EU ‘Associate Membership’

So, all the talk today is centred on The Times article by David Charter, one headlined: “UK shunted towards ”second-class’ status”. From this article, at least what is visible beyond the paywall:

“A group of senior politicians in Brussels is to propose “second-class” EU status for Britain in a dramatic shift in thinking by the strongest supporters of a united Europe. They are to suggest that the UK should become an “associate member” under plans which would result in it staying in the EU’s single market but being stripped of its commissioner in Brussels, MEPs, and its right of veto in the European Council.”

The article proceeds to state the newspaper has discovered that the Union of European Federalists will publish, in the Spring, its own version of the next EU treaty. Richard North, EU Referendum, has passed his learned opinion on what I see as the Times presenting this latest ‘breaking news’. As with all journalistic ‘scoops’ this article is hardly ‘breaking news’, but then is not The Times usually behind the times?

In September this year Andrew Duff, President of the Union of European Federalists, published a pamphlet entitled “On Governing Europe” in which he discusses (page 63) what he terms as “The British problem again”; and “Associate Membership” (page 68). Only this month, on the 6th, he published an article on the website of the European Policy Centre an article headed “UK-EU relationship: Making the case for associate membership”. It is also noted that Duff states there is a need for Norway and Switzerland to upgrade their current unsatisfactory arrangements, a subject on which I commented earlier.

There has been much ‘traffic’ on Twitter in relation to this article in The Times, in effect all saying: “Yay, lets do it” and all without appearing to have any idea of how that could be achieved. We even have John Redwood lauding this “associate membership” meme and “renegotiating” our membership. We also have that well-informed journalist, Isabel Hardman writing in the Speccie:

“If this were not possible, the fear is that the ‘associate’ membership really would be second-class: a Norway-style arrangement where Britain is still subject to legislation from Brussels without having any say in its development.”

to which I commented:

“For heavens sake! When will you people, who classify yourselves as journalists, do your research and actually find out how EFTA/EEA works? When will you start to read the information on the EFTA website? Is not the function of a journalist to inform? How do you inform the public when you spread what are no more than lies purely because you know not that about which you write and are apparently too lazy to do your research? When will you stop ‘parroting’ what your political contacts tell you? When will you start thinking for yourselves? Sheesh!”

It is a continual source of frustration for me that people appear to accept, without question, what they are told and do not have the faintest desire to discover and/or confirm anything for themselves. It might be an idea if all who pontificate on Twitter and in the media were to visit the EFTA website and read about how EFTA and the EEA ‘works’; while also reading this in order to confirm that this ‘government by fax’ meme is but a lie; and that consequently those who rely on that which the ‘great and good’ in the world of politics and the media publish, only results in their being hoodwinked.


17 Responses

  1. IanPJ says:

    Well I for one won’t be paying the Times to read the rest of their codswallap.

    It looks like the EU/UK Government have started their referendum campaign already, with the meme, stay in the EU or else.

    Anyone with a thinking brain and access to the internet can see their lies for what they are. We must not be drawn into a rerun of the Irish referendum fiasco.

    • david says:


      Yes the campaign has started, as you observe – and yes, we probably will be drawn into a re-run of the Irish fiasco

  2. thespecialone says:

    WfW – you will never believe this but I know people who believe everything they see on TV News and what they read in the print media!!! Unbelievable I know but I swear it is true!!

    I have tried to explain to work colleagues, who are allegedly intelligent people, that what they see and hear in the likes of the BBC is no more reliable than that written in the Daily Star or Hello/Ok! If they say the sky is blue, look out of the window to confirm.

  3. Pogle's Woodsman says:

    It’s fairly commonplace for Isabel to reply to some comments. I think it’s illustrative that she would choose to avoid giving a reply to your posting.

  4. wg says:

    The thing I dislike about people such as Duff is their arrogance in believing that all of the smaller countries should be bullied into his federal plans.

    If Britain does go for the EFTA/EEA option I would stick my neck out and say that a lot of these countries would prefer to go with us – this is really what the EU panjandrums secretly fear.

    Kudos to you David, and others, for hammering away on the EFTA/EEA and Article50 stuff – they are the basis for a future roadmap and I only wish that UKIP would adopt this manner of thinking.

    • @wg You’re right, if we leave it destroys the illusion, and momentum, of the only option is to join and keep integrating. Denmark in my view would be next to leave, they often use our membership to justify theirs.

      • david says:

        TBF, I see us leaving, followed by others poss Denmark, being the beginning of the end of the EU.

        Followed in time by say Ireland, Finland, Sweden and also throwing the remainder of the Baltic States plus the Czechs and we then have a sizable rump with a great deal of clout.

        • Pogle's Woodsman says:

          I’m in accordance with your view that we’re destined to leave now.

          I think it’s been decided this year, and my outlook on it coalesced in the early summer. Many things, many examples, but the main one being (ironically enough) nothing to do with the broad EUsceptic church in the UK, rather Merkel’s nacent two-tier EU.

          Unless the Westminster tribe attempt a coup in terms even more spectacularly mendacious and cynical than the reverse over Lisbon, there is just no version of events which can put the UK into the inner-core, including full irreversible integration and Eurozone membership.

          Neither Westminster nor its associated Civil Service have the remotest notion how to achieve ‘second class’ – it will be an affront to the establishment institutionalised culture. No matter what they might convince themselves of, outer-tier membership will just not prove sustainable in political terms.

          The other bit of the evidence I would take in the unlikely figure of the Guardian’s Garton Ash.

          Now. I like him. Yes, he’s a EUreligious extremist, an evangelist. But he doesn’t lack candid honesty. He makes no bones about his recognition that the EU project is one which is intended to supplant, then replace a representative democratic system – something our politicians in full knowledge of that fact choose to suppress. However, he’s not possessed of wholesale congnitive dissonance. When the facts change, he’s sufficiently self-aware to change his opinions. Another thing your natural-born-europhile cannot brook.

          Recently, Garton-Ash (entirely missed by his supplicative supporters, missing the point hidden in plain sight…) has publically, in writing, committed the apostasy of mooting a multi-level EU, in which there are varying emphises of obligation, of membership and application. Whereas that notion is a core betrayal of the EU implacable one-size-fits-all / our-way-or-highway ethos. When even the high priests rewrite the script, then you know the nature of the conclusion has changed.

          Nothing Cameron or Miliband will do, or may neglect to do will change it. As they say, ‘the EU will leave the UK’. I’m pretty confident of it now, and I don’t think it’s wishful thinking.

    • david says:

      Thanks for your support, wg

    • thespecialone says:

      To be fair to UKIP Nigel Farage did mention Article 50 in his new year message. He needs to continue to mention it because whether you like him or not, people do listen to what he says. For all those millions out there who currently have no idea about Article 50 it would be at least an introduction to its existence. Maybe even the media would start to understand it? Or do they but dare not mention it because they know that it would be popular (Article 50 and withdrawal) amongst the masses?

      Cameron is in a corner like a wounded animal at the moment so it should be attack about Article 50 from UKIP all the way. If it is explained properly then Cameron is on to a loser all the way.

      • david says:

        The problem though, TSO, is with his choice of words – as I posted elsewhere on this site.

        Still we get no talk from Ukip about the mechanics of leaving, life thereafter – does anyone in the party know anything about anything?

        • Ian E says:

          I wonder how many folks [UKIP/Con/lib/lab/others] would actually be able or willing to follow discussions of the mechanics of leaving.
          Certainly, I see no evidence that Farage has a clue about such issues, but, maybe, such talk would just switch the majority of people off from considering EUxit at all. I hope that plenty of serious brains, other than the few motivated bloggers, are considering this within all, or at least some, Parties, but maybe the Voting Public [not the sharpest cookies in the land, alas] should just be given the simplest messages?! Just speculating, as they say!

  5. Andy Baxter says:

    I fervently want desire and wish (2013 new year wish anyone!) for us to leave the EU.

    I believe many are of like mind to us but many are not and many more lack any inertia to vote either way if it should come to a referendum.

    However: ladies gentlemen do not overlook one very pertinent fact of life of which WfW constantly reminds of; i.e. the lack of direct democracy and our utter abject inability to control, direct or sanction the political class who deign to rule us.

    They (the political class) do not want us out of the EU and if they sense a possibility of such there is always the chance using the pretext of being ‘sidelined’ put into the ‘periphery’ of the EU, unable to ‘influence’ the Norway by fax argument.

    it is not beyond the realms of fantasy that a future Labour or coalition government beyond 2015 could decide to stage a fait accompli and adopt the single curency and then fuller integration on the new treaty being proposed now. that, I believe using the ‘faux ruled by fax’ argument will be the rationale for such a move.

    it matters not what we think or believe, we unable to govern ourselves cannot think for ourselves and are to be jolly well told what to do by the political calss who do know best what is right for us lot….

    as I say it is not a scenario that is beyond happening…

    just saying…..

    happy new year all

  6. graham wood says:

    EU ‘Associate Membership’? ………….. or guilt by association.

    Happy EU free New Year to all!
    Graham Wood

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