Monday, 13 September 2010

How to defeat the EUSSR: A study guide for “eurosceptics”

After looking (and calling) for Portuguese EU related blogs, presenting three Spanish quality Euroblogs and discussion in Spanish about online media and social media, we decide to pause to take a look at our map of the online public space in Europe.

There is one corner, which raises grave concern.

This time, I want to show special consideration to so called eurosceptics, who, in my humble view, seldom show signs of true scepticism. I don’t know why people insist on the use of this euphemism, when most of them seem to hate the idea of European integration and the very existence of the European Union.

Geographically or mentally, most of these anti-EU campaigners are located in England. All the miseries of life in contemporary United Kingdom seem to stem from one root cause: the evil European Union.

They are, of course, entitled to their opinions, but I am a bit worried about how some of them go about the business of rejecting the European Union and everything it does.

Every negative allegation about the EU is given full credence. Some of these anti-EU campaigners are content to pass it on to their followers, spiced with some general remarks on the total corruptness or dictatorial nature of the EU(SSR). A second wave of followers uncritically re-emits the message, as if proven on the authority of the first who missed the mark.

Even if aided and abetted by the gutter press, the vitriol has to be refined to win the hearts and minds of the general public, with a view towards gaining the cause for a UK referendum on EU membership and ultimate victory for secession.

It will be long, it will be hard – before withdrawal.

Thus, the anti-EU and pro EU referendum campaigners need to step up their act.

“Know your enemy” is sound advice to anti-EU bloggers in Albion and elsewhere.

The first leg of our journey takes us to the sausage factory (or factories) of the European Union.

Sausage factory and outlets

Otto von Bismarck is quoted as saying: Laws are like sausages, it is better not to see them being made.

Most people glance at European Union affairs through national mainstream media, which tend to highlight national politicians and grievances, but I recommend the use of primary sources whenever possible.

This means a visit to the factory outlets, perhaps even following the sausage making process.

With all the hoop-la surrounding new communication strategies, social media, participation and other novelties, it is easy to forget that main products are official communications from the EU institutions.

Eur-Lex portal

The main store is the legal portal Eur-Lex, which promises “Access to European Union law”. In 23 official languages the store offers the visitor a number of specialised departments, where you find – for free - more information than you can read in a lifetime.

EU Treaties

Everything the European Union does is based on and limited by the Treaties. An awful lot of nonsense about the EU would be eliminated if people cared to read and even more importantly, to understand the powers of the European Union and the limitations of these “competences” regarding the issue at hand.

Admittedly, it would often take the joy out of your life, your conspiracy theories, Euromyths, gut reactions and facile quotes, as well as those of the gutter press, but if nobody can curtail your freedom of speech, there is the risk that at least some of your readers show more sense, which can damage your credibility in the long run.

OJEU – Official Journal of the European Union

The steady stream of EU legislation is found in the Official Journal of the European Union (OJEU), accessible online from 1998 onwards. Here you find practically everything, from the Treaties to the minute details of delegated acts and competition notices. Many different search options are available.

Preparatory acts

The political battles, inside the EU institutions and outside, are often fought over proposed legislation or policies. Head towards Preparatory acts, if you want to know the sinister plans of the European Commission. COM documents contain the policy papers and proposals. They are often accompanied by more technical SEC (or staff) documents. From this page you can also access Pre-Lex to follow a specific act, or the European Parliament’s Legislative observatory Oeil.

In the pipeline

If you want an overview of the legislation in the pipeline regarding a certain policy area, you can access the Directory of European Union legislation in preparation, divided into twenty different policy fields, then more finely tuned under subheadings. The latest version is updated to 1 August 2010, so you have to search among preparatory acts for the newest proposals.

EU budget

Your wretched country contributes to the cost of the European Union according to a reduced rate (UK rebate). The shortfall is financed by other member states, including the poorest ones. However, your morally upright view is that being a member is punishment enough. Any contribution to the evil EUSSR adds insult to injury, if the monies are taken from British taxpayers. In order to be more convincing, you have to access your favourite hate object: the EU budget.

Become and intellectual giant!

Admittedly, these sources represent only the tip of the iceberg, but if you follow the easy steps outlined in this study guide, you are on your way to stardom, advancing confidently every day.

Put the lessons to good use, and you shall gain the stature of an intellectual giant among your anti-EU followers.

Become a better class of enemy.

Ralf Grahn