Our democracy betrayed
How bad is it now and how does it work?
History; how did we get into this mess?
How much does EU membership cost us in cash?
(ii) in capital projects
The case for staying in the EU
What does the proposed new Constitution have in store for us?
A couple of EU jokes
Our democracy betrayed
"Sovereignty", the "British Constitution", our "democracy", "self-government"; what threads run through these priceless things, and hold them together? At least two fundamental principles are common to all of them. The first is the hard won right of the British people to elect and dismiss those who make their laws. The second is that the British people have given Parliament the power to make all their laws for them, but they have not given Parliament permission to give that power away. Both these principles, for which, over the centuries, millions have willingly given up their lives, already stand deeply betrayed by our membership of the European Union. I propose to justify this depressing statement under three headings. First, what is the present position under the Treaties of Rome; how much of our democracy have we already handed over to the corrupt octopus in Brussels and how were we deceived into doing it? Second, how much is this costing us in cash and is it worth it? And third, what does the proposed EU Constitution have in store for us?
It is essential to remember that the peoples' pact is with Parliament; it is not with the executive or Government of the day. The people elect and dismiss Members of Parliament once every 4 or 5 years, and our Government is formed out of a majority of elected MPs. But only 60% of the electorate now bother to vote in General Elections, and modern Governments are supported by only some 40% of those who do vote, or 24% of the electorate. The percentage of those who vote is declining; trust in our system of Parliamentary Democracy is eroding steadily.
I submit therefore that these temporary Governments, always empowered by a minority of the people, do not have the right to break the great pacts upon which our Sovereignty rests. Yet that is just what they have been doing for the last 32 years.
How bad is it now and how does it work?
So, first, how bad is the present situation? Few people realise what huge areas of our national life have already been handed over to control by Brussels. Put simply, these include all of our commerce and industry, our social and labour policy, our environment, agriculture, fish, and foreign aid.
What do we mean by "control from Brussels"? Well, in all those areas of our national life, which used to be entirely controlled by Parliament, our Government can be outvoted in the Council of Ministers from the Member States, where it has 111/2 % of the votes. You need 30% to block a new law. That is the system known as Qualified Majority Voting, or QMV. If our Government agrees or is outvoted on any new law in those areas, then Parliament, being the House of Commons and the Lords, must put it into British law. If they don't, the country faces unlimited fines in the Luxembourg 'Court of Justice'. So Parliament has already become a rubber stamp in all those areas.1
Our foreign trade relations are in an even worse category. The EU bureaucracy, the Commission, itself negotiates those on our behalf,2 and so in this area the EU already has its own legal personality (to which I shall return).
In addition, laws affecting our 'justice and home affairs', and our 'foreign and security policy', must also be rubber-stamped by Parliament if they have been agreed by our Government and all the other Member States' Governments in Brussels.3 In other words, our Government can still veto new laws in Brussels in these areas of our national life, but if they don't, we have to enact them. If Parliament were to reject an EU law thus agreed in Brussels in these areas, we would not be subject to unlimited fines in the Luxembourg 'Court', but we would be in breach of our Treaty obligations, which is an equally horrifying prospect to our political classes in their diplomatic cocktail parties and so on.
There is no appeal against the Luxembourg 'Court'. This is not a court of law, but rather the engine of the Treaties. It must find in favour of 'the ever closer union of the peoples of Europe', and it interprets the Treaties with much laxity in order to do so.
The Government admits that over half our major laws, and 80% of all laws, now originate in Brussels.4 No law passed in Brussels has ever been successfully overturned by Parliament.
There are at least four other features of this Brussels system which are worth emphasising, all of them innately undemocratic.
First, the unelected and corrupt bureaucracy, the Commission, has the monopoly to propose all new laws.5 They simply can't believe that in Washington.
Second, the Commission's legal proposals are then negotiated in secret by the shadowy Committee of Permanent Representatives, or bureaucrats from the nation states, known as COREPER. Decisions are taken in the Council of Ministers, again by secret vote. Even national Parliaments are precluded from knowing how their bureaucrats or ministers negotiate and vote, and few details of the continuous horse-trading leak out to the general public.
The Eurocrats pretend that democracy is maintained because decisions are taken in the Council by national Ministers, who were elected as national MPs. But the point remains that Parliament itself is excluded from the process, except as a rubber stamp when the decisions have been taken. Examples of how we have suffered under this system are too numerous to mention, but there is for instance the 'Young People at Work' Directive, which hit our paper rounds, and the Working Time Directive, which is now haunting our National Health Service.
The Government could have vetoed the infamous EU Arrest Warrant because it was proposed under "Justice and Home Affairs". This allows British subjects to be extradited, purely on the say-so of a foreign EU magistrate, to stand trial in that magistrate's country, without the benefit of habeas corpus or a jury, perhaps for crimes which are not even crimes in the UK - such as 'xenophobia', for which we don't even have a legal definition (but I expect I'm committing it now!) The decision to proceed with that particularly pernicious piece of EU legislation went through on the nod in the Council of Ministers. The Home Secretary, David Blunket, did not utter a single word, because the whole project had already been stitched up in COREPER. So much for even the shallowest pretence at real democracy.
Please don't be fooled by the propaganda which says that Parliament can scrutinise and debate EU legislation. Indeed we do, until the cows come home, but we cannot change a comma of it unless that change is unanimously agreed by all the Member States in the Council of Ministers. This is entirely unrealistic and indeed no such changes have ever even been suggested by Parliament. We also debate and vote on each new EU Treaty, but again we cannot change a word. We either accept the whole thing, or we reject it all. So Parliament has always accepted every Treaty precisely as agreed in Brussels, even if some of us have forced votes against them in protest.
A third feature of this awful system, enshrined in the Treaties, is that once an area of national life has been ceded to control from Brussels, it can never be returned to national Parliaments.6 This is known in Euro-speak as the 'Acquis Communautaire' - or 'powers acquired by the Community'. In plain English this translates as the 'ratchet', which can only grind in one direction toward the "ever closer union of the peoples of Europe".
The fourth feature is that no changes can be made to the Treaties unless they are agreed unanimously in the Council of Ministers.7 So renegotiation of the Treaties is not realistic; the only way out is the door.
For good measure, we should remember that the EU is corrupt and corrupting from top to bottom. Its own internal auditors have refused to sign its accounts for the last 9 years. No fewer than 5 whistleblowers have been side-lined in the last 5 years. The problem is that there is no European demos, so there can be no European democracy to hold the fraudsters and free-loaders to account. The MEPs are supposed to sort the Commission out in this area, but their own travel and office expenses are famously bogus. The MEPs are also far too frightened of bringing the EU into further disrepute to fulfill their duty to the taxpayer. They would risk bringing the whole gravy train to a halt, or they might be pushed off it; most of them are unemployable elsewhere, certainly at anything like their present salaries and 'conditions'.
Its also worth saying that the whole of continental Europe will continue in steady and irreversible demographic and therefore economic decline over the next 50 years.8 The UK and Ireland will improve their demography, as of course will Turkey. The USA also looks healthy, Japan looks terrible, China and the Far East are set to boom. Add to this the unemployment and decay caused by the EU's adoption of Franco-German social and labour policies, and you have to ask: 'Why stay on the Titanic?'
So those are the huge areas of our Sovereignty we have already given away. That's why giving away most of what is left, under the proposed new EU Constitution, is described by the Government as a 'tidying-up' exercise. They have a point. The Constitution would merely sweep most of what is left under the Brussels carpet.
History; how did we get into this mess?
The European 'Project' was the brain-child of a British civil servant, Arthur Salter, at the end of the First War. He was assisted by a young Frenchman, Jean Monnet.
The Project re-emerged after the Second War and its fundamental idea was (and, believe it or not, still is), that nation states were responsible for the carnage of two World Wars. They must therefore be emasculated, and diluted into a supra-national state, run by a Commission of wise and honest technocrats. Hence the Commission's monopoly to propose legislation. The 'Project' therefore confuses dangerous nationalism with honourable patriotism.
Most of us reject conspiracy theories, but the EU Project is indeed a massive deception of the people by the political elite of Europe. Anyone who doubts this should read a brilliant book by Christopher Booker and Richard North, entitled The Great Deception, and published by Continuum Books, which reveals the detailed history of how the people have been misled. The authors have unearthed several internal Foreign Office memos under the 30-year rule. There is one beauty from a senior civil servant in 1971 to a colleague, along the lines of: "Of course this is the end of British democracy as we have known it, but if it is properly handled the people won't know what's happened until the end of the century. With any luck, old boy, by then I'll be dead."
I have space to expose only one proof of this terrible deception, by quoting a filleted extract of Sections 2 and 3 of the European Communities Act 1972, which is the Act which took us into what was then the European Common Market. It goes as follows:
"All such rights, powers, liabilities obligations and restrictions from time to time created or arising by or under the Treaties ... are without further enactment to be given legal effect ... and be enforced, allowed and followed accordingly.
Subject to Schedule 2 to this Act, at any time after its passing Her Majesty may by Order in Council, and any designated Minister or department may by regulations, make provision ... for the purpose of implementing any Community obligation of the United Kingdom".
Section 3 reads as follows:
"For the purposes of all legal proceedings, any question as to the meaning or effect of any of the Treaties, or as to the validity, meaning or effect of any Community instrument, shall be treated as a question of law (and, if not referred to the European Court, be for determination as such in accordance with the principles laid down by and any relevant decision of the European Court)".
Articles 226-229 of the Treaty Establishing the European Communities (TEC) give the Luxembourg 'Court' the right to impose unlimited fines if we don't obey everything agreed in Brussels.
Yet Edward Heath had the nerve to promise that "no loss of essential sovereignty" was involved in the passing of the 1972 Act. Harold Wilson said the same thing during the 1975 Referendum campaign. Both Prime Ministers pretended we had merely joined a Common Market. I fear Margaret Thatcher was deceived as to the way the Single European Act of 1986 would be used, which created the system of Qualified Majority Voting. She bitterly regrets it today, as I expect you know. John Major then misled us about the Maastricht Treaty of 1992, and Tony Blair misled us over the Amsterdam Treaty of 1997 and the Nice Treaty of 2002. It has always been essential to keep the true nature of the Project from the British people. They have to be slowly sucked into the embrace of the corrupt octopus, until it is too late to escape. That is the very essence of the Project, and I hope you will agree it is working pretty well.
How much does EU membership cost us in cash?
The Government steadfastly refuses to carry out any sort of cost-benefit analysis, although my friends and I in the Lords have made several attempts to force it to do so (see our debates 27th June 2003 and 11th February 2004). Ministers merely insist that the benefits of our EU membership are so obvious and wonderful that any analysis would be a waste of time and money. Presumably the Government doesn't want the following sort of figures to see the light of day.
(i) Annual Costs:
If we start by looking at annual expenditure, we very easily reach an annual waste of some £40 billion pounds a year. A billion pounds, one thousand million pounds, is a rather confusing figure, and most people don't stop to think what it means. Well, one thousand million pounds builds, equips and staffs a decent district hospital to run indefinitely. You build and equip it for £80 - £100 million, and then you have a fund of £900 million to run it. So perhaps we should measure our Euro-waste in district hospitals, rather than billions, but I'll go back to billions for now.
According to the Trade Justice Movement, supported by CAFOD and Oxfam, the EU's Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) costs each family of 4 in the UK about £20 a week, or a fiver a head. Half of this is incurred through higher food costs (against what we would pay for the same food on the open world market) and half through the higher taxes we pay to keep EU farmers in the style to which they have become accustomed. The higher food costs work out at approximately 5p on a pint of milk, 40p on a 60p bag of sugar, and 3p on a loaf of bread. So these costs hit the poorest in our society hardest, and total about £15.6 billion every year. The EU's charming policy of dumping its unwanted excess produce on the developing world also starves millions to death, mostly children, because local farmers can't sell their produce in local markets.
The Dutch Government has calculated that EU over-regulation costs the Dutch economy some 2% of their Gross Domestic Product annually.10 It is fair to assume that EU overregulation doesn't cost the UK economy any less than it costs the Dutch, given Whitehall's well-known practice of 'gold-plating' EU legislation. Our GDP is around £1,000 billion, and so 2% of that would come to £20 billion annually.
Then there's the hard cash we hand over to Brussels every year. Over the last 10 years we have given Brussels an average of £11 billion per annum to help them finance the whole vast swindle. Of this, they have been good enough to send back to us an average of some £7 billion annually, always for projects here which are designed to enhance their wretched image (including the CAP). So that leaves £4 billion straight cash outflow per annum.11
There are lots of other areas which could be thrown into this calculation, such as at least one £billion p.a. for the destruction of our fishing industry, and another billion for the ruin of our modern art market, and so on. But just sticking to the figures I have mentioned, we have a comfortable 40 district hospitals chucked away every year.
Let's examine that figure, £40 billion per annum, a little further, shall we? It comes to £110 million a day, £5 million per hour, or £666 per annum for each one of us. It is 10 times our railways budget, which Heaven knows could do with a bit of a boost. It is 3 times our whole transport budget. It is two-thirds of our education budget, and it is 10 district hospitals per annum more than our entire defence budget, which weighs in at a mere £27 billion per annum.12
So that's a conservative estimate of how much our EU membership is costing us in cash each year: £40 billion. What about some of the longer-term projects which we pay for, courtesy of the Martians in Brussels?
(ii) Capital Projects
The last time the Government dared to answer my Written Questions in the Lords, some 3 years ago, we had already spent £48 billion on the pointless water directives - there was nothing wrong with our water before. Then there's £18 billion so far on the outdated Euro-fighter; £8 billion on the foot and mouth saga (which was directed from Brussels); another £8 billion for removing the harmless kind of asbestos from our buildings; £6 billion for "Reach" the new chemical analysis Directive, and yet another £6 billion for the Waste Electrical and Equipment Directive, which is starting to cause dumping in the countryside. I could go on, but that's another 94 district hospitals so far.
The case for staying in the EU
Surely there must be good things we get out of our EU membership? Well, I will try to set out the case for staying in the EU, as put forward by the Government and other Europhiles in our most recent Lords debates, to which I have referred (June 27th 2003 and February 11th 2004). Presumably it's the best case they can make.
If you read those debates, you will see that there isn't really a case for the EU. It just isn't possible to identify any genuine benefits we have had from our EU membership, which we couldn't have had under simple free trade arrangements and collaboration between Governments. But I will do my best. The propaganda runs as follows:
'60% of our trade and 3 million jobs depend on our membership of the EU'. This is designed to fool the British people into fearing that they cannot afford to leave the EU. Not true. By the word "trade", they actually mean "exports of manufactured goods" which account for less than half of total UK exports. But since Brussels' dictats apply to and strangle 100% of our economy, the only way to understand the effect of our EU membership is to look at the whole of our output and all our jobs. Then we see the true picture, which is that only about 10% of our output and jobs support our trade with the EU, another 10% goes in trade with the rest of the world, and the remaining 80% stays right here in our domestic market.13 Our healthy 90% dog is being wagged by its mangy 10% tail.
Not that the 10% of our output and jobs which support our trade with the EU are unimportant. No-one is saying that. But the obvious fact is that we would not lose that 10% of output or jobs if we left the EU and continued our trade with the Single Market. And there really isn't any doubt that that is what we would do. The EU trades in massive surplus with the UK. They sell us far more than we sell them. This means they have many more jobs dependent on their trade with us than we do on our trade with them. We are by far their largest client. So if we left the EU, they would come running after us to make sure we signed a free trade agreement with them. After all, Switzerland, Mexico and 20 other countries already enjoy free trade agreements with the EU, which is negotiating FTAs with a further 69 countries.14 This makes 91 countries in all, about half the countries in the world. So if we left the EU we could maintain all our present trading arrangements, plus no doubt "free movement of persons" and so on, which again Switzerland already enjoys. We could dictate our terms.
Even free trade with the EU is no longer such a big deal as it used to be. The World Trade Organization has brought the EU's average external tariff - paid by the US and most other countries in the world to export into the EU - down to about 1.5%.15 Indeed, every major economic study this century agrees that leaving the EU would be at worst neutral for our trade and jobs. The leftish and fairly Europhile National Institute of Social and Economic Research said that in March 2000.16 The International Trade Commission in Washington, perhaps the world's largest and most prestigious economic think-tank, said it in a report to Congress in August 2000.17 Our Institute of Economic Affairs said it in 1996 and again in 2002.18 Even Neil Kinnock and the EU Trade Commissioner, Fritz Bolkestein, were forced to admit it on the Today programme in February 2001. In fact, no-one except the Europhile propagandists pretends that leaving the EU would bring economic disadvantage to the people of Great Britain. Our trade would continue, and so would our jobs.
'We gain influence by sharing our sovereignty. Look at NATO and the United Nations. We gave up sovereignty to join them' Answer: Sovereignty is like virginity. You either have it or you don't. NATO and the UN don't dictate most of our unwanted laws and regulations, and we could leave them tomorrow if we felt like it.
We are told that 'the British people voted to join the EU in the referendum of 1975' and so that should be the end of the matter. But they didn't. They voted to stay in what they were assured was a Common Market, or free trade area.
They claim that 'if we left the EU we would still have to obey all its rules, but not be able to participate in making those rules'. Not so. The truth is that those who make up the 10% of our economy which exports to the EU would of course have to meet Brussels' requirements, as does every other non-EU exporter in the rest of the world, and just as it pays to put the steering wheel on the left if you are selling a car to the US market. But the other 90% of our economy would no longer have to obey the dictats from Brussels. Exports to the EU from the USA and Switzerland, who are not EU members, are going up faster than those from any of the member states.19
'Our membership of the EU makes us the gateway for inward investment into Europe'. Nonsense. Foreigners invest here because of our reliable workforce, low tax and regulatory regime (until the EU destroys that), and because we speak English. Surprisingly, there is little evidence that inward investment creates many jobs anyway, and 80% of it goes into oil, gas and services which do not supply EU markets.20
Then there's the claim that our bond market, the City of London, and so on, would all collapse if we left the EU. That's what they told us would happen if we didn't join the euro. The greatest threat to the City and our bond market actually came from the EU, with its withholding tax proposals, which even Gordon Brown threatened to veto.
We are told that if we Euro-sceptics would only shut up, the UK could take its place at the heart of 'Europe' and lead it into the paths of righteousness; that the French and the Germans would somehow abandon their ruinous social and labour policies, instead of forcing them on the rest of us through the Single Market. But how can we persuade them of our national interest, with only 111/2 % of the votes? Why have we been unable to change even the notorious Common Agricultural and Fisheries Policies in the 32 years of our membership?
They say 'the EU must be good news because 10 new Eastern European nations have voted to join it'. The answers here are that, first, turnout in all the referenda was very low. Second, the people weren't told the truth about the EU. For instance, most of them weren't told about the proposed new Constitution at all. Third, the spending by the 'Yes' sides was massively more than the 'No' sides. In Estonia, for instance, the 'Yes' campaign spent 60 times what the 'No' campaign could raise. But most important of all, the key to understanding the 'Yes' votes is that most of the bureaucrats and politicians who negotiated the entry of their countries into the EU stand to get jobs in Brussels, or paid on the EU scale. The Polish ambassador has told me that 1,400 Poles will now get EU jobs, at 10 times their present salaries.
We're told that the EU Project is 're-uniting Europe'. But if you ask them when Europe was last 'united' in the way they wish to see it 're-united', you get a rather uncomfortable look. (Caesar? Napoleon? Hitler?)
This leads me to perhaps the most effective piece of Europhile propaganda: that the EU has secured the peace in Europe since 1945, and is essential to maintain it in future. This is the big deception which plays at the almost unconscious level. It is a warm, misty conviction that the EU must be inevitably good. It does not tolerate any rational examination of history or the facts. It's the one which makes those of us who query the divinity of the EU Project into dangerous nationalists, xenophobes, Little Englanders, or worse. You start to be guilty of all this as soon as you dare to point out that NATO was entirely responsible for keeping the peace in Europe until the Wall came down in 1989, or if you ask which European country would have gone to war with another in the absence of the EU. So even this essential plank of Europropaganda is simply wishful thinking, constantly repeated by the Eurocrats in order to justify their bloated lifestyles and the Project in general.
Indeed, if you stand back, scratch your head a bit, and take a calm look at the EU, you see it is a well-tried model for discord, not peace. It contains two of the most important ingredients for conflict.
First, it is a top-down amalgamation of different peoples, put together without their informed consent, and such arrangements usually end in conflict. You only have to look at Northern Ireland, Yugoslavia, the Trans-Caucasus, Kashmir and most of Africa to see that.
Second, as I have pointed out, the EU is institutionally undemocratic. It is also corrupt, which is another ingredient for trouble. I repeat, the Project aims to replace 'dangerous' national democracies with a supra-national government, run by a Commission of wise and honest technocrats. But history shows us that on the whole democracies do not provoke war, and indeed its hard to think of a genuine democracy which has declared war on another. So Euro-sceptics believe that a free trade association between the democracies of Europe, linked through NATO, is much less likely to end in tears than is the emerging undemocratic mega-state.
Whilst on the subject of peace, I should mention that a new raison d'être is coming to the surface in Brussels. A large majority of Eurocrats and Europhiles see the EU's main purpose in life as being to stand up to and undermine the United States of America. In fact, this was always part of the Project, inspired by France's deep psychotic need to bite the hand that freed her in two World Wars. Luckily, there is little prospect that the EU will be able to provide the defence budget necessary to fulfill this ambition, but it will continue to poison the trans-Atlantic relationship for the foreseeable future.
You may notice that I have said nothing about the euro, the Single Currency, which is an essential part of the Project, but which is off our national agenda for the time being. I have space to deal only with its worst aspects. First, it is not an economic project at all. It was always a purely political project, designed as the cement to hold the emerging EU megastate together. It also has serious design faults. The eurozone has no common language, its mobility of labour is low, and its single interest rate cannot suit 12 different and diverging economies for long. Above all, no currency can endure unless taxes are paid from rich to poor regions within its area (e.g. South to North in the UK; West to East in Germany; North to South in Italy; the federal budget in the USA). There is no federal budget to speak of in the EU, and of course the plan has always been to set one up in response to the stress which will therefore occur in the euro-zone. No prizes for guessing who will be in charge, or what this would do to our tax rates if we join.
What does the proposed new Constitution have in store for us?
The worst feature of this Constitution is that the EU will acquire its own legal personality, superior to that of the Member States. There is no longer even the pretence that the EU is an arrangement between sovereign nations. The EU, the Brussels system, becomes Sovereign. The EU flag, which at the moment is flown as mere advertising, becomes real. The EU anthem becomes the anthem of the new mega-state. (Alas, poor Beethoven!)
The Prime Minister claims that he defended his 'red lines' at the Inter-Governmental Conference on 18th June 200421 which decided the Constitution's final shape. These include foreign policy, social security and tax. But large chunks of these areas have in fact already been ceded to the Treaties. For instance, Mr. Blair's red line on tax is clearly a red herring. If you look at the tax provisions of the Treaties (Clause 93 of the Treaty Establishing the European Communities) you see that we have indeed retained the veto for indirect taxation. The Treaties are silent on direct taxation as such, but if you look at the Single Market provisions (Clauses 43 and 44) you will see that all direct tax is exposed to the 'anti-discrimination' and 'right of establishment' provisions. In other words, the Commission could claim that our direct tax system gives us an unfair advantage over the other member states. When the Court agreed, we would have to fall into line. It is a little known fact that the Court has already moved into corporation tax, and has issued some 90 judgements, usually against nation states keeping control of multi-national companies' dividend policy, etc.22
M. Giscard D'Estaing, who drafted the proposed Constitution, has done us all one great favour. The wording of the document is really very easy to understand; it is not written in the usual impenetrable verbiage of the Treaties. Anyone who takes the trouble to read it can understand it. Even so, there is one attempt at Euro-deception. The Constitution introduces the concepts of 'Exclusive Competences'and 'Shared Competences'. 'Competence'itself is an old Euro-deceptive word. It does not mean being able to do something well. It means 'power', and it usually means power transferred to the EU, where of course it is always exercised incompetently, and corruptly. So the Exclusive Competences are clear enough; the EU alone can act in those areas of our national life which are transferred to the EU's Exclusive Competence. (Mostly concerning competition, customs and the power to make international treaties). The deception lies in the 'Shared Competences', where you could be forgiven for thinking that power might be shared with the Member States. Not a bit of it. Member States can only act in areas covered by 'Shared Competence' when Brussels can't be bothered, and with Brussels' permission. These 'Shared Competences' are pretty wide. They include the internal market, which covers all of our commerce and industry; the 'area of freedom, security and justice' - so our legal system and judicial procedures will gradually pass to Brussels' control; our agriculture and fisheries (of course); all European transport and 'trans-european networks'; our energy (bang goes our oil and gas); social policy; 'economic, social and territorial cohesion' - which will mean almost anything when the Luxembourg 'Court' gets going; our environment; consumer protection; and 'common safety concerns in public health matters'. Not much left, you might think.23
Sitting astride and above all this is not only the superior legal power of the new Union. There is also the fact that the EU's Charter of Fundamental Rights will be allembracing and justiciable in the Luxembourg 'Court'.24 Even the Europhile Confederation of British Industry is worried about what the new right to strike, etc. will do for our international competitiveness.
The Eurocrats pretend that the Constitution returns power to national Parliaments because the Commission has to reconsider a new law if one-third of national Parliaments don't like it. But the Commission can go ahead anyway, so this is no big deal.
When we come to debate the Constitution, we really mustn't fall for one of the best tricks up the Eurocrat's sleeve. The trick is to proclaim that some feature of the Constitution is "nothing new" because it is already in the Treaties, as though that makes it acceptable to the British people. It doesn't. If much of our Sovereignty has been taken away when we weren't looking, that should not stop us from demanding it back, now that we have discovered what has been going on.
A couple of EU jokes
I suppose it's time for a couple of jokes about our EU membership, the only two I know. The first is that we shouldn't go on saying that we are 'giving' our Sovereignty away; we are actually paying Brussels tens of billions of pounds a year to take it. The second is that if the EU applied to join itself, it wouldn't have a hope of being accepted, given its clear lack of democracy (the 'democratic deficit' in Eurospeak).
Conclusion - better off out
To conclude, we 'Euro-sceptics' love the real Europe, the Europe of separate democracies, each with its glorious history and culture. But we fear the Project of European Union, which we see as a bad idea. It is a bad idea like slavery, communism and high rise flats. We must not forget the damage which ideas can do when they become generally accepted, but turn out to be wrong. I don't know if you have heard of the letter written by the young White Russian officer in 1918 to his fiancée from the front against the Bolsheviks:
"Oh, my darling! Please do not worry. In a few weeks I shall be home with you in Moscow, and we shall be married. These people are not very well armed, and their ideas are even worse." A few days later he was killed, so he was wrong about their arms. But he turned out to be right about the ideas which inspired Soviet Communism. It is just that it took 70 years and 50 million lives to prove his point. Let's hope the EU doesn't end up as quite such a dangerous idea as that. With any luck it will start to decay from within, if we have the energy to understand it, expose it, and fight it.
There is nothing right-wing, negative, frightening or extreme about leaving the EU and keeping our hard-won right to govern ourselves. As the fourth biggest economy in the world, as its third largest trading nation, and as a major military power, leaving the EU would be a liberating, refreshing, positive, modern thing to do. And we would be very much richer as well!
As per the Treaty Establishing the European Communities, or TEC.
Article 133 TEC
As per the Treaty on European Union, or TEU (also known as the 'Maastricht Treaty').
Cabinet Office web-site: www.cabinet-office.gov.uk. April 2004
Articles 211 and 249-254 of the TEC.
Articles 2, 3 & 6.4 of the TEU; and Protocol 30 of the TEC.
Article 48 TEU.
See, for example, Colombani, P, Le Commerce Mondial au 21e siécle: Scénarios pour L'Union Européenne, Institut Français des Relations Internationales, November 2002, www.ifri.org. Also Baroness Cox, House of Lords Hansard, 27th June 2003, Cols 540-543.
And see groundbreaking new study A Cost Too Far? by Ian Milne, July 2004, published by Civitas www.civitas.org.uk ISBN 1-903 386-37 3.
Speech by Dutch Vice Prime Minister and Finance Minister, Mr. Gerrit Zalm, to the UK government- sponsored conference "Advancing Enterprise: Britain in a Global Economy", 26th January 2004.
UK Balance of Payments: The Pink Book 2003, Office for National Statistics www.statistics.gov.uk.
HM Treasury, Budget Statement, 17th March 2004, HC 301. www.hm-treasury.gov.uk.
Table 2.1: Suppy & Use Tables for the United Kingdom, in United Kingdom National Accounts: The Blue Book 2003, Office for National Statistics 2001, www.statistics.gov.uk. Summarised in Global Britain Briefing Note No 22: Ninety per cent of the British economy is NOT involved in exports to the EU, 20th September 2002.
Written Answers, House of Lords, 5th July 2004 (HL 3440 & 3441).
See, for example, Global Britain Briefing Note No 33: Customs Duties: Hardly Worth Collecting, 17th September 2004, www.globalbritain.org.
Pain, N. and Young, G., Continent Cut Off? The Macroeconomic Impact of British Withdrawal from the EU, National Institute of Economics and Social Research (NIESR), February 2000.
The Impact on the US Economy of Including the UK in a Free Trade Arrangement with the USA, Canada and Mexico, International Trade Commission, Investigation No 332-409, Publication No 3339, August 2000. www.usitc.gov.
Hindley, B., and Howe, M., Better Off Out?, IEA, 1996 and 2001 www.iea.org.uk.
See Geographical Breakdown of the EU Current Account, 2002 Edition, Eurostat/European Commission. Summarised in Global Britain Briefing Note No 27: Single Market: USA Main Beneficiary, 6 June 2003 www.globalbritain.org.
See Chapter 6 of A Cost Too Far? - The Importance of Inward Investment to the UK Economy, by Ian Milne, July 2004, published by Civitas www.civitas.org.uk ISBN 1-903 386-37 3.
The 18th June was chosen because it is the anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo. (No more wars in Europe, thanks to the EU).
See House of Lords Hansard, 25/2/04, cols 313-328.
The proposed EU Constitution. CM 6289. www.fco.gov.uk. For indexed version, with summary of key issues, see The Treaty Establishing a Constitution for Europe, published by the British Management Data Foundation www.bmdf.co.uk
Article 43 TEU.