BBC BLOGS - Mark Mardell's Euroblog
« Previous | Main | Next »

A cut-out guide to the Lisbon "smokescreen"

Mark Mardell | 09:01 UK time, Thursday, 22 November 2007

Perhaps a bit late, but I've just finished reading a rather fascinating document from Europolitics It's called "Here is what changes!" and it's a detailed, subject-by-subject forty page run-down of the Lisbon Treaty, which is due to be signed early next month.


The authors are enthusiasts for the treaty, concluding that it means that defence and foreign policy "are raised to the rank they should have had for years". They say there will be new EU policies on energy, research and civil protection, and home affairs policy (freedom, justice and security) will gain "new impetus."

They say next year may be difficult as the treaty goes through national parliaments and a referendum in Ireland and "a way will have to be found to prevent any isolated negative votes from blocking Europe again." They accept, however, that the future European Union will be much looser than dreamed of by the founding six nations.

But the Government won't like the next part. Europolitics says the blueprint for this treaty was "obscure and complex." "Make no mistake about it", say the authors, "that was its main objective." "Without a smokescreen how could Eurosceptics and federalists, proponents of and opponents to the consitution ever have been reconciled?" They go on to say that the talent of the political leaders "consisted in making extremely discreet the fact that the new treaty and the dull Constitution are like two peas in a pod."

The reason this document is such an essential read for those interested in the treaty is that there still isn't an official pull-together of all the bits and pieces that will make up the actual document that is signed by the leaders.

But, here too, help is at hand. Peadar ó Broin from the Dublin-based Institute of European Affairs has done the sterling work of constructing a readable text to help the Irish public make up their minds when the vote in the referendum next year.

Have I read it yet? Er, well... There are plenty of long nights and I hope aeroplane journeys between now and 13th December.

Comments   Post your comment

  • 1.
  • At 10:36 AM on 22 Nov 2007,
  • Max Sceptic wrote:

Mark, this isn't news. Some time ago Giuliano Amato, former Italian Prime Minister, and a central figure in the process of reviving the EU constitution said: “EU leaders had decided that the document to be drawn up by an intergovernmental conference should be ‘unreadable’. “If this is the kind of document that the IGC will produce, any prime minister - imagine the UK prime minister - can go to the Commons and say ‘Look, you see, it’s absolutely unreadable, it’s the typical Brussels treaty, nothing new, no need for a referendum’. “Should you succeed in understanding it there might be some reason for a referendum, because it would mean that there is something new.”

This view has been backed-up by many European politicians such as Merkel, Giscard d’Estainge and others.

The question we need to put to our own government was neatly phrased by your colleague Mr Paxman: "Why are these lying b*******s lying to me?".

  • 2.
  • At 11:27 AM on 22 Nov 2007,
  • Andy Kelly wrote:

If it has four hooves, a tail, a head, big teeth, and Brays like a donkey, then its a donkey.

Only Gordon Brown his acolytes are still attempting to deny that this is the constitution repackaged. He is also the only politician who denies that its a fundamental surrendering of soveriegn powers.

We want and need a referendum on this subject. The telling phrase is "a way will have to be found to prevent any isolated negative votes from blocking Europe again." .... Well they have in the UK ... Our PM is ensuring that "Europe" won't be blocked in the UK.

  • 3.
  • At 11:38 AM on 22 Nov 2007,
  • andy williams wrote:

Doesn't really matter what anyone says about this, the British public do not want it nor do a substantial number of MPs from all parties, nor do major 'Red Top' newspapers.

If the government press on with this without a referendum, they will see a significant drop in their support and the tories will make it an election issue for the next General Election, so it could very well cost them their Office (my bet is it definately will - & I'm a Labour voter, but won't be if this goes ahead. I would consider voting anyone - even BNP - provided they were anti-Treaty).

I work for a multi-national foreign company here in the UK. I work in IT and my colleagues and myself are all professionals, mostly Labour voters like myself. Out of an office of 29, only 2 would vote in favour in a referendum. In fact, if there were a referendum on leaving the EU, the overwhelming vote from the office would be 'yes leave now'.

The government just seems unable to grasp simple facts. The people of this island do not want any part of the UK, it's laws or it's traditions, to be subsidiary to the EU at all, ever.

Trading partners yes. Political partners possibly. Political masters never.

  • 4.
  • At 12:11 PM on 22 Nov 2007,
  • Marcel wrote:

Everyone with even the most basic judicial background will know that the Lisbon treaty isn't just similar to the EU constitution, but if amalgamated with the previous treaties it is exactly the same thing.

Some major politicians (like Merkel and Sarkozy) have all confessed (in private, they thought) that the obfuscation and 'smokescreening' was done precisely to make the gullible crowd believe it was something else (it isn't).

This is also where the 'constitutional concept is abandoned' lie comes from. As I said before, the Lisbon treaty when amalgamated with the older treaties is the exact same thing. Any EU court judge would tell you this.

I am fuming at the arrogance of the anti-sovereignty (ie pro-EU) crowd, contemptuously proclaiming that we, the unwashed masses, are too stupid to understand and we should just go along with it.

Dear anti-sovereignty (pro-EU) crowd, in spite of what you believe, there ARE alternative methods of cooperation. Dismantling the EU and replacing it with intergovernmental cooperation wouldn't be bad for ANYONE (except politicians). There isn't a single benefit the EU delivered that we couldn't also have if the EU didn't exist.

And finally: we don't want to be ruled by unelected politicians. Lawmaking powers belong to national parliaments, and national parliaments only.

  • 5.
  • At 12:58 PM on 22 Nov 2007,
  • Doug Stamate wrote:

As an interested foreigner (USA), I have always wondered why there is this insistence on immediate (or nearly so) political union? Europe is a geographical expression of a very large group of (mainly) ethnic nation-states, many of which have been at each others' throats in the recent past.
If the various governments of the European countries actually believe in democracy, there is no reason not to require a referendum in each participating country prior to the adoption of the new "treaty". That the results would set back the immediate political union of Europe, I have no doubt. That that result would necessarily be bad for Europe is another matter altogether.

  • 6.
  • At 01:43 PM on 22 Nov 2007,
  • JimW wrote:

To Andy Williams:

"Political masters"? Who do you think runs the EU?

Its mainly run by the EU Commission and each country appoints one member to this for a fixed term. This means that the UK has the exact same influence as every other country in this regard.

There is also the council of mininsters who propose and discuss legislations. Again every country has one minister to represent its interest so the UK has the same amount of influence.

Finally there is the EU parliament is directly elected by the populations of Europe and while some countries have more representatives than their populations might merit it is generally balanced out.

As most of the decision taken are by wieghted majority votes based on population size the UK has quite a bit of influence in the EU.

So who exactly are these "political masters" that you talk about?

By all means the UK needs to have a long, frank and honest debate about its relationship with the EU but given the hysterical attitutdes that you see on this site time and time again when it comes to the EU that is probably never going to happen.

By the way I'm not a rosy-coloured glasses wearer when it comes to the EU. I think that the EU has many faults and could do some major reforms. However it is generally the national governments who don't want the EU to be more open and democratic because to do so would make them less relevant.

Ultimately when given the option of co-operating together in a multi-national union or competing against each other individually I would prefer the co-operation route. We only have to look back to the first half of the 20th century to see what the other option can lead to.

  • 7.
  • At 02:04 PM on 22 Nov 2007,
  • Malcolm wrote:

The fact that the drafters of the "EU Reform Treaty" are trying to pull a fast one and that it is simply the old "abandoned" constitution in new clothes is no surprise to anyone; we already know that. The burning question in the UK is: will our MP's (or the Upper House - probably more likely) stand up and reject this treaty without the people being given the referendum they were promised at the last election? If democracy still means anything in Britain the answer will be yes.

Given the scale of the government's current difficulties over the missing computer details, hard on the heels of the Northern Rock debacle, can they really afford to disregard the wishes of the public so airily? Not if they hope to have any chance of winning the next election. There is huge resistence in Britain to this treaty, with or without a referendum, and if history is anything to go by, the normally placid people of England (and the other home nations) will only stand quietly for so long before they rise up and demand to be heard. An unpopular government (and that is what we now have) cannot afford to fight on so many fronts and hope to survive. I think the Euro enthusiasts are counting their chickens too early again.

  • 8.
  • At 02:36 PM on 22 Nov 2007,
  • Chris wrote:

In response to Andy Williams (comment 1), I too work for a multi-national "foreign" ICT company in their global policy department. I wonder what his own CEO thinks of the reform treaty? In my experience, across the ICT industry and other business sectors, global companies tend to favour increased harmonisation of single market legislation as it is necessary for effective operations in modern-day regional markets. While there tends not to be official policy positions towards the treaty (as it is not necessarily prudent for a single business sector to get involved) I suspect most multinationals welcome it in private because it will improve the institutional functioning of the EU.

  • 9.
  • At 02:44 PM on 22 Nov 2007,
  • Ronald Grünebaum wrote:

A clear and concise text was tried with the constitutional treaty.

It went down like a lead duck because people didn't bother to connect to the issues, often egged on by sloppy journalists who seek nothing but a punchy headline.

I haven't heard anyone in France (and I have a house there) who claimed that the referendum was actually about the treaty.

No wonder that member states have reverted to their old ways of secrecy, intransparency and inter-governmentalism. I think it was Bismarck who said that two things people should never be allowed to know: How sausages are made and how treaties are made.

As I have the opportunity I would like to comment on the post of Andy Williams: Given the universal ignorance among British people of Europe, I frankly don't care about your attitudes. Have you read the treaty? Do you have any idea what the EU is about? I doubt it and I assume that you are just driven by a nationalistic sentiment. Go out and vote for a party that delivers what you want, but spare us the nonsense of "trading partners yes" but no further integration. The UK could have stayed in EFTA if it only wanted trade. It decided otherwise and you should respect that. BTW: We have a single market in the EU, not a free trade zone. Even IT people should understand the difference.

  • 10.
  • At 03:06 PM on 22 Nov 2007,
  • Denis O'Leary wrote:

Sorry Mark. What the leaders will and must sign is the "bits and pieces" entitled "Treaty amending the Treaty on European Union and the Treaty establishing the European Community". cf. analysis at page 6 of "Here is what changes" on the ephemeral character of this and other amending treaties (such as Amsterdam and Nice).

The consolidated text produced by Peadar O Broin is for that reason all the more valuable as it shows the end result of the "refurbishment" project rather than the "demolish and rebuild" intended under the Constitutional Treaty.

And, as in the case of the building trade, while the end result may look the same, the underlying reality of the two approaches is quite different. The new treaty is most emphatically not the Constitutional Treaty in disguise and this will certainly emerge in the course of the ratification procedures.

That the new treaty takes up most of the political agreements that were reached in the 2004 IGC which gave rise to the Constitutional Treaty (and the June mandate was quite explict on this)is indisputable but that is another matter.

Giscard d'Estaing has argued, for example, that the tools in the box are the same when this is demonstrably not the case. The three basic legal instruments (directives, regulations and decisions) have been retained and, indeed, the Treaty of Lisbon corrects a glaring technical fault in the Constitutional Treaty which allowed for the adoption only of laws and framework laws in areas of competence which hardly justified their use.

  • 11.
  • At 03:32 PM on 22 Nov 2007,
  • Pekka K, Finland wrote:

Well since the British opposed the "EU constitution" on principle mainly because it was called a "constitution", it does seem fair that the new treaty does not change that much. Just edits out federalist symbols that are not really that important or necessary anyway. The core of the treaty is after all to make EU more efficient, something that the British should find to their liking as well. In retrospect it seems really stupid to have talked about a constitution anyway.

  • 12.
  • At 03:45 PM on 22 Nov 2007,
  • Lucas wrote:

Is the treaty the same thing as the constitution - well, yes, more or less. Is it undemocratic to push it through? No, not really as the majority of the elected representatives of the citizens of Europe have voted fore it. The French and the Dutch votes against the constitution represent a minority. Sure, it is really not a pretty way of handling things but in a complex machinery such as the EU solutions are seldom elegant. It's always a compromise and never pretty. That is not a bad thing per se as simpler solutions would mean forcing many to step into line. The patchwork of compromises and exceptions reflects the will to cooperate and to respect differences.

As far as Eurosceptics goes, they should love this treaty. First of all it eliminates a huge amount of bureaucracy which saves heaps of money. Second, it introduces a formal mechanism for a member state to leave the union.

  • 13.
  • At 04:02 PM on 22 Nov 2007,
  • Rob wrote:

Andy Williams writes his office would vote to leave the EU now. I have never quite understood the logic behind this. Why would you leave something that has such an overwhelmingly positive social and economic impact for you? What is your alternative?
As regards political masters, the EU is no more than a sum of its parts and the UK has always wielded quite significant power within its decision making structures. Don't be fooled by tabloid hyperbole. Your political masters reside in Downing St, as they always have and always will.

  • 14.
  • At 04:34 PM on 22 Nov 2007,
  • andy williams wrote:

In response to Chris - entry number 8, the company I work for is Swedish. I meet and speak to a lot of Swedes in my day-to-day work. The EU is very unpopular in Sweden, mainly because it keeps poking it's nose into what they regard as their own affairs. Most of the Swedes I have come into contact with are openly contemptuous of the EU, including high-ranking personel within the company.

  • 15.
  • At 05:07 PM on 22 Nov 2007,
  • shaun wrote:

I agree with Ronald Grûnebaum, (9) that the french vote was not about the constitution, and I also live in France.
At the time the biggest arguments against it were aimed at the third part, which contained all the "perks" for multinationals, allowing rampant "liberalisation", and the destruction of acquired social rights.

Attak, Le Monde Diplomatique and other groups denounced for example; the "free transit of workers, and them being paid at the rate of the "country of origin". but also unregulated services, merchandise, banks, etc. Anything. All objection was to be forbidden, especially if it was the workers who objected.

The worst was the inclusion of the industrial dream of making individual Governments "responsible" for the continued profits of multinationals, even if conditions made that impossible ! (eg. If GM food was rejected by the population, then the Gov. would be responsible for guaranteeing the profits shortfall, which would be paid by - the taxpayer who rejected the GM foods! Horrible!). All extremely carefully hidden by using references to other articles and alineas a gogo. It was a total sell out to vested interests.

The new new one might be too, but there is no way of telling. Having looked at it, there are a series of "changes" as references to the original text BUT NO REWORKED/ORIGINAL TEXT to compare it with. (No I haven't yet read the Summary mentioned in the text). The only good bit of the original treaty, the inclusion for the first time of universal rights for the ordinary working person have been eliminated - carefully - saying that that was the part that people objected to. Rubbish.

Although I think that some form of EU cohesion is an absolute necessity, I would hesitate to say that this new treaty is IT.

  • 16.
  • At 05:08 PM on 22 Nov 2007,
  • Anonymous wrote:

9. At 02:44 PM on 22 Nov 2007, Ronald Grünebaum wrote:
"The UK could have stayed in EFTA if it only wanted trade. It decided otherwise and you should respect that."

Mr Grunebaum that is complete rubbish. The British people were asked by referendum back in the 1970's if they wanted to be a member of the 'Common Market', which at that time was a trading block. It has subsequently changed beyond all recognition against the wishes of the British people and without the British people being consulted.

We were promised a referendum over this and now that it is patently obvious that the government will lose such a referendum they are denying us.

As a result, the British Government itself has made this an election issue for the next election.

The majority of 'ordinary' people here in the UK do not want to even be in the EU as it is now, let alone how 'they' want it to be.

This is our country. It is of no businees of Brussels how we do anything, it is not even their right to ask us to do it differently.
We are European by geographic fault, not by choice.

We have far more in commen with Canada, Australia, New Zealand and our friend and ally - the USA - than we have with France, Germany etc.

Trade with you yes. Do what you tell us, Never. As a country, we will do what we want to do, whereever we want to do it, however we want to do it and whenever we want to do it, without it being any of Brussels' business because quite frankly it isn't.

Let's pull no punches here, should the UK leave the EU tomorrow there won'yt be many tears, but an awful lot of cheering

  • 17.
  • At 06:24 PM on 22 Nov 2007,
  • alan williams wrote:

I have to agree with the majority of what Andy Williams says above. The majority of people I come into contact with despise the EU for it's 'interference'.

Further, to show how we are being railroaded against our wishes I have been made aware about the availability of the final version of the Reform Treaty (actually 2 Treaties (a)The Treaty on the European Union and (b)The Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union).

In reply to a question in the Lords yesterday (wednesday)by Baroness Ashton the government has stated that it is hoped (or expected) that the final version of the Treaty will be lodged in and made available to MPs only AFTER the Treaty is signed on 14th December.

Missed that gem Mark didn't you. Not even our MPs are allowed to see the finished version beforehand.

  • 18.
  • At 06:48 PM on 22 Nov 2007,
  • Justin wrote:

I feel as though I'm drowning in red tape.

  • 19.
  • At 07:06 PM on 22 Nov 2007,
  • Antony wrote:

To JimW

"Political masters" is clearly an overstatement, yet it is also extremely naïve to suggest that the Commission and the Parliament are simple representatives of nations. Human organisations rapidly take on the behaviours of living organisms, one of which is self-preservation. There are many interests and privileges to be protected and enhanced in Brussles - not least their power versus national centres of power.
Psychologists and behavioural economosts have also clearly identified the "fire station effect" whereby the opinions and behaviours of people who spend a significant amount of time together converge over time. There is much debate in the EU insitutions, but almost none that questions the usefulness of the institutions themselves.
To Lucas.
The treaty has been approved by our legitimate representatives. Yet, none of these representatives included the specifics of the treaty in the proposals they presented to us for election. This is not a question of supporting or not supporting the UK in the EU, it is a simple question of democracy. The treaty will significantly effect the people of the EU and it will distance decision-making from the people. We should have the opportunity to vote for it.
Finally, The fact that our representatives and the EU institutions have tried to make it difficult to understand means that they are not acting with due diligence and honesty as our legal representatives. This is both un-democratic and a serious concern for the trust we can place in them to act in our best interest. If they believe this is in our best interest, let them put their case forward and allow the people to vote. This is the essence of democracy.
Our fathers and grandfathers died to protect it. It is shameless that our leaders and representatives are trying to undermine it.

  • 20.
  • At 07:22 PM on 22 Nov 2007,
  • Tom Smith wrote:

To Andy Williams (no. 2) - before you vote against the EU in any referendum that is organised, just bear in mind that in doing so you may well be putting your own job at risk. Why would a multi-national company selling to the rest of Europe base itself in a country outside the EU?

Your post explains perfectly why there will be no referendum in this country - many people will put their "red top" newspaper (little britain) views above solid commercial sense, leaving the UK isolated and irrelevant off the northern coast of the world's largest trading block.

  • 21.
  • At 10:25 PM on 22 Nov 2007,
  • Marcel wrote:

@ Lucas (12):
it looks like the EU propaganda department got to you. All member states can leave now anytime they want. They only have to cancel their accession treaty. With the Constitution II they also need permission from the other member states.

And also, according to a Financial Times poll, the majority in EVERY memberstate wants a referendum. Finally, national politicians do not possess a mandate to transfer powers to Brussels.

@ Pekka (11):
they got to you as well eh? No the core of the treaty isn't about making the EU more efficient, it is about transferring lawmaking powers from national elected parliaments to Brussels' unelected crowd. The EU wants to become the supreme government of Europe.

@ JimW (9):
we don't need a multinational union in order to cooperate. Every country has an own parliament to make its laws. We don't need a supranational union to do that for us. There isn't a single benefit the EU brings that we couldn't also have without it. Intergovernmental cooperation works quite well.

  • 22.
  • At 11:05 PM on 22 Nov 2007,
  • J.Hochheimer wrote:

The arguments for and against the EU in Britain will probably run for longer than the Mousetrap in the Westend of London. In the meantime the world is changing around us. The once sleeping giants of China and India have woken up and are looking to take up more and more power well beyond their borders. This creates oportunities and challenges or should I say apprehensions? Is there a better way than to equip oneself for the future and join with other countries to face these challenges?
What better project than the EU that has grown for so many years already, one might even say that it has grown organically. What's more this organic growth is bound to continue. The benificiaries will not only be the citizens within its borders, other countries will look to us for leads, David Miliband, the Foreign Secretary, quite rightly used the word "model". Are we going to reject this responsibility?
It is 60 years already that Winston Churchill spoke of a European State. While this is not likely to happen in the full sense of word, either now or ever, statetism, as we have known it, is perhaps on the way out.
"Glocalisation" has been coined, sharing responsabilities to face the wider world with a strong local identity,take Scotland, for instance. But I put it to the sceptics, is Rupert Murdoch closer to their hearts than Winston Churchill?
I should like to leave those sceptics with one further thought, with Britain outside the EU and it's growing population with no little emphasis on people from the Commenwealth and perhaps India, a country that is reaching out more and more economically and otherwise, could they envisage perhaps a reversal of the roles and a mighty India with over a billion people would take Britain "under it's wings"? Mind you one advantage I could forsee accrueing, they are just starting a Football League in India, if you play your cards right you could tap into a pool of talent never seen on these shores before. You would become once more the envie of the world!
Jürgen Hochheimer,Prague

  • 23.
  • At 11:50 PM on 22 Nov 2007,
  • John Braddock wrote:

no 13 Rob - our political masters reside in Washington DC .This is why it is important to extricate ourselves from a disastrous alliance and go with a more pragmatic organisation .

  • 24.
  • At 03:02 AM on 23 Nov 2007,
  • Mark wrote:

Ronald Grunebaum #9
"Do you have any idea what the EU is about?"

Frankly I'm not sure anyone does.

"A clear an concise text was tried with the constitutional treaty."

It was 400 pages long. Concise compared to what, War and Peace? And it was as clear a mud. Nobody actually understood it. That's the same goal as stated here. That means you can read into it whatever you want to, it's the only way you can sell it. Tell people its says what they want to hear and maybe they'll buy it.

"Have you read the treaty?"

I'll bet fewer than one in ten thousand Europeans have. Is it even readable? It seems the operative directive in writing it was obfuscate, obfuscate, obfuscate. And evidently that's exactly what was done.

As an American living in a nation that is largely a competitor of the EU, I really hope this treatey gets enacted. It will take an unwieldy unmanageable mess of an idea to entirely new heights undreampt of in our fondest hopes. Proceed full speed ahead. (And just wait until they explain the fine print after you have been locked into it :-)

  • 25.
  • At 04:23 AM on 23 Nov 2007,
  • michael wrote:

Ronald Grumebaum (9)
In reply to your remark 'universal ignorance of the British people'and 'i dont care about their attitudes'.
You have more or less said it all for me.What British person in their right mind would want to have our country siding with a person like you. You and like minded people like you are the ones our government want us to form political ties with.They are ofcourse quite mad!!
You say the UK could of stayed in EFTA but decided on the EU.You are only partly right.It was the Government who said yes to that and not the British people.
Ask us British want we want in a referendum and we will tell the whole world loud and clear so there will be no misunderstanding. But ofcourse control freaks like our PM (he won,t let MPs have a free vote on this issue) and maybe you would not like the answer.
At the end of the day i do not see what the problem is.Whatever the majority of us say in a referendum should be our Governments position.We are there masters.They will forget that at their peril.Look back at the history of any country and you will see that in the end the majority view of the people prevails.It may take decades but they get there.
The EU will eventually destroy itself as it is modeled not on the USA but more like the old USSR.

  • 26.
  • At 04:28 AM on 23 Nov 2007,
  • Mark wrote:

What difference does it make what the treaty says, some countries like France and Germany can weasel out of anything no matter how committed to it they say they are or how important it is supposed to be. Take Maastrict for example. France and Germany insisted on a "growth and stability pact." This would limit government deficits to no more than 3% GDP. But who violated it year after year? Only France and Germany. Not only didn't they pay the billions of Euros in fines that should have been imposed on them, they managed to get it rescinded by convincing the EU court it was obsolete. But France's government is bankrupt now, in precisely the circumstances the growth and stability pact was inserted to avoid and it became bankrupt for precisely the reasons its authors said they feared. I wonder what happens when a large Euroland government like France's goes broke. I haven't seen any analysis of it. I guess we will just have to wait to find out.

  • 27.
  • At 04:48 AM on 23 Nov 2007,
  • Tina Wilson wrote:

Of course the Lisbon Treaty is a smokescreen-everything was decided in 1953(?) by Jean Manet - or was it Joseph Stalin??? - who would know

  • 28.
  • At 08:44 AM on 23 Nov 2007,
  • Paul wrote:

I hope that Ireland votes the treaty down. I know I plan to vote 'no.'
The EU is heading towards the United States of Europe, and if it has to happen, I hope Ireland won't be a part of it.

  • 29.
  • At 03:11 PM on 23 Nov 2007,
  • Mark Jones wrote:

@Michael (16)

You say that only the government decided to leave EFTA for the EC, this is true but the British people then approved this decision in a referendum endorsing our accession and therefore confirming our commitment to The Treaty of Rome and its principle of 'ever closer union'.

@Mark (17)

France is not bankrupt by any stretch of the imagination, I think you might have been reading the europhobic press too eagerly. If they were 'bankrupt', they would be defaulting on debt payments. Maybe what you mean is that they have a budget deficit, in the same way that the UK does.

  • 30.
  • At 04:04 PM on 23 Nov 2007,
  • Jukka Rohila wrote:

To michael:

A government that has been democratically elected by it's people is the representative and the voice of those peoples. The decisions your government makes are also the decisions you make. You elect your leaders. If the British people would really want to be out of EU as you claim, for surely they would have elected leaders that would have separated UK from EU, but as this has not been the case, it seems that the will of the people for this long has been to be in EU and to be in a ever more closer relationship. Or will you next claim that UK is not democracy?

In general however I can understand why there are some angry voices in UK against EU and it's future development, thought I think that most of the criticism is actually criticism against how decisions are made in UK about EU relationship. As you don't have codified constitution that says what governments can do and what not, and in which order decisions must be made, for ordinary citizen, it may seem that there is too much power in the hands of the current government.

Maybe in UK you should start thinking about how you do decisions. Maybe you should think about making a compromise between a referendum and a parliament decision. Maybe in example UK should have two votes on regards the Reform Treaty with two parliaments. This way, you would need the approval of two parliaments, giving the people the opportunity to reflect their opinion about the issue in parliamentary election.

  • 31.
  • At 11:46 PM on 23 Nov 2007,
  • Marcel wrote:

@ Jukka (30):

neither national governments nor national parliaments have ever asked for or received a mandate to transfer legislative powers to Brussels. Therefore any power transfer being done and having been done is clearly illegal.

And for most people, the EU is some remote thing they don't understand, and they vote based on national issues. Virtually all mainstream parties are in favor of the EU because the EU system was specifically set up to benefit politicians (generous benefits, expense accounts etc).

Why on earth would anyone think it is a good idea to transfer legislative powers from ELECTED national parliaments to UNELECTED appointed EU officials?

The majority in EVERY EU member state wants a referendum, but we are not getting them. Why not? Because politicians know there would be a whole raft of NO's. The peoples of Europe are not in favor of power transfers to Brussels, no matter what the manipulated pro EU opinion polls suggest.

One question, why do you think the pro EU crowd is so desperate to avoid referendums? Answer: because they know the peoples do not agree with the pro EU crowd.

  • 32.
  • At 08:07 AM on 24 Nov 2007,
  • Terence Hale wrote:

Having a British Mother a Russian Father and I being Swiss living in Holland have an option on the subject of a European constitution. We need something. The purpose of the law is protective against injustice. We need some sort of European highway code. In our communicative society there is no alternative as to living together. I can tell many stories about the European Union, stories that have long been told, tails that send you dizzy. Things must be cleaned up.
Regards Dr. Terence Hale Zandvoort

  • 33.
  • At 08:13 AM on 24 Nov 2007,
  • Mirek Kondracki wrote:

"Ultimately when given the option of co-operating together in a multi-national union or competing against each other individually I would prefer the co-operation route. We only have to look back to the first half of the 20th century to see what the other option can lead to." [#6]

We only have to look back to the 2nd half of 20th century to see what ultimately happens to a multi-national union (USSR) when it becomes a superstate.

  • 34.
  • At 12:51 PM on 24 Nov 2007,
  • Mike Dixon wrote:

I believe that the Lisbon Draft Treaty has only purpose. That is to allow the Community to go forward with new members and shared soverinty without leaving the U.K. and possibly others out in the cold.

In view of what is happening to the U.S. economy right now and the likely knock on effect on the rest of the world, outside might get very cold indeed in the not too distant future.

  • 35.
  • At 02:23 PM on 24 Nov 2007,
  • JulianR wrote:

JorgeG's post absolutely hits the nail on the head. It might seem cynical, but many in the British establishment seem to see EU membership as a means of preventing the EU becoming too integrated (which they perceive as being against British interests)- thus favouring offering membership to ever more countries - and increasing British power not only in Europe and the wider world but also against its own citizens. Thus any EU initiative which gives more control over its citizens is enthusiastically endorsed, but anything that might actually provide a day to day benefit (the Euro or Schengen) is rejected.

The Schengen example is a good one. Alone in Europe, we now face huge checks and delays every time we enter and leave the UK, all justified on the basis of "security" and combating illegal immigration. They are nothing of the sort. Any terrorist is just as likely to blow up the thousands of frustrated travellers in airport terminals, or blow up hundreds of people in a crowded commuter train (as happened in Madrid) or underground trains (London bombings), yet one can walk in and out of an airport terminal or railway station carrying baggage completely unchecked and unhindered. The most recent terror attempts have all been home grown terrorists anyway - no external border control will stop terrorists who have grown up in Bradford or Glasgow. Nor – as we have seen - are they be particularly effective against illegal immigration.

Time and time again, the British Government proves that it does not want free movement of people, which is why from 2009 the state will collect huge amounts of data on every citizen entering and leaving this country. But why should the state be asking any questions of someone LEAVING the country? And why is data required on UK/EU citizens who have every right both to leave here and to come back as they please?

None of this is better illustrated than the little publicised fact that the British Government has just unilaterally decided to terminate the ONLY "Schengen style" arrangement that the UK currently has with a foreign country. At present, British and Irish citizens are able to travel freely between the two countries without passports or ID checks. This arrangement survived Irish independence nearly 100 hundred years ago, existed throughout the Second World War (even though the Irish republic was neutral and the UK was at war) and through the "troubles", but will NOT survive in a peaceful and prosperous era when North-South co-operation is better than ever, and where both states are EU members.

For those unfamiliar with it, driving across our UK/RoI land border is currently just the same as driving across any other Western European border, with no passport or other controls.

All that is to change from 2009, and it seems inevitable that checks will be introduced, leading to delay and inconvenience all round – if these affect north/south traffic across the land border they will rightly infuriate the many cross-border commuters, and if these apply on ferries and planes crossing the Irish Sea, they will in effect introduce an internal UK border control which would treat NI residents as something less than full UK citizens. Either of these will inevitably upset the delicate balance coming through the peace process, which has allowed Republicans in Northern Ireland to feel closer to their southern neighbours without alienating the loyalists, whose ties to the rest of the UK have been maintained.

In effect these are all an exercise in power and control by UK authorities, who seem to wish to emphasise that they do not consider us to be true EU citizens, turning the tide on the simplified border crossings that have steadily been introduced over a 30 year period – and which all other Europeans simply take for granted. Not sure whether it is going to feel like a fortress or a prison here, but I for one find it deeply unsettling.

The Miliband speech, the attitude to Schengen, (and to Ireland), and to the Euro show that the UK actually has a deeply Eurosceptic government.

  • 36.
  • At 01:27 AM on 25 Nov 2007,
  • amberglow wrote:

"We have far more in commen with Canada, Australia, New Zealand and our friend and ally - the USA - than we have with France, Germany etc."

You prefer to play Big Brother/Father/Wise Uncle to former colonies far away who don't have your best interests in mind at all (most especially us in the US--we're actually a threat, and act as masters to your all-too-willing-and-submissive prime ministers) rather than deal with the giant market and neighbors right near you? Look how Pakistan sneers when you throw them out of that Commonwealth.

You're making the wrong choice--the future lies in bigger markets/groups than the US. It lies in China, India--and the EU.

  • 37.
  • At 01:30 AM on 25 Nov 2007,
  • Martijn Dekker wrote:

At 05:08 PM on 22 Nov 2007, Anonymous wrote (#16):

We are European by geographic fault, not by choice.
We have far more in commen with Canada, Australia, New Zealand and our friend and ally - the USA - than we have with France, Germany etc.

My long-distance love immigrated from Canada into England some seven years ago. She is always remarking how England, with its architecture, its class society, its generous social welfare state, its corner shops, milkmen, neighborhood window washers etc. has this pervasive European-ness about it compared to her native Canada. Then she visited me here in the Netherlands and was rather amazed how similar to Britain it was, especially compared to Canada.

Having visited Britain many times now, as well as having made several visits to the USA over the years, I can only confirm this from my own experience. Visiting America in fact made it almost painfully obvious to me just how different they are from Europe as a whole, including Britain.

So, no matter how much you Brits are collectively in denial about it, you're in fact thoroughly European, both geographically and culturally. You might as well learn to live with it.

  • 38.
  • At 09:41 AM on 25 Nov 2007,
  • Johnny Norfolk wrote:

I Thought camerons speech in Europe this week as unreported by the BBC shows he has vision.

“So there are many battles we must fight together, and my message to you today is a simple one - a message that I know you will understand more than most. The battle for freedom and opportunity is never finally won. In each generation, those of us who believe in freedom, in human potential, in the idea that the strength of our society comes from the energy and industry and creativity of our people; those of us who believe in these things must be ready to fight for them because the enemies of freedom are never finally vanquished. They always live to fight another day. Today we can see the enemies of freedom preparing a renewed assault on our liberty. They do not mean to harm us. In fact, they mean to help us. But their ideas are out of date, their methods have failed and their advance must be derailed. I am speaking of the politicians and public officials who believe that they know best how to organise our lives. That they are the experts, so they must have the power. You can find them everywhere – in my country, in your country and in the EU itself. They are the last defenders of the bureaucratic age, an age before the information revolution and our new world of freedom that makes it possible to put real power in people’s hands. But in their desire to control, to regulate, to direct, the defenders of the bureaucratic age have over-reached themselves. They have gone too far. They have tried to do too much. And it has exposed the historic error of their ways.
In Britain, bureaucratic over-reach has seen the Labour Government creeping further and further into the lives of British people. Millions of families sucked into a complex system of tax credits. An army of tax collectors that is now almost as big as our actual army. Fingerprinting children at school. And this week we saw a shocking consequence of this bureaucratic over-reach: a scandal where the government has lost the names, addresses and bank details of almost every family in the country. Are they learning the lesson? Do they accept that bureaucracy has gone too far? Of course not. They are stuck in the bureaucratic age. So they now want to take personal information about everyone in the country and store it on a national identity register. We are seeing this bureaucratic over-reach in the EU too. The desire for harmonisation and homogenisation – on tax, on regulation, on so many aspects of public and private life. It is the last gasp of an outdated ideology, a philosophy that has no place in our new world of freedom, a world which demands that we fight this bureaucratic over-reach and lead Europe into the hope and potential of a new, post-bureaucratic age.”
Dave is no Churchill, or even a Reagan, but it is refreshing to hear a politican talk optimistically about freedom. Amidst all the fear-mongering about security that is peddled in the war-on-terror, what we are fighting for, rather than against, is forgotten. The government is far too willing to trade real liberty for fake security.

  • 39.
  • At 05:46 AM on 26 Nov 2007,
  • michael wrote:

To Mark Jones (29),
We have not been asked if this is where we want to be, by way of a referendum.I understand what you say but i am old enough to have voted in the only referendum we have had on the EU.
To be honest i voted yes in that referendum but it was not explained at the time how far it would go.It was sold to us as a big trading block.Like a lot of people who voted yes, we feel we were lied to - who would think politicians would sink that low !!!!
To Jukka Rohila (30)
You say we voted for our leaders so why dont they take us out of the EU if that is what the majority want.I think most people would say yes to a trading block, as we were told in 1975.Then again they may say yes to leaving the EU altogether if that question was asked.
The thing is when we vote for a Government it is for many reasons -Tax,Education,Health etc.You are right in saying that if we do not like what they do we can vote them out.But while in Government they do not have the moral right to give away the power we have intrusted in them to someone else - the EU.They must first ask our permission and that should be done in a referendum.
If this is not done then you are right - democracy is dead!

  • 40.
  • At 12:57 PM on 26 Nov 2007,
  • Malcolm wrote:

Tom Smith (post 20):

To claim that the UK would lose inward investment outside the EU is as absurd as was the same claim by people like you that disaster would follow if we didn't join the Euro. So far we have done very well and the sky hasn't fallen in. We have nothing to fear but fear itself.

Jukka Rohila (post 30):

Your arguments about the elected government representing the wishes of the British people in respect of EU membership would only be right if the British electorate had been given a choice. In fact none of the main parties (which could be expected to form a government) have offered such a choice at any election since 1973 when we joined the EEC. The 1975 referendum made no mention of political union. The ever-closer political union has been happening by default, is now opposed by the majority of the British electorate, and when even a clear and unambiguous promise in an election manifesto by the winning party at the last election to hold a referendum on this new treaty is cynically withdrawn after victory, it is clear that the government does not speak on this issue for the British people. One way or the other, however, we, the majority, will have our say.

  • 41.
  • At 01:41 PM on 26 Nov 2007,
  • Chris wrote:

In response to Andy Williams (14) - so it's a Swedish IT mulitnational you work for; Ericsson perhaps? If so, you may want to call Peter Kallberg, Head of Ericsson European Affairs to get a clearer view of your company's position.

  • 42.
  • At 02:40 PM on 26 Nov 2007,
  • Mr Huber wrote:

#1, Max, why don't you read what Mark wrote before you comment? "Why are these lying b*******s lying to me?" (You seem to equate the fact that the treaty is not an easy read with lying). Unsurprisingly, the ideological zeal of federalists and, in particular, eurosceptics is once again to blame. As Mark puts it: "Without a smokescreen how could Eurosceptics and federalists, proponents of and opponents to the consitution ever have been reconciled?"

  • 43.
  • At 03:57 PM on 26 Nov 2007,
  • Thomas Patricio wrote:

I can understand why politicians are trying to push the Treaty of Lisbon surreptitiously. The European political establishment knows that the only way for Europe to remain relevant into the 21st is through closer union and pooling of sovereignty. The EU is a long term project being built for future generations. It's a well known fact that one of Democracies biggest flaws is that politicians in order to get reelected, choose to implement populist short term policies instead of long term policies which are rarely popular. The EU is a chance to impose long term policies that although are good and smart are also usually unpopular. For example, Schengen and the Euro where done with little consultation and probably wouldn't have gone through if they had been submitted to referendums, yet only the most avid eurosceptic would deem the Euro and Schengen as bad (guess that's why the UK hasn't joined either yet).
If the Treaty of Lisbon is put to referendums, the debate over the EU would be easily hijacked by populists and the Treaty's real merits would be buried by fear mongering and hysterics, which was exactly what happened when the constitution was put to French and Dutch voters.
If Europeans after WWII were asked if they wanted to have total free flow of people, goods and capital across the continent with a common currency, they would be appalled. Nowadays, we can't imagine Europe any other way. In a perfect world, the masses would support long term smart policies. In the real world, they don't. Call this view elitist, arrogant, etc. It still doesn't mean it's not true.

  • 44.
  • At 05:09 PM on 26 Nov 2007,
  • Max Sceptic wrote:

Mr Huber wrote: #1, Max, why don't you read what Mark wrote before you comment? "Why are these lying b*******s lying to me?" (You seem to equate the fact that the treaty is not an easy read with lying).

Mr Huber - my charge of lying is against those that claim that the 'Reform' Treaty being substantially different from the 'Constitutional' treaty. It isn't. (A view supported by virtually every politician in Europe except our own trusty New Labour). I'm sorry I didn't make this clear. Now, am I wrong?

  • 45.
  • At 05:15 PM on 26 Nov 2007,
  • Max Sceptic wrote:

So Thomas Patricio (#40), you are happy to override British democracy in the interests of the EU from the safety of Canada (as I seem to recall).

  • 46.
  • At 05:32 PM on 26 Nov 2007,
  • Neil Basset wrote:

Post 42, Thomas, you may be right, you may know better than the ignorant proletariat who are allowed the vote, but that is what democracy is all about. But I do appreciate your view may well be the views of a small number of our elite who know what is best for us. Similar views were held by the middle and upper classes in the 19th century in relation to giving the vote to the working classes.

The problem is that people are not that stupid. Sooner or later they work it out, as the old saying goes you cannot fool all of the people all of the time. There is a backlash against the E.U.across all of Europe. It is smaller in some countries than others, but it is there. If we do not fully involve the people in decision making there will be consequences.

I speak as one who is in favour of the E.U., but not at the expense of democracy. Most people are happy to go along with a free trade Europe with free movement of labour. Until the large majority of people across Europe are ready to go forward we should stop our head long rush and look at the view.

  • 47.
  • At 07:25 PM on 26 Nov 2007,
  • Mike Dixon wrote:

If the Lisbon Treaty Draft is a smokescreen it is rather a thin one. I rather think in fact that is away of allowing the Union to go forward without the U.K. being permanently side-lined except by the Goverments own actions. That is what 'opt-outs' are really all about.

  • 48.
  • At 03:00 AM on 27 Nov 2007,
  • DoublethinkUK wrote:

The original conception and reason for the creation of the EU was to create a framework that allowed closer contact, understanding and tolerance between the two main warring adversaries in Europe - France and Germany.

I fail to see the similarity between the original idea and the monster bureaucracy it has morphed into today. I used to be a Europhile until I lived in France for a few years I think I'm a Europhobe now.

  • 49.
  • At 12:11 PM on 27 Nov 2007,
  • Gael wrote:

Right now, the BBC news are featuring a re-run of the news item where De Gaulle vetoed Britain's entry in the EEC.

You should go re-read it. It breaks my French leftist heart to say it, but man, the old fool was right.

  • 50.
  • At 04:42 PM on 27 Nov 2007,
  • Thomas Patricio wrote:

To Max Sceptic (45). The EU is just as democratic as Britain. The true power of the EU lies with the European Council which is formed by the heads of state from each member. What most British eurosceptics seem to believe is that although all these heads of state are democratically elected, the Council is not truly democratic because the other heads of state were elected by "foreigners".
Also, the Treaty of Lisbon would make the EU even more democratic by giving more powers to the European Parliament and giving a greater say to National Parliaments. I find it funny that eurosceptics say that the main reason they oppose the EU is due to its lack of democracy, but the moment any attempts are made to make it more democratic, eurosceptics holler in anger. As for my own safety, I feel safe in any country/region that follows the rule of law and respects human rights, which includes Canada, all of the EU and sadly only a few other handful of countries (I avoid going to the U.S. by the way, something for British eurosceptics that would prefer to be part of the U.S. to chew on).

  • 51.
  • At 11:48 PM on 27 Nov 2007,
  • Jukka Rohila wrote:

To Marcel (31):

You claim "neither national governments nor national parliaments have ever asked for or received a mandate to transfer legislative powers to Brussels. Therefore any power transfer being done and having been done is clearly illegal."

Actually they have. Let me take in example Finland which joined the EU in 1995. In order for Finland to be able to join the EU, we had to make changes to our constitution. Changes were made in the constitution in proper order and with proper process. This is the way parliamentary democracies work, they work through constitution and legislation, and if needed they make changes to constitution and legislation, of course through proper process.

Now the question of course is do you believe in parliamentary democracy or are you advocating for direct democracy in reality? We the public give our representatives power over us in accordance to our constitution and legislation. In case of Finland constitution allowed joining EU, and further working it. That is why our parliament could make the decision regarding joining Euro and also on signing the European Union Constitution.

I really can't understand arguments that transferring power to EU, or working in European context would be somewhat illegal as all decisions were in the first place and thereafter made according to the rules. They had the mandate of the public through the public representatives.

On last note about representative democracy is that I vote and pay for my representatives to take care of the matters and make educated decisions so that I wouldn't need to. Representatives may not follow the direct will of the people, but they will follow the common good of the people. This is how parliamentary democracies work. If you don't like it, change to direct democracy, but don't start complaining that it's someway illegal nor that it doesn't have the peoples power.

To michael (39) and Malcolm (40):

Shut up or put up. If you really think that British public majority is against EU and the status-quo political parties don't do your bidding, then start a political party. For sure if the EU is such a bad thing, and the majority opposes it so much, you won't have any problems on winning the next election. If the reality is what you say it is, you won't have any difficulty on finding candidates nor any problem finding financing as for sure every Briton will easily give 10£ or more for you worthy cause (or you could ask from Mr. Murdoch).

To me the most annoying when making conversation about the EU, is the endless comments on how the public majority is against that or this without any proof. And no, surveys won't do as it's easier to just answer yes or no than to put your mouth on the spot or put money into a cause. If majority is so against EU in UK and other parts of EU, then for sure, there should be no EU, as the public would have gone to streets and overthrown their respective governments... but as they haven't, it seems that public majority really isn't that much against EU.

So put up or shut up.

  • 52.
  • At 04:17 PM on 28 Nov 2007,
  • Mr Huber wrote:

#44, Max Sceptic, correct me if I am wrong, but as far as the UK is concerned, there are significant differences between the constitution and the Lisbon treaty because of the British opt-outs granted in the latter. If that is true, those telling the British people that there are no significant differences seem to be the true liars. After all, what should matter to the British people are the provisions concerning their country (rather than the treaty as it applies to most other member states - and this is what Amato and others refer to when they say that there are no significant differences)

  • 53.
  • At 08:51 AM on 29 Nov 2007,
  • Tel Tetel wrote:

These are tricks just to torpedo the treaty against the wishes of the other 26 EU members. It justifies De Gaulle's view that the British don't belong in Europe because they think they are better off with the Americans. British fair play would dictate that if the English (not the Scots or the Irish ! ) do not like the EU why on earth do they not check out and let the rest of us get on with it? But I can predict that in a few years Britain will join the Euro and will get an appetite to lead Europe instead of being marginalised by an influential jingoistic minority.

  • 54.
  • At 03:53 PM on 29 Nov 2007,
  • Max Sceptic wrote:

Mr Huber @ 52 - you are wrong. Furthermore, regarding the opt outs, our own (British) parliamentary committee established to scrutinise the draft confirms this view and expresses concern about their flimsiness in the face of future EJC decisions.(BBC: The European scrutiny committee called the wording "ambiguous" and indicated that a "legal obligation" on the UK Parliament could be "inferred". See Mark's recent posting on the matter).
As for those of our politicians who claim that there are no differences being 'the true liars' - of course they are. We know this and don't like it - hence our demand for a referendum on the reform Treaty.

The Dutch and the French who rejected the Constitutional Treaty are having this cosmetically amended Reform Treaty - with 'no significant differences' - foisted upon them by their lying politicians. Are you happy for decisions affecting the sovereignty your country to be left in the hands of those you admit to be lying?

  • 55.
  • At 08:57 PM on 29 Nov 2007,
  • Neil Basset wrote:

Re post 52, as a matter of record most of the opt outs and opt ins had been negotiated within the previous attempt at a constitution by Tony Blair. Even with these he still promised a referendum.

We now find these opt outs wopuld probably not stand up in court.

People can still argue against a referendum, but the facts show there is no great difference between the constitution and the Treaty.

  • 56.
  • At 09:30 PM on 01 Dec 2007,
  • Pierluigi Rotundo, Italy wrote:

Hope this new development can be really useful in the future (with a long-term sight)...

Pierluigi Rotundo

  • 57.
  • At 01:56 PM on 03 Dec 2007,
  • Mr Huber wrote:

#55, I guess you are right (although I am not so sure about the "not-stand-up-in-court-argument"). The real issue here is probably that the EU has evolved in a way that is apparently no longer supported by people in certain member states, such as the UK. A referendum does not solve this problem except, perhaps, if it would involve all EU citizens and not just particular national constituencies. Just think about what would happen if Malta held a referendum and voted no.That would mean that less than 0,1% of the EU population would impose their will on the rest of the EU - a truly perverse logic. The only solution lies in much more differentiated integration where some member states form the center and others various grades of periphery. That would also solve the enlargement problem. And in this respect a referendum might actually be a good thing as it would probably accelerate the process of differentiation.

  • 58.
  • At 02:11 PM on 03 Dec 2007,
  • Marcel wrote:

@ Tel Tetel (53):

actually, the majority everywhere wants a referendum, and I wager a majority in all of the EU oppose this treaty and particularly the dastardly way the sneaky politicians try to sneak it past us.

You do not speak for me, or for any of my friends or family, we and the majority (certainly in the Nethelands) OPPOSE this treaty and OPPOSE power transfers to Brussels.

  • 59.
  • At 04:35 AM on 04 Dec 2007,
  • MJB wrote:

Jukka Rohila (51)
I am very surprised as i did,nt think there would be anyone on this blog so niave as you.
The mojority of people in the UK WANT A REFERENDUM. In fact the peoples in most countries want a referendum but there governments will not allow them. Why do you think this is ? The Governments know what the people will say, thats why.
We British who are in the majority will be heard and will not be told to shut-up by the likes of you. We will not have to start a new party either.The next Government will put the brakes on and may even one day see the light !
Get us out of this 'club' and let us trade openly with the whole world.We are good at that and always have and always will be.
We are number one for what they call 'invisable earnings' and in trading it is very simple. Make what the market place wants which is reliable, good quality and at the right price and it will sell - all over the world.
We were told by people like you that we had to join the Euro or we were doomed. What a lie that was. The following years we were the number one country in Europe for foriegn investment and in the top three in the world !
So go and peddle your doom and gloom on other people and leave us Brits alone.

  • 60.
  • At 09:19 AM on 05 Dec 2007,
  • Hannah wrote:

@Jukka Rohila (51)

It's useless for the ordinary Briton to start a political party now, as we'd never get the funding-Labour have all the rich, dishonest citizens in their camp, as you'd see if you'd been following the cash-for-questions row...

  • 61.
  • At 07:21 PM on 16 Dec 2007,
  • Pierluigi Rotundo, Italy wrote:

mmm...i'm thinking to kyoto.....

Pierluigi Rotundo

  • 62.
  • At 06:49 PM on 17 Dec 2007,
  • Neil Basset wrote:

Re point 57, tend to agree with you, differentiation may be the only way to go.

It would also provide a useful comparison, both in terms of the economy and social conditions, to judge success of the different countries and the direction they have decided on.

Those countries that want to be part of a looser E.U. based on freetrade, would be alowed to. Those that want to be part of a closer political union would also be allowed to. In much the same way as some are part of the Eurozone and some are not.

In time it may be differentiation becomes too great to sustain. Or it may be that the countries concerned develop greater respect for each other and we can stop this constant bickering

  • 63.
  • At 07:09 PM on 17 Dec 2007,
  • Neil Basset wrote:

Re point 57, tend to agree with you, differentiation may be the only way to go.

It would also provide a useful comparison, both in terms of the economy and social conditions, to judge success of the different countries and the direction they have decided on.

Those countries that want to be part of a looser E.U. based on freetrade, would be alowed to. Those that want to be part of a closer political union would also be allowed to. In much the same way as some are part of the Eurozone and some are not.

In time it may be differentiation becomes too great to sustain. Or it may be that the countries concerned develop greater respect for each other and we can stop this constant bickering

  • 64.
  • At 08:41 PM on 18 Dec 2007,
  • Jukka Rohila wrote:

To Neil Passet 57#

There is no such thing as free trade, there is just economic war with mutual destruction being the only limiter on actions of the actors. The reason why we in Europe can enjoy of single markets and why we feel that trading and doing business is easier, is because EU is concentrating all its efforts to direct economic warfare/struggle against non-European countries. Now when we have unified Europe we can concentrate those efforts in to a one effort and make success. If we would have Europe that is in different phase, we couldn't have such an effort and that would mean that US, China, India and Russia would walk over us.

It should also be noted in regards of Eurozone that all other EU countries except UK and Denmark are bound to join euro sooner or later, this was all agreed on their ascension treaties.

Also I would like to remind that the question isn't anymore about being independent or not, it's about being a protectorate or not. Currently Britain is just a lackey and protectorate of US, and the rest of Europe will follow that path if we don't unite and use our collective power in concentrated mater. US and China may think that 21th century are their centuries, but there is no reason why 21th century couldn't be again an European century.

  • 65.
  • At 04:30 AM on 20 Dec 2007,
  • MJB wrote:

Again and again we get these people going on about Britain cannot survive outside the EU and that we are 'just a lackey of the US'.
Most of these people come from countries which never amounted to much on their own and feel the need to be in the EU CLUB.
We were told we were doomed if we did not join the euro.What happened to the poor UK. We became the number one country in Europe for inward investment and were number three in the world !
If we renogotiate membership or leave the EU altogether, for the British nation there is only one way to go - onward and upward.
As other writers on this fine blog have said - there is nothing to fear but fear itself.

This post is closed to new comments.

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.