out the treaty was acceptable to the French Government who took two daysone and

Out the treaty was acceptable to the french

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out, the treaty was acceptable to the French Government, who took two days—one and a half days in the Chamber of Deputies and half a day in the Senate—to get it through, but I did not see an uprising in the streets of France. I am sure that the French
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referendum had as much to do with the disquiet and the problems in the streets and arrondissements of Paris as it had to do with the constitution itself. I would like to suggest that people should take the trouble of reading our Committee’s reports. They have been quoted bit by bit, piece by piece—but not line by line in the sense of every line, just the line that people like. We expressed our concerns on many issues in our reports. I am not claiming that this is a perfect deal for the UK. It amounts to a hard-won alteration to the conditions that we will have to apply when the Lisbon treaty comes into force, but we have to accept that that is what negotiations are about. How the negotiation took place is a mystery, and we said that. We said that the process “could not have been better designed to marginalise the role of national parliaments and to curtail public debate, until it has become too late for such a debate to have any effect on the agreements which they have reached.” That was in our 3rd report of Session 2007-08, paragraph 8, page 5. It is true. It was a mysterious process, but it did come up with a number of important decisions that safeguarded the UK and, indeed, other countries, on common security and foreign policy, on defence, on tax, on social security and so forth. We were leading that argument, by whatever means it was going on. In the final intergovernmental conference, we obviously came out with something different and better than what had been proposed before in the treaty for a constitution. We had some doubts about it and we put them on the record. Let me refer to the paragraphs in our reports. I will not read them out, as we do not have enough time, but I will mention the paragraphs where we expressed a doubt— paragraph 6 on page 7; paragraph 21, page 8; paragraph 24, page 8 and paragraph 25, page 9. We went on to express further doubt about other elements of the same treaty. That will not surprise the Minister, who has heard all those doubts argued. In paragraph 60, we said: “We were less concerned by the provision relating to measures which build on the so-called Schengen aquis.” On that, we added that “the UK needed to establish an ‘absolute right’ to choose whether to participate in Schengen building measures.” It did, in protocol 10 to article 10, which gave us an opt-in or opt-out decision every time that an advance along the Schengen lines is proposed, which obviously concerns the right hon. Member for Hitchin and Harpenden (Mr. Lilley). We expressed further concerns in paragraph 64 on page 18 and paragraph 67 on page 19 and we drew our conclusions on page 20. In paragraph 72, we stated: “We remain concerned that the provisions on the role of national parliaments are still cast in terms in which a legal obligation can be inferred”.
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  • Fall '08
  • Finklerberg

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