EU to be given prominent UN role

Telegraph UK (Link) - Bruno Waterfield (July 15, 2010)

The EU is to be given similar rights and powers to a fully fledged nation state in the United Nations general assembly.

The proposals, following the introduction of the Lisbon Treaty and an increase in foreign policy power, will mean that Europe�s desk will be moved from the margins, where it sits with organisations such as Nato�s parliamentary body, near to the centre of the UN�s assembly chamber.

Baroness Ashton, the EU foreign minister or �High Representative,� will be given a special seat alongside a new European UN ambassador with �the right to speak in a timely manner, the right of reply, the right to circulate documents, the right to make proposals and submit amendments (and) the right to raise points of order.�

EU sources told The Daily Telegraph that William Hague, the foreign secretary, was forced to �back down� and accept the plan as part of the creation of a Brussels diplomatic service under the Lisbon Treaty.

While in opposition, Mr Hague expressed concern, alongside Conservative calls for a referendum over the treaty, that the EU could use the new foreign policy powers to undermine Britain�s role on the UN Security Council.

�This is a very political and very sensitive issue,� said an EU diplomatic source. �Hague had to back down.�

According to European diplomats, Britain blocked German and Irish proposals to give the EU the power to call a vote.

In statement to MPs, David Lidington, the Europe minister, stressed that Britain had imposed strict conditions on the EU�s new UN role.

�The UK�s support is strictly limited and does not imply agreement to seek additional rights in any other forums and does not prejudge whether the EU should actually exercise those rights on any particular issue,� he said.

Euro-sceptics have the accused Mr Hague and the Tories of betraying the independence of Britain�s foreign policy.

�This is the thin end of the wedge. How long before David Cameron concedes our seat at the UN Security Council?,� asked Nigel Farage, Ukip�s European leader. �The Tory government has swallowed EU federalism hook, line and rusty old sinker.�

The plan to give the EU an increased UN role is expected to be tabled in New York �in the coming weeks� and faces opposition. Arab and African countries have expressed anger because their own regional organisations will not be given the same privileges as the EU.