Debunking the Eurosceptic myths about the EU Reform Treaty

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The Independent Online

1. Britain is surrendering vital powers over fundamental issues of sovereignty to Brussels

Not really. Britain has maintained control over our key national policy areas including justice and home affairs, social security, tax, foreign policy and defence. The treaty will not transfer power on issues of fundamental importance.

2. Britain will lose or have to vacate its seat on the United Nations Security Council

No. The treaty will include a declaration saying it will not affect the way EU member states conduct their foreign and defence policy, including at the UN. The UN Charter says international organisations such as the EU cannot be members of the UN.

3. An "EU foreign minister" will control Britain's foreign policy

Wrong. At present the EU has both a high representative for the common foreign and security policy and a commissioner for external relations. The proposed high representative for foreign affairs and security policy will combine the two existing roles. The high representative will be appointed by and report to EU member states. Britain will keep its veto.

4. British embassies will be replaced by an EU "diplomatic service" and EU embassies

Not true. The European External Action Service (EEAS) will not replace the UK diplomatic service. It will simply provide better co-ordination and sensible support to the high representative, including through existing European Commission offices overseas.

5. Britain will lose control of its borders

No. It will be able to choose whether or not to participate in EU action on issues such as immigration, asylum and combating international terrorism and organised crime.

6. There will be a new 'president of Europe'

Incorrect. At the moment each EU member state takes it in turns to be president of the EU for six months. This has caused confusion and a lack of continuity. Under the treaty, elected national leaders will choose someone to be president of the European Council for two-and-a-half years. This will allow national leaders to set the political direction of the EU more consistently and coherently.

7. The treaty will force us to free prisoners from jail

Not true. No criminals in the UK will be released because of the treaty.

8. The treaty will reduce national parliaments to the level of regional assemblies

No. The treaty seeks to increase the role and powers of national parliaments, which will for the first time have a direct role in deciding whether EU legislation is necessary.

9. The treaty is the same as the Constitutional Treaty rejected in 2005

No. The EU's 27 leaders have agreed that the constitutional approach has been abandoned. The constitutional symbols have been removed from the treaty – the EU flag, hymn and title of foreign minister.

This shows that the mythical "superstate" is just that – a myth. The Government claims it has secured a deal that protects key aspects of sovereignty.

For example, Britain can carry on participating in joint efforts to combat cross-border terrorism and organised crime, but will keep control of our borders. Instead of establishing a new constitutional basis for the EU, the treaty amends previous EU treaties.

This is what the Maastricht, Nice and Amsterdam treaties did. They were not "constitutional" and Britain did not hold a referendum on any of them.

10. The treaty will leadto British workers becoming second-class citizens

No. The rights and principles set out in the Charter of Fundamental Rights already exist in UK law – they are not new. They apply now both to EU institutions and to all member states when they implement EU law.

The Government claims it has won a legally binding protocol that guarantees the charter does not extend the powers of any court – European or domestic – to strike down UK laws.

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