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Mats Persson of Open Europe defends the Coalition's referendum lock

By Tim Montgomerie

Although Open Europe's Mats Persson concedes that the Coalition has disappointed Eurosceptics so far he argues that the referendum lock announced yesterday by Europe Minister, David Lidington, should not be dismissed. On a blog for The Spectator's Coffee House he explains why:

"New crises, situations and politicians’ egos will always drive the need for another treaty and further integration. For example, German Chancellor Angela Merkel has repeatedly called for a new treaty to fix the eurozone*, likely to spill over to Britain in one way or another. The threat of the UK’s referendum lock could be an important strategic asset to argue that a repatriation of powers is the only way the British electorate would agree to the changes. If negotiated intelligently, the net effect would be more powers for Westminster and less for Brussels."

Mr Persson continues that it is vital that Mr Lidington's lock covers a range of possible transfers of power:

  • "Any decision to opt into measures in Justice and Home Affairs be subject to the referendum lock, or at the very least, an Act of Parliament. This would mean that the Coalition cannot opt in to, say, an amendment to the European Arrest Warrant, giving the ECJ the final say over this law, unless the people, or the Parliament, agree...
  • Every use of the Lisbon Treaty’s ratchet clauses or other articles, which involve handing over control to Brussels - subject to a strict definition...  should be covered by the referendum lock or an Act of Parliament. This would neutralise the “self-amendment” provisions in the Lisbon Treaty."

Read the full blog.

* ConservativeHome hopes that Chancellor Merkel pursues a Treaty that builds deeper fiscal integration among Eurozone member states. Closer fiscal union is necessary for monetary union, as Eurosceptics have long argued. The price of agreeing to the new Treaty should be a substantial renegotiation of the UK's own relationship with Brussels.


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