Saturday, 7 November 2009

EU: Did Britain join a free market or a political project?

On the FT Brussels blog, Tony Barber wrote a post on the mutual incomprehension between Britain and much of the rest of the European Union: Europe not in the mood to thank Cameron for his EU speech (5 November 2009). ─ The comments are worth reading, too.

A political project

The proposal was the 9 May 1950 Schuman declaration on a first step in the federation of Europe.

The following engagement was the 18 April 1951 Treaty establishing the European Coal and Steel Community (Treaty of Paris), which set out the resolve of the founding members to lay the bases of institutions capable of giving direction to their future common destiny.

The attempt to build a European Defence Community and a European (Political) Community failed at the altar, but the marriage took place through the 1957 Treaties of Rome, which put in place two new communities, the European Economic Community (EEC) and the European Atomic Energy Community (EAEC or Euratom).

The EEC treaty and all the subsequent treaties remind of us of the determination to lay the foundations of an ever closer union among the peoples of Europe.

After trying and failing to subvert the EEC through EFTA, Britain was admitted to the European communities in 1973 (and the membership was confirmed by its only national referendum, in 1975).

The main reason to join, for the UK political class as well as Her Majesty’s subjects, was to gain access to the fledgling common market, but already then more than a free trade area. The political nature of the project was evident, although some still persist in claiming that they were duped.

De Gaulle’s sinister predictions about British incompatibility with a united Europe came true; they were as stubbornly nationalist as he.

The basic contradiction is that European integration is meant to be a one way street, leading to ever closer union, whereas Britain has obstructed and limited and promises to reverse the direction.

In the European Parliament, when William Hague and others establish an anti-integrationist political group, the European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR), with other right wingers hailing national sovereignty above all, they go against the basic aim of European integration.

However mildly David Cameron phrases his intention to roll back the present state of the European Union, he rejects the main objectives of the European project.

If the Conservative Party fails to understand the principal aim of European integration, and if the Tories continue to mislead the British public, the UK is in the wrong club.

Asking for comprehension from European partners about English delusions is truly “pathetic”.

Article 50 TEU offers the opportunity to nurse false beliefs outside the European Union. For the sake of Europe: Better off out.

Ralf Grahn

P.S. Get to know the real EUSSR through the good, the better and the best Euroblogs on multilingual