Treaty on European Union

Part of Orders of the Day — European Communities (Amendment) Bill – in the House of Commons at 7:45 pm on 4th March 1993.

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Photo of Mr Peter Shore Mr Peter Shore , Bethnal Green and Stepney 7:45 pm, 4th March 1993

The only thing missing from the picture is the government. That is the thing that we have not located. We have the two houses. We have the federal distribution of power, and there is no misunderstanding about what federalism is—the transfer of major strategic powers to the new level of government and central institutions such as banks. The missing link is the government. It is clear that the European Parliament and its members who are considering the matter are still uncertain whether the Commission will remain the executive of the new state and whether the President of the Commission is to be drawn, like the German Federal Chancellor, from the European Parliament—that is certainly one road which some members of the institutions committee strongly advocate —or whether he should be elected directly like an American president. The missing component in the federal structure is the government itself and the authority that the presidency derives either from direct election or from the merging, being one of the members of the majority party in the European Parliament.

That is how the majority of MEPs see the future. They have at least one coercive weapon, the use of which is actively being discussed now: they have the right of approval or veto on new member states seeking to join the EC. The European Parliament is saying that enlargement, which it knows certain countries, including the United Kingdom, are keen on, even of the EFTA applicant countries, will not be allowed unless the federal constitution of the union that it is drawing up, or something close to it, is adopted.