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Clause 2 — Addition to list of treaties

Part of Orders of the Day – in the House of Commons at 10:00 pm on 5th February 2008.

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Photo of Jim Murphy Jim Murphy Minister of State (Europe) 10:00 pm, 5th February 2008

That is a matter for the usual channels. I will look forward to tomorrow's debate to see how that is resolved.

Let me turn briefly to amendment No. 203. I agree with my hon. Friend the Member for Hemsworth that over the past seven years the conversation about Europe has been trapped in a vocabulary about red lines and protocol. We have often missed the human and social dimension of what it means to be British and European.

Across the European Union, 92 million citizens are economically inactive. That is the big economic and social challenge facing Europe today. As we pay such close attention to the treaty of Lisbon, we must also pay increasing attention to the agenda of Lisbon: providing jobs, restarting social mobility across the EU and moving increasing numbers of those 92 million people into work. Once we have resolved the treaties, red lines, protocols and all those issues, we must have a detailed, thorough discussion about the dynamic of what it means to be involved in a social Europe.

If we had sought on purpose to design a system over the past seven years that would disconnect the citizens of Europe from European structures, we could not have done a better job than we have. We did not choose to go through that process, but we have gone through it. The disconnection has undermined contemporary consent for what Europe can seek to achieve and the great deal of good that it can do on the international stage.

I accept the point made by my hon. Friend the Member for Hemsworth about the concerns of the trade union movement, which are regularly put to me and others. We have agreed with the TUC and others to continue the dialogue about the specific UK social dimension of Europe. That dialogue is only just beginning. We look forward to being involved in that with my hon. Friend and with other hon. Friends.