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This is the text that William Hague prepared for this afternoon’s debate on the Lisbon Treaty.  Because it is the prepared text, tomorrow’s Hansard may record very slightly different words.  This text doesn’t include interruptions etc either.  Liam Fox’s contribution can be read here.

Mr Speaker, it was our contention, when the timetable for debating this Bill was discussed three weeks ago, that the vital areas of Foreign Policy and Defence merited at the least two separate days of debate, and I suspect it will be clear, both from the uncertainty surrounding some of the issues to be debated today and the enormity of them, that far more time should have been given to them. At the outset, let us be clear that the Foreign, Security and Defence provisions of the EU Treaty provide a classic illustration of how closely the Treaty now before us mirrors the EU Constitution, usually down to the smallest detail.

The Foreign Affairs Committee of this House, a Committee of course with a Labour majority, concluded in their report, “that there is no material difference between the provisions on Foreign Policy in the Constitutional Treaty which the government made subject to approval in a referendum and those in the Lisbon Treaty on which a referendum is being denied.”

No rational person could come to any other conclusion. The title of the proposed EU Foreign Minister has been changed to “High Representative”, but everything else is there: the existence of this position and the simultaneous membership of the European Commission for the person holding it, the appointment of the High Representative by Qualified Majority Voting, the extension of Qualified Majority Voting to proposals made by the High Representative and the design of the EU Diplomatic Service, the creation of a new EU Foreign Policy fund, the requirement on Britain and France to invite the High Representative to present the case of the EU at the UN Security Council when a Common Position has been determined, the creation of a single legal personality for the EU, and, a series of Defence commitments which include a mutual Defence commitment, an objective of Common Defence and so-called structured co-operation of an inner group in Defence matters – all of these, the subject of our six hour debate today, were present in the EU Constitution and are present in the EU Treaty. Some of them were indeed among the aspects of the Treaty which in the opinion of the former Foreign Secretary and now Lord Chancellor made it a Constitutional Treaty. He told the House on 6 June 2005 that the creation of an EU Foreign Minister as well as an EU President were “points central to the European Constitutional Treaty” and he saw “no prospect of their being brought into force save through the vehicle of a Constitutional Treaty.”

So in Foreign Policy, Mr Speaker, it is as clear as in any aspect of
the Treaty, that if the government were possessed of any honour or
honesty in living up to their manifesto commitments, the people of this
country would be permitted the referendum that they both want and
deserve.

The government cannot, therefore, in this case mount any credible
argument that the provisions of the Treaty are different from the
Constitution, thus absolving them of their referendum commitment. They
can only argue that the provisions in this area are relatively
unimportant and would not merit a referendum in any case. That was the
gist of the Foreign Secretary’s argument this afternoon. It is an
argument however, which comes up against three major problems. The
first is that it is generally agreed by observers who have set out to
be impartial that in this area the Treaty makes important changes. The
Foreign Affairs Select Committee noted that, “The government risks
underestimating, and certainly is downplaying in public, the importance
and potential of the new Foreign Policy Institutions established by the
Lisbon Treaty, namely the new High Representative and the European
External Action Service. We recommend that the government should
publicly acknowledge the significance of the Foreign Policy aspects of
the Lisbon Treaty.”

Second, it has emerged that important decisions about how exactly the
Foreign and Defence provisions will be implemented are being held back
until ratification in this country in particular has been completed. It
has already been the stated opinion of the European Scrutiny Committee
of this House that the process of agreeing this Treaty, “could not have
been better designed to marginalise the role of National Parliaments
and to curtail public debate,” but it appears that the marginalisation
of public debate and parliamentary scrutiny continues now. Decisions,
for instance, about the role of the President of the European Council
in Foreign Policy, and the roll-out of the EU Diplomatic Service, along
with the nature of the all important structured co-operation in Defence
are only to be taken later, according to the leaked memo from the
Slovenian Presidency written on 16 January, when they will no longer be
subject to the scrutiny of this parliament, let alone the people of
this country. These decisions are clearly of huge importance, indeed
there is every prospect that the scene is being set for a serious turf
war between the President of the Council and the High Representative,
not a clever thing to build into any Constitution and not something
that suggests their roles will be unimportant.

And the third difficulty for the government is that the changes bought
in by this Treaty on Foreign Policy and Defence were important enough
for the vast majority of them to have been strongly opposed by the
government. The background to this is that there has been for many
years instinctive agreement across this House about the relationship of
the European Union to Foreign Policy. We have all been in favour of
Member States of the EU working together on Foreign Policy issues on an
inter-governmental and consensus basis. The need to do so in the years
to come, for instance, in relation to the Balkans and in dealing with
the foreign policy challenges being presented by Russia. Indeed, we
wish, again I think in common with the government, that there was a
more effective and forceful unity of Foreign Policy approach from EU
Members in facing up to Iran’s development of nuclear weapons
capability and to the crimes of regimes such as those of Zimbabwe and
Burma. So there is no hostility in this House to the co-operation of
Member States, as Nation States, on a wide range of very important
issues.

It is the introduction of Treaty changes which increase the role of the
EU at the expense of Member States, and the introduction of
institutions which go beyond supplementing co-operation to supplanting
it with supra-national decision-making which the great majority of us
in this House have always opposed.

Indeed, there is almost a British consensus that institutional change
is not only irrelevant to an effective common foreign and security
policy but can even be a substitute for it, as is clear from the
evidence given to the Foreign Affairs Committee on this subject.

Professor Hill of Cambridge’s Centre of International Studies told the
Committee that ‘institutional change has too often been a substitute
for change at the level of policy and a willingness to grasp the nettle
of difficult decisions … whenever there is a problem in European Union
foreign policy, the instinct is to say, “let’s invent some new
procedure.”’ Professor Whitman of the University of Bath similarly said
that ‘historically a lot of effort has gone into the procedure rather
than the policy’ and went on to tell the Committee that he thought ‘the
CFSP could carry on working quite happily without the changes that are
in [the Lisbon] Treaty.’

A dazzling array of Labour foreign secretaries, past and present drove
the point home to the Committee. Lord Owen’s view was that the EU spent
too much time on ‘institutional development and press relations’,
whereas the best way to strengthen EU foreign policy was “practical
success on the ground”. The Rt Hon Member for Derby South dealt briskly
with the argument that, as she put it, ‘if the European Union cannot
get an agreement [on the Treaty], there will be a huge crisis and … the
EU will no longer be able to function’. Not so, she said: ‘the last few
months have shown that that is not actually so. The EU is functioning
and has, indeed, reached some quite far-reaching decisions’. And the
current foreign secretary was of the same mind. He said that the EU’s
actions on climate change ‘have done more to show the relevance of the
European Union than any amount of institutional tinkering’.

We on this side of the House are in full agreement with those views. We
have near unanimity. So it is even less defensible that instead of
standing up for their well-founded preference for practical delivery
over increasing the EU’s powers with institutional change in the
negotiations the Government from the Prime Minister down rolled over
and agreed to the profound institutional changes and increases in the
EU’s powers that we are discussing today.

That is why, when the government said they had a red-line, that there
must be no intrusion on Britain’s right to an independent foreign
policy, there was of course, completely agreement in Britain. That
Ministers have secured a “Declaration” attached to the Treaty making
our rights in Foreign Policy clear shows both the importance that they
attach to it and their own view that the Treaty intrudes into this
area. It is a pity to say the least that the legal advisor to the
European Scrutiny Committee considers the existence of such a
declaration, as opposed to a protocol, to be “meaningless” but it is
instructive that Ministers felt that such a declaration had to be made.

It is an illustration of the consensus in this House over many years
that almost every provision in the Treaty concerning Foreign Policy has
been opposed by the government at one time or another. It is now the
job of the Foreign Secretary to put a positive gloss on everything his
predecessors opposed in the name of the same government. They were
opposed in the first place to the EU Foreign Minister or High
Representative also being a Member of the Commission, given that the
Commission’s responsibilities will overlap into Foreign Policy. As the
former Foreign Secretary, the Rt Hon. Member for Blackburn said in
November 2003, “We would have preferred to have explicit separation of
those two posts….The institutional balance between the Council and the
Commission is absolutely fundamental to the proper operation of the EU,
and, for a variety of reasons, Member States would not accept that they
would merge into one position.”

At the same time, Ministers were trenchantly opposed to the idea that
proposals made by the EU Foreign Minister would be agreed by Qualified
Majority Voting, the Rt Hon, Member for Blackburn stated on 1st
December 2003 that “QMV on proposals made by the Union’s Minister for
Foreign Affairs is simply unacceptable…We made it clear that common
Foreign and Security Policy is an inter-governmental matter, and must
be established unanimously.” Yet the Article he was objecting to,
Article 111-300 (2) of the Constitution is now there as Article 1,
paragraph 34(b)(i) of the Lisbon Treaty, stating that the Council shall
act by Qualified Majority, “On a proposal which the High Representative
has presented following a specific request to him or her from the
European Council, made on its own initiative or that of the High
Representative.”

The difficulty with this is obvious, and it is why the government
opposed it. The Council could unanimously ask the Foreign Minister to
present a proposal, with Britain in agreement with doing so, but if the
proposal was unsatisfactory to the British Foreign Secretary he or she
would then find that that unsatisfactory proposal was subject to
Majority Voting. The government evidently shared our fears, but it
capitulated.

It did so again on the creation of the European Diplomatic Service, or
External Action Service. When this was proposed, the then Minister for
Europe, the Rt Hon Member for Rotherham, said, in a written answer on
17th June 2002, “We believe that it remains for EU Member States to
organise their respective bilateral diplomatic services at the national
level.” Yet the government have now agreed to the creation of such a
service, to its rules on diplomatic and consular protection being
determined by Qualified Majority Voting, and have even done so in the
light of a Commission Green Paper which said that, “EU Consulates could
take over functions now controlled by Member States, including issuing
visas.”

The opposition of the government to this had been deep and
longstanding. As recently as last June, only days before the Treaty was
signed, the Foreign Secretary’s predecessor, the Rt Hon Lady, the
Member for Derby South, fought a spectacularly unsuccessful last minute
rearguard action against the creation of the External Action Service.
She reportedly said that the creation of such a service could be seen
as “State-building” and that Britain was opposed to it. How can it be
that the creation of this service is sufficiently alarming to the
Foreign Office for the Foreign Secretary of our country to make every
effort to stop it even at the final hour but that when the government
caved in and agreed to it, it became something which was no threat at
all and which parliament did not need to worry itself about?

And is it not the case that at the same dinner in Brussels, at the
Foreign Affairs Council which preceded the Lisbon summit, the former
Foreign Secretary also made a last ditch effort to prevent the Foreign
Minister or High Representative becoming the permanent Chairman of the
meetings of Foreign Ministers? Again, Mr Speaker, if this is something
of no account, why did the government go to such lengths to try to
prevent it? Is it the Foreign Secretary’s position that she was wrong
to try to prevent these things? Because if it is his view that she was
right then it is view diametrically opposed to the one he has presented
today.

Then there is the matter of representation at the UN Security Council.
Once again the Treaty carries the exact language of the Constitution,
saying that, “When the Union has defined a position on a subject which
is on the UN Security Council agenda, those Member States which sit on
the Security Council shall request that the High Representative be
invited to present the Union’s position.” The approach of the
government to this was unambiguous, when the Rt. Hon Member for Neath
put forward the government’s views to the European Convention drafting
the Constitution he argued that this entire paragraph be struck out
altogether, saying that, “The UK cannot accept any language which
implies that it would not retain the right to speak in a national
capacity on the UN Security Council.” Having got nowhere with this
argument, the government instead proposed another amendment suggesting
that the EU Foreign Minister could only make a request to speak on
behalf of the Union. Overruled on this as well, they simply gave in
completely.

To be fair, the Foreign Affairs Committee said that this provision for
the High Representative to speak at the UN Security Council would make
little difference to current practice, and the government have of
course stated their agreement with that. But if the government were
confident that it made no difference to current practice, why was their
initial hostility to the idea so emphatic and repeated? Presumably it
is because they saw this as the thin end of a wedge, and it has
subsequently turned out of course that while the government has been
resisting that wedge, the Prime Minister has appointed to the Foreign
Office a Minister who is the wedge in himself. He said on 2nd October
2006 that the European Commission would eventually represent the EU in
the United Nations as the voice of all the Member States, adding, “I
think it will go in stages…it is not going to happen with a flash and a
bang”, but, “it will happen as quickly as possible.” This is not the
policy of the Government, but it is the policy of one of its Members,
and since he sees his role, in his own words, as “the older figure, the
wise eminence behind the young Foreign Secretary”, and since the Prime
Minister saw fit to make him the Minister for UN reform, who knows
where this might lead us in the future?

That brings me to Article 48 (3) of the Treaty which allows the Council
to move to Qualified Majority Voting in any of the remaining areas
covered by unanimity, including Foreign Policy. This means that the
extension of Qualified Majority Voting into Foreign Policy embodied in
the Treaty could be taken much further without any further Treaty
having to be negotiated or ratified. It has become almost needless to
say that this provision was also opposed by the government, with the
Rt. Hon Member for Rotherham saying on 20th October 2003 that, “We
think that a self-amending Constitutional Treaty does not make a lot of
sense,” and that, “there is no enthusiasm for the clause within the
European Union.” Well, it turned out there was enough enthusiasm for
the government to find it advisable once again to capitulate and now to
recommend to parliament the very thing they had strongly opposed.  They
have said that any such extension of Qualified Majority Voting will be
submitted to parliament for approval but the Foreign Affairs Committee
drew attention to the inadequacy of this and said, “We further
recommend that all amendments to the Treaty including extensions of
Qualified Majority Voting should be done by primary legislation and not
simply by a vote of the House.” That must be right, Mr Speaker, the
only restraint on governments of either parties in the agreement of
European Treaties has been the need to pass primary legislation – that
must apply to the amendment of those Treaties unless the rights of this
House are to be reduced yet again, in this case by reducing debate on
changes in the governance of Britain to a matter of a few hours instead
of the passage of legislation through all its stages.

It will be apparent from what I have said that the impact on Foreign
Policy making of this Treaty is more substantial than the government
have conceded, and its potential future impact dramatically so. A final
illustration of that is the creation of the new EU Foreign Policy fund
under Article 1, paragraph 47 of the Lisbon Treaty. The government
demanded that decisions about this fund should be taken by unanimity
but, believe it or not, they capitulated and such decisions are now to
be made by Qualified Majority Voting, including the amounts to be
contributed by the Member States. This is a matter which links Foreign
Policy with Defence, since the new fund is seen by some as the first
step towards a Common Defence Budget for the EU. My Hon Friend, the
Member for Woodspring, will of course wish to refer to the Defence
provisions when he winds up the debate, but let me make clear now our
gave concern about the extent, nature and implications of those
provisions.

Article 1, paragraph 49 of the Lisbon Treaty says that the Common
Security and Defence Policy shall include the progressive framing of
the Common Union Defence Policy, leading to a Common Defence and it
goes on to establish a new, mutual defence commitment quite separate
from that of the NATO alliance. You may not be surprised to hear by
now, Mr Speaker, that the government opposed all these provisions, with
the Rt. Hon Member for Neath arguing that, “Common Defence, including
as a form of enhanced co-operation, is divisive, and a duplication of
the guarantees that 19 out of the 25 Member States will enjoy through
NATO.”

It is serious enough to sign a Treaty on Common Defence and a mutual
Defence commitment in an organisation which does not have the means to
fulfil such a commitment, but it is more serious still to sign a Treaty
which could change the nature of the Western alliance without any
preceding sufficient national debate or forethought.

The French Defence Minister has been perfectly frank about this, saying
on 19th July that the new Treaty, “Will permit re-enforced
co-operation, notably in the area of Defence, since Defence in Europe
will move forward by using a hard core of countries which want to take
on their own security. The reinforced co-operation to which he refers
is the, “permanent structured co-operation” referred to by the Treaty,
designed to allow an inner core of EU Members interested in taking
forward military integration to do so without the rest. Yet again, the
government initially opposed structured co-operation, saying that it
could not accept the proposal and that it would undermine the
inclusive, flexible model of the European Security and Defence policy.
Their reasons for being against it were good ones, since permanent
structured co-operation would leave those European countries not
included in it with even less incentive to improve their military
capabilities and by creating what some would see as a European pillar
of NATO, it could change the nature of the NATO alliance in a way which
in the longer term would weaken its essential transatlantic character.

Added to that, is the creation of Qualified Majority Voting on the
statute, seat and operational rules of the European Defence Agency, an
institution already established but on a shaky legal basis. Article 2
of the relevant protocol requires participating Member States to
co-operate to, “bring their defence apparatus into line with each
other” and to achieve “approved objectives concerning the level of
investment expenditure on equipment” among other things. But it is
surely part of our role as a nation to make our own decisions regarding
our security needs and defence equipment, and to work in co-operation
with European allies or with the United States or others as we see fit.
That such decisions should begin to be circumscribed by the
introduction of QMV into the affairs of the European Defence Agency,
headed as it will be by the EU High Representative who is also a member
of the European Commission, may one day have important consequences,
including once again for transatlantic co-operation.

The eventual consequences of such changes will not become apparent
until after this Treaty has been ratified. Indeed, the government
appear to be saying as little as possible about British participation
in structured defence co-operation until after the Treaty has been
passed. The Government have done nothing to inform the nation of the
consequences of these changes or its future intentions.

But these are no small matters. If there is a case to approach
something as vital as the defence of the nation in a different way,
that case should be made openly and honestly. The former French Foreign
Minister, Dominique Strauss-Kahn has said that, “the Constitution lays
the legal basis for a future European Army.” Romano Prodi has said a
similar thing, yet no such frank assessment has come from the
Government on this or any other aspect of the Treaty.

The French Government have said that European defence will be one of
their forthcoming presidency’s priorities. So will the Foreign
Secretary come clean: is it this Government’s policy to participate in
permanent structured co-operation on European defence?

The provisions of the Lisbon Treaty on Foreign, Security and Defence
policy are therefore not difficult to characterise. They are, by common
agreement across the House, more substantial that the government have
acknowledged. While described as limited in their implications, even a
short analysis suggests that there future implications could be
far-reaching. For that reason, they have been, almost without
exception, opposed by Ministers during the negotiations of this Treaty,
and for the same reasons they are opposed by the Opposition to this day.

Yet this Government have at every opportunity tried to keep Parliament
and the public in the dark about this Treaty in general and its
provisions on foreign policy and defence in particular. They negotiated
in secret. They have tried to cover up their importance. And now they
are delaying the crucial decisions about how they will work in practice
until it is too late for MPs and voters to have any say on the matter
at all.

If this Treaty is ratified, only the passage of months and years will
inform us as to whether the assurances of the Foreign Secretary today
were to be relied upon. But I suspect, Mr Speaker, that the judgement
of time, on Ministers whose complacent advocacy of these proposals has
replaced their virulent opposition to them in the recent past, will be
very harsh indeed.

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