Thursday, April 14

Blair and the EU Constitution

Blair pledges full support for EU Constitution 13.04.2005 - 18:24 CET By Lucia Kubosova


The British Labour party's manifesto has promised a "wholehearted" campaign in favour of the EU Constitution, with media suggesting that all members of a future Labour government must support the new treaty in the run up to the referendum.

Labour unveiled its key election document on Wednesday (13 April), days ahead of the poll scheduled for 5 May.The manifesto hails the benefits of Britain's EU membership, while pointing out that the UK has moved from, "marginal players, often ignored, to leaders in the European Union", as a result of the Labour government´s policies since 1997.

The document argues the new constitution, "sets out what the EU can do and what it cannot," and it is therefore, "a good treaty for Britain and for the new Europe."

"We will put it to the British people in a referendum and campaign whole-heartedly for a 'Yes' vote to keep Britain a leading nation in Europe," the manifesto states.Muzzled ministersSome UK media have suggested there is disagreement within the party on whether or not all ministers would still be bound to support the constitution after the general elections. Under the proposal, even lower ranking ministers would risk being sacked if they express the wrong view during the pre-referendum campaign.Some Labour figures have criticised the move, referring to the 1975 referendum reaffirming Britain's EU membership under Labour Prime Minister Harold Wilson, who allowed ministers to vote freely.Mr Gary Titley (PSE), the leader of British Labour party MEPs remarked, "there is nothing wrong with the proposal, as the constitution will first have to get through parliament, so those who oppose it can express their opinion there".

"However, once it gets approved and put to people in a referendum, the government should fully stand by it, as is common in other countries," he told EUobserver.

Mr Titley added that Labour's EU policy would not change if the party won a third consecutive victory."We would remain involved with Europe, trying hard to make it work better and more effectively," he indicated.Yes, but - to the Euro, as usualThe Labour manifesto also states its government would, "bring closer EU membership for Turkey, the Balkans and Eastern Europe", and work to build stronger EU defence capabilities in harmony with NATO.Concerning the euro, Labour suggested it would keep its, "common-sense policy", referring to the five economic tests that must be met before any decision to join can be made. Should the tests be met, the Government would put it to a vote in parliament and hold a national referendum.

No comments: