David Cameron in EU treaty legal warning

 

David Cameron tonight denied that he had been forced to back down over his high-profile European treaty veto.

The Prime Minister was derided by Labour after it emerged that key EU institutions could be used to enforce the new fiscal pact.

But he insisted the arrangements between 25 member states would not damage Britain's national interest - and the Government could take legal action if it did.

The UK blocked a full treaty of all 27 countries setting rules for eurozone fiscal discipline at the December summit of the European Council.

The Czech Republic has joined Britain in saying it would not sign up to the deal, expected to be finalised in March.

As he reported back to the Commons on the outcome of the latest summit, the premier faced mockery from Ed Miliband.

Mr Cameron had originally promised that EU institutions such as the European Commission and European Court of Justice would not be allowed to support the new agreement, the Labour leader said.

"With this Prime Minister, a veto is not for life, it's just for Christmas," he joked.

"He said it was a real veto on the use of EU institutions and his backbenchers believed him, even his Cabinet believed him.

"On the European court, on the Commission, on the buildings, the phantom veto of December is now exposed."

Mr Miliband also rejected Mr Cameron's claims that there was no new European treaty because he had vetoed it.

"It talks like a European treaty, it walks like a European treaty, it is a European treaty," he said.

"And for Britain he has secured absolutely no protections at all."

However, Mr Cameron said some use of the institutions by the group of 25 was already permitted by existing EU treaties.

"I made clear we will watch this closely and if necessary we will take action, including legal action, if our national interests are threatened by misuse of the institutions," he said.

"The new agreement sets out roles for the European Commission and the European Court of Justice.

"While some of those roles are already permitted through existing treaties, there are legal questions about what is planned.

"It is in Britain's interest that the eurozone sorts out its problems and it is also in our interest that the new agreement outside the European Union is restricted to issues of fiscal union and does not encroach on the single market.

"The new inter-governmental agreement is absolutely explicit and clear that it can't encroach on the competencies of the EU and they must not take measures that in any way undermine the EU single market.

"Nevertheless, I made clear we will watch this closely and if necessary we will take action, including legal action, if our national interests are threatened by misuse of the institutions.

"The principle that the EU institutions should only act on the explicit authorisation of all member states remains."

Mr Cameron added: "This is a treaty outside the EU. We are not signing it, we are not ratifying it, we are not part of it, and it places no obligations on the United Kingdom.

"It doesn't have the force of EU law for us, nor does it have the force of EU law for the EU institutions, nor does it have the force of EU law for the countries who sign it.

"There will be no inner group of EU countries distorting the single market from inside the EU treaty. That is the fundamental protection we secured with our veto in December and that protection remains."

PA

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

MBDA UK Ltd: Mission Planning and Control Solutions Systems Engineer

Competitive salary & benefits: MBDA UK Ltd: What’s the opportunity? A pro-act...

MBDA UK Ltd: System Design Capability

Competitive salary & benefits: MBDA UK Ltd: What’s the opportunity? The small...

Recruitment Genius: Time Served Fabricator / Welders - Immediate Start

£25000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Fabricator welder required for ...

Recruitment Genius: Inbound Customer Service Advisors

£14564 - £15311 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Inbound Customer Service Adviso...

Day In a Page

Sepp Blatter resignation: The beginning of Fifa's long road to reform?

Does Blatter's departure mean Fifa will automatically clean up its act?

Don't bet on it, says Tom Peck
Charles Kennedy: The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

Charles Kennedy was consistently a man of the centre-left, dedicated to social justice, but was also a champion of liberty and an opponent of the nanny-state, says Baroness Williams
Syria civil war: The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of this endless conflict

The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of Syria's endless civil war

Sahar Qanbar lost her mother and brother as civilians and government soldiers fought side by side after being surrounded by brutal Islamist fighters. Robert Fisk visited her
The future of songwriting: How streaming is changing everything we know about making music

The future of songwriting

How streaming is changing everything we know about making music
William Shemin and Henry Johnson: Jewish and black soldiers receive World War I Medal of Honor amid claims of discrimination

Recognition at long last

Jewish and black soldiers who fought in WWI finally receive medals after claims of discrimination
Beating obesity: The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters

Beating obesity

The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters
9 best women's festival waterproofs

Ready for rain: 9 best women's festival waterproofs

These are the macs to keep your denim dry and your hair frizz-free(ish)
Cycling World Hour Record: Nervous Sir Bradley Wiggins ready for pain as he prepares to go distance

Wiggins worried

Nervous Sir Bradley ready for pain as he prepares to attempt cycling's World Hour Record
Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

On your feet!

Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

The big NHS question

Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?
Big knickers are back: Thongs ain't what they used to be

Thongs ain't what they used to be

Big knickers are back
Thurston Moore interview

Thurston Moore interview

On living in London, Sonic Youth and musical memoirs
In full bloom

In full bloom

Floral print womenswear
From leading man to Elephant Man, Bradley Cooper is terrific

From leading man to Elephant Man

Bradley Cooper is terrific