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And another thing

Posted by Helen Wednesday, August 04, 2004

My colleague has already reported on the apparent call for a "strengthened system of press regulation" issued by the Director of that perestroika europhile think-tank, the Centre for European Reform. [see Does he really mean what I think he means?] But it might be worth having a look at what else Charles Grant says in his latest opinion piece on the CER website.

In he past, Charles Grant's ideas, apparently produced as intellectual musings, had a habit of reappearing with remarkable speed as official suggestions and even government policies. It was Mr Grant who first started pushing the notion in Britain, of a common defence policy, which preceded the St Malo agreement by just a few weeks. Of course, all he was doing is reproducing a long-standing French political aim, but Mr Blair did not have to know that.

So it is particularly odd that he should take issue with Edward Heathcoat-Amory, who committed the ultimate sin in Mr Grant's eyes of suggesting in an article in the Daily Mail that once the Constitution is through Britain will have to give up her permanent seat on the UN Security Council.

The Constitution quite clearly establishes a common EU foreign policy – something Mr Grant and his colleagues at the CER have been advocating for some time – and a single spokesman for that policy, an EU foreign minister, in fact. Presumably, that will mean that this single foreign minister, or his staff, will negotiate on behalf of the whole European Union. What else is a common foreign policy?

Once that has been put into place, what precisely will be the point of member states having individual seats on international organizations, including the UN Security Council? As there is only one policy, so there will be only one spokesperson and only one seat. QED Mr Grant.

Then there is Melanie Phillips, who says quite reprehensibly, that the "overt purpose" of the European Court of Justice is to bring about a superstate. One can quite imagine Mr Grant thinking that in a well-organized society a "lie" of that kind would be severely punished.

Let us not get too excited about the word "superstate". The EU is big enough and the averred purpose of numerous politicians is to be the alternative centre of power to the United States. Whether that makes it a superstate can be debated. However, it is a single state in the making.

The Consolidated Treaty on European Union, aka the Treaty of Nice says in Section 4, Article 220:

The Court of Justice and the Court of First Instance, each within its jurisdiction shall ensure that in the interpretation and application of the Treaty the law is observed.
Now, the law, in this case, is surely the interpretation of the treaty, whose aim is European unification that is the creation of the European Union. What is Mr Grant’s problem with Ms Phillips’s comment? The ECJ's openly avowed purpose is to further integration as it has done in all its decisions so far.

Then there is - shock horror - Irwin Stelzer's assertion that if the Constitution is passed Britain will have to give up the pound with or without a referendum. Mr Stelzer is, incidentally, a highly regarded American journalist. Whether there is a referendum or not, will be irrelevant, once the Constitution is passed in its amended form. It seems Mr Grant has temporarily forgotten the new Article I-11(3), which states:

The Member States shall coordinate their economic and employment policies whithin arrangements as determined by Part III, which the Union shall have competence to provide.
Intensive research on the part of various people has shown that this means, in effect, that economic decisions will be taken either by consensus (wot dat?) or qualified majority voting. We are still waiting for a proper response from the Government that would explain the Article and its implications in full. Meanwhile, we may accept that this will mean saying good-bye to the currency, should the Union decide that way.

All of which indicates that Charles Grant's piece is somewhat tendentious, not to say inaccurate in his analysis of other writers' opinions and the implications of the EU Constitution. Luckily, we are a more tolerant bunch on this side of the barricades and we do not find it at all shocking that people are allowed to "report tendentiously on, or even lie about, the EU".