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Should the UK improve links with the EU?

10:24 UK time, Thursday, 1 July 2010

Foreign Secretary William Hague is seeking to increase UK influence over the European Union by pushing for more British officials in senior EU posts. What are your views on Mr Hague's plans?

Speaking at the Foreign Office in London he argued UK representation in Brussels is declining and input waning. He said the UK represents 12% of the EU population but has just 1.8% of staff in entry-level positions at the commission.

Mr Hague has also called for a new focus on improving links with developing countries like India, China and Brazil.

Should Britain have more influence in the EU? What should be the UK's international goals? How crucial are relations between the UK and developing countries?


Comments

Page 1 of 7

  • Comment number 1.

    If we are to be in the EU then we need that presence reflected within the machinery of the EU.

    We cannot afford to sit on the sidelines with diminishing influence leaving us no room for complaint when measures are passed with which we disagree. We need British Staff in Europe to give a British perspective on proposals that will inevitably affect our domestic situation.

  • Comment number 2.

    The french have used the EU for their own personal benefit since it started. Policies like the 'empty-chair' where they refused to attend meetings until they got their way were common.

    A lot of people will look upon the french behaviour and say this is why the EU is a bad thing. I do not. I admire the french for their single-minded attitude that if they want something they will not accept anything less, if they can get away with it.

    We on the otherhand were dragged into the EU with half the population hating it and jonney-foriegner to boot (and still do).

    We should accept that our empire has gone (it wasn't worth much in the first place). The 'special-relationship' with the USA is an illusion in the minds of our politicans. If we are to attain some power and influence in the world we are going to have to stop bleating on about our history and start living in the real world.

    The EU is our only serious trading partner, we earn so much more from it than we pay in. The days of the casual French arrogance are gone with the increased membership. It's time we stopped believing we can go alone into the world, based on what we think of ourselves.

    If the toriees are promoting stronger links with the EU it will indeed be a revolution. I remember portillo standing at a toree conference and just saying one word - 'brussels' - followed by a smirk - and he got a standing ovation! - how times have changed!

  • Comment number 3.

    Should the UK improve links with the EU?

    Yes

    Despite what you read in the tabloids Europe is not evil.

    It should always be remembered that some of the papers most opposed to the EU have non-EU proprietors that don't even live in Europe and have no stake in European society - they just resent the EU for personal, business reasons.

    People are always moaning that Britain doesn't get what it should from EU membership but its worth remembering that we are, at best, part time members who have taken none of the risks that other members have, particularly with regards to the Euro.


    The more deeply Britain is involved with the EU, the more influence we will have to guide future policy for Britain's benefit.

  • Comment number 4.

    Wow!!!!

    Are we finally going to stop sniping from the sidelines and get stuck in????

    We have had so many opportunities to be at the centre of the EU and to help steer its course, but we continually shy away, defeating our cause and garnering the worst of the EU without the real benefits.

    Yes, EU has issues that need to be addressed. And we're in a perfect position to take advantage of the opportunities and be a real power within Europe again. Of course the sceptics will want us out of Europe completely and do everything to drag their feet rather than be dynamic and forward-looking. Our future has to be with the EU and the more we get involved the more say and real power we have in the corridors of power.

    Let's do it - let's get involved.

  • Comment number 5.

    Oh lordy - HYS meltdown imminent!

  • Comment number 6.

    There needs to be a radical re-think of British Foreign Policy as Hague has intimated with closer links with Europe and the emerging nations,re-forging links with the Middle East and less dependency on our relationship with the USA where we need to pursue a more robust and independent line on foreign policy where the aims of the United States do not always mirror the UK's national interest or national security. This does not mean that we will not continue to support the USA but we should not return to the Blair Years when we supinely followed without question the US line to the detriment sometimes of our independent foreign policy aims or reputatior as being a "honest broker".

  • Comment number 7.

    As a member of the EU of course we ought to be involved!!!!

    A lot of people like to moan about the EU, it is far better to do something about the aspects that you don't like by taking an active role and influencing policy.

  • Comment number 8.

    The coalition government should hold a referendum and ask the British people whether they want to be in the EU or not.

    If the answer is yes then the UK should enter the EU fully including adopting the Euro; if not we should withdraw from it altogether.

  • Comment number 9.

    I would rather a special relationship with Europe than with the US, Israel and Australia, they are all a bit too right wing and are proven war criminals without a cause! We should involve ourselves more and not be the ignorant black sheep in the Cul De Sac. If anything our special relationship with the US has destabilised europe as a whole!

  • Comment number 10.

    Haig is seeking for the UK to have more influence over the EU, and get it to work more in our favour.

    He also seems to be wanting to broaden our horizons, and stop us being so US-centred.

    All sounds fine by me.

    Bear in mind, though, that more British influence over the EU will probably mean that the whole imploding mess, increasingly loathed throughout the continent, will probably be more to Britain's liking. In short, the EU will probably lose momentum, and powers will be repatriated.

    And I'm very pleased to see moves away from the US. Let's hope the media follow suit. I'm sick of hearing about America.

  • Comment number 11.

    I hope that doesn't mean paying any money into the Eurozone. The EURO is not a British problem.



  • Comment number 12.

    'Should UK improve links with the EU'? Absolutely YES. Long overdue.

    For example, if you pay huge fees as a member of a club, you should be highly motivated to take an active role to ensure your fees equal a fair and proportionate representation of your needs, views and control?

    Not a fan of current 'Conservative' government, but respect William Hague's experience and knowledge. Let's face it - with so many cuts coming down the pipeline, we are going to need Mr Hague to enable us to access EU grants more than ever in return for our membership?

  • Comment number 13.

    If it means our involvement in a common military force then I'm all for it.

    For far too long we have lived in the past remembering our past glories; and of course forgetting our failures.

    Today is the anniversary of the first day of the Battle of the Somme. Something that is never taught in history books or mentioned by the military. We lost 60,000 men (20,000 dead) most between 7.30 and 9.00 am, (Quote:- 'we lost the cream of the british army before breakfast'). That is more than the entire Boer war, Crimean War and Korean War combined.

  • Comment number 14.

    No plain simple.The E.U. connection is the worst thing we are part of.It not only restricts our trading to countries outside the E.U.But trading within is very limited as most of the large countries like france and germany don't want our goods.We have an open door policy to immigration within the E.U. which means this country is swamped with low skilled workers.Although they do the work cheaply they cost this country in the services and housing we have to provide for them. Plus the top up benifits they get because they are low paid.On top of this any that do pay into our tax and insurance system then go and claim the whole lot back when returning home for a short break.Very small numbers of our workers can do the same when they go to any E.U. country.Those that come from this country to work in the E.U are in the main high skilled workers so don't claim any benifits or are a drain on the services.Why should we the tax payer have to pay billions in printing ect other languages no other country in the world does this to help their immigrant population.We can't afford it we also can't afford to be so cultured in our approach to asylum seekers we can't afford to keep them here.Mygrant workers are just that, not asylum seeker.If someone want asylum they go to the nearest safe country NOT travel half way round the world. Extridition of illegals should not be postponed because they can't find their passport.

  • Comment number 15.

    A welcome move by the Lib Dem Coalition.

    I think it would be a very good idea if we forged stronger links with the rest of Europe.

    Afterall you are not going to get much from america as Obama hates the british.

  • Comment number 16.

    "8. At 11:15am on 01 Jul 2010, robbo wrote:
    The coalition government should hold a referendum and ask the British people whether they want to be in the EU or not.

    If the answer is yes then the UK should enter the EU fully including adopting the Euro; if not we should withdraw from it altogether."

    Why?

    Whats wrong with taking advantage of the free movement of goods and people while still retaining the power to set our own interest rates and currency value? Personally I think we should take every benefit we can from the EU and concede as little as possible. Its what the French do and they created the damn thing.

  • Comment number 17.

    There is no benefit to our strengthen links with the EU. We are already in bed with it and it is a bankrupting mistress.

    We should get out of the EU altogether as it is a drain on the economy, restrict our international competitiveness, makes it too expensive to employ people in the UK and brings us no benefits. It is the only way we will have enough autonomy to reduce our debt.

    Getting out of the EU is the best thing we could do for the EU too as it shows that 1) the issues are real; and, 2) we are serious about the real issues.

    The EU is the least democratic union around yet our allegedly democratic politicians are seduced by it.

  • Comment number 18.

    Might it help if the BBC started to put our MEPs on news and current affairs programmes? Although we elect MEPs as well as MPs they seem to be ignored by Radio 4.

    We get very little information at all from Europe via the BBC, compared with the constant torrent from Africa and South Asia.

  • Comment number 19.

    The Tories always want everything but be part of nothing. They don't want to join the EU, but they want to have more senior posts in it.
    If I were head of the EU, I would be telling the UK Government where to go until they fully decide either way which way the UK wants to go.

    I hope that noone from the Government calls this progressive politics as already the word 'progressive' has been over used and heavily used in a way that is opposite to their actions.

    As for Hague wanting to have more influence in the world and more of a say, the Government need to be fully focused on where this country is going before dealing with others.

  • Comment number 20.

    How about the UK let itself be influenced by the EU instead? They've got some cracking ideas, you know. Such as indoor plumbing and mixer taps ...

  • Comment number 21.

    16. At 11:35am on 01 Jul 2010, Peter_Sym wrote:

    "8. At 11:15am on 01 Jul 2010, robbo wrote:
    The coalition government should hold a referendum and ask the British people whether they want to be in the EU or not.

    If the answer is yes then the UK should enter the EU fully including adopting the Euro; if not we should withdraw from it altogether."

    Why?

    Whats wrong with taking advantage of the free movement of goods and people while still retaining the power to set our own interest rates and currency value? Personally I think we should take every benefit we can from the EU and concede as little as possible. Its what the French do and they created the damn thing.


    Why not? Hold a referendum. You shouldn't be afraid of what the British people have to say.

  • Comment number 22.

    Years ago there was TV weather forecast, "Thick fog in the Channel today meant that Europe was totally cut off for over 4 hours". This epitomized the British attitude at the time, which many still embrace. My opinion is not that extreme, but having travelled extensively in Europe, having lived there for a while, and speaking three European languages apart from English, my experience is that the British and the Europeans are completely different animals, and for us to stay in the EU is as ridiculous as insisting that a square peg will go into a round hole. I am very fond of the Europeans, especially the French and the Spanish, and the EU will destroy any relationship we might have with them, which has already descended to cordial but cautious, and before long we will become the "perfidious Albion" of the Napoleonic era.

  • Comment number 23.

    I think that this government should stand back for a while and not jump straight into bed with the EU. Some don't like this half in half out state of affairs but better that than make the biggest mistake in generations.

    The Government should also consult the people that voted them into power - after all is said and done they seem to want to get our views on every other issue.

    My fear is that it is the glory behind playing on a bigger stage that lures politicians into the EU. Self glory rather than doing what is good for the country they represent - how can we hope to compete with that?

    I value my Britishness and if asked would say that being part of Europe holds no appeal. That said, I am coming towards the end of my life and have strong memories of wars that tore Europe apart. Todays generation are told very little about our true relationship with other European nations and the kudos of being part of 'cool Europe' is important to them.

  • Comment number 24.

    Why have we so few in the entry of the EU, is this the EU fault?
    Apart from the very fair argument that everything is the EU’s fault, in this case it is not solely responsible.
    GovUK under the NU-Lab soviet pushed everyone at university for such valuable studies as: Beach management, surf management (same thing – catchy different titles), media studies. Anything, but not useful things like languages – or at least not EU languages.
    Therefore we are at fault! Well not us BLiar!

  • Comment number 25.

    The European superstate was always a big con by the elitest establishment,to form a large unaccountable government, with workers working longer hours, for less pay, higher taxes, lower public services and not retiring until they drop down dead.

    How well it is working!!!!

  • Comment number 26.

    "This is a new policy? The Tories were allways very anti europe, i.e They Laws and rules and the court of human rights, this must be the result of the lib -dems? Whats next Will we join the {EURO } ? we did join the common market, it was brought in by The Tories.

  • Comment number 27.

    As a nation we should always seek to improve links with other important bodies. But we should be doing so from outside the EU as a proud free independent sovereign nation.

  • Comment number 28.

    Concentrating on and improving the EU link is what we should do. Afterall, our enormous subscription to the EU project was to make it work.
    We have strayed from the EU project by persuing short term gains of labour movement between non-EU countries and ours.
    Free labour movement between EU countries was there to cushion our labour shortage and to help develop EU countries which are behind. The trade standards are there to enable meaningful comparisons between EU countries.

    We need to concentrate our efforts towards making this work.

  • Comment number 29.

    We're either in the EU with one hand on the wheel, or we're out. The current back seat driver approach is no good to anyone.

  • Comment number 30.

    JohnH says "The days of the casual French arrogance are gone", oh dear - look up arrogance in the dictionary

    Peter Gough says "The EURO is not a British problem", oh dear, there are some excellent economic textbooks in the library

    Nemesis says "we should be doing so from outside the EU as a proud free independent sovereign nation.", oh dear, like the UN? which we ignored when it suited us, the WTO or NATO (all unelected supranational organisations) - there are several good books on global geopolitics in the library

  • Comment number 31.

    Kick the EU in to touch - we would be better off without them.

  • Comment number 32.

    Please please can somebody help me? For years, the majority of HYSers have been vehemently against the EU. I had always assumed that this was the usual middle-England, bumptuous jingoistic stubborness, but to be fair, I had always wondered whether these people had any sort of coherent agument? I realise now, that countries with vastly different GDP having the same monetary system (for example Greece and Germany) can be problematic, but presumably, full integration of economies would average this out across a United States of Europe. Moreover, I am aware that over-legislation and red-tape and the Human Rights Act are problems too, but if countries wanted to integrate enough, they could still be fedaralised but have different individual laws (as per individual states in the USA). I recognise that countries want to retain their individual identities, but who can argue that a Texan and a New Yorker are a different as an Englishman and a Dutchman? I also understand that the federalisation of the EU would mean an end to individual governments, and that this might mean that policies that are not for the precise benefit of the UK will inevitably occur, and that federalisation of the EU is more or less irreversible.

    My real point is that these are huge considerations, but they are not ones that we could not or perhaps should not overcome. Surely we have to have integration of EU states in order to be able to compete with the rising East and Far Eastern economies? An integrated EU can compete with India, the USA and China and remain wealthy and powerful, but an isolated UK is a tiny, insignificant fish in a global pond destined to become a very poor second rate country in the next few decades. This is why I think that successive Labour and Conservative governments have still failed to issue a referendum on the matter. In this case apparently they really do know better?

    Those who hate the EU so much, please explain your reasoning to me, don't flame me, it's a genuine question, I just don't understand your logic.

  • Comment number 33.

    Should UK improve links with EU'?

    Yes, very strongly, as our MEPs are invariably over-paid and very ineffectual at the same time? It's time William Hague gave more backing and equal power for our contribution to enable our MEPs to have an equal effect as an equal member as France and Germany do so well?

    There has never, in our history, been a more important and crucial time to enforce our presence within the costly EU club. Even Stevens?

  • Comment number 34.

    William Hague is carefully talking about ‘enrty-level positions’. I don’t know the numbers but I suspect that the overall percentage of British staff at the EU is far greater than 1.8%. But there are a number of countries who have joined fairly recently, and I would expect that they are still under-represented in the EU work force. I don’t find it unfair if they currently get a higher percentage of entry-level positions than longer established members like Britain. But in the long term I do think that the percentage for each country should be more or less relative to the size of their population.

    Secondly, the boss of most EU employees is the European Commission. It is not the government of their home country. Whether Britain has 1% or 30% of the EU work force does not matter that much. The British government has no direct say over them anyway. What matters more are the tasks that the European Parliament and the joint governments define for the European Commission. As long as those are in the interest of Britain it doesn’t really matter whether they are executed by someone from Leicester or someone from Thessaloniki. So we should not over-estimate the increased influence that Britain could get by increasing its share of the EU work force. It is more important that Hague and Cameron negotiate the right things with their European counter parts.

  • Comment number 35.

    Should the UK improve links with the EU?
    Yes, but instead it has chosen to clearly and persistently demonstrate it close ties with its closest ally, the United States. The lock-step is apparent to me; it’s apparent to the world, which certainly includes the EU.
    Foreign Secretary William Hague can seek to increase UK influence over the EU; he can push for more British officials in senior popsts, but why would the EU select more British Officials for senior posts?
    Britain's political stance seems to me like having your cake and eating it too; or rather, in Britain’s case, shunning the cake, but also wanting to get your piece.
    Of course UK representation in Brussles is declining, input waning. The EU, like most foreign nations, see the UK and the US as a linked term: UK/US. Britain’s main loyalty, closest loyalty is the United States.
    Has the Uk committed itself to Europe? Has she committed herself to Europe in the way that she has committed herself to the United States?
    Mr Hague can call for a new focus on improving links with developing countries like India, China and Brazil, but until Britain starts to initiate her own, independent, thought-out foreign policies (without US consultation), the world will continue to see Britain linked UK/US. They will trust Britain about as much as they trust the US; they will dislike (or like) her as much as they dislike (or like) the US.
    Time to grow up, Britain, time to call the shots they way you see them, the way British people elected its politcians to represent them.

  • Comment number 36.

    With the current problems the EU have, particularly with the single currency issues surrounding individual member states finance, it is an opportunity to gain a foothold with other like-minded member states. For far too long the EU has been dominated by the Franco/Germanic and partners socialist alliance, who's sole aim has been to create an EU Socialist Super state.

    By standing outside but having inside interests, we have maintained some independence (particularly in keeping our own currency -we have had protection from the Greek situation etc.) and to a certain extent can take measure to repair our own economy without having to take into account those of our EU neighbors.

    The first and most important measure that should be introduced is to make all member states equal in power and voting rights. This can be done quite easily, but I am sure many would argue against it as it would diminish their own influence and power. All you have to do is pass a rule that all member states give an equal amount of money to the EU to fund it. This can be done by forecasting the yearly budget in advance and then applying a common % of GDP across the board, so that each member state gives proportionally the same amount to the running costs. It will mean that some pay more than others, but proportionally it will be the same.

    Once this is done and all voting rights are equal, the business of addressing the unfair policies (e.g. the CAP etc.) that drain the resources of the EU can be tackled and fairer systems put in place that will benefit all rather than the few.

    Also, all the EU posts, whether in the commissions, parliament etc. should be divided up proportionally so that each member state gets it's fair share, once again providing an equal say for each member state and thereby equal power, and all of them should be directly elected by the people, none should be appointed.

    It is high time that the Franco/Germanic partnership realised that with the expansion of the EU, the days of them ruling the roost are over and rather than building a Europe to primarily benefit them, they now have to consider the other member states.

    I also think it is time the 'old guard' stepped down and allow new blood to take the reigns and drive forwards with new ideas and policies. Rather than look back with the bitterness that some evidently have that their names will not be written large in EU history, they should be content that they have put in place the building blocks and started the work.

    There are far too many politicians in senior positions in the EU hierarchy who have their roots in the politics of the 1960's, 70's and 80's. A lot of this no longer sits comfortably with current thinking (from either right or left) and until they are replaced, we will be at odds with them and the policies they put in place.

    One, and probably the most important issue at the moment is that it is more than obvious that some member state Govt's (and their predecessors) have not been entirely truthful or accurate about their countries finances or economy and have been doing this partly to stay in the 'club' and partly to take advantage of some of the EU policies to get grants/benefits. The EU need to grasp this particular nettle and put in measure to create transparency in these areas, cut the bureaucracy and waste and put in measures that are simple to use to control and check on these things. All they have to do is treat the EU as a big business and adopt best practice from all the various management systems there are out there (they could start with the ISO standards, after all the I is for 'International').

  • Comment number 37.

    "21. At 11:49am on 01 Jul 2010, robbo wrote:
    16. At 11:35am on 01 Jul 2010, Peter_Sym wrote:

    "8. At 11:15am on 01 Jul 2010, robbo wrote:
    The coalition government should hold a referendum and ask the British people whether they want to be in the EU or not.

    If the answer is yes then the UK should enter the EU fully including adopting the Euro; if not we should withdraw from it altogether."

    Why?

    Whats wrong with taking advantage of the free movement of goods and people while still retaining the power to set our own interest rates and currency value? Personally I think we should take every benefit we can from the EU and concede as little as possible. Its what the French do and they created the damn thing.

    Why not? Hold a referendum. You shouldn't be afraid of what the British people have to say."

    -----------------------

    Interesting that the other HYS on "Which laws would you change" has so many people saying that the Government listening to what people want is:
    - "a cynical PR ploy" or
    - "we voted for the government so THEY could make decisions" or
    - "you don't get sensible ideas from the public".

  • Comment number 38.

    Of course we should be more involved in the EU - the EU is one of the biggest economies, if not the biggest, in the world. We need to be part of that to survive. However, they are quite rightly not going to take us seriously and give any significant jobs, and therefore influence, until we join the Euro and stop pretending we are a world power. We also need to stop blaming the EU for everything - the vast majority of our stupid laws and rules are home-grown, not handed down from Brussels.

  • Comment number 39.

    All UK governments would be terrified to hold a national referendum on our ties with Europe, because they know the outcome. I do not know of anyone (in my circle of workmates, friends and family) who supports our membership. Extrapolate that out to the country as a whole and I think you would see a 80-95% vote in favour of severing our links with the EU.
    Sad that our elected representatives will not allow us a chance to decide, considering our membership adversely affects us all!!

  • Comment number 40.

    BTW France is a major member and beneficiary of the EU, YET France manages to do lucrative business with their old colonial territories in North Africa, the Middle East, Vietnam, etc., etc., all at the same time? (brush up on your colonial history) - it's not only Britain that 'invaded and traded'? Get real?

    Therefore, it is nonsense to suggest that any country in EU is not 'doing business' elsewhere in the world with old links and a common language?

  • Comment number 41.

    We definitely need a stronger voice in the EU in order to stop some of the more outrageous laws passed by unelected beaurocrats, many of which are totally impractical.

  • Comment number 42.

    Yes absolutely. We should either be a co-pilot of the EU as one of it's major powers, alongside France, Spain, Italy and Germany, or we should leave. At the moment we bumble along without any purpose, dealing with everything on a case-by-case basis with no clear long-term strategy to forge a strong position in the EU. We react rather to than propose new legislation at the EU level. That has to change. We should be the ones to make the EU fully democratic, accountable and better organised.

    I believe strongly in the concept of the EU - we can't go on forever as Britain and we should be looking to integrate further with the Union - but we should try to make it on our terms as best as possible.

  • Comment number 43.

    What an odd topic heading. It suggests the EU is a separate entity with which we might have some kind of bilateral relationship. This is the bar room consensus among the uninformed anyway, so I suppose a BBC aiming at an audience of mediocre (at best) intellectual aspiration will try and fit in along the grain of these misconceptions.

    However, we are part of the EU as the less ignorant will already know.

    If the question is a clumsy way of asking "should the UK play its part within the EU more energetically and constructively?" then my answer would be "of course". We might even get a pan-European broadcasting/audiovisual authority. Wouldn't need an £830,000 per year DG for the BBC perhaps then...

  • Comment number 44.

    Coming home by rail from southern Germany via Brussels I had the good luck (misfortune?) to sit next to an EU bureaucrat from the UK, the conversation turned to the cost of the EU and its employee make-up. He made the point - highlighted by Hague - that the UK is seriously under-represented, his French colleagues find it ludicrously funny that we and the Germans pay a disproportionally large proportion of the EU bill from which the French benefit disproportionally.

    The EU man said that when you work in the EU you naturally look to benefit your own country, when you are under represented you are fighting a losing battle with the entrenched cliques.

  • Comment number 45.

    With so many 'nasty party' Minister announcements thus far .. William Hague is the only 'Conservative' Minister our family has any respect for.

  • Comment number 46.

    "Improve links" sounds like spin for "make separation impossible incase we need to hold a referendum later, we'll have excuses not to".

    Not like any of our opinions matter, they just steamroll on regardless.

  • Comment number 47.

    I do not suggest that we should do anything else but improve links with all nation states, but I do not approve that other nation states should be in a position to influence events in the UK. We should come out of the EU and return to the Common Market.

  • Comment number 48.

    #21 "Why not? Hold a referendum. You shouldn't be afraid of what the British people have to say."

    I'm TERRIFIED of what the British public have to say. HYS should show why.... yesterday one maniac suggested 'bring back hanging for all violent crimes, no appeal". Another suggested "deport all immigrant criminals... it doesn't matter if they're 4th, 5th or 10th generation immigrants" . He was so mad he doesn't seem to realise that we're all immigrants. The 'English' only landed here in the 5th century.

    The public have no idea what the EU costs or what benefits (or real disadvantages) it gives us... they just believe whatever the Daily Mail or Sun tell them to think.

  • Comment number 49.

    40. At 12:34pm on 01 Jul 2010, corum-populo-2010 wrote:
    BTW France is a major member and beneficiary of the EU, YET France manages to do lucrative business with their old colonial territories in North Africa, the Middle East, Vietnam, etc., etc., all at the same time? (brush up on your colonial history) - it's not only Britain that 'invaded and traded'? Get real?

    Therefore, it is nonsense to suggest that any country in EU is not 'doing business' elsewhere in the world with old links and a common language? "


    Agreed. Likewise its not like Britain doesn't do very nicely out of arms deals to place like Saudi or Kuwait either is it?

  • Comment number 50.

    Hague is showing us all the elitist principles with which is party resides. It's not good enough to have fairness and share wealth and influence with other countries, Britain has to strive to be better than all.

    Who care's about anyone else right?

  • Comment number 51.

    to get more involved in europe we need to quit being americas poodle, make your mind up time.

  • Comment number 52.

    It is no doubt a fact that Great Britain made many mistakes earlier following falling the laws into the hands of the Bureaucrats for which it has to undergo many pains yet it behold many intellectuals, much more than average for giving the deep of the deepest thought into a Subject which often confuse others many times over to act in way which is often far from perfect. When the entire Europe is undergoing a transformation for overall good of us; taking intense pain on the shoulder of each individual that constituted the Union, it is expected that UK play a greater part in the affairs of EU. Since current exercise is for betterment of entire of us, it should by thumb rule produce a result on our behalf.

    But considering the fact that the opposing force is available within us together everywhere, we definitely require enough of alertness amongst us to evaluate each and every event very carefully such that none is permitted to derail the effort put-in amasses to ensure a survival from the situation by securing a perfect win as a result out of the actions undertaking with great of the greatest faith infused. Accordingly it is desired by the situation that UK involved itself in the affairs of EU in every possible way without creating an imbalance anywhere to show us a path to walk on clean with our steps firmly behold on the ground.


    (Dr.M.M.HAZARIKA, PhD)

  • Comment number 53.

    We should leave the EU at the earliest opportunity.

    We can't afford to support lame ducks.

  • Comment number 54.

    The UK isn't the US or China or India or Brazil. We are no longer weighty enough as a nation to solely influence world affairs. The UK needs to be a part of a greater pool - the EU - because of shared history and geographical proximity and trading relationship.

    Don't like the way the EU works? Then influence it from within by greater participation instead of from being in the sidelines.

    And the UK can't expect to play a greater part in running EU affairs, if it won't rejects it from the outset.

    We can't have it both ways.

  • Comment number 55.

    #22 - Robbo

    I agree we should either be "in" or "out". In means the Euro, Schengen, working time directive - the works. Out mean just that - out! Out means negotiating terms for trade with other EU states, probably as a member of the EEA (like Switzerland, Norway etc. are). That wouldn't be a bed of roses for the sceptics as even EEA members have to comply with some EU legislation, without the benefit of any say in the their formulation.

    As a "europhile" I fear for the result of such an "in" or "out" referendum, but Europe as a whole would be a better place if we (and others such as Poland were getting opt outs for this that and the other all).

  • Comment number 56.

    Links between India and UK can definitely improve.

  • Comment number 57.

    I think Hague is totally wrong on this. It is correct that the staff at the EU (meaning the executive) should be gleaned proportionately from the different countries and thus have a composite European Character, but political interference at the higher posts in the expectation that they will favour their own country is exactly what they or we in Europe do not need. We need competence, not political lackeys.

    The EU Executive should take the political dictates of the Council and the European Parliament which are the proper places for national interest to be explained and argued, the EU Executive confining itself to implementing Council Decisions, not taking any political stance itself, except in as much as it reflects the Council's will.

    I expect the EU Executive to work for us all in Europe, not slant their decisions in favour of this or that nationalistic advantage.

    If Mr Hague ever reads this I urge him to rethink his words ..... carefully.

  • Comment number 58.

    At 12:20pm on 01 Jul 2010, max_normal wrote:
    Those who hate the EU so much, please explain your reasoning to me, don't flame me, it's a genuine question, I just don't understand your logic.
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    I object to the political aspect of the EU. It is left wing, undemocratic and is seeking to centralise power. I have no objection to closer trade ties, no objection to common policies that don’t interfere with national interests nor any objection to open borders and even tax harmonisation. I do object to a federal EUSSR. I want to be able to vote out the people who we elect if they fail. With the EU you can’t do that. The MEP’s are not the Government, the Council of Ministers are and they are not voted for by the people.

  • Comment number 59.

    18. At 11:36am on 01 Jul 2010, Fred_Wood wrote:
    Might it help if the BBC started to put our MEPs on news and current affairs programmes? Although we elect MEPs as well as MPs they seem to be ignored by Radio 4.

    ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    Fred. See my comment at 1242. In my view the top BBC brass is probably afraid of being usurped by a pan-European broadcasting authority. It seems to think if it ignores the whole thing it might go away, and does little if anything, as far as I can see, to dispel the tabloid-engendered folklore on the EU, much of which is ridiculous.

  • Comment number 60.

    We should get out immediately and rebuild our own industries.

    This country is bankrupt. We are often told we live in the UK Plc. If that's the case then this Plc must start producing and making money again.

    The government's plans seem to be all about saving money. If we are not making money how can we save it?

    The EU will never allow us to be profitable. The whole idea of the EU was that France and Germany would set up a mutual alliance for their own well being and profit. That's exactly how it has run and is exactly what has happened.

    We were only allowed in because certain politicians who were later financially rewarded took us in without asking anybody. (no there was not a referendum to join the Common Market)

    The main effect of that was that we became a financial contributor to them and at the moment in addition to the 40 million a day we give them we have all the expense of implementing their legislation and setting up the bodies and organisations that do that.

    If we get involved even more in the EU we are in fact acknowledging that we no longer see ourselves as an independent country with our own power to legislate. We will effectively destroy parliament and accept that we are no more than a little region of 'Europe' to be controlled from Brussels.

    It's probably too late now anyway. We were sold down the river a long time ago. We dismantled all our industry, we gave our fishing rights away. Spanish fleets can fish in our waters while what few fishing boats we have are forced to stay in harbour in order to 'conserve fish stocks'.

    Once Germany has gained complete control of the EU they will in effect have fulfilled one of their old ambitions ever since the unification of Germany under Bismark. The previously independent German states were blugeoned into becoming part of a German super state. The French will of course return to their natural state of insignificance. But the main battle will be over. The UK will be no more.

  • Comment number 61.

    The EU is of little use to us at the moment as we are part of the EU but not an influential part. Instead it is run by the french.

    Of the good decisions so far we have kept the sterling which is holding up far better than the euro. As a result our currency may be shakey but its not being dragged down by everyone else.

    Of the bad decisions we bought loads of military kit off them for 3x the price, late and not even working. Compared to working, cheaper and available US kit.

    Of the stupid decisions of the EU we just need to look at the debate of the shape for bannanas.

    Of the lame duck which has no concept of responsibility when it comes to terrorists. Terrorists who attack EU members, kill the civilians, and the EU leaves the responsible task up to the US and UK.

    Of the solidarity shown when greece was accepted into the euro and then hit economical difficulty. All the members of the eurozone debating if they should hang greece out to dry.

    Of the amazing support from each country regardless of the opinions of the populations. I am not just talking about the UK but even in france and germany. Particularly now they have to look after their weaker members.


    If we are going to be part of the EU we need to be the boot which kicks them up the a** and gives them morals

  • Comment number 62.

    18. At 11:36am on 01 Jul 2010, Fred_Wood wrote:
    Might it help if the BBC started to put our MEPs on news and current affairs programmes? Although we elect MEPs as well as MPs they seem to be ignored by Radio 4.

    We get very little information at all from Europe via the BBC, compared with the constant torrent from Africa and South Asia.

    ***

    Thanks Fred, for pointing this out. I fully agree. It would help the debate about the EU tremendously if we actually knew what the EU does, and what goes on in the European Parliament. The BBC and the other decent media have a huge role to play to inform us and they are not doing that at the moment. The only MEP I have seen on TV in the past few months is Nigel Farrage, and only because his behaviour was clearly out of order. Why do we never hear from a reasonable MEP? Do they not exist?

  • Comment number 63.

    British foreign policy is run by the State Department. William Hague's speech will remain at the rhetorical level so long as the British sovereignty is not claimed back from the US administration. Britain used to be strong and listened to abroad until 1982 where Thatcher handed over its sovereignty to the US against their military support for the Falklands war. The long term cost for that support was too expensive for Britain who, since then, lost its say in the international arena. It is the US who dictate what Britain should do militarily, diplomatically and politically. The financial and the human costs are also too expensive: only the two wars in Afghanistan and Iraq are running into billions, with the loss of more than 310 British soldiers.

  • Comment number 64.

    Yes, how about a new tunnel a 6 lane motorway, one way!!

  • Comment number 65.

    #48. At 12:48pm on 01 Jul 2010, Peter_Sym wrote:
    #21 "Why not? Hold a referendum. You shouldn't be afraid of what the British people have to say."

    "I'm TERRIFIED of what the British public have to say. HYS should show why.... "

    And,

    #55. At 12:57pm on 01 Jul 2010, ATNotts wrote:

    "As a "europhile" I fear for the result of such an "in" or "out" referendum"

    ---------------------------------------------------------------

    I think the Europhobes fear it as much as you guys. In my opnion, when push comes to shove, most people have the sense to realise we're better off in the EU, as faulty as it may be. Why else wouldn't UKIP support the LibDem stance on a referendum for the Lisbon Treaty, which was to give people the vote "they really wanted" -- in or out of the EU -- despite that being the whole reason for UKIP's existence?

  • Comment number 66.

    The EU should be made to improve links with the UK.
    We are a coountry in our own right. There was nowhere that we signed to become a nation within a unity of nationals that could cross all borders at anytime. There are to many different laws with regards to the same thing that apply. Forinstance France/Germany and a couple of others do not pay benifits to migrants. so why do we! It would appear that once the mistake has been made the EU rule that it must carry on. In that case we should ask for an abstention from contributions to the EU until the timing of these benifits runs out. We should also be re-imbersed for all eu health migrants who are treated here. Now is the time for the UK to play tough on neighbours so that there people can play and work fair

  • Comment number 67.

    "#3. At 11:07am on 01 Jul 2010, whiler wrote:
    Should the UK improve links with the EU?

    Yes

    Despite what you read in the tabloids Europe is not evil. (1)

    It should always be remembered that some of the papers most opposed to the EU have non-EU proprietors that don't even live in Europe and have no stake in European society - they just resent the EU for personal, business reasons.

    People are always moaning that Britain doesn't get what it should from EU membership (2) but its worth remembering that we are, at best, part time members who have taken none of the risks that other members have, particularly with regards to the Euro.


    The more deeply Britain is involved with the EU, the more influence we will have to guide future policy for Britain's benefit.
    ___________________________________________________

    A couple of points: -

    (1) Nobody seriously suggests 'Europe' is evil that is just a stupid straw man you have put up. What people may regard as evil (or at least something they do not support) is the corrupt way the EU is run, and the fact that it is not going to work properly (economically) without becoming a super-state. Lots of people don't want to become the 'EU Province of Britain'.

    (2) What is actually maoned about, and very much worth remebering, is that Britain is and always has been a net contributor to the EU (EEC). All those wonderful EU grants you hear about - that is some of our money coming back, but we are still well and truely out of pocket and in that context the Euro is irrelevent.

  • Comment number 68.

    Yes to get US OUT as quickly as possible. All the money that this country pays into it and what do we get back ok we have trading partners but that would be the case anyway. GET US OUT so we can be our OWN boss again and not have stupidity running us. And the EURO not our PROBLEM until of course we JOIN.
    Just give us a referendum THEN you will see what people of this country want

  • Comment number 69.

    As the EU is spending a large amount of my money then yes we should be "at the heart of Europe". Why we are not already is a great mystery to me. Was the previous administration just throwing money at the EU and not caring what was done with it?

  • Comment number 70.

    Should the Lifeboats have tethered themselves to the Titanic for Safety?

  • Comment number 71.

    I can't see what was wrong with the initial common market. The EU has become an untamed monster of bureaucratic control freaks, so yes to Mr Hague's plans

  • Comment number 72.

    Should the UK improve links with the EU?
    good god no!!!!

    thanks to Europe the country is in the mess it is now, esp France!
    All ties should be severed

    bring on the baiting!

  • Comment number 73.

    8. At 11:15am on 01 Jul 2010, robbo wrote:
    "The coalition government should hold a referendum and ask the British people whether they want to be in the EU or not.

    If the answer is yes then the UK should enter the EU fully including adopting the Euro; if not we should withdraw from it altogether."

    16. At 11:35am on 01 Jul 2010, Peter_Sym wrote:
    "Why?
    Whats wrong with taking advantage of the free movement of goods and people while still retaining the power to set our own interest rates and currency value? Personally I think we should take every benefit we can from the EU and concede as little as possible. Its what the French do and they created the damn thing."

    21. At 11:49am on 01 Jul 2010, robbo wrote:
    "Why not? Hold a referendum. You shouldn't be afraid of what the British people have to say."

    Actually I am afraid of the British public...i'm very afraid. The trouble is that we are largely very reactionary and often don't tend to look into the true facts and get sucked into the tabloid media hype, as is very often demonstrated on HYS. I know it would be a 'democratic' thing to hold such as referendum, but I still fear that the public will believe the Daily Mail version of the facts rather than the true facts, and that could be very bad indeed for all of us. The fact is we're part of europe and have been for a long time, so we may as well get stuck in. Contrary to popular Daily Mail belief we have not 'surrendered all power to Brussels' and we continue to make the vaste majority of our own laws.

  • Comment number 74.

    At 12:20pm on 01 Jul 2010, max_normal wrote:
    Those who hate the EU so much, please explain your reasoning to me, don't flame me, it's a genuine question, I just don't understand your logic.

    --------------------------------------------

    They are not accountable for anything. This shows when they cant keep accounts.

    They are all for globalisation where everyone is part of this 1 entity. With or without public support, and the poor PR because of the few instances they allowed a vote.

    Uncoordinated (dangerous with my last point) with a eurozone which is being dragged down and the rest of us who refuse to give up our currency because you cant have the same currency, controlled in 1 country and affecting many countries. Not while we have our own financial institutions. Greece is a good example and the stronger members are resenting the weaker members.

    They debated dropping greece instead of helping them. In the end they did the right thing but only because they had huge legal issues with dropping them.

  • Comment number 75.

    44. At 12:43pm on 01 Jul 2010, polcirkel wrote:

    "The EU man said that when you work in the EU you naturally look to benefit your own country, when you are under represented you are fighting a losing battle with the entrenched cliques."

    +*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+**+

    And this is why, ultimately the EU experiment will fail. This is excactly the type of thinking that has caused all the problems as most of them follow the 'my Country fist, EU second' way of doing things, then have the audacity to lecture the UK and its citizens on not being good Europeans and putting the EU first.

    It is this very 'do as I say, not as I do' attitude that rankles the UK so much - the message should be clear:

    If you want us to join and encompass the EU, LEAD BY EXAMPLE! Put aside your natinalistic instincts and put Europe first.

    Sadly I think it will all end in tears eventually, as current members leave the EU. To save itself, maybe it should revert to the trading partnership is was many years ago, before it got too political and start again from there.

  • Comment number 76.

    The EU was initially a good idea byt has got out of control. Moneys are being sucked out of some states to prop up others which will always be money pits.

    We should engage more to ensure that the beast is scaled down.

  • Comment number 77.

    32. At 12:20pm on 01 Jul 2010, max_normal wrote:
    Those who hate the EU so much, please explain your reasoning to me, don't flame me, it's a genuine question, I just don't understand your logic.
    -----------------------------------
    There's quite a number of reasons:

    The Cost / Gain ratio, of simply being a member.

    The Euro is not backed by anything, and we'd lose financial independence and the ability to control our economy.

    The lack of independent control, too many federal laws. American states have more freedom of law in the USA, than European Countries in the EU.

    The voting system is flawed, and is as far from a direct and true democracy as can be. Who voted for Rompuy?

    If you don't agree with the EU, it'll force itself on you. (Irish NO to the lisbon treaty, and the backlash on Poland after it shown support for Irish democracy).

    Its foundations is not stable, and it is built upon public resistance: It will inevitably collapse.


    I am not saying the idea of a European Superstate is a flawed one. If it is done properly, democratically, and with public support, then I would be for it.
    It would actually have to be there to serve the citizens of europe. The current is an institution to control, with the (very transparent) ILLUSION of service.

  • Comment number 78.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 79.

    The UK has always stood back while the EEC/EU was being formed and re-configured. Then we complain about the way it works.
    In my view the shape of the EU would be different now and we would not be having all these pointless and ill-informed rants about the EU.
    It will interesting to see what the Euro-phobes like Bill Cash and his cohorts make of this. European issues stifled and diverted the Major government in the '90s are we going to see a replay?

  • Comment number 80.

    Yes I agree with Mr Hague.
    However, I feel we should also change our muffled or non-existant criticism of the numerous illegal actions of Israel, and also by making continued normal relations conditional upon them complying with International Law and UN resolutions.
    The Middle East is a powder keg of injustice and extreme racism, and at the moment we are morally on the wrong side of fairness in this disgraceful saga.
    I fear it will come back to haunt us if we dont become more proactive, rather than trot out a few empty promises and mealy mouthed words with regard to some very unpleasant attitudes and behaviour.

  • Comment number 81.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 82.

    "UK represents 12% of the EU population but has just 1.8% of staff in entry-level positions at the commission"

    This is a problem that goes way beyond the commission. There needs to be some recognition of the fact that a significant proportion of continental Europeans speak English to a high level, whereas only a small proportion of British speak a foreign language with fluency.

    Continental Europeans therefore have their choice of jobs both at home and in this country, without language being an obstacle. Unfortunately, because of the lack of emphasis on learning a foreign language in the UK, this is not recipricol.

    I would suggest that Hague takes a good look at this issue first. The fact that they're capping non-EU immigrants to protect jobs for residents is, on this basis, laughable and irrelevant.

  • Comment number 83.

    The best influence we could have is to leave it and quit paying what little we do have to them.

    We should certainly tell them that we aren't letting them tell us what we do here any more.

  • Comment number 84.

    After over 40 wasted years even the thickest Tory now understands that the Europe and the EU is where we should be. Better late than never!

  • Comment number 85.

    If it was good enough for us when the Romans were in charge it is good enough now :-)

  • Comment number 86.

    Trade links only please.
    And we don't have to be a fully signed up member for that.
    The EU should accept that the UK will never be a happy camper in their little club, so we should negotiate a gracious exit.
    Best all round.
    The current Euro crisis is going to lead to either a breakup of the Eurozone (which the EU bureaucrats will fight tooth & nail against, so unlikely), or calls for 'ever closer' political/economic union (the preferred option of the Eurocrats as it pushes further the 'project', so most likely).
    The UK plus some of the other EU sceptic nations will never accept the latter.
    That will not stop the EU apparatchiks from pushing ahead and bullying the sceptics into it, with the aid of the pro integrationists eg France & Germany.
    If we go down that route, without being too melodramatic, I see trouble ahead:
    Within 10 years, at the least, radical anti-EU political factions, or at worst, an anti-EU terrorist movement.
    Let's avoid the hassle and start renegotiating to 'trade only' now.

  • Comment number 87.

    Our aim now should be to move towards a looser kind of association with the EU: free trade and friendship rather than further political integration, and a referendum should be held on fundamental renegotiation of our relationship along those lines. Throughout our post-Roman history, until the First World War, we have been successful as a nation in keeping mainland Europe at arms length, and becoming involved only when the balance of power on the Continent has been de-stabilised. With the sea to protect us (and also with a strong air defence), we have protected our national identity and sovereignty. Since being deceived by Edward Heath into joining what is now the EU, our country has declined into a province on the outer NW fringes of the Continent resembling something akin to a historical Disney land, but one that now houses increasing numbers of economic immigrants to the detriment of the long-term native population. Norway has been able to keep her distance from the EU and remain prosperous. There is no reason why we should not do the same.

  • Comment number 88.

    "For hundreds of years the peoples of Britain have been writing history. Do we want future generations to continue to write history or are they simply going to have to read it.
    If we fail, they will read how we broke faith with both the present and the past.
    If we fail and the British people vote ‘No’ to the European Community, they will read how there was a defeat for co-operation between nations, and how there was a victory for the tribunes of the Left.
    They will read how extremism won over commonsense. For it is purely common sense to belong to a community working together in peace on economic and political issues that concern us all."
    The words of Margaret Thatcher, opening Conservative EEC referendum campaign, April 16 1975. One of her very few sensible statements, and still relevant today.

  • Comment number 89.

    The EU is just another layer of worthless government.The UK needs to return to being an independent and free country.60 years ago men died for our freedom in huge numbers now we are going to kneel to the French and Germans!
    Are we ever going to learn that more government means less freedom.

  • Comment number 90.

    Last time I checked the UK was already a member of the EU, so I don't see what there is to improve.Britain was nagging outside the EEC doorstep for a couple of decades and when it finally got in, it made it appear like someone had dragged them in...reminds me of Andy in Little Britain...
    -You know that the EEC is a union of nations?
    -Yeah, I know.
    -And you are sure you would like to join something like that?
    -Yeah.
    -Are you really really sure?
    -Yeah.
    -Alright then...

    Moments later...

    -I don't like it

  • Comment number 91.

    What he is saying is that there should be more Hague and less vague.

  • Comment number 92.

    #121

    We make the vast majority of our laws?You are happy that there is a case where an outside power has any say in what we do!
    You are afraid that the British public is to reactionary?then i suggest you move to France or Belgium where the meek already run the show.

  • Comment number 93.

    8. At 11:15am on 01 Jul 2010, robbo wrote:
    "The coalition government should hold a referendum and ask the British people whether they want to be in the EU or not."
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Why on earth would they? UK membership of the EU is the only policy that the Liberal and Conservative ministers agree on!


  • Comment number 94.

    It surely makes sense for members of any organisation to try and be represented at the levels at which the decisions are made. Britains arms-length attitude to the EU does us no favours whatsoever, and a more wholehearted approach would reap dividends for the country.
    To all the Europhobes who wish a referendum on UK membership, do you really think that the media here in this country, which is largely controlled by foreign interests, would give us unbiased coverage of the issues involved in order for us to make an informed decision? Judging by some of the rubbish being spouted on here as 'facts' I very much doubt it. For working people in this country Europe has largely been a good thing. The minimum wage, working time directive, paid holidays are just some of the benefits which have come from our membership. Only the rabid right wingers can object to these things. As for trading with the rest of the world, well we do, but Europe is our biggest market, and to make things more difficult to do business there would be madness. I used to work on ships trading with Australia & New Zealand, bach in the sixties. There were dozens of large fridge cargo ships on this run, taking manufactured goods out from the UK, and returning with beef,lamb, butter etc. That trade has gone. The UK is no longer a manufacturing country, and Australia & NZ have found new markets for their produce in the middle & far east. We have new markets in Europe now, and to suggest that we could seamlessly go back to the good old days is to be living in cloud cuckoo land.
    Stop being influenced by the right wing press. Start thinking for yourselves, and you will realise that nearly forty years after joining there is no alternative to the EU, even with all its flaws. Closer integration, with the UK using its undoubted power and influence to obtian the best deal possible is surely the way forward.

  • Comment number 95.

    I think at 60 odd million pounds a day YES sixty million quid a day i think we are doing a great job! Or is that just me? As for the Brits we must HAVE PAIN!

  • Comment number 96.

    It would help our "Eunglish" for sure, but without accepting the Euro, the UK would repesent UK interests mainly, I suppose.
    Beside that, second, third, ... languages would be required too as from each of us.

  • Comment number 97.

    The Great British empire went into it's final collapse 50 years ago. We are largely constituted of tribes who migrated to these islands over the past 5,000 years or so, it is time to rejoin more fully those from anongst whom we stem. Forget the petty tribalism and petty nationalism the greater globe is now competing very vigorously for a share of the economic cake, we need a steadfast alliance with Europe in order to survive the challenges of the future.

  • Comment number 98.

    The UK should stay independent and avoid a new rise in the nazi party. Aryan members might prefer vandalism or open hostility to re-establish. Joran vander Sloot explained the tactic of tormenting Poles, Jews, and Gypsies with homicides. The European Union compromises nationalism through its clique philosophy. In America, development of "Murder Inc" showed the danger of terror practiced within the syndicate.

  • Comment number 99.

    Having worked in the Netherlands for 2 years it is quite obvious that the UK is not considered to be in the EU. Any prouct you purchase in Europe has all the languages on the instructions apart fron English. I resently purchased a Nokia N97 mobile phone which said it had free GPS for Europe, but this does not includ the UK.
    From where the EU see the UK is totally different than how we see ourselves within this group.
    We are not part of Europe and they do not wants to be part of it. Lets get out and stay out, and stop pouring wated money in the pockets of our so called Euro MPs.

  • Comment number 100.

    I am glad to see Hague saying this. The EU is not perfect. But I have never understood the British unwillingness to play a full part and influence it from within - which is precisely what France and Germany do all the time. Britain ends up in the ludicrous situation of conforming more assiduously and honestly to EEC directives than most, if not all, other members; and yet failing to exert appropriate levels of influence.

    Seen from Asia, the UK as an isolated dot on the map of very limited significance except as a tourist destination with a lousy airport. The special relationship with the US is an embarrassing exercise in poodledom. Obama probably smiles patronisingly every time it is mentioned, thinking 'well if they're happy why not?' The Commonwealth is valuable but not properly exploited because of a post-colonial guilt complex.

    A vast amount of UK trade is with continental Europe - Britain should really get stuck in and make the most of it.

    So India and China are the future. How many Brits are learning Mandarin? How are UK universities competing with the Americans in attracting bright Indian and Chinese students? That's not much of a success story.

    I'm not a slavish Eurofederalist - not many people are these days, at least in the larger EU countries. But I do think that Britain has a historic opportunity now that Europhoria has taken a bit of a hit, and could introduce a bit of pragmatism and common sense into the system. But only if it participates full-heartedly. Get on with it, I say.

    Tim

 

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