Tuesday, December 02, 2003
Persuading old allies

Geoff Hoon is meeting Donald Rumsfeld in order to allay US concerns about the fleshing out of the joint defence clauses written into the draft of the European Constitution. As there are 1,000 planners in NATO and 30 in the new planning unit, the ambitions are not yet matched by the embryonic institutional structures being put in place.

On a separate note, the CBI has warned that the proposed Constitution could undermine British industry and security. Energy assets (North Sea oil and gas) could be sequestrated under a European licensing and nationalisation system, sharing these assets to all Member States in a time of crisis.

His [Digby Jones, Director-General of the CBI] deputy, John Cridland, said last night that the energy chapter could allow the EU to take control of energy supplies by giving it the potential right in times of crisis or scarcity to effectively share out reserves.

"It's not that evil people in Brussels want to steal our oil and gas but we should not be signing a treaty with significant uncertainty or ambiguity," he said. The EU could take control of licensing and regulation.

By extension, a crisis in pension provision could lead to the sequestration of private pension assets from countries with a strong asset base.

Alistair Darling made noises. That's another battle lost then.

(22.49, 2nd December 2003)


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