Sunday, November 1, 2009

Updates

First, the good news from Iceland (at least for Icelanders). It seems that the political class there is beginning to grasp that no matter what they do, the people of that country, do not want to go into the EU and, most certainly, do not want to be in the euro.

That inestimable blog, EU News from Iceland, tells us that a former Foreign Minister as well as the present Finance Minister have cheerfully admitted that “although his government had applied to join the European Union the Icelandic people didn't want to become members”. They, of course, will have the chance to say so as Iceland cannot join without at least one referendum. If the process ever gets that far with the political classes already rather worried.

For all of that, Hjörtur J. Guðmundsson and his colleagues in the anti-EU movement are not taking anything for granted and continuing with their work. Needless to say, I have offered any help we can give.

Meanwhile, as we predicted, Blair’s chances of getting that first Presidency are getting so slim that even the British media is beginning to grasp the unlikelihood of the scenario they had produced. I suspect the same will turn out to be true about David Miliband’s supposed candidacy to be the first Foreign Minister of the European Union, despite the Independent assuring us that he is backed by Commission President Barroso. He is also backed by Number 10, we are told, and how useful is that? And our other prediction about Cameron not giving a referendum has also come to pass as the Boss has pointed out.

Moving across Europe to the Czech Republic, it seems very likely, as we also predicted, that President Vaclav Klaus will sign the Constitutional Lisbon Treaty after getting the EU leaders to agree to his opt-out from the Charter of Fundamental Rights.

Luboš Motl on The Reference Frame, a very interesting Czech blog, accepts that the battle has been lost but there is, as he so rightly points out, a war to be won. I only wish more people in this country would be so clear-sighted.

Mr Motl, incidentally, points to what he sees as another division between Western and Eastern Europe and that is the amount of money to be spent on the whole climate change charade.
West is more enthusiastic because it has spare money to waste for nonsense, and it is not immune against utopias for the future - because of the lack of experience with communism.
That makes some sense but, as it happens, I do not think anybody has all that much “spare money to waste for nonsense” at the moment.

Another matter on which I would disagree with Mr Motl is those opt-outs. He thinks President Klaus “will save my homeland from many policies that go well beyond the fear of the returning Sudeten Germans (a topic that Klaus has used to be sure about the public support”). I think that is very questionable.

What the Presidency Conclusions actually say in Article 2 of Section I is:
On this basis, and taking into account the position taken by the Czech Republic, the Heads of State or Government have agreed that they shall, at the time of the conclusion of the next Accession Treaty and in accordance with their respective constitutional requirements, attach the Protocol (in Annex I) to the Treaty on European Union and the Treaty on the Functioning of the European
Union.

In this context, and with regard to legal application of the Treaty of Lisbon and its relation to legal systems of Member States, theEuropean Council confirms that :

a) The Treaty of Lisbon provides that "competences not conferred upon the Union in the Treaties remain with the Member States" (Art. 5(2) TEU);

b) The Charter is "addressed to the institutions, bodies, offices and agencies of the Union with due regard for the principle of subsidiarity and to the Member States only when they are implementing Union law" (Art. 51(1) Charter).
In other words, nothing that has been agreed now has any legal validity until the next Accession Treaty, probably one for Croatia. This is precisely the case with all those statements that were added for the benefit of the Irish. None of it is worth on the paper it is written on, despite the fact that the paper is, presumably, recycled, untreated and ready to be used for non-fossil fuel.

Secondly, it is not exactly clear what the opt-out is precisely. The Presidential Conclusions merely confirm what is already in the Charter. We get a little more in this news item in which the Swedish Presidency in the shape Fredrik Reinfeldt announced that the last hurdle has been cleared and the Czech President’s request granted.
With this decision the Czech Republic has received the same exemption as Poland and the United Kingdom, from 'protocol 30' in the Lisbon Treaty's Charter of Fundamental Rights.
This is what we are talking about: Protocol 7, snappily entitled ON THE APPLICATION OF THE CHARTER OF FUNDAMENTAL RIGHTS OF THE EUROPEAN UNION TO POLAND AND TO THE UNITED KINGDOM.

After a great many whereases and raffirmations we get to what was agreed for Poland and the UK and will be agreed for the Czech Republic after the next Accession Treaty:
Article 1
1. The Charter does not extend the ability of the Court of Justice of the European Union, or any court or tribunal of Poland or of the United Kingdom, to find that the laws, regulations or administrative provisions, practices or action of Poland or of the United Kingdom are inconsistent with the fundamental rights, freedoms and principles that it reaffirms.

2. In particular, and for the avoidance of doubt, nothing in Title IV of the Charter creates justiciable rights applicable to Poland or the United Kingdom except in so far as Poland or the United Kingdom has provided for such rights in its national law.

Article 2
To the extent that a provision of the Charter refers to national laws and practices, it shall only apply to Poland or the United Kingdom to the extent that the rights or principles that it contains are recognised in the law or practices of Poland or of the United Kingdom.
What that will mean in practice, given that the law and practices of EU member states are already defined largely by what comes from the EU, is not really clear to anyone as yet. But a semi-allowance for the Czech Republic to join this rather dubious exemptions will, we assume, be enough for President Klaus to retreat with good grace, particularly if he can spin it as to mean that no German, Austrian or Hungarian will be allowed to claim back the land that had belonged to the family in question before 1947.

7 comments:

  1. "no German, Austrian or Hungarian will be allowed to claim back the land that had belonged to the family in question before 1947."
    No but when they do, 1939 all over again!

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  2. When the UK was given an opt-out from the Charter of Fundamental Rights, we heard Swedish PM Frederick Reinfeldt point out to his parliament (on 26 June 2007) that “it is important for this [the Swedish] government to keep the Charter legally binding, which now is the case… The UK accepted this… and it should be stressed that the UK was given a clarification, not an opt-out.”

    Over here, our parliament's European Scrutiny Committee (ESC) wrote a report that called into question the Government’s claim that the Charter would not affect UK law: “We express doubts on the effectiveness of the protocol on the Charter of Fundamental Rights and do not consider that it guarantees that the Charter can have no effect on the law of the United Kingdom when it is combined with consideration of the implementation of Union law.”

    Around the same time, Michael Connarty, the pro-EU chairman of the ESC, challenged the opt-out, which was one of Brown’s much trumpeted “red lines”: “We [the Committee] believe that the red lines will not be sustainable. Looking at the legalities and use of the European Court of Justice, we believe these will be challenged bit by bit and eventually the UK will be in a position where all of the treaty [inc Charter] will eventually apply to the UK.” Barroso said that Brown's “red lines” were safe “only for the time being”.

    It looks as if the UK was sold a pig in a poke. We expect that. But how could the much cannier Klaus, who's close to people such as Anthony Coughlan, have fallen for the same trick? Or is the Czech Republic's exemption different from ours?

    Thanks for the blog - not least its optimistic subtext. The EU has indeed just won a battle, but so very Pyrrhically.

    ReplyDelete
  3. When the UK was given an opt-out from the Charter of Fundamental Rights, we heard Swedish PM Frederick Reinfeldt point out to his parliament (on 26 June 2007) that “it is important for this [the Swedish] government to keep the Charter legally binding, which now is the case… The UK accepted this… and it should be stressed that the UK was given a clarification, not an opt-out.”

    Over here, our parliament's European Scrutiny Committee (ESC) wrote a report that called into question the Government’s claim that the Charter would not affect UK law: “We express doubts on the effectiveness of the protocol on the Charter of Fundamental Rights and do not consider that it guarantees that the Charter can have no effect on the law of the United Kingdom when it is combined with consideration of the implementation of Union law.”

    Around the same time, Michael Connarty, the pro-EU chairman of the ESC, challenged the opt-out, which was one of Brown’s much trumpeted “red lines”: “We [the Committee] believe that the red lines will not be sustainable. Looking at the legalities and use of the European Court of Justice, we believe these will be challenged bit by bit and eventually the UK will be in a position where all of the treaty [inc Charter] will eventually apply to the UK.” Barroso said that Brown's “red lines” were safe “only for the time being”.

    It looks as if the UK was sold a pig in a poke. We expect that. But how could the much cannier Klaus, who's close to people such as Anthony Coughlan, have fallen for the same trick? Or is the Czech Republic's exemption different from ours?

    Thanks for the blog - not least its optimistic subtext. The EU has indeed just won a battle, but so very Pyrrhically.

    ReplyDelete
  4. No, Oldrightie, it will not be anything like 1939. There is no point in drawing parallels that do not work.

    Confused, thank you for that (and for you nice comment about the blog). So far as I can tell the Czechs got the same deal as the British and the Poles did with the difference that the Czech part of it will not be legally valid until the next Accession Treaty. I find it hard to be believe that Klaus was taken in but he was in an impossible position and had to wriggle out somehow. This agreement gives him some kind of a cover. Of course, he would not have been in that position if he had had a little more support from, say, our own Conservative Party.

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  5. Thanks for the reply. I'm unsure what happens between the enactment of Lisbon and Croatia's accession. Can the Benes claimants sneak in then? We'll see...

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  6. What happens now in England? we need some person or party to save the place, any takers?

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  7. David B. WildgooseNovember 2, 2009 at 9:30 AM

    We don't need a person to save England, we need lots of honest people, (which rules out members of the big 3 parties). Leaving the English Democrats as the best option currently available willing to take up your challenge.

    ReplyDelete