – if it has not already been ratified by Ireland and all other member states – and attempt to renegotiate parts of Britain’s membership of the club.
Gosh, say we, how exciting. Or not, as the case may be.

After all, the chances are that the Constitutional Reform Lisbon Treaty will have been ratified one way or another by the time the Tories are back in office (though not in power, given the way legislation works in this country nowadays)and the issue will not be re-opened by them.

Furthermore, I am willing to bet that, should another treaty appear on the horizon while those self-same Tories are in office, they will roll over again (after making a great deal of those dotted red lines, of course).

So what exactly are the Tories going to do? Well, the will "let matters rest there" if they are faced with the Constitutional Reform Lisbon Treaty in place. And that means? Well, who knows. Certainly not the Shadow Foreign Secretary.
Mr Hague says a Tory government would “like to see social and employment powers restored to the UK”, a reference to the EU social chapter that has spawned rules such as better rights for temporary workers.
Someone should tell Mr Hague that the Social Chapter has not existed as a separate entity within the Consolidated Treaties for some time, which means that individual Articles will have to be changed if this promised policy is to be carried out. How, precisely, does he propose to do that? To change the Treaty, whatever form it will be in by 2010 requires an IGC. Is that what the Tories are going to call for? It then requires a great deal of negotiating because all member states have to agree to the text even before it goes back to the separate countries to be ratified? What are the Tories going to offer to their colleagues in return for the restoration of those "social and employment powers"?

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