The Bruges Group spearheaded the intellectual battle to win a vote to leave the European Union and, above all, against the emergence of a centralised EU state.

NOTE! This site uses cookies and similar technologies.

If you not change browser settings, you agree to it. Learn more

I understand

Cookies are a technology which we use to provide you with tailored information on our website. A cookie is a piece of code that is sent to your internet browser and is stored on your system.

Please see below for a list of cookies this website uses:

Cookie name: _utma, _utmb, _utmc, _utmz

Purpose: Google Analytics cookies. Google Analytics is software that lets us analyse how visitors use our site. We use this information to improve our website and provide the best experience to visitors.

Function: These cookies collect data in an anonymous form. Please see Google's privacy policy for further information. To opt out of these cookies, please visit Google's website.

Cookie name: Sitecore

Purpose: Stores information, such as language and regional preferences, that our content management system (the system we use to update our website) relies on to function.

Function: This is a session cookie and will be destroyed when you close your browser. This cookie is essential for our website to function.

Cookie name: ASP.net_session

Purpose: Allows the website to save your session state across different pages. For example, if you have completed a survey, the website will remember that you have done so and will not ask you to complete it again when you view another page on the website.

Function: This is a session cookie and will be destroyed when you close your browser. This cookie is essential for our website to function.

Cookie name: website#sc_wede

Purpose: Indicates whether the user's browser supports inline editing of content. This indicates whether our content management system will work for our website administrators in their internet browsers.

Function: This is a session cookie and will be destroyed when you close your browser. This cookie is essential for our website to function.

Cookie name: redirected

Purpose: Remembers when the site forwards you from one page to another, so you can return to the first page. For example, go back to the home page after viewing a special 'splash' page.

Function: This is a session cookie, which your browser will destroy when it shuts down. The website needs this cookie to function.

Cookie name: tccookiesprefs

Purpose: Remembers when you respond to the site cookie policy, so you do not see the cookie preferences notice on every page.

Function: If you choose to remember your preference with a temporary cookie, your browser will remove it when you shut it down, otherwise the cookie will be stored for about a year.

Cookie name: _ga

Purpose: Additional Google Analytics cookie. Google Analytics is software that lets us analyse how visitors use our site. We use this information to improve our website and provide the best experience to visitors.

Function: These cookies collect data in an anonymous form. Please see Google's privacy policy for further information.

Cookie name: SC_ANALYTICS_GLOBAL_COOKIE, SC_ANALYTICS_SESSION_COOKIE

Purpose: Sitecore Analytics is software that lets us analyse how visitors use our site. We use this information to improve our website and provide the best experience to visitors.

Function: These cookies collect data in an anonymous form. When you close your browser, it will delete the 'session' cookie; it will keep the 'global' cookie for about one year.

Facebook cookies

We use Facebook 'Like' buttons to share site feedback. For further information, see Facebook's cookie policy page.

Twitter cookies

We use Twitter 'Tweet' buttons to share site feedback. For further information, see Twitter's privacy statement.

YouTube cookies

We embed videos from our official YouTube channel. YouTube uses cookies to help maintain the integrity of video statistics, prevent fraud and to improve their site experience. If you view a video, YouTube may set cookies on your computer once you click on the video player.

Cookies pop-up

When you close the cookies pop-up box by clicking "OK", a permanent cookie will be set on your machine. This will remember your preference so that the pop-up doesn't display across any pages whenever you visit the website.

Opting out/removing cookies

To opt out of Google Analytics cookies, please visit Google’s website.

You can also control what cookies you accept through your internet browser. For details on how to do this, please visit aboutcookies.org. Please note that by deleting our cookies or disabling future cookies you may not be able to access certain areas or features of our website.

mailing list
donate now
join now
shop

The end of the affair?

Dr Brian Hindley

The Treaty of Nice schedules a “constitutional conference” for 2004, and that conference will proceed whether or not the treaty is ratified. The conference, though, is not the only important EU matter scheduled for 2004 or thereabouts. That is also when the first batch of candidate countries is due to be admitted to the EU.

These events are not independent of one another. When the candidates become members, they will have votes, and they will be able to resist pressure to shuffle them along the path towards a federal European destiny. They probably will resist such pressure.

For federalists this is a problem. To wait until after enlargement to complete the journey to federation means that the journey may never be completed. It must therefore be completed – or as much of it covered as possible - before enlargement. The likely resistance to federalism of the new members also means that enlargement is likely to become a weapon in the struggle to achieve federation.

The potential clash between enlargement and federalism is acknowledged in paragraph 8 of the “Declaration on the future of the EU”, annexed to the treaty:

The Conference of Member States shall not constitute any form of obstacle or precondition to the enlargement process. Moreover, those candidate countries which have concluded accession negotiations with the Union shall be invited to participate in the Conference. Those candidate States which have not concluded their accession negotiations shall be invited as observers.

That sounds amiable, but should be treated with scepticism. Some existing member states, most notably Germany, but not only Germany, are anxious to create a federal Europe. Other existing member states, most notably Britain, but not only Britain, want to avoid one. Enlargement is inevitably a piece in that game. If enlargement goes ahead without an agreement on a federal Europe, the British view will have won the day. Would that it were so easy! Successive British governments have thought they could avoid deepening by insisting on widening - enlargement. Successive continental governments have insisted that deepening should precede enlargement, or, at least, should go hand in hand with it. Why should they abandon that position now?

More likely, member states seeking a federal EU will block enlargement (a blockage that will be supported by their electorates) unless other member states concede ground on federalism. “Federalism”, however, can take many forms – there must be a parallel debate about what form of federalism the EU is to adopt. These are unlikely to be relaxed and happy discussions.

Marx commented about Napoleon III that his very plasticity allowed all classes and types to reinvent him in their own image.

Just because he was nothing, he could signify anything.

The EU shares this characteristic. Everyone can imagine a future EU that accommodates his or her particular hopes and interests. The French imagine a future EU that will project the glory of France; the Germans an EU that will submerge the nations who are its members and allow Germans to present themselves as Europeans. The British visualise a free-trading EU with flexible labour markets: others see the EU as a means of defending “the European social model” against the “market anarchy” of the Anglo-Saxon model.

Because enlargement creates something like an end game, the consequent disagreements will be bitter. Their great merit, though, is that they will shed light on who wants what from “Europe”. By 2004, everything should be much clearer.

It is not the merits of these ideas that is relevant here but their mutual inconsistency. Political alliances built on disparate dreams and clashing ambitions are likely at some point to face severe problems. Indeed, the current froideur between the governments of France and Germany is due exactly to the fact that the Germans have become more specific about what they want from “Europe” – and (of course) it is incompatible with what the French want.

There is much more of this to come, and, because enlargement creates something like an end game, the consequent disagreements will be bitter. Their great merit, though, is that they will shed light on who wants what from “Europe”. By 2004, everything should be much clearer.

An extract from Nice and After: The EU Treaty and Associated Issues. Published by the Centre for Policy Studies, October 2001