Sunday 3 June 2007

La perfide Albion !

It is not easy to find meaningful information on EU treaty reform from the UK government, although it seems to run an entire red line district of its own.

On 21 May 2007 the Foreign and Commonwealth Office issued a press release saying that the Minister for Europe Geoff Hoon will discuss progress on European reform issues when he visits France and Slovenia “this week”. He wanted to share the UK’s ambition for institutional reform that first and foremost serves Europe’s citizens.

As a European citizen I would be grateful for more substance and reasons than that.

According to the BBC, “Blair to meet German chancellor” on 3 June 2007, Mr Blair will push for a scaled-down treaty to update the EU’s institutions without wider and more controversial constitutional elements.

Simon Taylor put it more bluntly in on 31 May 2007: the UK is standing out as the most difficult member state with its long list of parts of the constitution it wants revised.

In the name of transparency: Which list?

The United Kingdom used a lot of energy to water down the text of the Convention drafting the constitutional treaty, and then continued in the same vein during the inter-governmental conference. In the end, all the 25 then member states signed the new treaty, as did the two latest accession states.

Suddenly, Europe’s citizens should, without any reasons offered, understand that the British government has found significant faults with the treaty, and that Her Majesty’s government has decided to fight for our interests, supposedly more than the 20 countries which have ratified or declared their support for the rather modest constitutional treaty.


It sounds more like a re-run of history. After languishing on the outside from 1961 to 1973, once inside the United Kingdom promptly re-negotiated its accession agreement and later its contribution to the Community budget. Today it’s the treaty.

Ralf Grahn

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