At the Global Vision/Telegraph conference this morning Valery Giscard d’Estaing outlined his idea for the UK to have “special status” in the EU so that the others can be free to move towards a “united Europe” without British obstruction.
But he also reminded us once again about how British voters had been duped out of the referendum the Government promised on the Lisbon Treaty – repeating that it “is purely a legal re-writing – incidentally unreadable – of the draft Constitutional Treaty.”
“It is the same text apart from some minor changes", he said, reminding us that following the French and Dutch ‘no’ votes, it had been deliberately left to the “Council legal experts” to “coat the text in legalese,” because “we said to ourselves we cannot present the same text” to the electorate. He went on: “It’s true that it [the EU] is not very democratic… The Parliament and the Commission are always trying to intervene on domains where they do not have any power.”
He even reckons the EU can learn some lessons from China: “We should have a yearly big debate between the European institutions, the national parliaments and all the actors involved, as in China.”
Hmmm. Not sure we should encourage the Commission to learn from the Chinese Communist Party...
AFP reports that he said:
"Differences of opinion can be handled from the basis of a permanently antagonistic standpoint, some wanting to advance integration ... others trying to slow it down by complicating negotiations, by flattering nationalisms or by deploying very smart manoeuvrings towards a new enlargement.
He suggested those are "the sort of things that British diplomacy is awfully good at" but warned that this current approach is exhausting for all concerned and it is disappointing... because public opinion is only presented with negative outcomes."
Dan Hannan comments that:
"Giscard seems to envisage a set of opt-outs from future treaties rather than a derogation from past ones. His countryman Pascal Lamy has proposed something more along the lines of what Switzerland has: free trade and formalised intergovernmental collaboration, but little else. Regular readers will know that this blog inclines toward the latter view: Britain should be an independent country, trading freely with Europe and the wider world, and participating in common European endeavours on an issue-by-issue basis and only with the consent of Parliament."
Richard North isn't impressed, and has some harsh words for UKIP.