Britain faces veto clash with Brussels
Wednesday 19 February 1997
It also sets out the first detailed plans for building a hard-core Europe, using "flexibility". It suggests the veto may not be maintained for "flexibility", which means Britain could lose the power to stop other countries speeding ahead.
Two options are set out under which hard-core countries could proceed after agreement by qualified majority. Only one option is presented for voting by unanimity. The document confirms British fears that other states are determined to find ways of speeding integration without being held back by objectors. It will form the basis of tough negotiating before final decisions at the European summit in Amsterdam in June.
Under one option, fast-track power-sharing could be applied to several core areas of policy-making, listed as economic and monetary union, including indirect taxation; environmental standards; health and safety of workers and areas of immigration and justice policy.
Applying flexibility to EMU is important to several member-states keen to ensure countries which join the single currency should have the power to use fast-track decisions, to speed future economic integration. Several member-states envisage a need for greater harmonisation of tax and social security once the single currency is running.
The last chance they have to secure a treaty change, creating this power, before the launch of monetary union will be in June. In perhaps their most ground-breaking initiative, the Dutch supported the drive for speedier integration within the Euro-zone. They insisted the veto would, in general, never be lifted for policy-making on direct taxation, regional funding and constitutional matters.
The European Commission has been reluctant to accept application of flexibility to areas in the "first pillar" of EU decision making, which includes EMU, for fear the entire union would fragment as a result.
However, it is clear the phrasing in the Dutch document is broad enough to allow countries to adopt fast-track "flexible" decision-making in any areas of EMU policy-making they choose, including direct tax and social security.
John Major has insisted Britain would not give up the veto in any new policy areas and Tony Blair has said Labour would accept an extension of qualified majority voting (QMV) to limited areas, citing industry, research, social policy and environment. Several of the 25 areas listed in the Dutch document as a "working basis" for extension of QMV are highly technical, such as development of research and training, and laws governing professions.
Mr Major has favoured flexibility in principle but insisted Britain should have the right to veto any decision by core groups of countries to move ahead alone.
r Strasbourg - The European Commission president, Jacques Santer, fighting to avoid censure for the way it handled the "mad-cow crisis, offered the European Parliament the right of veto over EU health policy, Reuter reports.
- 2 Harry Potter fans can apply to the Hogwarts-inspired College of Wizardry
- 3 Jessica Chambers: 19-year-old woman 'doused with lighter fluid and burned alive' in the US
- 4 Russell Brand calls Nigel Farage 'poundshop Enoch Powell' in BBC Question Time debate
- 5 Orange Wednesdays are no more
Weather bomb in pictures: Storms cuts power for tens of thousands – and snow is on the way
Jessica Chambers: 19-year-old woman 'doused with lighter fluid and burned alive' in the US
Russell Brand calls Nigel Farage 'poundshop Enoch Powell' in BBC Question Time debate
Russell Brand was rendered speechless on Question Time by this man
Fury at Airbus after it hints the super-jumbo may be mothballed
Disgruntled RBS worker writes hilarious open letter to Russell Brand after anti-capitalist publicity stunt leaves him hungry
Nigel Farage defends Kerry Smith 'ch***y' comment: 'If you are going for a Chinese, what do you say you’re going for?'
Nigel Farage's approval rating hits 'record low' as popularity suffers in wake of Ukip sex scandal
Pakistan school attack live: Taliban kill at least 132 children in 'horrifying' massacre
Sony hack: Angelina Jolie branded 'seriously out of her mind' in further embarrassing leaked email saga
Panic Saturday: 13 million Britons spend £1.2bn – while 13 million others across the country live in poverty unable to afford food
Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This company offers London's best photo booth ...
£25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Domestic Gas Service Engineers ...
£50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an incredible opportunity for a ...
£16000 - £17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Sales Administrator is requir...