Open Europe bites off more than it can chew?

The Open Europe Blog had a post maintaining that Eu federalists can command attention, from which:

“So EU federalists can make headlines in the eurosceptic UK press after all, although we would hasten to add that an intervention by a few MEPs and retired politicians can’t qualify as a “Brussels plot” – you at least need to have some scheming Commission bureaucrats on-board for that.”

Why on earth should a “Brussels plot” require some scheming Commission bureaucrats to qualify as such especially when those few MEPs and retired politicians have the services of a Europhile think tank like Open Europe on which to rely?

This article on OE’s blog still attempts to maintain that Norway has little say in ‘matters EU’ when compared to that of the UK, a point that has been refuted by, among others, The Boiling Frog, Autonomous Mind, Richard North and myself.

 All in all, this article by OE has hardly, as bingobax in the comments writes, been the “cosy on message readers feedback” that OE hoped for. In fact one wonders whether there is a tad of censorship being practiced as a comment I left at 13:27 has failed to appear, yet others timed afterwards do appear. The last comment I left, read:

“So the ability to sit on expert committees, enjoy “access” to comitology committees, have some representation in EU agencies, besides being a “bonus”, is having no say?

Reverting to my first response, the comments by Mats Persson which were in the form of an article on the Guardian website were pure “spin” – no more, no less – and thus were factually incorrect. And you still deny the charge of spreading misinformation?

Your lack of rebuttal in respect of the assertions I make with regard to the integrity of OE can but speak for itself.

I can but repeat my last question, namely are OE a think-tank or Cameron’s poodle? A straight answer would be good especially in regard to being Cameron’s poodle – together with the proof, if the answer is in the negative.”

Andy Baxter prepared a comment which apparently is too long for the constraints imposed on comments by OE and consequently at his request – and with great pleasure – I reproduce it below:

“So Open Europe let’s examine this renegotiation option your so fond of, without invoking article 50 the Lisbon Treaty, that you and the political class seem to think can just be conjured up out of thin air because Mr. Cameron happens to say he can!

Let’s examine some very pertinent facts about The European Union.

A)           “The Acquis Communautaire”: A ratchet effect of evolving continual integration and homogenisation via ever increasing legislation that is summed up neatly by the following phrase “All Member States are bound to comply with the acquis communautaire.”

Question?: Just what power then do you think Mr. Cameron or any British Prime minister has then to ‘renegotiate’ on powers already ceded by the above? Answer “not a sausage” unless article 50 is invoked.

B) Council of Ministers: The primary legislative policy areas that it can influence.

1. General affairs and external relations Council

2. Economic and financial affairs council (ECOFIN)

3. Justice and home affairs council

4. Employment, social policy, health and consumer affairs council

5. Competitiveness (internal market, industry and research) council

6. Transport, telecommunications and energy council

7. Agriculture and fisheries council

8. Environment council

9. Education, youth and culture council

In summary just about everything a sovereign nation state would want to do for itself. But alas by being bound under treaty in the EU to be able to do so any nation then has to obtain unamity or QMV to get its own way.

Some Questions? What is there on this list of legislation formulation and policy that cannot be undertaken unilaterally by an individual sovereign nation state via treaties, and co-operation with other sovereign nation states via international bi-lateral agreements or by being part of other global trade and capital agreements such as EFTA or EEA?

Answer: EVERYTHING can be done unilaterally by such and sovereign nation states do have far more power to ‘renegotiate’ ‘veto’ or choose to adopt or amend as they see fit as is amply demonstrated by the likes of Switzerland and Norway.

By being subject to unamity or QMV under the Council of Ministers any so called individual member of the EU then has no ability to veto a decision or amend policy unless it gains unamity or QMV and if it fails to do so, it then has to implement legislation that may be an anathema to its national psyche or against the will of its populace. You call that influence?

C) European Council:

Headed by an unelected unaccountable President of the European Council, the current incumbent Mr Herman Van Rompuy being a politician of some dubious anti-democratic practices.

Also another unelected unaccountable head of foreign affairs a one Cathy Ashton who has never been elected to anything in her life! Yet the above along with another you guessed it, unelected unaccountable President of the European Commission, Jose Manuel Barosso lead and direct all aspects of foreign affairs, strategy and general political direction and policy of the EU as a whole with the whimsical compliance of the other heads of states.

Questions?: What need does a sovereign nation state have of unelected unaccountable president’s and commissioners having influence and legislative control over their (the sovereign nation states) long term political direction, strategy and foreign relations? Answer: none.

So again what is it that Mr. Cameron can ‘claw back’ or have influence over in the way of political direction, strategy and foreign affairs if bound by the above? Or can he exert more influence, direction, control by invoking article 50 and instead of ‘clawing back’ actually ‘take back’ all of the above?

D) The European Commission:

The executive body of the EU, now we get to the nuts and bolts of where power really lies!

An unaccountable and unelected body of 27 commissioners with their advisory bodies and civil servants (in excess of 2,000) again all unelected who exercise almost total executive power, they are the only body within the EU that can propose EU law (actually legislation but lawful is an alien concept to non-common law jurisdiction’s) and the body empowered to enforce such.

It operates at a supranational level and manages much of the day-to-day running of the EU. It has the financial powers to draft the EU budget (controls the purse strings) and distribute EU money to member states. It also has a role representing all the members collectively in the negotiation of treaties and the enlargement of the EU. It sits in on all decisions made about common foreign and security policy and justice and home affairs policy and when members don’t implement EU law, it can take legal action against them.

Questions?: what exactly do you think Mr. Cameron can do to ‘claw back’ or ‘influence’ the total executive power such a body exercises? What do you think the Commission does that a sovereign nation state could not do unilaterally? What do you think Mr. Cameron could do by invoking article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty and actually ‘taking back’ all the executive power that an elected government not bound by the EU treaties  has or cannot do?

E) European Parliament:

Stuffed for the most part with troughing MEP’s suckling at the teat of milk and honey. Admittedly they have some limited legislative powers but are for the most part the organisation that is used to give a veneer of legitimacy to the European Commission’s executive function by ratifying the former’s decisions.

Question?: what is it that the European Parliament does that a sovereign nation states elected Parliament cannot do?

F) ECJ: or to give it is technically correct name the “Court of Justice”

The supranational judicial body charged with enforcing all matters of EU Law. Judges hold office for 6 years only, so presumably can be replaced with more ‘accommodating’ individuals depending upon decisions previously made.

Question?: what is it that the Court of Justice can do that a sovereign nation states High court cannot do?

In summary what is there in the EU that a sovereign nation state could not do unilaterally? Answer: NOTHING!

How much money could a sovereign nation state save by not funding towards all of the above? Answer: £6 billions approximately in the case of Britain.

What is there in the EU that a sovereign nation state needs wants or requires to function on the domestic or international level? Answer: NOTHING.

Question? What then is the point of the EU? What then is the need for such an organisation? Answer: NO POINT AT ALL.

Question for Open Europe:

Given all of the above FACTS about the EU why do you cling to the mantra of ‘renegotiation’ and ‘claw back’ of powers by a British PM?

What have you to gain by such a policy and propaganda which is evidentially at odds with the FACTS?

Are you deliberately duplicitous? Or merely deluded?

I think we should be told?”


18 Responses

  1. Derek Buxton says:

    Very good summation of the EU in all its guises. But where is the Demos in all this??? Gone missing it would seem. Wait a little, did I not see that this is the year of the “citizen”!

  2. Edward Spalton says:

    A spot-on, cogent article.
    Just one pedantic niggle. Wasn’t Catherine Ashton ELECTED as treasurer of CND at the time it was trying to neutralise the West’s “equaliser” of nuclear weapons against the far superior weight of Soviet conventional forces and firepower, ready to go from a standing start in East Germany?

  3. It’s a shame OE won’t depart from their blogspace to read Andy’s post, let alone reply to it. OE absolutely must not be allowed to hijack the eurosceptic agenda or influence any referendum campaign with its distorted sweeping generalisations – even if as they are currently doing, they keep walking back their unfounded claims in the face of evidence-based challenges from the likes of WfW, Boiling Frog, Richard, Andy et al.

  4. IanPJ says:

    What a stonking good effort chaps. Well done.

    With Cameron having given the Falkland Islanders an unequivacal right to self determination by way of a referendum, its about time that he extended the same to the peoples of this Island.

  5. wg says:

    Once again WfW the bloggers are proving themselves way ahead of the game.

    The EU propaganda machine is in full flow and it’s great to see their self-serving acolytes at Open Europe being slapped down for what they are (this from somebody who once regarded OE as a good source of “Eurosceptic” information)

    Thank you for publishing Andy Baxter’s comments – as good as it gets.

    We less able individuals, lacking the time to research and form our arguments, are going to need all the material we can handle in the coming months – the EU hierarchy are worried and will be pumping out scares and threats.

    You’re all becoming a bit of a formidable team – brilliant stuff!

    And I’m not usually one for giving grovelling praise to anybody – believe me!

  6. thespecialone says:

    A very easy to understand summarisation. I have copied it to my hard drive for future reference and to use for no doubt future arguments that I will have with work colleagues who are likely to fall for EU scare tactics from the renegotation camp.

  7. DP111 says:

    There is so much convoluted technical detail in the EU’s procedural policies, that it is impossible, for the likes of me anyway, to know whether UK’s membership of the EU is good or bad for the UK. On matters of Qualified Majority voting, does the UK have equal voting power as Luxembourg? If so, then the EU, far from enghancing the UK’s influence, actually reduces the UK’s influence in shaping global policy.

    For me then it boils down to a simple situation. It is patently obvious that the EU is a Eurobus, where Germany and France are the only legally mandated pilots. The rest of the crew are merely there to serve the Eurobus. The EU does what either of the countries ask it to do. If Germany and France disagree on any issue, that issue is stone cold dead. Or to use another metaphor, France and Germany are the axis on which the EU revolves.

    The question then arises – does the UK, given our traditions and history, wish to be run by the modern version of the Axis powers?

    • david says:

      Within the various “Councis” – yes.

      The question that should arise first of all is does the UK wish to be a self-governing nation. Anything else is surely peripheral?

  8. DP111 says:

    Though I do not like the EU, there are issues apart from Fisheries, CAP, and others such, that affect the UK and the West as a whole.

    Examine the current international situation. The ME and the Muslim world are in turmoil. The post-Berlin Wall world is coalescing into major power groups or nations. USA, Russia, China, India, Brazil and possibly, a Muslim caliphate on our doorstep.

    Overseeing this arrangement at this moment in time is the UN SC. At this moment, there are two European nations that have permanent seats in the Security Council. This will not be forever. India, Brazil and a possible “Caliphate” (which we are instrumental in creating), will demand that they too have a permanent seats. In such a situation, it is quite likely that France and UK will lose their permanent seats. The new world order, which the US is very keen in creating, will not be unhappy to see Old Europe bite the dust. That has been a permanent fixture of US policy since its rebellion.

    In such an event, America will be the only genuine Western power (and even that is in doubt at the moment), that has a permanent seat. I do not see America doing anything to prevent the take over of Falklands by Argentina, or the successive take over of parts of Europe by Islam.

    In the modern era, defence of the nation has to extend outwards. Thus, UK’s defensive “wall” would start in Eastern Europe, with extensions in Australia and New Zealand – a modern equivalent of Hadrian’s Wall. To carry a defensive shield of this magnitude, will require forces in men, money and equipment that are beyond the capability of any individual nation in Europe. We cannot rely on America for very much longer. Thus the EU, with a common defence policy in men and equipment, becomes a necessity. To sustain a viable defence, research and manufacturing capability, also requires a common currency. Bear in mind, that if Europe falls as a Western entity, it won’t matter what the details are on CAP or QM or whatever.

    • david says:

      Which is why the immigration issue, over which we have no control, is becoming more and more important.

      • DP111 says:

        I agree David that the immigration issue is of great importance. However, the defence of the realm, and by extention, the West, is equally important.

        As far as I know, no one has examined how the defence of the realm, and that perforce includes western/central Europe, is to be defended, without some form of cooperation at the European level.

        So far, the USA performed the task. But if the US decamps, how is the defence burden to be shared? If it is done on a national basis, it will raise old historic claims and bitterness. To me, defence of the West is absolutely vital, before which all other matters are secondary.

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