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Last Updated: Friday, 24 August 2007, 15:40 GMT 16:40 UK
Head to head: EU treaty referendum
Several trade unions are pushing for a referendum on the European Union treaty, arguing it is almost the same as the abandoned EU constitution, on which a public vote was promised. But the government says the two documents are very different and no referendum is needed.

Two leading figures in the debate - union leader Bob Crow and Labour MEP Gary Titley - give their views.

BOB CROW, GENERAL SECRETARY OF RMT UNION

Bob Crow

German Chancellor Angela Merkel says it's essentially the same document.

Former French president Valéry Giscard d'Estaing says it's "very, very near" the original.

So does former Italian prime minister Giuliano Amato, who should know, because he helped write it.

According to Amato: "The proposed new treaty and supplementary protocols take over almost all the innovations contained in the constitutional treaty.

"They only leave aside the symbolic changes which were introduced by the constitutional treaty - such as the title of the treaty or the symbols of the union."

Dozens of EU leaders openly admit the same thing, yet UK politicians are trying to claim that it is a different treaty to convince us there is no need for the referendum we were promised two years ago.

Whatever you call the EU Reform Treaty, it contains the same anti-democratic mix that was in the constitution supposedly killed off by French and Dutch votes in 2005.

It is the back-door constitution which would still transform the EU into a state, and transfer power to an unelected EU government.

For working people it would be a disaster, further institutionalising the mis-named economic "liberalisation", forcing more privatisation of public services and abolishing vetoes over transport and a host of other areas

GARY TITLEY MEP, LABOUR LEADER IN EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT

Gary Titley

People say the European Constitution and the reform treaty are the same.

But you could say my car and a Formula One racing car are the same. They've got four wheels and an engine - but that's about it.

The constitution and the reform treaty are two very different things.

The government said there would be a referendum on the constitution, but there isn't a constitution anymore.

The changes in the new reform treaty are only minimal, not fundamental, and therefore no referendum is needed.

The European Union is a process and not a state, and the reform treaty is simply about modernising and updating the rules.

We have got a parliamentary democracy and Parliament should decide that.

The RMT is arguing that the UK has opted out of the Charter of Fundamental Rights.

This is wrong. What we have done is made the wording clearer to show that the European Court should not make changes which alter or make the charter worse.

We need this because of the way the British common law system works, which is entirely different from continental Europe.

The treaty is about modernising and streamlining and trying to make the EU simpler.

Most people aren't interested in the processes. They want to know what Europe does, not how it does it.

It's about jobs and energy and competing in a globalised world. The treaty is a means to those ends rather than the end itself.

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