Of Oaths and Solemn Declarations
The Rt. Hon. Peter Mandleson will later this year, upon taking up his post as the UK's EU Commissioner, be making a solemn declaration before the Court of Justice of the European Communities. That declaration is intended to pledge a Commissioners sole allegiance to the European Union.
In the case of the new British commissioner the making of this solemn and symbolic declaration will be in conflict with the oath that Mr Mandleson swore (or possibly affirmed) when he was appointed as a Privy Counsellor in May 1997.
The substance of the oath sworn by the Hartlepool MP, when he became a Privy Counsellor includes the solemn undertaking: 'to bear faith and allegiance to the Crown and to defend its jurisdiction and powers against all foreign, persons or states'.
In the Autumn the UK's new (and now only) EU Commissioner will be required to declare: ' To perform my duties in complete independence, in the general interests of the communities; in carrying out my duties 'neither to seek or to take instructions from any Government or body; to refrain from any action incompatible with my duties.'
How can The Rt. Hon. Peter Mandleson defend the jurisdiction and powers of the UK and at the same time act in the general interests of the communities?
There is a clear conflict, allegiance may be born to one or other of the oaths but not both. What then should the UK's new Commissioner do to resolve this conflict of loyalties ? Clearly he should resign as a Privy Counsellor. That is not likely to happen. No other UK EU commissioner has done so and they have all faced the same dilemma.
Questions should be asked, letters should be written by Her Majesty's subjects to Her Majesty.