PATRICIA WYNN DAVIES
Joint committees of MPs and MEPs should scrutinise the decisions of Brussels bureaucrats, the Liberal Democrats say in a policy paper due for approval at their spring conference at the weekend. The House of Commons should also be given the right to veto government nominations for the European Commission, the paper says.
The proposals, launched yesterday by Paddy Ashdown, the Liberal Democrat leader, are among a clutch of reforms called for in the run-up to the Inter-Governmental Conference. In common with some Conservatives, the party urges that if the conference agrees to a new constitutional settlement within the EU states, then the British people should be allowed to signify their approval of the changes in a referendum.
While the Liberal Democrats remain the most pro-European of the main parties, the paper adopts a "Euro-realist" tone, attacking EU decision-making as "unnecessarily secretive and largely unaccountable".
The party backs more qualified majority voting in an enlarged union. But where legislative decisions are made by the Council of Ministers these should be open and government ministers subjected to greater scrutiny through the Commons select committee system.
On the single currency, the paper says: "The world currency markets would force Britain to follow whatever economic policies were operating within the single currency area or suffer devaluation."
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