Explanation of vote on Barcelona Summit - 20th March 2002
Although I and my party support the thrust of the Spanish Presidency to keep alive the Lisbon 10 year strategy to make Europe the most competitive and dynamic economy, it is clearly disappointing to see such a limited achievement in liberalising French energy markets for consumers when their companies are actively moving into UK markets. Furthermore, it is important whilst talking about preserving the European Social model that we do not simply impose a whole burden of social legislation preventing a flexible Labour market whilst doing nothing to create new jobs for the millions of unemployed in the EU.
I also have doubts about the need for a costly Galileo GPS system when there is a perfectly adequate one available for free from the USA. I do, however, welcome the agreement to secure the integrity of the Serbian and Montenegro Federation, though bizarelly this country sems to be happy to live with 2 different currencies - the Dinar and Euro- whereas the EU with 15 countries seems determined to impose one currency on all its members!
Nevertheless the reason I and many Conservative colleagues abstained overall is that there is an unacceptable reference in Paragraph 37 to the UK Spanish talks on the future of Gibraltar which in no way takes into consideration the views of the 30,000 Gibraltarians who clearly wish to retain their sovereign link with Britain. The UK Labour Government has little interest in defending their cause, and has informed Gibraltar that it will be marginalised and financially pressured into falling into line with UK European strategic goals if they do not support the outcome of the talks.
It is my belief that if this becomes reality Gibraltar should seek self-determination or some sort of Andorra solution. If the Spanish government disagrees it should consider what its response would be if Portugal were to insist on its Treaty Right to have Olivenca returned or Morocco were to insist on Ceuta and Mellila becoming theirs.