Lazarus-like, the EU Constitution has (courtesy of the departing Tony Blair, amongst others) come back from the grave. And it still stinks. Gordon Brown is arguing that no referendum is necessary in Britain (other governments in other EU countries are saying pretty much the same thing) because the new treaty will not involve any transfer of power. That’s nonsense for any number of reasons, and one of them has been identified by the Tories’ EU spokesman. As the Daily Telegraph reports: he “said he had identified an “unprecedented” obligation in the new treaty which states that: “National parliaments shall contribute actively to the good functioning of the Union.” The EU Referendum blog, as so often, is on the case:
The reference here is the Annex I, Title II of the European Council “mandate” (page 27), laughably entitled. “Provisions on democratic principles”, which proposes the insertion of a new article into the treaties “on the role of national parliaments in the Union”. And indeed, the proposed Article does state that, “National parliaments shall contribute actively to the good functioning of the Union”. There are then stated six “obligations”, including the final one, national parliaments are instructed to take part “in the interparliamentary cooperation between national parliaments and with the European Parliament, in accordance with the Protocol on the role of national parliaments in the European Union.” The issue here, of course, is that our Parliaments is sovereign in its own House, responsible only to the people and accountable through elections. It, and it alone decides on its procedures and is subordinate to no one. Yet here is a treaty article which challenges that very principle, instructing the Parliament on what it should do. This, by any measure, is a clear breach of national sovereignty and, if accepted, fundamentally changes the relationship between Parliament and the EU. It effectively acknowledges the Union as the supreme authority and relegates this and the other parliaments of the member states to a subordinate status.
If that doesn’t justify a referendum, it’s difficult to see what does.