Tuesday

21st Nov 2017

No referendum needed on revised EU treaty, says Blair

  • Tony Blair and Angela Merkel will discuss the issue next week in Berlin (Photo: European Community, 2006)

UK prime minister Tony Blair has said he will come to an EU summit in June ready to endorse a fast-track adoption of the basic institutional changes foreseen by the bloc's disputed constitution - something that will not require a referendum in Britain.

"For us, we are going to get attacked whatever we do, but Europe needs to do it to move forward," Mr Blair said in an interview with European newspapers on Thursday (19 April).

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now for a 30 day free trial.

  1. €150 per year
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

"These issues aren't going to go away. It's better to resolve them sooner rather than later," he added, according to Financial Times.

German chancellor Angela Merkel is planning at the 20-21 June summit to present a roadmap on solving the EU's treaty impasse following the constitution's rejection by French and Dutch voters in 2005.

The UK is one of nine countries that has not ratified the constitution and was originally planning to hold a popular vote on it.

But Mr Blair - due to step down as the British prime minister after the June summit and likely to be succeeded by the current finance minister Gordon Brown - says that a limited new treaty would not have to be ratified by referendum.

The mini-version of the almost 500-page document could include new rules on member states' voting rights and the number of commissioners, a new EU president and foreign minister, without the legal characteristics of the constitution, such as hymn and flag.

"If it's not a constitutional treaty, so that it alters the basic relationship between Europe and the member states, then there isn't the same case for a referendum," said Mr Blair, adding that he is aware of the criticism this move will spark by media and opposition in his country.

"The truth is that the Conservative party will probably argue for a referendum if you move a comma in an existing treaty," he added, complaining that crafting a policy on Europe is about choosing between "isolation" in Brussels or "treason" in London.

He argues that many perceptions on Europe have changed in Britain during ten years of Labour government and the country is no longer isolated in the 27-member union. "I mean, when was the last time we went into a European summit with everyone saying Britain is on its own?" he asked.

Mr Blair is planning to discuss the German presidency's roadmap next week with Ms Merkel in Berlin.

Britain is not the only opponent of the EU constitution. The Netherlands has said it cannot pass the same text that Dutch people have rejected, while Prague is calling for a slimmer and simpler charter and Poland is insisting on a whole new voting system.

On the other hand, the 18 countries that have largely ratified the treaty are against fundamental changes to its content, arguing that its current version received the green light from all member states when it was agreed in 2004.

Amsterdam wins EU medicines agency on coin toss

The staff of the London-based EMA will move to the Dutch city of Amsterdam after Brexit, following a coin toss. Chance also decided the new home of the European Banking Authority: Paris.

MEP switches vote on 'private expenses' transparency

A small group of MEPs are looking into how members of the European Parliament spend the monthly €4,300 'private expenses' funded by taxpayer money. Last month, MEPs voted on transparency amendments on the funds.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. ILGA EuropeFreedom of Movement For All Families? Same Sex Couple Ask EU Court for Recognition
  2. EPSUWith EU Pillar of Social Rights in Place, Time Is Ticking for Commission to Deliver
  3. ILGA EuropeBan on LGBTI Events in Ankara Must Be Overturned
  4. Bio-Based IndustriesBio-Based Industries: European Growth is in Our Nature!
  5. Dialogue PlatformErdogan's Most Vulnerable Victims: Women and Children
  6. UNICEFEuropean Parliament Marks World Children's Day by Launching Dialogue With Children
  7. European Jewish CongressAntisemitism in Europe Today: Is It Still a Threat to Free and Open Society?
  8. Counter BalanceNew Report: Juncker Plan Backs Billions in Fossil Fuels and Carbon-Heavy Infrastructure
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic countries prioritise fossil fuel subsidy reform
  10. Mission of China to the EUNew era for China brings new opportunities to all
  11. ACCASmall and Medium Sized Practices Must 'Offer the Whole Package'
  12. UNICEFAhead of the African Union - EU Summit, Survey Highlights Impact of Conflict on Education