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Last Updated: Friday, 23 April, 2004, 15:50 GMT 16:50 UK
Kinnock sings benefits of EU treaty
Neil Kinnock
Kinnock : No referendum needed
A new European constitutional treaty would help the EU work effectively, according to Neil Kinnock.

Speaking at a medical conference in Cardiff, the vice-president of the European Commission described the addition of 10 countries to the European Union on 1 May as "profound".

Mr Kinnock said that a treaty - likely to be agreed by member governments in June - would provide a modest but effective way for the enlarged EU to operate.

Speaking in the week that Tony Blair announced a government U-turn on holding a referendum on the EU constitution, Mr Kinnock also said the treaty would not lead to a United States of Europe.

The use of the euro, he added, would continue to be a matter for individual member states to decide.

"Clearly, it would be absurd to depict the European Union as the best attainable system and incapable of improvement, particularly when it is about to embark upon its largest ever enlargement, from 15 to 25 member states," he said.

People have been wilfully misled and the interests and influence of the UK have consequently been arrested
Neil Kinnock
"Such change is obviously profound and, equally obviously, it justifies reforms in the system of the union."

The treaty would pull together and replace the existing multiple treaties into a coherent, readable, set of rules, he added.

"The forensic truth is, however, that EU law has always had primacy over member states' law and the UK signed up for that when joining the community in 1973.

"The use of the euro will continue to be entirely a matter for individual member states to decide," he explained.

"And - far from intensifying centralisation - the draft Treaty reinforces member states' powers, provides for extra involvement by national parliaments in the legislative process, and does not add to the powers of the Commission at all."

Mr Kinnock also acknowledged that, while he did not believe a referendum on the Treaty was constitutionally required, he was enthusiastic about the further discussion of the subject which the prospect of a referendum would create.

"The reason is not that I am a campaign addict or a Euroanorak is that our country has been inundated by myths and downright lies," he said.

"People have been wilfully misled and the interests and influence of the UK have consequently been arrested," he went on.

"The referendum campaign will at least provide the opportunity for the fictions to be fought and beaten with the facts."

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