Treaty amendments

 

            The EU’s press release says the change to the Treaty of European Union is an amendment to Article 136, adding:

“The Member states whose currency is the Euro may establish a stability mechanism to be activated if indispensable to safeguard the stability of the Euro area as a whole. The granting of any required assistance under the mechanism will be made subject to strict conditionality.”

We are told this does not change the current powers of the EU so it should not need referenda. In the Uk we are told we will not get a referendum because the amendment does not apply to the UK.

If it does not change the powers of the EU at all it is difficult to see why it is needed. If it is needed, it implies that there is insufficient legal clarity behind the current use of Clause 122 to support the exisiting stabilisation fund.

We are told it should come into effect at the beginning of 2013, giving member states two years to put it through their legislatures. This is also curious, as they could ratify it in a matter of weeks if it is as simple as the EU says and does not need a referendum anywhere.

It means that for the likely duration of the current Euro crisis any further bail outs will have to rest on the existing Treaty base. If Germany is right to be worried about possible legal challenge, there will be plenty of opportunity to do so before this comes into effect.

The EU thinks it will take them a further six months to turn the Treaty Clause as amended into a working bail out mechanism, even though it could  be based on the present one.

The EU has also pledged to press home more quickly with the five Regulations and a Directive to strengthen common economic governance.

The question of whether they should immediately enlarge the current arrangements was left over for Finance Ministers at a later meeting. There was no press release to say how they would handle the banking problems or respond to any crisis between now and 2013. That is what some of us want to know. All this looks like too little too late for the Euro area. I just hope the UK has clear language to underwrite our position well outside all these bail outs and problems.

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28 Comments

  1. lifelogic
    Posted December 18, 2010 at 7:27 am | Permalink

    If only we had a proper Tory government who could be relied on to use the current position to negotiate with the EU in the best interests of the UK.

    We have a powerful hand but they clearly do not wish to use it. They would rather ditch all their promised to the electorate and bury the party for another few terms.

    • lifelogic
      Posted December 18, 2010 at 6:26 pm | Permalink

      Philip Hammond transport minister, in view of the governments poor response to the snow and the resultant traffic mess, actually finally admits “We do not control the weather”.

      Perhaps he could tell the rest of the government and we could all be spared the absurd and pointlessly expensive “green” energy policy. If not it will rapidly become as politically popular Keith Joseph’s Pole tax but rather more pointless and expensive per household.

    • Bazman
      Posted December 18, 2010 at 10:14 pm | Permalink

      I am always amused by this phrase of “proper Tory government” Which seems to involve working yourself to death for very little.

  2. FaustiesBlog
    Posted December 18, 2010 at 7:50 am | Permalink

    Irrefutable logic, JR.

    As you allude to in your final paragraph, we have to wonder what the EU is up to.

  3. JimF
    Posted December 18, 2010 at 8:38 am | Permalink

    Should HMG be selling its stakes in our banks now? Can these nasty loans made by RBS & HBOS to PIIGS countries be placed into some scheme outside the present insurance mechanism, which is backed by UK taxpayers? Surely if not, we will be dragged into this mess in any case.

  4. DougS
    Posted December 18, 2010 at 9:13 am | Permalink

    Hello John,

    Do you know if the UK Parliament debated and approved the removal of a large part of the UK’s rebate on EU contributions agreed to by Mr. Blair? In the absence of a debate/vote, could the rebate reduction be considered illegal?

    I ask in the context of the High Court’s decision that immigration numbers may not be capped because there was a lack of parliamentary consultation/approval.

  5. Phil Kean
    Posted December 18, 2010 at 10:08 am | Permalink

    Exactly right, John.

    Cameron and the EU are making ‘insulting intelligence’ into an art form.

    How much longer are we going to stand idly by, as it is almost certain there is no hope of change as long as we are held hostage to the corrupt Federal EU aspirations of the 3 main parties.
    The time has come for democrats to stand up and be counted.
    Surely the formation of a cross party Coalition of National Interest has now become a necessity if we’re to save Britain from catastrophe.

    British voters are desperate to get behind an honest, democratic, non-aligned political movement which has their and Britain’s national interest as its first priority. It is surely our duty to provide them with such a party.
    60 seats is all we need to hold the balance of power at the next election. With the electorate’s current mood of disgust, disillusionment and feeling of betrayal, I reckon this target is easily obtainable.
    .

  6. Mark
    Posted December 18, 2010 at 10:17 am | Permalink

    To use an analogy from quantum cosmology: we have surely passed over the event horizon of the black hole that is the destruction of the Euro. It is now impossible to escape, however hard the Brussels rocket motors thrust. We can still see the light coming in from outside, but those elements nearer the black hole will start accelerating faster into it, tearing away from the greater mass of the Eurozone as they hurtle towards destruction.

  7. Boudicca
    Posted December 18, 2010 at 11:24 am | Permalink

    If the Treaty requires amendment then it is not the same Treaty which was originally entered into.

    If one change can be made then so can others. At the very least, Cameron should be using this opportunity to reclaim powers for the UK . However, we were denied a Referendum on Lisbon and a change in the Treaty is a very good reason to hold one now. If he doesn’t, he is contributing to the treachery carried out by Brown.

    It is high-time the British people had a say in the transfer of sovereignty and money to the EU. This is OUR country and it is OUR money our political elite have been giving away.

  8. Cliff.
    Posted December 18, 2010 at 11:39 am | Permalink

    John,

    Ever since we joined the club in 1972, we have seen a constant drip drip drip of power transfered from our parliament to the unelected EUSSR.
    I fear our current government’s front bench is far too pro-EUSSR, dispite what they say, to do anything that would see us stepping back from this power transfer.
    I listened to the recent EU Bill and listened to a politician I used to have great respect for; Mr Hague, who banged on about how we were exempt and unaffected by this, that and the other in relation to the bill and I too, wondered, if that is all true, why we needed the new legislation in the first place.

    If Cast Iron Dave gave the country the referendum he promised and got his prefered option of a yes to further integration, then I would have to accept it as the will of the majority however, we all know that the vast majority of our nation and other nations within the EUSSR, don’t want further political union and unless or until we get a say on the future of the project, we will continue our resistance to the EUSSR.

    Dave, give the people a vote and settle the arguments once and for all!!

    John, may I wish you and yours a very merry Christmas and a happy 2011.

  9. Eoin Clarke
    Posted December 18, 2010 at 12:32 pm | Permalink

    Germany is the only country in Europe who wants these changes. I have trawled the media outlets and I am confident that there is no other country calling for it. This change AUTOmatically [apologies for caps but it was for emphasis] triggers a referendum in Ireland. Given that the Irish have had their fill of Merkel, I cannot see this passing a referendum.

    So fingers crossed this never gets off first base. The German courts might then declare German actions vis a vis bailouts as unconstitutional, and then maybe we can all have head’s peace. That’s the plan anyway…

    • EJT
      Posted December 18, 2010 at 3:46 pm | Permalink

      Eoin, I thought that the Irish politicians were claiming that it doesn’t ? How does this work ? Thanks.

  10. Gus
    Posted December 18, 2010 at 1:46 pm | Permalink

    Phil Kean,
    How would you go about ensuring such a party could come into fruition? I certainly agree that a new party such as you describe is an imperative for British politics but how would you go about making it a reality?

    • Phil Kean
      Posted December 18, 2010 at 5:39 pm | Permalink

      It can only be formed if a handful of principled Conservative MPs and MEPs make the first move.

      This will embolden Labour democrats and help bring in other like-minded people from UKIP, TPA and others who understand that Sovereignty, democracy and self-determination is vital to Britain’s national interest and future prosperity.

      We need to be talking to business and Union leaders, the media, celebrities and very rich backers.
      Remember, this movement would be to ONLY hold the balance of power at the 2015 election – with just 2 conditions for lending our support.

      1: – That Britain immediately leaves the EU.
      2: – That ALL economic policies and spending plans must be co-agreed with us.
      Other than that we will step back and allow the larger governing party govern in their own style – ONLY – if we deem their administration to be in the national interest.

      This idea is no ego trip. It is a cross party, non aligned movement to re-empower the British people and rescue Britain from certain catastrophe at the hands of the corrupt, Socialist EU bloc.
      All quality and high profile candidates would be welcome to stand in winnable seats.
      This would include Tory, Labour, UKIP, TPA, and Union & business leaders.

      The idea is to win. With the right thinking, some super rich backers, the will to fight as dirty as our EU and 5th column enemies, and media help, the public will get behind us in large numbers.
      We need to unite the fractured anti EU, anti unlimited immigration vote, and bring aboard all those who are disillusioned with the lies and maladministration of the main 3 parties.

      Churchill said, “action this day” – and we should show the same commitment.

      Reply How does this differ from the Referendum party and UKIP who have not helped create a Eurosceptic majority at Westminster.

      • Phil Kean
        Posted December 18, 2010 at 9:49 pm | Permalink

        It is very different from UKIP and Sir James’ Referendum Party.

        This movement would start with sitting MPs. One can’t overstate this value.
        Secondly, it is designed to appeal to voters from right across the political spectrum. All we want is to bring some honesty back into politics, and of equal importance, to give national Sovereignty & self-determination back to the British people.

        History is on our side. We were right at the start, and time has more than proved our case.
        Many years ago a man I deeply respect, Tony Benn, said this about the EU – – – “we must be able to vote our politicians out” – and although I disagree with his politics, you won’t find a truer account of how democracy is supposed to work.
        BTW. I would be hopeful of Tony’s full support.

        We must not forget that the British people now hold politicians in complete contempt.
        If sections of the media & our deceitful opposition want to play their dis-honest, twisting, slippery games leading up to the next election, then they won’t have much to catch us out on. Also, they just have no understanding about what will be thrown back at them. The gloves really will be off.

        Don’t forget that at least three newspapers would give us 100% support.
        .

        • Ken
          Posted December 19, 2010 at 6:43 pm | Permalink

          I agree with your sentiments. There are surely two obstacles, though:

          1. Although a UK ‘Tea Party’ would go some way towards bringing together this fragmented movement (it seems a new ‘nationalist’ political party or movement is being formed every week), the core support is in England + NI Unionists.

          Scotland, Wales appear to be less averse to being satellites of the eu (perhaps I am wrong but that is my impression), although, as in the rest of Europe generally, support for eu membership appears to be on the wane.

          The ‘nationalists’ are also split between those that are for England only and those who are UK-wide. With this fault line I don’t know how they could be reconciled under a rainbow.

          2. The BBC Director General made a speech last week where he said (I quote from the transcript):

          “I think there are some areas – I’ve mentioned immigration, I’ve mentioned business and Europe – where the BBC, I think, historically was rather weak and rather nervous about letting that entire debate happen. I think we’ve made some progress there but I say that plenty where we could make more progress.”

          Source Mark Thompson speech to Institute of Government, Dec 16th 2010

          Please note the words “nervous about letting that entire debate happen”. A new movement could be still-born if it is invisible to the public at large. The BBC ignored the Tea Party for as long as it dared and when it does refer to it, which is seldom, the references are less than complimentary.

          Your three newspapers will not be enough unless the BBC somehow, like the proverbial leopard, can change its spots.

      • Simon
        Posted December 19, 2010 at 10:27 am | Permalink

        Which 3 newspapers are those and who are they owned by ?

        Even if they really are on our side they can’t compete with Pravda .

        If the 3 major parties are left intact then the system which created the current scenario will cause it to happen again . In short leaving them intact will be a matter of treating the symptoms rather than the cause .

        I am at a loss to suggest an alternative course of action though .

        • Phil Kean
          Posted December 19, 2010 at 11:52 am | Permalink

          I was a bit hasty. I reckon 4 papers would give us 100% support

          And I’m sure you can guess which ones.

          OK. It is ESSENTIAL that the 3 main parties remain in tact. It is this way that we can exert maximum influence as the holders of the balance of power.
          Also, we need them to remain as players so we can play back the video clips from years of deceit, lies, incompetence and mistakes.

          Now, I DO realise that there is one main problem with the idea.

          What if Labour and the Tories co-operate to form an anti Sovereignty alliance – effectively joining forces to push through the Treaties and legislation which will complete the Federal EU project?

          Well, in such a case we bring Parliament to a standstill. You see, unlike us, these parties are self-serving, which means they each have wildly divergent political policy aspirations – ones which it would be impossible for them to co-operate on.
          This is when we effectively say to them that, if they refuse to extricate Britain from the corrupt EU, our 60 + MPs will block all legislative operations until Sovereignty and democracy is returned to the British people.

          Yes, they could force another election. But I confidently predict that we’d be able to use their deceit & treachery against them and increase our voting share.

          Seriously. There will NEVER again be such an advantageous set of circumstances in our favour to bring about a movement that can hold the balance of power in 2015.

          The time is now, before the AV vote.
          .

  11. English Pensioner
    Posted December 18, 2010 at 4:11 pm | Permalink

    But no-one (except the UK) takes any notice of the treaty. It was agreed that countries wouldn’t run up deficits, and they’ve done just that. If the Euro’s in a mess, that’s surely their fault, not ours.

  12. Johnny Zero
    Posted December 18, 2010 at 4:22 pm | Permalink

    I can see UKIP, or a bunch of enlightened people, with a little cash taking the UK Government to Court, for some of the recent “Bank Bail Out Actions and Loans” made to dubious Lenders, such as Ireland. If these decisions are not debated or made in our Parliament, where our Elected Representatives sit, then our only recourse is the British Courts. We have a run away Autocracy making huge financial decisions, in our name, with no mandate or debate. That seems close to Fascism to me, or Elected Autocracy, never a Democracy. The Government knows full well, that they would never get these measures through the House of Commons very easily without major rancour, so they simply ignore them.

    John ,when are you Back Benchers going to put down a Motion to debate fully all these massive foreign loans, made to “Sovereign so called Countries” without guarrantees?

    Our UK Fiscal Credit Rating is being put at serious risk. MP’s need to act on this and quickly, before we are dragged further into the Euro Quagmire.

    Reply: We debated them on Wednesday and 27 of us backed a moderate amendment to give Parliament more power in these matters – we lost again by 60 because Labour and Nationalists did not turn up in sufficient numbers.

  13. Jamess
    Posted December 18, 2010 at 4:42 pm | Permalink

    If Cameron doesn’t show a bit more back bone in the current negotiations watch the wheels fall off the Conservative party. What activists are going to work hard for them at election time? Might as well go down the pub and enjoy oneself whilst it’s still possible.

    Many put up with Cameron’s conservatives since it was the most Euro-sceptic of the three parties. If we discover no significant difference from Labour, why bother voting, the outcome is still the same.

  14. alan jutson
    Posted December 18, 2010 at 5:14 pm | Permalink

    John

    If no change is needed to existing Treaties for the action they require, then why bother to amend it, and spend two years doing so !

    Guarantee the eventual amended Treaty, will have more clauses in it than we expect. LOOK AT THE SMALL PRINT when it comes up for debate, if it ever does.

    This constant devolvement of power to Europe has to end, and end soon.

  15. Anoneumouse
    Posted December 18, 2010 at 11:57 pm | Permalink

    It’s simple Mr Redwood, the leader of the political party which forms the majority partner in Government; is a liar and a fraud.

    And oh how he will claim the benifits of the provision 6.3b within the HRA when the tumbrels role.

  16. Denis Cooper
    Posted December 19, 2010 at 12:33 am | Permalink

    The Final Conclusions of the EU Summit are here:

    http://www.consilium.europa.eu/uedocs/cms_data/docs/pressdata/en/ec/118578.pdf

    and it is said on page 1:

    “As this mechanism is designed to safeguard the financial stability of the euro area as whole, the European Council agreed that Article 122(2) TFEU will no longer be needed for such purposes. Heads of State or Government therefore agreed that it should not be used for such purposes.”

    That is reiterated in the preamble to the draft Decision on page 5.

    Of course Article 122(2) should never have been used to justify financial bail-outs in the first place, and one may wonder why there is no proposal to amend it to make that absolutely clear for the future.

    As I understand it would still be open to the European Council to take a new Decision to once again invoke the unamended Article 122(2) if circumstances arose which seemed to make that necessary, for example if it was difficult to argue convincingly that a financial bail-out of an EU member state was “indispensable to safeguard the stability of the euro area as a whole” as stipulated by the proposed amendment to Article 136.

    As we know, any new Decision to invoke Article 122(2) at some time in the future would be taken by qualified majority voting, so there would be no way that UK ministers could veto any attempt to involve the UK.

    Moreover the amendment to Article 136 does not preclude the involvement of non-euro countries in the stability mechanism to be established by the euro countries, and indeed on page 2 it is stated:

    “Member States whose currency is not the euro will, if they so wish, be involved in this work. They may decide to participate in operations conducted by the mechanism on an ad hoc basis.”

  17. Denis Cooper
    Posted December 19, 2010 at 12:48 am | Permalink

    JR, please could you explain why the Commencement clause of the European Union Bill would apparently empower Hague to indefinitely delay the coming into force of the “referendum lock”?

    http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201011/cmbills/106/11106.12-17.html#j202

    “21 Commencement

    (1) The following provisions come into force on the day on which this Act is passed —

    (a) section 15;

    (b) this Part.

    (2) The other provisions of this Act come into force on such day as the Secretary of State may by order made by statutory instrument appoint.

    (3) Different days may be appointed for different purposes.”

    All of the “referendum lock” provisions are included in (2) and (3); of the provisions which would come into force immediately Section 15 is about approving the protocol to allow three surplus German MEPs to keep their seats legally rather than illegally as at present; while “this Part” is Part 3, including Section 18 on the status of EU law.

    Reply: This point has been raised and I seem to remember the government now says it will bring it in quickly. As the government still decides whether something qualifies for a referendum it’s not that exciting.

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted December 19, 2010 at 7:58 pm | Permalink

      Yes, but it’s not just the trigger for a referendum which won’t come into force until Hague makes the appropriate order, it’s everything in Part I.

  18. Lindsay McDougall
    Posted December 19, 2010 at 2:06 am | Permalink

    Since the UK is not in the Euro zone, it can not be forced into bailing out Euro zone member states. If any Treaty amendment implies the contrary, we should simply veto it. If we can’t veto it, we should repeal the Lisbon Treaty and date the repeal retrospectively.

    The leading continental powers are hell bent on creating a European federal state. Just think of all the powers, institutions and practical measures that are already in place. If it walks like a duck and quacks, it’s a duck. Complete failure of the Euro would do a lot to remove this menance. It could happen. Germany and the other ‘strong’ Euro zone economies can not bail out every Member State in trouble.

  19. Steve Tierney
    Posted December 23, 2010 at 7:51 pm | Permalink

    Better Off Out. ‘Nuff said.

  • About John Redwood


    John Redwood won a free place at Kent College, Canterbury, and graduated from Magdalen College Oxford. He is a Distinguished fellow of All Souls, Oxford. A businessman by background, he has set up an investment management business, was both executive and non executive chairman of a quoted industrial PLC, and chaired a manufacturing company with factories in Birmingham, Chicago, India and China. He is the MP for Wokingham, first elected in 1987.

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