Only Way to Have a Voice in World

Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales), June 19, 2004 | Go to article overview
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Only Way to Have a Voice in World

Byline: By ELUNED MORGAN Western Mail

Recently re-elected MEP Eluned Morgan explains why she thinks we should support the new EU constitution A LOT of criticism was attached to the statement that the European Constitutional Treaty represented something of a 'tidying up exercise', but in many ways that description is spot on.

The European Union has several rule books which are, quite frankly, a bit of a mess. These rule books are a set of overlapping Treaties signed by the UK Government over the last 30 years, so it makes sense to unify the rules in a single document.

The most radical of these rule books, which rightly gave away our right of veto on issues to do with the single market so as to make EU trade easier - was signed by Margaret Thatcher.

The argument that only countries have constitutions and that we are effectively signing up to a 'country called Europe' was used by the 'no' campaign 30 years ago, and it had as much validity then as it does now - none.

Clubs of all kinds have constitutions, we are in a European club, and we should have a European constitution.

With UKIP gaining significant numbers of votes, it is clear for all to see that the Conservatives have reaped the whirlwind they created.

The Tories claimed the EU constitution would mean the Queen would be replaced as our head of state. It simply isn't true. The EU has no power over the structure of any member state's system of government. But the new constitution will allow Parliaments and regional bodies like the National Assembly to assess and influence EU legislation prior to its adoption.

Trial by jury is not under threat either. The constitution makes it clear that any proposal regarding legal systems takes into account the 'fundamental principles' of each country's own legal system.

Likewise, we will not lose control of our borders or our immigration policy. It is still up to the UK government who can come into the country.

However, we will obviously work with our European partners where it makes sense to do so - asylum and immigration are by their very nature international issues, requiring international co-operation.

Those who want to see us out of the EU argue that countries like Norway and Switzerland do OK outside the club. They do OK, but at what price?

To maintain their trading links with EU members, both Switzerland and Norway have to sign up to laws and regulations which their politicians will never get a say on. In Norway they call it 'fax democracy' - because their new laws arrive by fax from Brussels. How's that for sovereignty?

To have an argument about sovereignty now simply misses the point - we had that argument in 1973 and again in 1992. For the European Union to work at all, it is essential that we pool sovereignty on key issues on which we agree.

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Only Way to Have a Voice in World


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