Treaty of Lisbon (No. 5)
Malcolm Rifkind (Kensington and Chelsea, Conservative)
I must begin with a confession. When I addressed the House on Second Reading, I sought to reassure colleagues who were concerned about the proposed powers of the president of the European Council that they would be exactly the same as those of the current President. In fact, I was wrong: there will be fewer. The President of the European Council currently has a vote, as he is a Head of Government. The new president of the European Council will have no vote in the European Council, so whether we are talking about foreign policy or any other area, the suggestion that the creation of this post will somehow have a new, dramatic and sinister consequence is difficult to substantiate. The individual concerned will not even be able to vote on the matters before the European Council.
The post of high representative is similar. The high representative, like the president of the European Council, will, of course, have influence, but will not be able to vote. Only Foreign Ministers will vote and make the decisions. That must be borne in mind when we try to work out the implications and the overall consequences of the treaty.