I will try and shed some light on the events happening in the European Union. First of all I should point out that England as an individual country does not have independent membership. It is the United Kingdom that is a member state. The United Kingdom comprises of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. It should be said here that there have been rumblings in Scotland about having independent membership for some time. At the moment we are in the globally unique position of being a union within a union.
Prior to the new states joining the EU at the beginning of 2007, of whom most are planning to Join the Euro currency within the next three years, UK and Sweden were the only countries that have not yet joined, basically because the public don’t want it. At present the UK pound is worth about €1.48. Although the government are saying publically that they are in favour, most people in the UK see the currency change as giving away our another part of our sovereignty.
The UK has the ability to Veto the affect of a number of actions that could be taken by the EU. This includes such areas as tax, defence, foreign policy. It has been used several times during the course of our membership, sometimes quite effectively. However, at the same time, particularly in cases of tax, the government has given up certain elements of our veto where they consider it to be “in the nations interest.” At no time have these relinquishing of veto elements been put to the public vote. It is like everything that you give up of course, it is then impossible to get it back. These actions have been harshly criticised in Parliament, as you can see from the response to the European Tax Harmonisation (Veto) Bill [H.L.] back in 1999.
The UK veto, which is more extensive than any other member state, does not of course add to our popularity with the French and Germans.
EUROPEAN CONSTITUTION DRAFT
Back in 2003, the EU drew up a draft constitution. If you have the patience to read a 265 page document, it can be found here. This is the proposal that has caused so much controversy, and which France, although it was their idea in the first place, the Dutch, UK and others have rejected so far. The basic intention of the constitution was, in effect, to create a single country, similar to the USA. The result would be that the EU would become a legal entity in its own right. Had it been achieved, international representation would have been at EU level, therefore countries such as the UK, France, Germany etc would cease to have an individual voice in organisations such as the UN. In addition, items such as trade agreement, defence and security would also be controlled by the EU centrally.
I guess the intention of all of this was to create a second “super-power” on the scale of the US. However, there are several significant problems to this in my view.
1) The cultural differences between the member states. There is no common thread in this respect.
2) Language barriers. How can you have a regional union of this nature when there are in excess of twenty different languages being spoken. I know that some would argue that this is what the UN is, but look at the arguments and problems that is caused in this organisation.
3) Sovereignty. Historically, countries like the UK and Germany are very jealous of their own sovereignty. The difficulty with a United Europe is that these, and other countries, would be constantly fighting for supremacy, which would influence its effectiveness globally. Can you see the UK wanting to be ruled by a German dominated EU or visa versa?
4) Baltic States. The recent admission to membership of the baltic states creates similar problems to 3) above. Over the last two or three decades, these countries have fought to free themselves from the dominance of one state in a union, namely the USSR. Does the EU think that they are going to allow themselves to be dragged back into a similar position?
5) Rotation. At present, the EU is governed on a rotational basis by one of its member states. I am not sure whether the proposed constitution provides for this to continue, but it might. The difficulty with this is that you could end up with a situation where every six or twelve months, the emphasis on issues would see a change of position. For example, first you would get the French influence, next would come the Polish influence, then the UK and so on. This does not provide for stability.
In my view, whilst there is some merit to the EU, in terms of creating favourable trading and, in limited cases, legal conditions, to transform it into one Political, Legal, Global entity would a) be impossible to maintain and b) be inherently dangerous for the region and internationally.
In addition, the UK is having enough problems keeping its own union together, and that is only four countries, how the heck is Europe hoping to maintain control of twenty-five?