BBC TwoThe Daily Politics


Page last updated at 08:55 GMT, Monday, 1 June 2009 09:55 UK

Trading Lisbon Treaty lists

By Andrew Neil
Presenter, Straight Talk and the Daily Politics

Straight Talk logo
Straight Talk is broadcast on the BBC News Channel

On last week's Straight Talk for the BBC News Channel I interviewed Foreign Secretary David Milliband as part of a series of interviews with the major parties in the run up to the European elections on June 4th.

During the interview I read out to him a list of European leaders who had said the Lisbon Treaty was no (or little) different from the European Constitution, on which the government had promised us a referendum.

The Foreign Secretary said he could produce a list of European leaders saying the treaty was very different from the Constitution, which is why there was no need for a referendum on the Treaty.

He offered to send it to me; I offered to post both his and mine on the web so that viewers could decide which was the more impressed.

Here they are

First, the list from which I quoted on Straight Talk; and then the list subsequently sent to us by the FO.

The point of my questioning was that very few European leaders who matter agree with the British government that the Lisbon Treaty is only a shadow of the Constitution (and hence there is now no need for a British referendum on Lisbon, which Labour had promised in its 2005 manifesto).

Mr Milliband retorted that a whole range of European leaders backed the British position and did indeed send us his FO list.

You decide -- and let us know.

Andrew Neil
Andrew Neil challenged the Foreign Secretary over the Lisbon Treaty
Andrew Neil's list of leaders who say the original Lisbon Constitution and the eventual Lisbon Reform Treaty are much the same thing:

  • "A referendum now would bring Europe into danger. There will be no treaty if we had a referendum in France, which would again be followed by a referendum in the UK."
  • "Only cosmetic changes have been made and the basic document remains the same."
    Václav Klaus, Czech President, in Hosposarske Noviny, 13th June 2007
  • "In terms of content, the proposals remain largely unchanged, they are simply presented in a different way... The reason is that the new text could not look too much like the constitutional treaty."
    Valéry Giscard d'Estaing, former French President and Chairman of the Convention which drew up the EU Constitution, addressing the Constitutional Affairs Committee in the European Parliament, 17th July 2007
  • "As for the changes now proposed to be made to the constitutional treaty, most are presentational changes that have no practical effect. They have simply been designed to enable certain heads of government to sell to their people the idea of ratification by parliamentary action rather than by referendum."
    Dr Garret FitzGerald, former Irish Taoiseach, Irish Times, 30 June 2007
  • "A referendum now would bring Europe into danger. There will be no Treaty if we had a referendum in France, which would again be followed by a referendum in the UK." — Nicolas Sarkozy, French President, The Daily Telegraph, 14th November 2007
  • "The good thing is that all the symbolic elements are gone, and that which really matters - the core - is left."
    — Anders Fogh Rasmussen, Prime Minister of Denmark, in Jyllands-Posten, 25th June 2007
  • "They haven't changed the substance - 90 per cent of it is still there."
    — Bertie Ahern, Irish Prime Minister, Irish Independent, 24th June 2007
  • "The substance of the constitution is preserved. That is a fact."
    — Angela Merkel, German Chancellor, speech to the European Parliament, 27th June 2007
  • "There's nothing from the original institutional package that has been changed."
    — Astrid Thors, Finnish Europe Minister, TV-Nytt, 23rd June 2007
  • "For Austria it was important to keep the essence, to keep the institutional side of it intact, and also to keep the Charter of Fundamental Rights. This is the essence, and we were able to safeguard that."
    — Ursula Plassnik, Austrian Foreign Minister, BBC 10 o'clock news, 7th September 2007
  • "A great part of the content of the European Constitution is captured in the new treaties."
    — José Zapatero, Spanish Prime Minister, El Pais, 23rd June 2007
  • "The good thing about not calling it a Constitution is that no one can ask for a referendum on it."
    — Giuliano Amato, former Italian Prime Minister and Vice-Chairman of the Convention which drew up the Constitution, speech to the London School of Economics, 20th February 2007

  • David Miliband
    Mr Miliband produced his own list to counter allegations over the Lisbon Treaty
    The Foreign Secretary later produced a list of European leaders saying the Lisbon Treaty was very different from the Constitution, which is why there was no need for a referendum on the Treaty.

    Here is the Foreign Office's list of leading Europeans who agree with the British Government's position:

  • "The Reform Treaty is not constitutional"
    - Mirek Topolanek, former Czech Prime Minister
  • "The proposed Reform Treaty is substantially different from the Treaty establishing a Constitution for Europe"
    - Dutch Council of State
  • "The Treaty, including the hard fought UK red lines, is not a constitution"
    - Jose Manuel Barroso
  • "The Reform Treaty is different from the Constitutional Treaty"
    - Anders Fogh Rasmussen, former Danish Prime Minister
  • "We have reverted to a classic treaty between 27 sovereign states under international law, similar to all previous EU treaties"
    - Hans-Gert Poettering, President of the European Parliament
  • "This is a treaty which is different, which is not a constitution"
    - Jean-Pierre Jouyet, former French Europe Minister

    Transcript of Straight Talk interview
    01 Jun 09 |  Daily Politics
    Q&A: The Lisbon Treaty
    17 Jan 11 |  Europe

    Has China's housing bubble burst?
    How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
    Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit

    banner watch listen bbc sport Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific