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Heathcoat-Amory: Inadequate response to a real problem

Speech to the European Convention

The recommended change of name from 'Complementary Competences' to 'Supporting Measures' is sensible - a small step away from Eurospeak towards the real world.

But I don't think we have achieved a clear and certain allocation of responsibilities between the EU and member states, which is essential if we are to open a window to the world and fulfil our mandate.

To do this, the treaty should contain an accurate and legally watertight delimitation of competences or powers. Instead it is suggested that part 1 of an EU constitution should include a general list of such powers. Readers will have to burrow into the policy articles in part 2 to discover the actual and detailed allocation of power. It is at least reassuring that our chairman made clear that part 2 should not be amendable by any separate or easier procedure

Another problem is that the Single Market is often used as a reason to override the apparently clear limits to EU powers set out in the treaty articles. In the working group, I submitted a long list of examples in which articles 94 and 95 had been used as a treaty base, with QMV, to enact a wide range of direction and regulations. Most things can be traded in some way, or at least cross borders, and this is used to justify measures going very wide of the traditional single market. This has not been properly curbed by the working group. We must abolish these general all-purpose articles.

The same with article 308. This gave the Commission and Council very wide discretion to enact new measures not specified in the treaty. It has been used, for instance, to set up new EU agencies and also give balance of payment support to third countries, all outside the terms of the article as strictly interpreted.

This shows we need to be precise and clear. The EU legislative and executive powers always exploit an ambiguity to extend their powers. The public needs to know 'who did what'. Instead they are faced with a moving escalator of powers ever upwards to the EU. The working group has not found a way of stopping this.

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