The European Union: In or Out?
Dr Helen Szamuely was born in the Soviet Union and attended school in Hungary, Ghana and Britain. She has a First Class degree from the University of Leeds and a D.Phil from the University of Oxford. She has written extensively on Russia, Eastern Europe and the European Union, and is co-author with Bill Jamieson of A Coming Home or Poisoned Chalice?, a critical study of European Union enlargement. Dr Szamuely also co-authored Alien Thoughts: Reflections on Identity published by the Bruges Group.
Bernard Connolly is the author of the acclaimed book on the ERM and EMU, The Rotten Heart of Europe: the Dirty War for Europe’s Money. Widely regarded as one of the foremost experts on the interaction of economics, politics and markets, he is an internationally respected financial market economist working in the City.
Patrick Louis MEP is a French MEP, in the Independence and Democracy Group. He is on the Transport and Industry Committees. M. Louis is a free market economist from the University of Lyon.
The Main Event:
The Bruges Group vs The Federal Union
The European Union: In or Out?
The Bruges Group team
Nigel Farage is a founder member of the UK Independence Party. He was a Conservative activist until John Major's signing of the Maastricht Treaty. Nigel Farage is a Member of the European Parliament.
Luke Johnson is Chairman of Channel 4. He also owns Signature Restaurants. He is also a director and owner of other companies. He writes a regular column in the city pages of The Sunday Telegraph.
The Federal Union team
Richard Laming is the Director of the Federal Union, the British federalist campaigning organisation, and works in public affairs for commercial interests in London and Brussels. He was also the Head of Campaigns for the European Movement.
Professor Stephen Haseler is professor of government at London Metropolitan University and Deputy Chairman of the Federal Union. He is the author of Super-State: Europe’s Challenge to American Power and The End of the House of Windsor.
Ian Milne has been the Director of Global Britain since 1999. He was the founder-editor of The European Journal, and the co-founder and first editor of eurofacts. He is the author of numerous pamphlets and articles including A Cost Too Far?, an analysis of the economic costs of EU membership, which Ian Milne discussed.
Steen Thomsen was Secretary General for The Danish People's Party from 1999 to 31st December 2003. He is now an executive committee member of The Danish People's Party. He participated in planning the referendum campaign against the euro in Denmark. He discussed the Danish People's Party's view on developments within the EU and the Danish referendum on the EU Constitution.
Christophe Beaudouin practises as a Barrister at the Court of Appeal in Paris. He was President of the Movement Young Gaullists (UJP) and a candidate in the European Parliament elections. Christophe is also a city council member.
Dr Richard North along with Christopher Booker is the co-author of The Great Deception, the seminal history of the European Union. Dr North has also written two books on bureaucracy and the EU, with Christopher Booker, and one on the death of British agriculture. Richard North spoke on how EU defence integration will end the special relationship.
Speech by Bernard Connolly
“Europe” is an enormously broad topic. I wasn’t sure quite what I was going to say until Thursday. Then I noticed a comment made by the Norwegian PM, Kjell Bondevik. He said that the re-election of George Bush was making him rethink his previous opposition to membership of the EU. And it became quite clear that people in Britain – perhaps even the Conservative party – would start saying similar things, using the issue of America and of Bush to support our continued membership of the EU.
There would seem to be two strands to the sort of argument that might be made.
First, that the stance of the US, in particular after George Bush’s re-election, makes it imperative to construct a European counterweight.
Second, that the federalist dragon in Europe has been slain.
So if we throw ourselves wholeheartedly into the “European construction, we can ensure our “independence” of US hegemony while avoiding a loss of our identity in a federal superstate.
Both limbs of this argument rest on false premises.
What is it that critics of America dislike about its stance —and not just its foreign policy stance but its domestic policy stance? They dislike it because it is American and because it is – as the election showed - faith-based.
The American Constitution and American political traditions are influenced by two different philosophical strands. The first is the idea of Covenant – and the idea of Covenant effectively sees absolute State power as blasphemy.
Benjamin Franklin, recall, proposed that the Great Seal of the United States should bear the motto, “Resistance to Tyrants is Obedience to God”. And, of course, the notion among today’s born-again American Christians of America as the New Jerusalem comes down directly from the English Puritans – and, through the Puritans, from the original Jerusalem1.
David Elazar, for instance, argues that the Covenant between God and Israel made after the Exodus was a political revolution through its incorporation of the idea that the right to rule does not simply belong to the stronger but that power is established through the consent of both sides.
Elazar goes to say that, “The justification for the republican revolution [in the American colonies] was drawn directly and explicitly from the covenant idea,” 2 and that, “Politically, the covenant idea has within it the seeds of modern constitutionalism in that covenants define and limit the powers of the parties to them, a limitation not inherent in nature but involving willed concessions.” 3
Elazar further expands,
“Thus, the covenant idea has been important for the growth of democratic government. It presupposes the independence and worth of each individual and the truth that each person possesses certain inalienable rights, because only free people with rights can enter into agreements with one another. It also presupposes the necessity for government and the need to organize civil society on principles that assure the maintenance of those rights and the exercise of power in a cooperative or partner-like way.
On the other hand, covenantal liberty is not simply the right to do as one pleases, within broad boundaries. Contractual liberty could be just that, but covenantal liberty emphasizes the liberty to pursue the moral purposes for which the covenant was made. This latter kind of liberty requires that moral distinctions be drawn and that human actions be judged according to the terms of the covenant. This does not preclude changes in social norms but the principles of judgment remain constant.”
Yoram Hazony argues that,
“Unqualified obedience to the State is the fundamentally pagan idea, the essential political teaching of the great idolatries of antiquity; [while] freedom of conscience and disobedience to unjust law are the core of biblical political teaching, which arose as a rejection of pagan statism…. The fundamental Jewish political innovation, and that which ultimately separated ancient Israel from the nations, was the understanding that no earthly power, no matter how well guided, can be the final measure of right and wrong. The prophets drew a line which had never been drawn before, declaring the king, whether he was God’s anointed or not, to be only human, his actions prone to error and evil like those of any human being, and that there was nothing the state or its official priesthood could do to make an injustice right.” 4
One can argue, as do the editors of Azure, that these biblical principles gave rise to “an American, common-denominator faith that affirms a set of values that have long been shared by the great majority of Americans. It is the kind of religion that has characterized the United States for at least a century, contributing to its emergence as both the most liberal and the most faith-driven democracy on earth. Its emphasis on individual responsibility and freedom makes this religion the progenitor of American liberalism, while its affirmation of family, nation, and tradition sets the foundation for conservatism as well. American culture, it may be said, is founded on just this dual portrait of human potential: …deeply attached to family, country, and traditions, which in the end prove to be the things most worth fighting for.”5
Essentially, the Covenant approach insists that there is a “higher law”. One does not necessarily have to be a religious believer to commend this approach. An attachment to the Rule of Law as opposed to the Rule of Men is enough. That is a theme I’ll come back to.
The second strand in the American political tradition is rather different: it derives from the ideas of the so-called European Enlightenment, and particularly Lockean contract theory, which as corrupted by Rousseau, had the French Revolution as its unhappy offspring.
To an extent one can see these two strands as reflecting the New England-based emphasis on Covenant, and the Virginian emphasis on the Enlightenment. But although Jefferson was a great admirer of the initial stages of the French Revolution, the Rousseauvian principle of the General Will — probably the most tyrannical and murderous in history, the true progenitor not only of the French Terror under Robesepierre but also of the Stalinist Terror – never got a hold in the minds of Americans. The US has never been Jacobin in its domestic political philosophy.
What is Jacobinism? It is the philosophy of the EU Constitution. That constitution enshrines a secular religion; it is thus comparable in the scope of its ambition to the French and Soviet revolutions. It involves the notion of the perfectibility of Man – a return to a pre-Lapsarian state of the world – by the power of social and political action.
In that, it is anti-Christian. And it is irresistibly attractive to the most narcissistic of politicians, among whom one has to number Tony Blair.
It marks a form of elite insurrectionist politics in which an elite, believing itself possessed of true social and political knowledge, feels entitled to seize and hold political power in the name of the people. It constitutes an exercise in “nation-building”, attempting to forge a national homogeneity out of diverse peoples without much regard to their consent.
But is that not exactly what the present US Administration is doing? Many people argue that it is. Thus, for instance, one “Austrian” reviewer of Claes Ryn’s 2003 book, America the Virtuous: The Crisis of Democracy and the Quest for Empire, paraphrases Ryn’s argument is as follows:
“Just like the earlier Jacobins, the new American Jacobins believe that an intellectual and political elite is needed to educate and guide society to its egalitarian, democratic utopia. In addition, this means that many of the traditional constitutional restraints on the federal government must be set aside so the central government has the power and discretion to bring America to its domestic destiny. The new Jacobins also insist that this model of a perfected America is the ideal that the rest of the world should follow. The United States is called on to bring this ideal to the ignorant, backward, and corrupt nations around the globe. And with the same revolutionary zeal of the older Jacobins, this goal is to be accomplished through the force of arms if necessary.” 6
Ryn, a Catholic academic, links his perception of American Jacobinism to the idea of the so-called Christian Right’s view of America as God’s new chosen people:
“Breaking sharply with the mainstream of traditional Christianity, which has made a distinction between the things of God and the things of Caesar, this form of religion identifies a particular political power, America, with God’s will…. In its practical effects on United States foreign policy, this religious triumphalism puts a religious gloss on neo-Jacobinism.” 7
In other words, is not the European Enlightenment strand of the American political tradition coming to the fore in the Bush Administration, at the expense of the Covenant strand?
My answer to that question is “no”.
Candidate Bush of 2000 went to great lengths to stress a need for “humility” in American foreign policy and was very wary about, even hostile to, the idea of “nation-building”.
The “humility” that Bush preached in the 2000 election campaign represented two things.
First, there was a belief in an untroubled and effectively uncontested US hegemony – a hegemony that meant the US could largely forget about the rest of the world and concentrate on its domestic affairs.
Second, there was a reaction to the undoubted foreign policy Jacobinism of the Clinton Administration and its European friends.
September 11 destroyed the first of those two elements and led to the Pentagon doctrine of pre-emption. But although the practice of American foreign policy changed very markedly after September 11, its underlying philosophy did not: policy still aims at using American military hegemony to protect the USA, not to impose an imperium in the world. It represents what might call a “forward strategy”. One can argue about whether this is the best way of protecting the US or not - about whether or not the Administration is competent - but the US now is definitely not acting in an imperialist way.
The Bush Administration does not seek world government. But nor does it seek American government of the world. It seeks to restore a pre-9/11 world order, an order in which America can pursue, domestically, the aims of its founding Covenant. That may or not be a selfish aim – I think it is admirable – but it is certainly not imperialist.
Contrast that with the EU – or for that matter with the Clinton Administration or the Bush Sr. Administration.
Bush Sr.’s Secretary of State, James Baker, following up his disastrous record in economic affairs (he was, as Treasury Secretary, a major proponent of the horrible Louvre Accords on exchange rates in 1987), said in 1991 that US foreign policy should not serve specifically US interests but “Enlightenment ideals of universal applicability”. That was an unmistakably neo-Jacobin aspiration. And he went on to advocate “a Euro-Atlantic community that extends east from Vancouver to Vladivostok.” That had the nightmarish ring of world government about it.
Things got worse under Clinton. Richard Holbrooke, Clinton’s Assistant Secretary of State for Europe, urged NATO to “drop bombs for peace” on Serbia.
One step up in the hierarchy from Holbrooke was Clinton’s top foreign policy adviser, Strobe Talbott, the Deputy Secretary of State. In 1992 he wrote an article entitled, The Birth of the Global Nation, an article that says a great deal about the Clinton Administration’s foreign policy.
“[U]unity will prevail over disunity,” he wrote. “Nationhood as we know it will be obsolete; all states will recognize a single, global authority. A phrase briefly fashionable in the mid-20th century – ‘citizen of the world’ - will have assumed real meaning by the end of the century.”
Talbott's view, and the Clinton Administration's as well, was that all countries are really nothing more than social arrangements: “No matter how permanent and even sacred they may seem at any one time,” he wrote, “in fact they are all artificial and temporary. Through the ages there has been an overall trend toward larger units claiming sovereignty…. It has taken the events in our own wondrous and terrible century to clinch the case for world government.” 8
Unsurprisingly, Talbott was a fervent supporter of the ambitions of the European Union: “The Cold War also saw the European Community pioneer the kind of regional cohesion that may pave the way for globalism.”
If Al Gore – that disciple of the doctrines of Arnand Hammer – had beaten Bush in 2000, the world would have faced an ultimate threat of a Jacobin world government, conducted with the EU. If Kerry had won this week, that threat might have been revived. No wonder the EU has been so viscerally hostile to Bush.
That is something Iain Duncan Smith realized very well; it is scandalous that his successor has chosen opportunistically to ignore that knowledge.
While the EU imperialists loved Talbott, Holbrooke and Clinton and Kerry, they at the same time undermined those figures’ arguments.
Socialist MEPs hailed NATO’s attack on Serbia as “the first post-nationalist war”. That pregnant phrase carried two messages: first, nation states could no longer have the blame for wars pinned on them: the idea of world government, pursued by the European inheritors of the mantle of Robespierre and Lenin, would be the cause of wars; second, there would be lots of them.
After all, the EU’s military ambitions cannot realistically be seen as necessary for the defence of the countries of the EU -- rather, by creating the possibility of competition with, even hostility towards, the US, they massively weaken the defence of those countries.
Instead, these EU military ambitions – pursued more eagerly by Blair than by anyone else – are nakedly imperialist.
It is Blair who, in his Warsaw speech, said that, “The European Union is no longer [sic] just [sic] about peace[sic]: it is about the projection of power”. It was Blair’s foreign policy adviser, Robert Cooper, who wrote articles extolling European imperialism. And it is Blair, not Bush, who, to use Ryn’s phrase, “puts a religious gloss on neo-Jacobinism.”
Recall the strictures we quoted earlier and change the word “America” to “Britain”: “The new British Jacobins believe that an intellectual and political elite is needed to educate and guide society to its egalitarian, democratic utopia. In addition, this means that many of the traditional constitutional restraints on the central government must be set aside so that government has the power and discretion to bring Britain to its domestic destiny. The new Jacobins also insist that this model of a perfected Britain is the ideal that the rest of the world should follow.”
That, everyone must surely agree, captures Mr. Blair and his Court to a “T”. The only wrinkle is that Blair, in his more rational moments, knows that Britain is not big enough or powerful enough to make the rest of the world follow his ideal. Britain is not the right vehicle for Blair’s ambitions: it has to be “Europe”.
And that leads on to a consideration of the second limb of the pro-EU argument in Britain: that the federalist dragon has been slain.
I don’t want to see a federal Europe, because a genuine federation, to be a Covenant-based polity in which the State is subject to some higher law, must possess a demos. There must be a European people, yet even fanatical supporters of a European superstate, such as Chris Patten, admit there is no European people.
But, some say, Europe can compensate for that absence of demos by the excellence and virtue of its ethos and telos. Yet the EU’s ethos and telos are precisely those of the Jacobins.
Its telos – its vocation, as the Commission would put it – is imperialist. That is what I have just been talking about.
And its ethos is totalitarian: it is based directly and explicitly on the Rousseauvian General Will.
Domestically, Blair the great proponent of “Europe”, has already shown himself to be, in effect, totalitarian: everyone will remember his notorious conference speech from a few years ago when he spoke of “nation and party united as never before”. Implicitly he is saying, “Britain is New Labour; New Labour is me; Britain is me.”
His government has certainly alarmed the Lord Chief Justice. I mentioned earlier that the Rule of Law, in a Covenant-based polity, stands above the Rule of Man. Lord Woolf, whatever one thinks of his sentencing policy, put it very well last month, when he said that the absence of the Rule of Law leads to dictatorship and that even if a dictatorship is initially benevolent, it can also --and usually does -- become malevolent.
The EU is already malevolent: the fearful Charter of Fundamental Rights makes that very clear indeed. It comes directly from the idea of the General Will, and it deifies the State. The State gives certain rights – those, and only those enumerated in the Charter – and the State can take those rights away whenever it sees fit.
The idea of the General Will can be traced back to the organic, hierarchical polities of Greece and Rome and to Roman law. As Justinian himself put it, in the Institutes, “The whim of the Prince is law.” Why? Because the Prince – the emperor — was God? Justinian himself was Christian: he could not himself claim to be God; instead, the State itself was deified, a model followed in the French, Soviet and Nazi revolutions and now in the EU.
“The whim of the Prince is law”: that was the meaning of the Nazi Enabling Act of February 28, 1933. In Britain it may well turn out – Lord Woolf clearly suspects as much -- to be the meaning of the Civil Contingencies Bill. In the EU, it is very definitely the meaning of the Charter and of the existing decisions of the so-called European Court of Justice (I decline to refer to these decisions either as “case-law” or as “jurisprudence”).
Article 52 of the Charter – which simply reprises, let me repeat, existing decisions of the ECJ - states explicitly that any and all aspects of freedom – freedom of expression, freedom of association, freedom of religion, freedom from arbitrary arrest, freedom from attainder, freedom from unfair trial and freedom from torture – shall be limited by the State if “necessary in pursuit of objectives of common interest.”
That is pure raison d’état, the antithesis of the Rule of Law in a covenant-based system - one such as that of Anglo-Saxon England, which resisted the Norman Conquest and became the basis of the common law, which is now also the law of the English-speaking world.
All governments are to a greater or lesser extent prone to using raison d’état. But not all polities let them do it unhindered. The US Constitution and the US Supreme Court, and behind them the Covenant on which the USA is built, will, I am confident – and more confident after Tuesday – ultimately insist that freedoms are respected, however inconvenient that might be to a particular Administration.
But in the EU, it is the “supreme court” that proclaims the doctrine of raison d’état loudest of all, and the underlying basis of the polity is not a Covenant that recognizes a higher law but the tyranny of a supposed General Will.
Will that still matter if the EU constitution is, as looks probable, defeated in a referendum in one or more countries? Yes, it will.
The existing EU structure, though perhaps not quite as offensive as that which would be erected by the constitution, is already capable of delivering us all into the hands of the ECJ through intergovernmentalism if not through federalism.
We have already seen Blunkett and Blair give up our national veto in immigration and asylum policy. We shall probably see the government, whatever its current protestations, agree to the establishment of a European Public prosecutor. We shall probably see the government agree to the establishment of an EU-wide system of criminal justice in which the House of Lords is replaced as final court of criminal appeal by the ECJ. We shall probably see the government agree to more sweeping EU-wide measures supposedly aimed at combating terrorism – a term whose interpretation will become ever wider. We shall certainly see the superstate – made up of the member governments - legislating to restrict the freedoms I have enumerated.
The government will do these things because it wants to do them. And it wants to do them through the EU because the actions of the EU are almost impossible to reverse.
So even if one naively thought that Blair might actually be a powerful player in an intergovernmental superstate, one could draw no comfort from that. My idea of British freedom and independence is not that of an unaccountable and authoritarian superstate in which one of the big bosses happens to be British. But that is – at the very best -- what Blair can claim to offer us when he says that the federalist dragon has been slain.
I want for Britain what George Bush wants for America – the right for us to decide our own affairs according to our lights. And I want those lights to continue to be – or revert to being – those of a Covenant-based polity, in which there is a higher law to which the State must submit. I certainly do not want a theocracy – a State that claims to be the voice and arm of God – but I equally do not want a State that ignores the moral prohibition on absolute power – the kind of State incarnated by the EU and so attractive to Blair.
Leaving the EU might not be a sufficient condition for that. The US, except to the extent to which it has supported the ambitions of pro-“Europeans” –unfortunately a significant extent until now - has guaranteed Britain’s freedom in a sense since 1917 and very definitely since 1941 – just as the Royal Navy guaranteed America’s freedom and economic development through most of the nineteenth century. The continued effectiveness of that guarantee will be in inverse proportion to the degree of US Administration infatuation with the idea of “Europe”. In other words, it will be more effective under Bush than it was under Clinton or would have been under Gore or Kerry.
One can agree for once with Hoon – when he says that we have a duty of loyalty to our American ally. We certainly have no duty of loyalty – whatever the treaties or the proposed constitution may say - to a European continent whose major powers have striven for centuries, and continue to strive today, not to guarantee our freedom but to destroy it – along with the freedom of their own peoples.
Leaving the EU may not be a sufficient condition for freedom, but it is certainly a necessary one.
The views expressed in this talk are those of the author alone
- It was John Winthrop, the first governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony who first spoke of New England as “the city on a hill.”
- The Covenant Tradition in Politics, Volume 2: Covenant and Commonwealth: from Christian Separation through the Protestant Reformation, Transaction, 1996, p.50.
- Covenant Tradition in Politicsme 1: nant and Polity in Biblical Israelnsaction, 1994, p.68
- “The Jewish Origins of the Western Disobedience Tradition”, Azure4, Summer 5758/1998
- Azure, Autumn 5765/2004, Editorial
- Richard M. Ebeling, The Freeman: Ideas on Liberty, April 2004.
- Claes G. Ryn, “The Ideology of American Empire”, Orbis, The Foreign Policy Research Institute, Summer 2003. pp. 383-397.
- Of course Talbott, like so many others, massively mis-analyses and misrepresents the experience of the twentieth century and its implications: see Bernard Connolly, Circle of Barbed Wire, October 2003 pp 15-18.
Speech by Patrick Louis, MEP
Mr Chairman, ladies and gentlemen:
Thank you, first of all, for asking me here. I am proud and honoured that you chose me to bring a French perspective to your debates.
Of course, this is not the first time that Frenchmen have been welcomed on this side of the Channel to defend their country’s sovereignty!
And if the threat to our independence is thankfully no longer a military one, it is no less serious for that. For the European constitution, as it stands, would spell the end of France and Britain as nation-states – at least in the sense that we know them.
Until now, the European project has been pursued by stealth. Each new treaty took us closer to the federalist objective, but no one ever spelt it out. We went from a customs union to a common market to a single currency. Now we come to the constitution.
And now the federalists have broken cover and we can see their goal for what it always was: a European state. A state with its own flag, currency, national anthem, passport and parliament; with its own legal personality and emerging military capacity.
Now we must decide, in the coming referendums, whether to abandon the nation-state as the focus of our democracy.
French voters will decide this issue on the basis of two questions.
First, what are Europe’s geographical limits? Does the federal project, as embodied in this constitution, apply to all or part of our continent? Does Europe stretch to the Urals, or into Asia? This question is causing divisions throughout France, even within the governing party.
Second, are we prepared to accept the primacy of European law over our national statutes and even our national constitutions? Do we accept that a Commission ruling may strike down constitutional arrangements that have been properly adopted within our countries? Do we accept, in other words, that the least democratic form of law – an EU directive – shall override the most democratic – that passed by an elected national parliament?
Simply to pose this question is to see why all good democrats must note “no”.
What, then, are our chances of success in France?
I am reasonably optimistic. Many Frenchmen are concerned, of course, about the loss of self-government. But we have been joined in recent weeks by some unexpected allies from the socialist party.
Some on the French Left argue that the EU is a safeguard against what they call liberalism. What they really mean by this is that they want Brussels to impose socialist policies on the member states that have been rejected in national elections.
Whatever their motivation is, they are welcome. Our “no” campaign has room for everyone! I don’t care how people vote in national elections. I care about saving our democratic system, so that those elections continue to mean something.
This is a fight for all of us – whether we are British or French, Polish or Czech. We will vote “no”, not only for our own rights, but also for the freedom of all Europe’s nations.
That, my friends, is why we must work together. What is at stake is bigger than any one nation. It is even more important than the debate we are having today about being in or out of the Union. We are in, whether we like it or not. Our next fight is the referendum.
We must vote no, not because we are narrow-minded, not because we are nationalists, but, on the contrary, because we are Europeans.
Vive la France,
Vive la Grande-Bretagne!
Speech by Steen Thomsen
Dear Conference Delegates
Firstly, I would like to bring my very warm wishes from The Danish People’s Party and all Eurosceptics in Denmark and very many thanks for the invitation to participate in this conference.
I have been Secretary General for the Danish People’s Party for four years and am now a member of the Executive Committee.
Denmark is well known for having a healthy scepticism to the European Union, just as you do in Great Britain. The people of Denmark have given the vote of ”No” to even more Union quite a few times over the years. This is why we today, and thank goodness for that!, are doing quite well without the Euro. We are not European Union citizens, but Danish citizens. We are not a part of the European Union army, and we continue to have our legal “opt out clauses”.
This has meant that we have been able to tighten our immigration policies, which has also meant an outstanding drop in the amount of immigrants coming to Denmark. This is an area where we have been able to carry out our own politics in Denmark. We are not dictated to by the EU on this subject, thanks to our "opt out clauses."
My introduction starts by describing one area where we have been able to keep ”our right to decide”. We feel too much power is being taken away from the national parliaments and placed in the hands of the European Union.
The imminent arrival of the EU Constitution will undoubtedly ensure that even more power will moved over to the Union. Moreover, where the Union currently decides matters with unanimous voting could be replaced with majority voting. Meaning that many decisions will be made by a majority vote in the European Union despite the fact that a whole countries politicians and populations might be opposed to the subject in question!
In Denmark we have been in the privileged position of having a number of referendums regarding the European Union. Each time, politicians have told us ”Only this far – and no further”. Before the Union we were told that the Common Market would not develop into a Union, We were told the European Community would not develop into a Union. The Danish Conservative Prime Minister Poul Schlütter told us – (quote) ”The Union is stone dead!”, (unquote). A few years later the Union was a reality.
Before the Euro was introduced, they told us, there would never be a common currency in Europe. Time and time again leading politicians have told us ”Only this far, and no further.” But still it continues – the European Union run away train at full speed to a final destination that no-body knows the name of, and where the people don’t want to go.
When the euro was introduced, a poll in Germany showed that over 80% of all Germans did not want to have their D-mark replaced with the Euro. However, they were not asked to make a choice.
Allow me to come with yet another quote:
”To introduce a common currency, will in my opinion be to strongly assimilate countries where the ground values oppose it. There is a great difference between Greece, Denmark, Germany and France. There is no idea for a common currency.”
These wise words were spoken by Denmark’s Social Democratic Prime Minister Mr. Poul Nyrup Rasmussen in 1993. A couple of years later however, he declared a referendum on the Euro and recommended the common currency. Luckily, he lost the vote as Danes voted no!
When each country’s currency is melted together in a common currency (the Euro) the possibility no longer exists for exchange rate changes. Those countries that carry through an irresponsible economic policy, no longer just damage their national currency, but now they damage the common currency. The introduction of the euro rewards countries that carry through an irresponsible economic policy and punishes those that carry through a responsible economic policy. In this way countries are forced to carry through the same economic policy. If a country despite this carries through an irresponsible policy, it is punished with fines from the Union… Or it turns out, that if it’s a small country, they get fines – but if countries like France and Germany disobey these rigid rules, even over many years, there are no sanctions..... But still, their actions affect the common currency and are therefore damaging for all the countries in Euroland.
The Danish people have turned their backs on the Euro 3 times! – the politicians however, are now again talking about a new referendum for the Euro in connection with the referendum for the new Constitution. They keep on and on, until they get their yes to the Euro. But of course, once they get their yes, there will be no more referendums on that subject anymore... Ireland is another example that when the population was finally asked - they answered with a no! But instead of listening to the population and respecting the no – they are just asked one more time, with even more pressure_!
There is no respect for the opposition to the assimilation of populations. There is even less respect for a populations right to elect their own politicians to national parliaments. When the Austrian people voted for Jørg Haiders Freedom Party, Austria was placed outside the door. It is grotesque that the Union interferes with the people’s right to choose their own politicians, those that maybe have another opinion to those carried by the harmonised politicians in Brussels. There is no respect for the people’s desire that decisions are made best in the parliaments of their own countries. It is about time that someone pulls the emergency cord on this Union run away train, - make a stop and preserve each nations right to decide for themselves.
Last year, I had the honour of participating in the British Conservative Conference, ”Congress for Democracy”. The main theme was, to ensure that the imminent European Constitution should be given to the people as a referendum. It is grotesque that there need to be a fight to ensure such an important referendum is given to the people. It ought to be a human right!
I truly hope that those countries that have the possibility to vote on the European Constitution, will be the ones pulling the emergency cord in the European Run Away train and say no, to more union. The politicians must be forced to stop and find their way back to a co-operation between independent nations and to respect our wonderful differences.
I would like to point out, that we are not opposed to a co-operation with the countries in Europe. On the contrary, we are supporters of a co-operation with countries both in and outside Europe. There is a great deal we can work together to achieve: the environment and trade are two good examples. However, a great deal has come in the way from these co-operations and the present Union.
The European countries are different – luckily. Therefore, decisions are best make by the national parliaments – not by the European Union.
I would like to end by wishing you all the very best luck in your work up to the referendum on the European Constitution, and let me most of all wish for a huge NO to the European Constitution in many EU countries.
Speech by Christophe Beaudouin
Dear Bruges Group friends.
It is a great pleasure to find ourselves here, in King’s College London, amongst fellow ’Europeans from nation states’, defenders of sovereignty and by extension resolute opponents of the European Constitutional Treaty project.
For the French we are – MEP Patrick Louis (who spoke this morning) and I- defenders of national sovereignty, it’s an honour to speak in this prestigious place and in your splendid capital.
Indeed, for several centuries, England offers to the world a parliamentary model, a wonderful expression of the British people’s sovereignty.
And again, it’s from London that we can still hear the echo of General de Gaulle’s call for the peoples to resist.
So, not surprisingly, it is –again- from the United Kingdom along with Poland that came one of the best news for defenders of nations, at the last European election of last 13th of June…!
In France, in a few months, the parliament will meet to modify our constitution before the referendum announced by President Chirac.
Gaullists and Sovereignists leaders, be they left-wing or right-wing, have asked for it often enough!
It was even the raison d’être (if you’ll excuse the expression) for a coordinated European campaign for such a referendum. “SOS Democracy” – its very name echoed like a clarion call – was set up in the European Parliament by its chairman, Jens-Peter Bonde.
We were demanding a referendum because we couldn’t comprehend how such a page of the history of our nations could be turned, yet again, under the noses of the people of Europe.
Except that, already no longer being sovereign on this continent, it’s no longer up to them to write the last chapter.
However, when you think for a moment about the question that is going to be asked, it is quite scary how much the stakes seem to pass the citizen himself by.
Who has the legitimate authority to take sovereignty away from Europe’s peoples?
Does a majority of electors in a given country, at a given moment in time, have the legal authority on some fine Spring summer’s day, to ditch the right of a people and future generations this fundamental freedom – the freedom to govern themselves?
National and popular sovereignty is not Parliament’s possession.
Nor is it the property of a body of the electorate expressing itself in a referendum.
Such are no more than the privileged guardians and watchkeepers of a treasure that was conquered in a great struggle by our ancestors; something we, young generations, won’t accept to give up, and that we must pass on, intact, to our descendents.
If we are delighted at being able to tackle this referendum campaign, and if we are impatient to fight the Constitutional Treaty, it’s with the conviction that basically, no one has the legitimate right to answer the question that will be put, not even the people.
So for us, this referendum can not be lost. A ‘No’ to any European constitution is more than a necessity: it’s a duty we owe History.
In France, many political figures, sometimes for different reasons, have joined the No to a Federal Europe camp.
Indeed, in a few days time if I succeed, a Joint Campaign for a European Confederation is due to be set up, reuniting several personalities with their roots in ‘historical Gaullism’, MPs from the UMP, from the Centre Right and I hope, MEPs from the party of Philippe de Villiers.
It is a key event in the campaign: these are very different people who have decided to bring together their skills and forces, to block the madness of supranationalism, this dangerous ideology of old empires, this utopia born during the cold war.
In the age of atom, micro-ship technology, internet, the relationship between weight and power is no longer what it used to be.
We don’t need a new Soviet Union in Europe.
We need a flexible Europe.
That is why:
- We refuse to allow a higher law to override a national law, including constitutional law
- We refuse to allow the limitless extension of Qualified Majority Vote without any right of appeal or of opposition from any people
- We refuse to allow the Union to become a superstate, equipped with legal personality, the ability to sign international agreements, raise taxes, and sit down at the nation’s place in U.N.O. We refuse to give up our British and French veto in U.N.O to an invisible power.
- And then, we refuse to have a ‘Charter of Fundamental Rights’ incorporated into the constitutional project, that overturns the definition of our laws and freedoms, such as they have been built up over the centuries by our parliaments and by our national courts of law.
The Europe which we want is not based on ideology, the logic of an idea.
Our Europe is pragmatic – the logic of reality.
Well, the reality is that Europe is made up of nations, and that it’s from these nations that we have to organise a Europe to confront hegemonies from wherever they may come.
Against the Europe of ‘shared sovereignty’ (as if indeed sovereignty could ever be shared!) – against a Europe then without sovereignty – we support a Europe of ‘partners in sovereignty’.
It is what it was all about back in the foundations and starting points, back in the Treaty of Rome. It’s the Europe that lasted for a quarter of a century that we should pursue the building.
It’s the Europe that peace allowed to be born. Contrary to received wisdom, it’s not Europe that has brought peace, it’s because of peace that Europe was made.
Well, since the 1980’s and especially since the Treaty of Maastricht, Europe has stopped being the daughter of Europe’s nations.
It has become their enemy.
We will say in this campaign that we have to go back to the foundations.
We will fight for a refounding treaty for Europe, for a confederation, in other words an association of states that remain sovereign and that delegate the running of certain powers to a common body.
If, as we believe, in the UK, in France, the ‘No’ wins, we will have scored a decisive goal against the powerful federalist camp, but the match won’t be over …
A win over the ‘Giscard Constitution’ will not bring home the wide rafts of competences already lost to the civil servants, judges and bankers of Brussels, Luxembourg and Francfort.
It will not prevent subsequent federal law from overriding national, even constitutional, law, because the courts are already leaning that way.
In France, following the Supreme Court and the Council of State, the Constitutional Council itself, three days before the 13 June MEP elections and in the greatest secrecy, gave supremacy to a directive over the French Constitution. (It only publicised this decision the day after the election stating that it wanted to avoid giving arguments to the opponents of the federalism…!)
That’s why if, after having run a campaign side by side across the whole of Europe, we win at least one of the referendums, and make the project fail, we must be ready to transform the exercise.
We must immediately appear as those who have saved Europe from federalism, and as the pioneers for a vibrant enlarged Europe.
In our ‘No’ campaign, we should be capable of offering a credible alternative, a new European project.
We could propose a fundamental treaty which would be a ‘Charter of the Rights of Nations’ built up around certain simple principles:
- the superiority of national constitutions
- reinforcing the direct role of national parliaments in the processes of European decision-making
- recognition of a right of veto for states protecting their vital interests
- rehabilitating the principle of Community preference
In the coming months, why not work and reflect together, on our alternative projects, within a sort of “counter-Convention” or “shadow Convention” for the refounding of Europe, which would give our movement all the depth that it deserves?
We are not a flotsam of opponents in the wake of European federalism.
We are those people who, in Europe, oppose the dilution of political willpower, that is handing us over to world forces and breaking, one by one, our vital links.
We are those people who, in Europe, are defending the sovereignty of their nation and of their people, without which democracy has never and can never be.
We are those people who want to put nations back at Europe’s tiller, because we refuse to see our country become, no more than a simple expression of geography, but on the contrary, that it should remain a player in history.