date: Tue, 20 Apr 2004 17:02:39 +0100
from: "Tony Blair" <tony.blairatXYZxyzly-new.labour.org.uk>
subject: Winning the argument on Europe
to: "firstname.lastname@example.org" <m.hulmeatXYZxyz.ac.uk>
It is time to resolve, once and for all, whether Britain wants to be at the centre and
heart of European decision-making or not. That is why this afternoon I told the House of
Commons that the Labour Government would give the British people the final say on the
European Constitutional Treaty.
There are plenty of myths about Europe. Let me give you some facts. On 1 May the EU will
enlarge from 15 to 25 members. It will be the biggest ever increase in Europe's size. It
will reunify Europe after the travails of Communist dictatorship in Eastern and Central
Europe. It is an historic event, one this British Government and the one before us have
championed. Whatever the problems it poses, and we see that in the anxiety over prospective
immigration, let us be in no doubt: the prospect of EU membership, together with the
courage of the Governments concerned, is the primary reason why those countries have been
able to reform their economies and politics so radically and so beneficially. Such change
has been in the interests of all of Europe. Enlargement is right for Europe and for Britain
and we should support it.
Within the space of a few years Europe will be transformed. It will be easily the strongest
political union and greatest economic market in the world. Britain should be at the heart
of it. That is its right and its destiny.
Because of enlargement, Europe is sensibly seeking to change the way it works. In a Europe
of 25 or 27 or 28, a rotating 6-month Presidency makes no sense; the use of the veto should
be confined to the areas where it is truly necessary, otherwise decision-making becomes
paralysed, and in certain areas, terrorism, security, economic reform, the environment,
Europe must do more and do it better.
Britain will co-operate fully in helping Europe work better; but work better as a Europe of
sovereign nation states. There are certain key areas where maintenance of full control of
our affairs is essential. In those areas like taxation, foreign policy, defence, pensions,
how the essentials of our common law, criminal justice system work, Treaty change, we
believe the national veto must remain. We will insist on the necessary amendments to the
present draft Treaty to ensure that they do. Likewise we will insist that the right to
control on our borders, secured by this Government, at Amsterdam in 1997 will remain. On
this basis the Treaty does not and will not alter the fundamental nature of the
relationship between Member States and the EU.
If the new Treaty contains these essentials, we believe it will be in Britain's interest to
sign it. Once agreed, let Parliament debate it. Then let the people have the final say.
I am attaching a full copy of the statement to the House of Commons I made this afternoon.
I am also including the statement I made yesterday on my recent visit to the United States
of America. My discussions with Kofi Annan, Secretary General of the United Nations, and
President Bush covered Iraq, Cyprus and Israel/Palestine. I believe passionately that all
these issues need to be seen in their wider context, for they are all linked. We are firm
in response to terrorism and WMD. But we must also be firm in tackling the breeding grounds
of terrorism. That means broadening out the international agenda and confronting the issues
upon which the terrorists pray: poverty, conflict, religious and ethnic strife.
That is why I have welcomed the Israeli proposal to withdraw from Gaza and parts of the
West Bank. The Road Map remains the best way to peace, and disengagement from occupied
territory can be an opportunity to return to it. Disengagement is not the final step, but
an important first step on the road to a final settlement. There was criticism that last
week's announcements prejudged the issues of Palestine's final status. It should not and
does not. It is a statement of fact that those final status negotiations, when they come,
cannot ignore the reality on the ground, but all issues are to be decided in that
negotiation. Israeli withdrawal also provides a chance for full engagement by the
international community. We should seize this opportunity to help the Palestinian Authority
take the necessary economic, political and security measures so that a viable Palestinian
state becomes not just a concept but a real possibility.
I hope you find both statements helpful in arguing Labour's case locally. There has been an
unrelenting but, I have to accept, partially at least, successful campaign to persuade
Britain that Europe is a conspiracy aimed at us rather than a partnership designed for us
and others to pursue our national interest properly in a modern, interdependent world. It
is right to confront this campaign head-on.
It is time to resolve once and for all whether this country wants to be at the centre and
heart of European decision-making or not; time to decide whether our destiny lies as a
leading partner and ally of Europe or on its margins. Let the Eurosceptics whose true
agenda we will expose, make their case. Let those of us who believe in Britain in Europe
not because we believe in Europe alone but because, above all we believe in Britain, make
ours. Let the issue be put. Let the battle be joined.
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Promoted by Matt Carter, General Secretary, the Labour Party, on behalf of the Labour
Party, both at 16 Old Queen Street, London SW1H 9HP
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