Thursday, February 27, 2003
A Dawning Realisation - 27th February 2003, 20.12

The Confederation of British Industry (CBI), the Times reported today, is lobbying to ensure that the European Charter of Fundamental Rights does not impact upon British industrial relations law. The CBI has recognised that the Constitution, as presently structured, may overrule Britain's more progressive laws on the right to strike and impose the corporatist privileges that unions enjoy on the Continent. They have stated that the Constitution is the most important issue facing British industry.

The Confederation does not have to worry just yet. The Praesidium of the European Convention is faced with a deluge of amendments, 80 of them on the issue of God alone. With the diplomatic division in the EU, Giscard D'Estaing and the Convention have also been surprised at the demands from accession countries for a voice in the Convention. Their argument is that they are not being represented at a time of radical change although they will be expected to swallow the medicine that the existing members have agreed.

The whole enterprise has proved more divisive than the European elites ever envisaged due to the current Iraqi crisis. Yet, the issue of a common foreign and security policy has been resolved in theory, if not in practice. The inertia of the Convention is keeping the project on the road and integration remains the order of the day, even if concessions have to be made to those joining the club and the date set for completion is probably moved into 2004.


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