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MS - Lisbon Treaty
#1
Mr Speaker,

Under the terms of the European Treaties Referenda Act 2007, I can announce before the House today that the date for a referendum on the signing and ratification of the Lisbon Treaty will take place on Thursday 20th November 2008.

Mr Speaker, by announcing this referendum the Government is abiding by its commitment to ensure a more democratic relationship with the European Union for the British people, believing that it is incumbent upon us to secure the informed consent of the United Kingdom’s voters before steps are taken to substantively alter our relationship with the EU. I can confirm that the strictures of ETRA will be complied with fully, with technical analyses of the proposed treaty to be made available by the Government at least six weeks prior to the date of the referendum.

Let me be clear that the Government will stand unequivocally in favour of the adoption of the Lisbon Treaty, which will mark a significant modernisation of the European Union and an important next step in the process of European integration which has enriched both our economy and our society. In uncertain economic times, about which we are all deeply concerned, now is not the time to cut and run on the European project. Europe’s fundamental freedoms, which include the free movement of capital and labour, are the modern-day guarantors of our long term financial prosperity. 

For too long, Britain has been an awkward cousin of the other nations of the European Union. We have sought special conditions, opt-outs, and a place within the Union which is orbital rather than integral. That will be the case no longer under this administration. We can be sceptical, yes, of Europe’s flaws; and we can be well-availed of the need for reform in some areas. But I am clear, and the Government is clear, that Britain is a European country. It has always been a European country and it will always be a European country. Our future lies at the heart of Europe, and that is where this Government shall place us.

The Lisbon Treaty marks a key pillar in democratising, modernising and reforming the European Union. It will strengthen the European Parliament and our elected representatives there, give new purpose and direction to the European Council, and better integrate and communicate the European Union’s coordinated foreign policy. It will make legally binding the Charter of Fundamental Rights, which protects the lives and livelihoods of millions of people across Europe and here in the UK, and will empower national Parliaments - including this august chamber - by expanding the scrutiny-time of legislation and enabling national legislatures to jointly compel the Commission to review or withdraw legislation altogether. The Treaty obliges mutual solidarity in the event of a terror attack or a natural disaster, safeguarding our security and our interests, and enables enhanced cooperation on security and defence issues.

The Lisbon Treaty for the first time clarifies the powers of the Union. It distinguishes three types of competences: exclusive competence, where the Union alone can legislate, and Member States only implement; shared competence, where the Member States can legislate and adopt legally binding measures if the Union has not done so; and supporting competence, where the EU adopts measures to support or complement Member States’ policies. Union competences can now be handed back to the Member States in the course of a treaty revision.

The Lisbon Treaty gives the EU full legal personality. Therefore, the Union obtains the ability to sign international treaties in the areas of its attributed powers or to join an international organisation.

The Treaty for the first time provides for a formal procedure to be followed by Member States wishing to withdraw from the European Union in accordance with their constitutional requirements, namely Article 50 TEU.

The Treaty of Lisbon completes the absorption of the remaining third pillar aspects of the area of freedom, security and justice, i.e. police and judicial cooperation in criminal matters, into the first pillar. The former intergovernmental structure ceases to exist, as the acts adopted in this area are now made subject to the ordinary legislative procedure using the legal instruments of the Community method unless otherwise specified.

With the Treaty of Lisbon in force, the European Parliament will be able to propose amendments to the Treaties, as is already the case for the Council, a Member State government or the Commission.

The Treaty of Lisbon expresses the three fundamental principles of democratic equality, representative democracy and participatory democracy. Participatory democracy takes the new form of a citizens’ initiative.

Mr Speaker, above all the Lisbon Treaty will expand the power of the people within Europe, including in the United Kingdom, and ensure that the European Union becomes more accountable, more democratic and better coordinated in its international efforts. It is a necessary but not sufficient step towards the reforms that Europe needs to see; it is the logical next step in the development of the European ideal, an ideal in which Britain now more than ever must choose to believe. I will urge the House and the entire nation on November 20th to vote in favour of the Lisbon Treaty.

I commend this statement to the House.
Margaret
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#2
Mr.Speaker,

Much like my other colleagues I am glad to see the Government enacting our policy of having a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty. I'm glad they finally came around on this idea and look forward to Democracy at long last being put to good use on November the 20th.

As far as the actual treaty itself Mr.Speaker, We are against the Treaty for several reasons, The first being the issues of transparency and the power of the unelected body the European Commission. If government is run by people who are unelected and are not beholden to the European Parliament be transparent or put the people first? Mr.Speaker the European Commission also serves as the "executive branch" of the EU which is incredible vague and not well defined in the treaty, as well as being the body which initiates all EU Laws. And while the national legislatures will receive draft EU bills and will have the ability to vote that the measure is not compatible with the principle of subsidiarity, both of which are steps in the right direction the process is so long vague and complicated it is more then likely never going to happen and will indeed serve as a detraction from doing so.

And our Final concern Mr.Speaker are the issues of climate change and immigration. Mr.Speaker these 2 issues are very briefly addressed in the treaty with absolutely no mention of how the EU plans to come together to combat climate change nor does it give member states the ability to police and control immigration laws and restrictions, and many member States including the UK will lose our ability to veto legislation which go against our national views and interest.

To conclude I would like to once again thank the Government for allowing for the people to choose whether or not we shall ratify what is effectively the 2nd coming of the EU Constitution and we look forward to campaigning against it on November the 20th.
Mitch Un MP Rhondda (1997-Present)
Traits: Campaign Guru, Socially Unaware
Future Overlord of Britain and Europe
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#3
Mr Speaker,

The government was right, I believe, to offer a referendum on this treaty. I think such a move shows faith to the promises made to the electorate and is a much-needed point of cross-party consensus. In another sense, too, I think it is a great opportunity that we have a chance to, in the pro-European movement, which will span across parties and I’m sure includes MPs from the Conservative Party, confront head-on the myths and the fearmongering that has surrounded Europe.

Like I have said before, it is important that we treat democracy not just as an exercise in aggregating votes, but as a method for deliberation, for discourse, for listening. Whatever the result of the referendum, we must seize this chance to listen to what the people of the UK tell us about the EU. If they vote for the treaty but express reservations about a particular aspect, we must listen to that. If they vote against it but it is a call to go back and renegotiate, we must listen to that.

The issue with referenda is that they can distil complex issues and emotionally charged subjects into a polarised binary choice - and we must be sensitive to that imperfection, and be proactive in bringing the benefits of deliberative democracy into this discussion.

Moving onto how I and the Liberal Democrats will campaign, I am an enthusiastic supporter of the Lisbon Treaty. Membership of the EU is, in short, a necessity for Britain’s place in the world and maximising the opportunities and advantages available to its citizens.

In an increasingly multipolar world, our interests are amplified, our position on issues such as trade and security strengthened, when we pool sovereignty and resources with likeminded nations.

In a world where issues such as climate change and terrorism demand cross-border solutions, the EU is an essential means through which to deliver such change.

And the freedoms given by the EU - the right to live, love, study and work in so many other countries, the ease of trading and commerce, the support for regional development and equality - are utterly invaluable.

But though I am a supporter of the EU, neither am I hopelessly sanguine about it. It is an imperfect organisation, one that must change and develop with the times. It can be more democratic, it can be more accountable, it can be more responsive. We can make it more effective at solving the issues that it is designed to address.

And the Lisbon Treaty takes so many essential steps on bringing the EU to this point, on making it substantially more democratic. The Secretary of State has already outlined these benefits - and I can offer my full support for his remarks.

I can also say that the criticisms trialled by the shadow Secretary of State, quite simply, miss the mark. All the issues that he identifies as being flaws of the EU are, simply put, made better by this Treaty, and I’ll give two examples.

It makes little sense to complain about the lack of scrutiny parliamentarians, at both the European and national level, receive on EU legislation, and then to campaign against a treaty that increases that power.

It makes little sense to deride parts of the EU for being ill-defined and then campaign against a treaty that will take substantial steps to remove those ambiguities and clarify legal processes.

It makes little sense to criticise a treaty that does empower the EU to act more coherently and efficiently on issues such as climate change, as not in itself being the solution needed to that very serious problem. Climate change is a big deal, of course it is, but this treaty paves the way for future EU action on that front and it is just not valid to treat it as a reason to vote against this measure.

I look forward to hitting the campaign trail on this measure and advocating for the Lisbon Treaty.
Grant Smith
Liberal Democrat MP for Leeds North West (2005-present)

Media Unknown, Constituency Appeal, Campaign Organiser
Previously: Sir Lachlan Domnhall Coinneach Duncan MacMahon; Graham Adiputera; I think I played some dull Labour bloke at one point
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#4
I thank the Minister for his statement, the House shall turn to other matters.
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#5
This debate kind of morphed into a quasi-referendum in its own right with both sides making the case forcefully. Eyebrows were raised when Mr Pearce spoke poorly of our opt-outs insisting that we should have a closer relationship with Europe, with the anti-Europe right currently polling at around 50% this is an interesting choice but the people did vote for Lisbon so time will tell. Pearce made a strong case for Lisbon which no doubt helped in the campaign itself. Havard was next and his arguments were decent enough, it was a good move to claim credit for the referendum as it had been Tory policy for ages and Labour weren't so keen on it historically, that is still slightly there at the back of people's minds. The Lib Dems make a very compelling case for the Treaty but he mostly preaches to the faithful, a lot of Eurosceptics turn around and say "if we reject the treaty now we can force them to make things better with the next one" especially with regards to his last two or three points.

It's a win for the Pro-Lisbon side, and I'm going to say a win for the Labour Party. XP to Pearce and Havard.
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