Tag Archive: European Union

Far from the maddening truth

I note that Ed Miliband has come out with what one might term ‘weird and wonderful truths’ in respect of ways in which to ‘revitalise’ our rail system.

Yet again we find Miliband being completely blind to the ‘user pays’ principle, something about which I have written previously, the latest being this article. In common with the political class in general, Miliband thus chooses to ignore the constraints imposed by the European Union on the UK’s transport policy.

Another example of being economical with the actualité is the subject of Crossrail, which is being sold to us as a ‘UK Innovation’ when it is in fact part of the TEN-T ‘core-network’ project (more on this in the immediate days ahead). Crossrail is heralded as the saviour of cross-London travel, the line running from Shenfield, in Essex, to Heathrow.


(click to enlarge)

One has to ask what earthly use is this line to those in the North of England (Manchester or Newcastle) who will not travel by train to London(an hour or two), then take the Circle Line to Paddington, followed by a 26 minute journey to Heathrow – when they can board a plane direct to Heathrow with a flight time of about 20/30 minutes?

Which kind of leaves Miliband’s idea of devolving decisions over the running of regional and local services so that areas can bring together trains, buses, trams into a single network in what might be termed: tatters?

More on the EU’s plans for’ transport’, where the UK is concerned, in the next 2/3 days – stay tuned, please?


Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose (7)

Big fleas have little fleas,
Upon their backs to bite ‘em,
And little fleas have lesser fleas,
and so, ad infinitum.

And the great fleas, themselves, in turn
Have greater fleas to go on;
While these again have greater still,
And greater still, and so on.

A childhood rhyme which perfectly illustrates the complexity involved when attempting to discover the origins of law, viz-a-viz local government, national government, the EU and the various United Nations bodies; not forgetting the role played by NGOs, pressure groups, etc.

Readers may recall that on the 1st of this month I wrote about Ed Miliband’s plan to devolve power by means of Combined Authorities and linked it to Hazel Blears’ attempt to create Multi-Area Agreements (MAAs). Of course prior to that we had John Prescott’s failed attempt to create regional government in the North East; and subsequently, with the faux election of the present Coalition government in 2010, the replacement of Regional Assemblies with Local Area Partnerships (same animal, different name).

It will also be recalled by readers that the EU never gives up in its aim of creating a ‘European state’, leaving no stone unturned in the hope of achieving something it has so far failed to do – the creation of a European demos.

It will therefore come as no surprise to see that the idea of regionalisation has reappeared under the guise of creating an Urban Agenda; an idea in which the Committee of the Regions (CoR) and the European Economic Social Committee (EESC) will also have a ‘finger in the pie’.

Today Johannes Hahn, EU Regional Policy Commissioner is asking EU citizens to share their views on an EU Urban Agenda – what form it should take and how it should be put into action. The Commissioner is calling for a wide engagement by stakeholders and city dwellers in a public consultation alongside a formal Communication just published by the European Commission – a document entitled: The Urban Dimension of EU Policies – Key Features of an EU Urban Agenda (Well worth reading – it is only 12 pages).The weight of any views from an individual will no doubt be zilch when those of the stakeholders are also included.

Returning to the subject of fleas – and their order of importance – where the setting of global standards is concerned, with food standards Codex is the top table – and there are many others, all under the aegis of the United Nations. There is also, for example: the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) based in Rome; the United Nations Economic Council (UNECE) based in Geneva; the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) based in Paris; the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) based in Montreal; the Bank for International Settlements (BIS) based in Basel; and the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) based in Bonn.

If readers have referred to the formal Communication they will see referenced (among others too numerous to mention at this juncture) the OECD and the UNFCCC. The OECD for example is responsible for The definition of a Functional Urban Area (FUA); and from page 2 we read that the OECD in collaboration with the EU (Eurostat and EC-DG Regio) has developed a harmonised definition of urban areas as “functional economic units”.

Like the Phoenix, a mythical bird that arises from its own ashes, so has the regionalisation meme been reborn, albeit under another name and policy. At this point it becomes necessary to question the origin of Labour’s policy for Combined Authoritities; and in this instance, just for once, I do not digress – you work it out, its not difficult.

It will also be noted that Miliband, like Cameron, is indeed a small flea.



News is how it is interpreted

In today’s Open Europe Press Summary there is mention of a comment on the nomination of Lord Hill by Martin Schulz, President of the European Parliament.

He is quoted in both Reuters Deutschland and Handelsblatt, with the Google translation telling us:

EU Parliament President Martin Schulz has expressed skepticism about the British EU commission candidate Lord Jonathan Hill. “I can not imagine that Hill with his radical anti-European views if he should have, in the European Parliament, a majority agrees with me,” Parliament President Martin Schulz told the Germany radio on Wednesday. A rejection was “not possible”.

In contrast Open Europe informs us:

Meanwhile, speaking to Deutschlandfunk radio this morning, Martin Schulz, President of the European Parliament said of Hill, “I cannot imagine that with his radical anti-European views, as far as he should hold them, that Hill can get a majority in the European Parliament… It will become clear if Mr Hill approaches us without prejudice, and that will certainly influence whether or not he gets a majority [in the EP].” He added that a rejection of Hill “cannot be ruled out.”

Martin Schulz has no comedic tendencies (unlike his namesake Charles M. Schulz, originator of the Peanuts strip cartoon) being a very serious, committed believer in the European Union. As such, he knows that the European Parliament can only accept the nominees as a whole – they cannot veto the appointment of an individual nominee. If Lord Hill is ‘blackballed’, a word in Juncker’s ear will be delivered and he then has the choice of reshuffling his commission portfolios and if the word in his ear is ‘no way, not under any circumstances’ then Juncker would have to ask Cameron for a replacement commission nominee.

While accepting that Google translate is not the best, there is a great deal of difference between ‘not possible’ and ‘cannot be ruled out’. Perhaps Open Europe should have clarified this section of their press summary, because what their press summary alludes to is the idea that Hill, as an individual, can be rejected.

If we now look at the transcript of the interview with Deutschlandfunk we find that what Schulz said is that a Commission which included Hill, or any other eurosceptic, may not be accepted. Pressed further it is then that Schulz says:

Yes, of course! This is not ruled out.

Not only that but we learn that Schulz spoke to David Lidington about Lord Hill – something which it appears is not mentioned by the British media. Note also the ‘slur’ by Schulz when he refers to Lord Hill as Mister Hill – but I digress.

Open Europe is not renowned for authenticity where matters EU are concerned and their views are quite often picked up by the media, either being quoted verbatim or ‘interpreted’ – the latter then presenting an entirely different story for public consumption.

This example is but another that shows being economical with the actualité only leads to the public being misinformed. While this practice continues just how is the public supposed to form an opinion on which to base their views, or vote come any referendum?




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The continuing EU saga

Jean Claude Juncker is reported to have said that that Britain will be able to repatriate powers from the EU ahead of an in-out referendum. The actual words spoken were:

I would like Britain to stay as an active constructive member of the European Union. If Britain puts forward a proposal it will be taken under consideration……I am not in principle saying that no kind of repatriation can take place. If Westminster wants to recover competences, OK. If the others agree, it shall be done.

Juncker is not yet Commission President, being subject to a vote of ‘approval’ by the European Parliament next week, so technically his words carry no weight. In any event David Cameron has admitted that some of that which he seeks will require treaty change – something that will require a Convention and an IGC, which means that that route for Cameron is no use whatsoever if he wishes to meet his 2017 schedule – and that is something that Juncker must also know; so the question that has to be asked is just what is Juncker actually saying? Presumably it will be along the lines of: Lets give this sop a few sops with which he can pull the wool over the eyes of the British people once again.

Juncker has been ‘appearing’ before some of the European political groupings; the European Conservatives & Reform Group (ECR); the Socialists & Democrats (S&D); and the Alliance of Liberals & Democrats for Europe (ALDE) – with the European Peoples Party (EPP) holding a summit on 16th July, prior to the meeting of the European Council.

The ECR have decided that they cannot support Juncker next week; the S&D don’t seem to have made up their mind, although no doubt they will ‘fall into line’; ALDE will support him although they have made quite plain that under no circumstances will they allow the United Kingdom to be treated as a special case, stating:

We strongly oppose the idea of allowing for a special treatment for the UK. Any adjustment or modification of the treaties can only be done on a collective basis including all member states and should if necessary require the holding of a convention

On such ‘unity’ will the European Union continue its inexorable march towards its Utopian dream.




Playing with words

Yesterday, Ambrose Evans Pritchard had an article in the Telegraph in which he maintains that the Cromwellian method by which Jean-Claude Juncker was foisted upon the nation states is a breach of the Treaties and that the Treaty that emerged did not give the European Parliament powers to pick the head of the Commission. Yes, the Spitzenkandidaten process is not mentioned in the Lisbon Treaty, but then neither is a renegotiation of membership terms process – outside of Article 50.

Article 17(7) of the Treaty of Lisbon is quite specific, namely that the nominee for the position of Commission president is subject to a treaty process:

This candidate shall be elected by the European Parliament by a majority of its component members. If he does not obtain the required majority, the European Council, acting by a qualified majority, shall within one month propose a new candidate who shall be elected by the European Parliament following the same procedure.

Do note the word ‘elected’, also that the European Council could propose who they liked (and have more than one attempt) but until they came up with the name that was acceptable to the European Parliament, only then would the position of Commission president be filled.

It seems to me that the continual ‘bleating’ by Cameron of the Spitzenkandidaten process - and supported by articles like the one linked to above – is a red herring as a cover for his acceptance of the Lisbon Treaty, something which he did when he informed the people he was now unable to give them the referendum he promised.

AEP also writes that:

The prerogative lies entirely with elected EU leaders accountable to their own voters, a safeguard that anchors authority in the sovereign states.

Leaving to one side, as I have shown, the fact that elected EU leaders have no prerogative, even if they did the fact that such leaders are not directly accountable to their own voters over their choice of Commission president (at least in the UK) is but another Telegraph smoke and mirrors exercise – neither is there, therefore, any safeguard.

AEP, continuing his rewriting of the actualité continues:

Euro-MPs have the right to turn down the Commission. They may not appoint it.

At the end of the day it is the European Parliament that decides who will become Commissioners. Consequently all those politicians (and journalists) complaining about a sideshow need to learn to read and understand that which they have read.

AEP also writes:

Yet the earthquake upset in May went entirely in the opposite direction, a primordial scream by Europe’s peoples against (EU overreach and the job destruction of crude austerity).

But, back in May 2010 was there not a similar primordial scream by the people of the UK against the then three main parties – in effect saying that they didn’t want any of them? As with the EU and Juncker, so with the people of the UK – the only difference is that instead of getting one unwanted person , the UK got two of them.




Nelson, among others, turns a blind eye

I have refrained from writing about the Juncker debacle as, in my view, it is pointless becoming excited until we know the result of who will be ‘nominated’ for the position of Commission president. That has not stopped journalists working themselves into an apparent frenzy and two such articles appear today in the Telegraph and the Independent.

Fraser Nelson, in the Telegraph, believes David Cameron is the only leader with the courage to take on Europe, maintaining that the meeting of EU Heads of State is a ‘summit’ – one can only suggest Nelson refers to a dictionary for the meaning of that word.

He writes that Cameron arrived shocked at the fact that people say one thing in private and another in public, but then doesn’t Cameron when he gives his press conferences after these meetings? 

Nelson also writes that  the European Parliament is an obscure institution that now wants to make a power grab and appoint the head of the European Commission. Nelson needs to go and read the Treaty on European Union – and specifically Article 17(7) bfore he writes such tosh again. He would then know that the Lisbon Treaty did not introduce a vague pledge that national leaders need to take the Euro elections “into account” when choosing a new Commission chief; that it was quite specific that they should and it was also quite specific that if the Council’s nominee did not get a majority vote in the European Parliament then Council leaders would need to have another go.

One again in Nelson’s article we get the meme that Cameron vetoed a fiscal treaty, so perhaps Nelson can inform us of the name of that draft treaty and when the required convention and IGC was held and where.

The other article is one in the Independent by Chris Blackhurst who writes that most business leaders want the UK to remain in the EU to facilitate their ability to trade with the EU.

What Blackhurst and the business leaders do not seem to realise is the fact that to trade with the EU one does not have to be ‘in’ the EU – one needs to be in the Single Market. This could easily be accomplished by a sideways move to EFTA (if they will have us) and retaining our membership of the EEA – a move which would have no impact on our trading relationship with the EU. To that suggestion one can already hear the voices raised about influencing decisions etc; but then neither Blackhurst nor the business leaders appear to have the faintest idea about the origin of law and standards.

When we have idiots such as all the above pontificating, telling us what is not what, is it any wonder the public know squat-diddly about anything?



What if? (Scotland)

An ‘interesting’ paper has appeared from the European Policy Centre, authored by Graham Avery who is a Senior Adviser at the European Policy Centre, Senior Member of St. Antony’s College, Oxford University, and Honorary Director-General of the European Commission.

The caveat in the paper is that the views expressed are those of Graham Avery – no wonder…………


Horse trading in Brussels

Following the European elections the process has begun by which the candidacies for President of the European Commission  are discussed by the Heads of States at an informal dinner this evening. Also beginning is the process by which the formation of official groups within the European Parliament will be decided.

The Financial Times reports that David Cameron has already begun an attempt to block the appointment of Jean-Claude Juncker, the EPP candidate, with Merkel giving what is described as ‘lukewarm’ support. However Open Europe quotes Merkel saying: It’s always been said that it’s up to the strongest group to put forward the candidate, but just being the strongest group is not enough, a majority is required.

The FT also reports that as Cameron’s position is weakened to a certain extent, he would however agree to Juncker being appointed as President of the European Council – which would, one could say, result in Van Rompuy being ‘juncked’.

The Treaty of Lisbon does allow the European Council to consider the candidacy of someone who is not one of the candidates who took part in the recent series of debates, however there is the small matter of the European Parliament being able to reject any suggestion that the European Council makes for the position of  Commission President. It should also be remembered that during the last debate between the candidates both Schulz and Verhofstadt stated that this person must come from within the candidates, Schulz adding that any other nominee would be rejected by the European Parliament.

With the statement by Schulz, it is logical to assume that the hands of the  European Council are somewhat ‘tied’ – interesting days ahead, methinks.

Update: See what I mean about horse trading – and what deals within deals will be made?

Update 2: The European Parliament flexing its muscles?


Can we just agree to leave? Please?












(click to enlarge – if print still not large enough; and for those unaware using Windows, holding down Ctl and clicking + will enlarge the print)

It is not the intention of this post to criticise the views of any of the contributors to the above papers, suffice it to say I have but four points to make.

  1. It is somewhat amusing that the editor of The Freedom Association’s own publication makes the same point that I made in the email forwarded to Simon Richards and Rory Broomfield; that the withdrawalist cause is somewhat fragmented; and that there is a need to bury egos on all sides – a message which did not seem to penetrate;
  2. If the withdrawlist cause remains somewhat fragmented (which it does), then there is a need for the meeting of minds and the swallowing of egos – and agreement that a method used in the past, which still produces a fragmented message, needs to be changed;
  3. The contributions from Edward Spalton and Robert Oulds are most definitely worth reading.
  4. If, as Edward Spalton maintains, our own politicians are the problem, then it has to be said so to  some extent are some of those within the Eurosceptic movement with what seems to be an attitude of:; ‘I’m right, you’re wrong’.

It is hoped that those visiting this blog will read the contributions above – perhaps it may result in an amicable, polite and reasoned debate (free from ego) on this blog?

Acknowledgement is readily given to John Petley, Editor of Freedom Today, for allowing me to reproduce the articles above.






What is the point in trying?

Readers may remember that I recently mentioned that I had instigated two personal ‘initiatives’ with a view to taking to task both Cameron and the supposed  eurosceptic organisations on ‘matters EU. . For the moment I wish just to deal with the latter of those two.

On Sunday last the following email was sent to Robert Oulds, Bruges Group; Edward Spalton, Campaign for an Indepependant Britain (CIB); Simon Richards, The Freedom Association; Matthew Elliott, Business for Britain; Marc Glendenning, Democracy Movement; Robin Tilbrook, English Democrats; and Rory Broomfield, Better Off Out

It is now apparent that should David Cameron win the forthcoming general election in 2015 with an outright majority a referendum on this country’s membership of the European Union will be held towards the end of 2017.  

In any event, it is also obvious that treaty change will be on the agenda during the life of the next parliament which will involve the transfer of more power to the European Union. Regardless of which political party forms the next government of this country, it will also necessitate a referendum under the terms of the European Union Act 2011.­  

As a private individual it appears to me that the anti-EU movement need to be speaking with one voice so that come the time of any referendum the ‘Out’ campaign should have agreed on a strategy which thus ensures that the campaign will be structured and well planned.  

Currently the anti-EU groups seem to be sending out mixed messages; ones which, in turn, then present a similar mixed message to the electorate. It is obvious that if the ‘wrong’ message is presented, it could well alienate those who would support the cessation of this country’s membership of the European Union. It is my opinion that for a referendum to be won by the ‘No side, it will be necessary for certain matters to be decided upon.  

First, it is essential that an exit plan be devised and agreed, one capable of reassuring the majority of voters – and business – that the UK’s economic interests are protected, together with access to the Single Market; and that we can thereby leave without any problem to business and without precipitating an economic crisis.  

Second, the ‘No’ campaign will have to unify behind that plan – at least, a sufficient number that would convince the Electoral Commission that such a group is the best candidate to run the official “out” campaign, and thereby dictate the tone and conduct of the fight.  

Third, it is necessary that alliances are built and a campaigning network created which, when submissions are made to run the “out” campaign, will give substance and credibility to any joint application. Only then would any submission stand a serious chance of securing a successful bid.

 If started now it will, I estimate, take the best part of two years to get to that point, as long as those involved work hard.  

In view of the foregoing I write to inquire whether you would be prepared to attend an exploratory meeting to discuss a common ground whereby the creation of a grouping of like minds, agreeing to work together, can be formed; and who would then be able to bring about that for which we all wish.  

Needless to say, at present there is no venue or date envisaged for such a meeting, although the earlier it can be held the better. Purely as an aside, perhaps it might be possible, if a majority of addressees interested in such a meeting as I suggest are in provisional agreement, one of them with offices in central London might feel able to act as host of such an initial, exploratory, meeting.  

I look forward to your response in due course.  

With kind regards,

David Phipps

At the time of writing replies are awaited on behalf of the CIB, Democracy Movement and English Democrats.

Robert Oulds, on behalf of the Bruges Group, responded that he would be happy to attend such a meeting.

The following response was received from Simon Richards, The Freedom Association:

Dear David,

 Thank you very much for your message.
The Freedom Association, and its Better Off Out campaign, have always co-operated closely with, and had friendly relations with other like-minded anti-EU groups. Once the elections to the European ‘Parliament’ are out of the way, we shall be actively seeking to build on those relationships, in readiness for a possible future EU referendum.

I think that this will be best done through a series of informal meetings involving the principal parties. I don’t think that a formal meeting will work, but please rest assured that we are committed to doing all that we can to try to ensure that the anti-EU case is put as effectively as possible.

All the best,


Likewise the response received from Rory Broomfield, Better Off Our (and it should be remembered that both TFA and BOO are but one think tank – in all but name) was:


Thank you for the email. I’m afraid I don’t feel that a formal meeting would be the most appropriate at this stage. It is in no way certain that there will be a 2017 referendum and, although it would be wrong not to keep up our activity in pushing the agenda, setting up formalised bodies in the way that is being imagined I think is premature.

Representatives of the groups that you mention (and have forwarded this email to) already meet on an informal basis and I see no need to change this at this point.


The email to Matthew Elliott had to be sent to his organisation’s generic email address, being marked for his personal attention, as I was not in possession of a personal address. Today I received the following response, the reply to which was a model of restraint (something for which I am not known).

Thank you for your email, before I forward this to Matthew, please can you give me some more information on your interest in this issue and your involvement in the EU debate to date?

 Best wishes
Oliver Lewis

To which my response was:

While a member of the Bruges Group I am a private individual, who runs a political blog (Witterings from Witney), concerned about what I see as the lack of clarity and cohesiveness within the anti-EU organisations, some of whom I consider tend towards a rather ‘tunneled’ vision based on their particular interests.

 It is hoped that the foregoing answers your questions; however I have to say that I find it somewhat puzzling that a perfectly innocuous email has been ‘intercepted’ prior to the individual to whom it is addressed receives it.
Kind regards,
David Phipps

At the time of writing no further correspondence is available for publication.

When one reads phrases such as: a series of informal meetings involving the principal parties;  and Representatives of the groups that you mention (and have forwarded this email to) already meet on an informal basis and I see no need to change this at this point - it really does drive home the fact that I cannot consider myself one of the elite, coupled with the inferred suggestion of just who the hell do I think I am – at which the point the question is returned, ‘in spades’. When one finds that an email has been ‘intercepted’ by an underling and questioned, then one really knows ones place.

It is a fact that the ‘In’ crowd, ie those believing in membership of the European Union, speak with one voice which repeats, ad nauseum, their mantra: the UK has to remain a full member of the EU to have influence; that the UK has to remain a full member of the EU in order to access the single market thus allowing the UK to trade with Europe. In that respect it is obvious that by speaking with one voice the ‘In’ crowd are presenting a unified argument – whatever their own individual reasons may be for so doing.

It does not take more than one brain cell to realise that those who oppose the views of the ‘In’ crowd should also be doing likewise – namely speaking with one voice. So why are those supposedly against the UK’s membership of the European Union not doing just that? Is this because their views are governed by personal ‘agendas’? Is it because their personal ego intervenes – that they are more interested in their careers than the cause for which they should be fighting? Is it because they have thoughts of possibly, at some time in the future, being parachuted into a nice comfortable parliamentary seat? Is it because their views are so grounded in antiquity that they are unable to see the ‘new-grown wood’ for the trees? Is it, in respect of Rory Broomfield, that having been selected as one of the six finalists in the IEA ‘Brexit’ competition he now has views way above his pay-grade? How does he know that which I imagine? Surely he is not following the example of our political class and telling me what I think? Or is it that, in common with politicians, Richards and Broomfield don’t wish to hear the views of a mere individual of the electorate?

In his response Broomfield needs to remember that Cameron has made a pledge that if he is elected with a parliamentary majority there will be a referendum in 2017. We all know that on 25 May 2009, Cameron said in a speech: “A progressive reform agenda demands that we redistribute power from the EU to Britain and from judges to the people. We will therefore hold a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty”. There were no qualifications or caveats to that pledge. It was unequivocal. Likewise with Cameron’s latest promise: there are no qualifications nor caveats – it is unequivocal. Possibly Broomfield knows something that we don’t?

The question about the future of the United Kingdom is not some game being played purely for the delectation of a small clique whose self-importance and inflated egos seem to be their entire raison-d’être  – the danger of losing any forthcoming referendum will result in the anti-EU movement being set back for at least a generation or more. Those of us who care passionately about our country and democracy cannot – and must not – allow that small clique to vie for the position as überführer  of the ‘No’ campaign. Coupled with that it must also be realised three of the main parties will fall into line and, for varying reasons, campaign to remain a member of the European Union, ie to retain the status quo; and the media, being part of the establishment, will back them. Neither can we allow the one party against EU membership to dominate the debate, as they are currently attempting to do. It must be recalled that this party, who hammers home the message: ‘Referendum Now’, has no published strategy to exit the European Union and does not even appear to have considered it necessary to even have one.

There is a comprehensive and well-structured exit strategy available – and until an alternative, better suggestion appears (if that is possible) then I can but suggest it would be in the interest of all anti-EU organisations and individuals to get behind it.

For the aforementioned small clique to ignore this strategy – and appear not even prepared to consider it – can only mean that they also have small minds.



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