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


  1. A very useful collection of links, although actually understanding what is of relevance and interest within EU primary documents is a bit of an art in itself.

    BTW Ralf, you do come over as just not liking Britain very much: "...your wretched country...". Fair enough; everyone has a right to their own opinion, but not every Brit is a Eurosceptic, and to criticise various EU policy areas or laws doesn't make you automatically a Daily Mail reading UKIP voter.

  2. Hmm. Great post, but I fear it smacks of the tired and, I believe, counter-productive euroscepticism=ignorance argument.

    My personal levels of scepticism have risen in tandem with the amount of time I've spent in the institutions. Less on account of the legislation (the exceptions being what I consider mission creep into areas best handled at member state level), but more in response to the attitudes of many of the players. I admit this probably has much to do with the intellectual equivalent of an anaphylactic shock induced by moving from the private to the public sector. However, I am reliably informed that the EU civil service is particularly prone to self-absorption.

    The man in the UK street might be woefully ignorant, but, sadly, his intuition that the EU could be "a victim of its own success" as HVR so aptly described the euro is difficult to gainsay. If the UK were to get its in or out referendum, it will be emotion, not reason that carries the day.

    The strident cries during the STOEU for "more Europe" make uncomfortable listening for many across the continent and will no doubt encourage large numbers to mentally relocate to England.

    I fear that "more Europe" may well lead to significantly less Europe. The danger perhaps does not lie so much in ignorant euroscepticism, but more in arrogant federalism.

  3. Toby,

    I didn't mean that Britain is a wretched country, but that the anti-EU campaigners feel that way: crushed by the dictatorial and oppressive EUSSR, which has rendered their once proud country into servitude.

  4. Toby,

    I was in a bit of a rush when I jotted down my first reply. A few additions:

    I like Britain, although I am far from impressed by the UK's record as a member of the EEC/EC/EU and even less by the media climate, political atmosphere and public opinion almost four decades after accession.

    I hoped my readers would find the bantering tone enticing enough to cover a few basics about EU sources (whether anti or pro).

    I did use a few expressions in abundant use in UK blogs and column comments based on daily reading, so there was little exaggeration.

    I am critical of the EU as it is currently organised.

  5. HughBS,

    Thank you for your thoughtful comment.

    I feel empathy with you for your cultural shock. Basically, I think that the structure of the European Union is flawed, but instead of arrogance I see humility in the realisation that an effective, and federal has to be democratic, based on the votes of EU citizens and with politically accountable government.

    Even if you say that emotion will carry the day in a possible UK referendum, I think that the anti-EU and referendum campaigners should raise their standards.

    You may feel that the argument about ignorance among them is tired, but my daily reading tells me that they seem to remain quite untiring.

    Your impression is that many across the Continent feel uncomfortable when they hear calls for "more Europe".

    I think we can agree on that. However, the latest Eurobarometer poll seems to indicate that people generally are open to European level solutions with regard to economic governance and reform issues.

    Here the UK, which is not part of the eurozone, is again an exception.

    I think that I understand something of what you write about the attitudes within the institutions (and the models on which they were built).

    Besides accountable government, I think that changing corporate cultures is a daunting task and that it requires both time and effort, given the current setting.


Due deluge of spam comments no more comments are accepted.

Note: only a member of this blog may post a comment.