Greg Hands: "I am not someone who is opposed per se to European co-operation or even to the pooling of sovereignty in certain areas such as, for example, in the administration of trade policy. But I believe that any new and/or significant transfer of power to Brussels needs to fulfil two important criteria. The first is that the British people must vote democratically for it to happen; the second is that the ensuing structures and processes in Europe must themselves be democratic. Both are crucial, yet neither is being fulfilled by the treaty that we will be considering at length this Session.
I wanted to focus my comments less on the process—it does not really need to be said any longer that the process of arriving at this treaty has been deeply dishonest and full of subterfuge, practised both by those proposing the new treaty and by the Government here in the lead-up to signing it—and principally on the contents. We are in danger of becoming too fixated on manifesto pledges and red lines—important though they are—and we need to get across what is wrong with this treaty and how it is against British interests. I will outline seven areas of particular concern.
The first was talked about at length by my right hon. Friend the Member for Richmond, Yorks (Mr. Hague); the role of the new EU President. As he rightly pointed out, the federalist vision is that the position be eventually merged with that of the President of the Commission. Giscard d’Estaing said: “We will probably have to have at least two executives in the beginning”.
The UK fought in the drafting of the constitution against any merging, but the new treaty will allow for it. The final text states only that: “the President of the European Council should not hold national office”
but it is quite possible for him or her to be the President of the Commission. Suddenly we would have a very powerful head of the Executive, combining the roles of the President of the Council and of the Commission, but crucially he or she would be unelected either by the peoples of Europe or even by the Parliaments."
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