Mr Davey I hope that I am not out of order in totally agreeing with the hon

Mr davey i hope that i am not out of order in totally

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Mr. Davey: I hope that I am not out of order in totally agreeing with the hon. Gentleman. What about the other criticisms of Europe? Are they dealt with by the Lisbon treaty? Let us look at the 1997 Conservative manifesto. It complained that Europe was doing too much and pledged to incorporate
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“the principle of subsidiarity into the Treaty.” That meant the treaty of Amsterdam. That treaty put the principle of subsidiarity into a protocol, but the treaty of Lisbon puts it into the text of the treaties. However, we have heard nothing about that from the Conservatives. For many years, my party and I have had a complaint about the EU on the common agricultural policy. There have been times when pro-Europeans such as me have despaired of the EU with respect to the CAP, but it is worth saying that the CAP of 2008 is far less damaging than the CAP of any previous period in the history of the European Community and the EU. Let us be clear that more reform is needed, but the process has been going in the right direction. I welcome the Lisbon treaty, because it provides a new dynamic for CAP reform, namely greater democratic accountability and scrutiny, and increases the powers of the European Parliament in its relations with the Council of Ministers over law- making and budget setting. Many more areas of legislation and budget setting will now use the co-decision process, including CAP. For Liberal Democrats such as me who have complained about CAP and, indeed, about Europe’s democratic deficit for many years, the Lisbon treaty addresses that point with real reforms. Interestingly, Conservative Front Benchers are against extra democracy going to the European Parliament. How very telling! 11 Mar 2008 : Column 186 Let us take another past problem of the European Union—the fact that the Council of Ministers has always met in secret. Liberal Democrats have led the calls for that to be reformed, and the Lisbon treaty marks a big step forward on that, too. For the first time, the Council will meet in public when a new law is debated and approved. Of course, more should be done to tackle secrecy in this House, in Westminster, in Whitehall and in Brussels, but that is a real victory in the Lisbon treaty, and it should be noted. There are many examples of similar improvements by which the anti-European foxes have been shot by the reforms—I would say that they are being massacred by them. Perhaps that explains why the British Conservatives have turned their backs on 26 other Conservative parties across Europe and taken up with the Dutch Party for the Animals. Mr. Heathcoat-Amory: The hon. Gentleman says that the European Parliament is the democratic lever for Europe, and the European Parliament has got more powers in each successive treaty change. How, therefore, does he explain that in every single European Parliament election since 1979, the average turnout throughout Europe has fallen?
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  • Fall '08
  • Finklerberg

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