Blair think-tank calls for EU referendum revolution

BLAIRITE PRO-EUROPEANS will tomorrow launch a radical agenda for European reform, including the right for the continent's citizens to trigger EU-wide referendums on key issues like the use of genetically modified foods.

The document, produced by the government's favourite foreign policy think- tank, will also call for a drastic re-structuring of the European Commission and a new network of European deputy prime ministers.

The report, to be published tomorrow, is being seen as part of a pro- European fight-back, and comes from the Foreign Policy Centre, whose patron is Tony Blair. Peter Mandelson, perhaps Mr Blair's most influential political ally on Europe, will launch the document at a seminar on Friday, and its suggestions are already being taken seriously in Whitehall.

The report is being seen as an attempt to lay down a New Labour marker for a new round of institutional change on which the Europe is about embark ahead of its enlargement to the east.

Reform of Europe's structures has already become a hot issue of debate and the incoming European Commission president, Romano Prodi, has set up a three-member task force, including the former minister Lord Simon, to try to produce wider and more radical proposals than those on the table.

Following the low turnout in June's European elections, politicians across the EU have also been focusing on ways of re-engaging the interest of voters.

"Network Europe: the new Case for Europe", written by Mark Leonard, director of the Foreign Policy Centre, spells out an agenda designed to make Europe more democratic and accountable - but not through the European Parliament.

The document's answer is to strengthen both direct democracy, and the Council of Ministers - the forum in which member states meet and take decisions - while reforming the European Commission, the bureaucratic engine of the EU.

Citizens would be given the right to trigger referendums if they can produce a sufficient number of signatures in a specific number of of the 15 member states. The report envisages that the power would be used, for example, on issues such as food safety and bans on genetically modified organisms.

Other suggestions include a plan for the 15 deputy prime ministers of the members to meet on a monthly basis to co-ordinate policy, and for other ministers with overlapping responsibilities (such as agriculture and environment) to co-operate.

The document also calls for drastic surgery to the European Commission, and changes to the presidency of the EU, which is at present held by each of the member states on six-month rotation. Instead it suggests that three nations should hold a joint two-year presidency, with each nation responsible for specific areas of EU activity.

The report would like to replace more than 20 European directorates, which are responsible in the Commission for policy, with just four new departments.

PRODI VICTORY, PAGE 20

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Clinical Lead / RGN

£40000 - £42000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: IT Sales Consultant

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This IT support company has a n...

Recruitment Genius: Works Engineer

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A works engineer is required in a progressive ...

Recruitment Genius: Trainee Hire Manager - Tool Hire

£21000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Our client is seeking someone w...

Day In a Page

Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
10 best PS4 games

10 best PS4 games

Can’t wait for the new round of blockbusters due out this autumn? We played through last year’s offering
Migrant crisis: UN official Philippe Douste-Blazy reveals the harrowing sights he encountered among refugees arriving on Lampedusa

‘Can we really just turn away?’

Dead bodies, men drowning, women miscarrying – a senior UN figure on the horrors he has witnessed among migrants arriving on Lampedusa, and urges politicians not to underestimate our caring nature
Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger as Isis ravages centuries of history

Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger...

... and not just because of Isis vandalism
Girl on a Plane: An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack

Girl on a Plane

An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack
Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

The author of 'The Day of the Jackal' has revealed he spied for MI6 while a foreign correspondent
Markus Persson: If being that rich is so bad, why not just give it all away?

That's a bit rich

The billionaire inventor of computer game Minecraft says he is bored, lonely and isolated by his vast wealth. If it’s that bad, says Simon Kelner, why not just give it all away?
Euro 2016: Chris Coleman on course to end half a century of hurt for Wales

Coleman on course to end half a century of hurt for Wales

Wales last qualified for major tournament in 1958 but after several near misses the current crop can book place at Euro 2016 and end all the indifference
Rugby World Cup 2015: The tournament's forgotten XV

Forgotten XV of the rugby World Cup

Now the squads are out, Chris Hewett picks a side of stars who missed the cut
A groundbreaking study of 'Britain's Atlantis' long buried at the bottom of the North Sea could revolutionise how we see our prehistoric past

Britain's Atlantis

Scientific study beneath North Sea could revolutionise how we see the past
The Queen has 'done and said nothing that anybody will remember,' says Starkey

The Queen has 'done and said nothing that anybody will remember'

David Starkey's assessment
Oliver Sacks said his life has been 'an enormous privilege and adventure'

'An enormous privilege and adventure'

Oliver Sacks writing about his life
'Gibraltar is British, and it is going to stay British forever'

'Gibraltar is British, and it is going to stay British forever'

The Rock's Chief Minister hits back at Spanish government's 'lies'
Britain is still addicted to 'dirty coal'

Britain still addicted to 'dirty' coal

Biggest energy suppliers are more dependent on fossil fuel than a decade ago