The UK in the EU

As the debate on the UK’s membership of the EU intensifies, more and more people are stepping forward and making the case in favour of EU membership. See what they say


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Positive points about the Treaty of Lisbon

1- The EU’s powers will be clarified:

· the Treaty includes the principle that the EU has only those powers conferred on it by the Member States;

· the Treaty defines the categories of competence of the EU and enables competences to be transferred back to Member States.

2- It will streamline the EU:

· the number of Commissioners will be reduced in 2014 to a number equal to two-thirds of the Member States;

· one person will be responsible for the implementation of foreign policy decisions;

· the rotating presidency of the European Council will come to an end;

· the size of the European Parliament will be capped at 751 members.

3- It will make the EU more accountable to national parliaments and to Member State governments:

· national parliaments will be able to challenge legislative proposals on grounds of subsidiarity;

· there will be additional powers of scrutiny for national parliaments so that they have more time to scrutinise the EU’s work;

· national parliaments will be given particular responsibility to scrutinise EU activity in the fields of justice and home affairs.

4- It will improve the ability of the EU to make Europe more competitive:

· through modest moves to majority voting that, in areas such as energy, intellectual property, transport and the European Research Area, are ones where any votes are likely to help Britain to get its way in the Council;

· reducing the national veto makes it less likely that Member States can block legislation that opens up markets but unanimity is retained for tax and social security matters.

5- It will make the EU a more powerful voice in the world:

· by merging the currently separate roles of external relations commissioner and High Representative for Foreign and Security Policy. This will give the EU a consistent and experienced voice in world affairs under the direction of Member States in the council;

· the appointment of a permanent President of the European Council will also produce greater coherence and unity of purpose; it will be a high profile role likely to attract the best candidates;

· converting the Commission’s existing nearly 130 overseas delegations, as well as staff working on foreign policy in Brussels, into one External Action Service, supporting the new EUHR and cooperating with national diplomatic services, will give the EU a more effective means to formulate and implement agreed common policies.

6- It respects the rights and privileges of Member States, including the UK:

· by making it clear that the EU will only act if objectives being pursued cannot be achieved by Member States, or regional or local government alone;

· by stating that the EU respects Member States’ constitutional and other traditions and it reserves national security to Member States;

· by establishing a procedure for a country to withdraw from the EU;

· by, in justice and home affairs, extending the UK’s right to opt in or out.

January 2008

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