LONDON, May 24 (UPI) -- Britain can still take steps to improve the European Constitution to preserve its ability to object to future decisions, Lord David Owen says.
The former British foreign minister, who chairs New Europe and is an independent member of the House of Lords, told the press in London the European Bill currently before Parliament could be amended to include certain safeguards against centralized decision-making.
Amendments could prevent, among other things, a common European defense policy being implemented without a specific act in the British Parliament, he said. An interpretative declaration of the wording of the treaty could enable British courts to challenge unsatisfactory future decisions, he added.
The British might still vote to endorse the treaty if a referendum is eventually held, he said.
He said, however, if the Netherlands rejects the document, "there is absolutely no doubt the British will vote no in any referendum. The Dutch are widely respected in (Britain), they are a serious European country ... If they vote against it, the British won't need any encouragement."
The French and Dutch referendums are to be held on May 29 and June 1, respectively.