BBC HOMEPAGE | NEWS | WORLD SERVICE | SPORT | MY BBC low graphics | help
news vote 2001search vote 2001
 You are in: Vote2001: Main Issues
VOTE2001 
Main Issues 
Correspondent Analysis 
Crucial Seats 
Key People 
Parties 
Results &  Constituencies 
Candidates 
Opinion Polls 
Online 1000 
Virtual Vote 
Talking Point 
Forum 
AudioVideo 
Programmes 
Voting System 
Local Elections 
Nations 

N Ireland 
Scotland 
Wales 

BBC News

BBC Sport

BBC Weather
Saturday, 17 February, 2001, 18:17 GMT
Labour: Europe

Labour party policy positions and pledges on European issues.


THE EURO

Labour's policy is to "prepare and decide".

Once the government decides that the conditions are right for the UK to join the euro, it will hold a referendum.

However, when this decision will be taken, remains open to question. In February this year, Prime Minister Tony Blair told the House of Commons that a decision would be taken within two years of the next parliament.

The party's 2001 manifesto states that "an assessment of the economic tests [see below] will be carried out early in the next parliament."

In advance of that, government money is being devoted to the "national changeover plan" to inform business and the public of what the euro would mean, and how to prepare for its possible introduction.

Chancellor Gordon Brown has devised a set of criteria - the so-called "five economic tests" to enable him to determine when this has been achieved.

The five tests are:

  • Are business cycles and economic structures compatible so that we and others could live comfortably with Euro interest rates on a permanent basis?
  • If problems emerge is there sufficient flexibility to deal with them?
  • Would joining EMU create better conditions for firms making long-term decisions to invest in Britain?
  • What impact would entry into EMU have on the competitive position of the UK's financial services industry, particularly the UK's wholesale market?
  • Will joining EMU promote higher growth, stability and a lasting increase in jobs.


    EXPANSION AND REFORM

    The Labour Party says that it is "committed to strengthening Britain's position in the European Union and committed to seeking reforms in the EU".

    Tony Blair signed the Nice Treaty which sets out how the EU will extend its borders eastwards and carry out a range of internal reforms which the members believe are necessary.

    The package includes accepting that the UK should give up one of its two European Commissioners in return for increasing the UK's voting influence in the organisation's main decision taking body.

    Labour supported giving up national vetoes on many areas of EU policy making, but maintained a British government veto on taxation and social security policy.

    The party approves of measures which allow smaller groups of EU nations to forge ahead in "enhanced co-operation", so long as these initiatives do not involve defence matters, and are not detrimental to other states.

    The party supports the proposed EU Charter of Rights on the basis of it being a political declaration of aspirations.

    It does not support proposals to incorporate it into EU law.


    RAPID REACTION FORCE

    Labour has been a driving force behind the development of the EU Rapid Reaction Force.

    It signed a defence agreement with France in 1998 which was one of the first steps towards the formation of the force.

    Labour in government has pledged some 12,000 British troops to the RRF.

    It believes that strengthening the EU's defence arm will help Europe to better contribute to international crises.

    It rejects arguments that the RRF will damage the position of Nato as the primary defender of Europe.

    It also rejects arguments that the force will lead to an eventual European army under European control in Brussels.


    COMMON AGRICULTURAL POLICY

    Labour supports the principles of a Common Agricultural Policy (Cap) but it believes the sums being paid out to the industry are disproportionate to the need.

    Labour believes that there should be further reform to the Common Agricultural Policy, building on changes made in 1999, and that Cap be modified as part of world trade negotiations.

    In government, Labour says that it helped secure the 1999 round of Cap reforms aimed at cutting spending on production subsidies and introducing more payments for sustainability programmes.

    The party believes that medium to long-term policies should seek to provide the following:

  • Short-term help for farmers who need it most
  • Greater market orientation


    FISHING INDUSTRY

    Labour in government supported reductions in fishing quotas for 2000 because of the scientific case for protecting North Sea stocks. It says that it secured more than 60m in funds from Europe for the industry over three years, including a decommissioning scheme.

    However, it says that it succeeded to ring-fence an additional 30m of quotas for the British fishing industry.

    Labour wants to see the CFP system changed to ensure that more measures are put in place to ensure that not only are stocks protected but the coastal communities dependent on the industry survive.

    The party believes that the fishing industry should have greater participation in the development of fisheries policy, and that CFP should have a regional dimension to better take into account the effect it has on communities.

  •  A/V CONSOLE
    BBC RADIO NEWS
    BBC ONE TV NEWS


    Issues Finder


    TALKING POINT
    PARTY POLICIES
    Europe

    PARTY WEB LINKS



    The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

    ©BBC