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UK will not accept EU treaty that alters UK law: Blair

[JURIST] UK Prime Minister Tony Blair [official profile] said Monday that there were four elements he would not accept in any EU treaty. In remarks [transcript] made to the House of Commons Liaison Committee [official website], Blair acknowledged that it was an important that the EU "work more effectively" as an organization, but said that it doesn't need a real or de facto constitutional treaty [JURIST news archive]. Blair said:

Europe needs to work more effectively. What it does not need is a Constitutional Treaty or a treaty with the characteristics of a constitution, to put it in the words that the Dutch have used. In my view, we should be very clear about this - and it gives me an opportunity today to make this absolutely clear - here and also to our European colleagues. First, we will not accept a treaty that allows the Charter of Fundamental Rights to change UK law in any way. Secondly, we will not agree to something which displaces the role of British foreign policy and our foreign minister. Thirdly, we will not agree to give up our ability to control our common law and judicial and police system. Fourthly, we will not agree to anything that moves to Qualified Majority Voting, something that can have a big say in our own tax and benefit system, we must have the right in those circumstances to determine it by unanimity. Now, those are four major changes, obviously, in what was agreed before, and that is the position we will set out and if people want an agreement, I am afraid we are going to have to agree on that.
Blair's comments precede an EU summit in Brussels to be held later this week and represent the latest possible point of disagreement among European Union members.

Polish Prime Minister Jaroslaw Kaczynski said last week that Poland will not agree to any proposed treaty [JURIST report] unless negotiations on the EU's voting system remain open. On Friday, Kaczynski expressed optimism [JURIST report] following a meeting with French President Nicolas Sarkozy, but Polish officials saw little chance of a breakthrough with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who remains doubtful [JURIST report] about what can actually be accomplished at the Brussels summit. Blair and Sarkozy have agreed that the controversial European constitution should be reconstituted into a "simplified treaty" [JURIST report] whose ratification would not require the support of the voters of the individual countries, but that proposal has received opposition by Italy [JURIST report]. In 2005, voters in France and the Netherlands [JURIST reports] rejected the original draft constitution in national referenda, effectively derailing the ratification process and throwing the constitution into legal limbo. The UK Press Association has more.

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