Britain's opposition vows for opt-out in EU rights, crimes laws

Britain's opposition Conservatives pledged to seek the return of some powers from EU to Britain if they won the next year's election.

Britain's opposition vows for opt-out in EU rights, crimes laws

Britain's opposition Conservatives pledged on Wednesday to seek the return of some powers from the European Union to Britain if they won an election expected next year, but said they did not "aim to sabotage the bloc".

Party leader David Cameron unveiled the party's new stance on Europe after admitting that Czech President Vaclav Klaus's signing of the Lisbon treaty on Tuesday had sunk his hopes of holding a British referendum on the document.

The shift has angered some on the Eurosceptic right of Cameron's party who say he must keep his referendum promise.

The party will try to negotiate the return of Britain's opt-out in some areas of EU social and employment law, the criminal justice area and win a "complete opt-out" from the EU's charter of fundamental rights, Cameron said.

He said in a speech that he would change British law so that any future transfer of power to Brussels would have to be put to a referendum in Britain.

The Conservatives, strong favourites to win a national election due by next June, said they would enact a similar "legal lock" to prevent any future government taking Britain into the euro single currency without a referendum.

"What I am promising today is doable, credible, deliverable," Cameron said.

Analysts say Cameron is trying to hang on to the votes of Eurosceptics who might be tempted to back the anti-EU UK Independence Party and deprive the Conservatives of marginal seats. He also wants to avoid antagonising other EU governments whose support he will need in repatriating powers to Britain.

He said a Conservative government would be an active member of the 27-nation EU. "My purpose...is not to frustrate or to sabotage the operation of the European Union," he said.

No "EURO bust-up"

He would not "rush into some massive Euro bust-up".

"We will take our time, negotiate firmly, patiently and respectfully and aim to achieve the return of the powers I have set out over the lifetime of a parliament," Cameron said.

A parliament lasts a maximum five years.

Labour Foreign Secretary David Miliband said Cameron's proposals were not about taking back powers from Europe, but about transferring power to Eurosceptics in Cameron's own party.

Some Conservative Eurosceptics were still not satisfied. "I think we need a referendum on our relationship with Europe," MP Douglas Carswell told the BBC.

A Conservative government would pass a law so that any expansion of EU powers, would have to be authorised through an act of parliament in Britain, the party said.

It would also pass a law stating explicitly that Britain's parliament was sovereign and could not be over-ruled by the EU against its will. This would guard against any attempts by EU judges to erode British sovereignty, the party added.

Cameron said the Conservatives would want a tough financial settlement in forthcoming negotiations on the EU budget, "ensuring that Britain does not pay more than its fair share".

"We will pay particular attention to the area of financial regulation, where we will be vigilant and tenacious in defending the competitiveness of the City of London," he said.

Reuters

Güncelleme Tarihi: 04 Kasım 2009, 23:46
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