Shoreham Herald, Tuesday 5 August 2014
The letter ‘EU response’ (Shoreham Herald, 24 July)
pedals some more misleading perceptions about the European Union.
When two thirds of British citizens voted to stay in the EU in 1975, the Government circulated to every household a leaflet outlining the case for staying in Europe.
The reasons for staying in extended beyond benefiting from being part of a free trade area to projecting our sovereign national interest and influence as a leading nation in Europe not subject to the whims of Russian and US foreign policy and to enhance the UK’s food and energy security.
When we joined, we signed up to four freedoms, namely free movement of goods, services, capital and labour. They are a balanced package which are in everyone’s sovereign national interest.
To restrict one freedom would likely give rise to demands from other EU nations to restrict other freedoms. How would we like it if the other EU 27 nations suddenly imposed tariffs on our competitive exports of goods and services? Probably not much as some readers may lose business and even jobs.
The letter equates the EU with illegal immigration. This is incorrect as about two thirds of the people coming into the UK are not EU nationals. Free movement within the EU is not illegal, and it is not strictly ‘immigration’. The number of EU ‘immigrants’ currently resident within the UK is in fact approximately equal to the 2.5 million of our UK nationals living in the other 27 EU member states where they too are entitled to work, retire and draw benefits.
In any case, expert studies repeatedly show EU residents in the UK contribute far more to the UK economy than what they take out. According to the DSS, only 2.7 per cent of those claiming jobs seekers allowance in the UK are other EU nationals, hardly a crushing burden on us.
So with EU nationals living in the UK balanced by our ‘expats’ living elsewhere in the EU, we cannot reasonably conclude the source of what is causing pressure on our health service, housing, jobs, education and indeed any other matter which concerns us can be laid at the door of the EU.
It is a pity many of our politicians and media continue to mislead us about the EU and in so doing deflect attention from their failure to tackle the root causes of the issues which matter to us, such as improving our health service, our education, our jobs, our housing, our planning system, our environment and our roads.
All of these issues come under the sovereign jurisdiction of our elected representatives in Westminster and in local government. That one per cent of our tax money goes to the EU is neither here nor there. In any case we get most of that money back through fiscal payments, and furthermore, we enjoy macro-economic benefits which far outweigh the small insurance premium we pay for our EU membership.
We need a new honest political debate in this country. Constantly banging on about Europe will solve few of our problems.
If leaving Europe is the panacea, Eurosceptics have yet to propose viable alternatives. The real shambles in our country is many of the politicians we elect, ‘hacking’ tabloid national newspapers and the others who continue to mislead and misinform.
The Argus, Saturday 1 March 2014 – Saturday Soapbox
Why UKIP is unelectable
FOR the balance of political fairness I felt compelled to write my opinion on both the UKIP meeting in Hove last month and also the piece in a Soapbox article on February 20.
UKIP addresses the fears we all share, one might even agree with them on some topics. However, the housing crisis, the recession, poor education and high unemployment – these fears are UK issues. They have no policies to solve these problems.
Their answer is referenda, because they have no clue how to govern. This is at the core of why UKIP is unelectable.
They have one policy, yet can’t answer the most basic question about it – how to leave the EU and how long it would take. UKIP can’t answer because they have no real facts, and when something is wrong it’s impossible to argue otherwise without tripping up.
We need hope and certainty from those in power. with clear and provident solutions. What we do not need is a platform for negativity.
A party that is rooted in divisive rhetoric based on blaming others, often immigrants, is not a viable option in the European elections on May 22.
They say they have policies. The election is less than 90 days away and still we haven’t heard them. If they can’t be clear on their own mission statement how can they possibly tackle any other issue that faces us?
UK jobs would be lost if we left the EU. Surely we have high enough unemployment without making it worse.
The EU has given Brits cheaper, safer flights, workplace equal opportunities, cheaper mobile roaming
charges, shoppers’ rights and the right for Brits to study and work in Europe. To name but a few benefits.
UKIP say they’re patriotic. Placing Britain in an isolated and uncertain future doesn’t sound very patriotic to me. Europe is not the enemy – leaving will not be the magic cure to solve all your problems. Voting for unworthy candidates and paying them to sit in Brussels complaining is not going to get Britain back on track.
By voting in May for pro-European candidates, you are saying you care about your country, that you’re patriotic, and that you want Britain to play a key role in the world.
Only inside the EU can Britain shape the future and address the reforms so needed. Unity, not division, is the right choice for Britain.
European Movement in Sussex
Financial Times, 25 January 2013
Pitfalls on the path to Cameron’s EU objective
Mr Cameron clearly stated in his speech that he wants the EU to be a success and Britain to remain part of it. If he is to achieve his stated objective he must avoid certain pitfalls. Firstly, he should avoid the use of threatening language in relation to our partners. Telling the other members of the club that we will leave unless they accept a range of unspecified demands is not the way to make friends and influence people, however much it may appeal to his Eurosceptic backbenchers. Secondly, he should avoid confusing the reform of the EU to make it more flexible, open and accountable, on which the UK may well find allies, with a list of additional opt-outs to accommodate British national interests, which might upset the balance of advantage between member states.
There have already been indications that the Germans and French are open to a discussion of the issues raised by the British government but would strongly resist any attempt at cherry-picking by the UK. Thirdly, he must avoid allowing himself to be pushed into a corner by an over-rigid timetable. On past form a treaty renegotiation can be expected to take two or three years at least. At present there is no consensus among the Eurozone countries as to what treaty changes if any will be required by the prospective banking and fiscal union, without which it will be difficult to define the relationship between the Eurozone core and the non-members, particularly as regards the single market. Indeed, there are so many unknowns about the development of the EU over the next few years that to commit to a referendum by the end of 2017 looks rather foolhardy.
Finally, if the Prime Minister really believes that he can succeed in negotiating a new settlement in Europe he will have to adopt a more positive tone in his public statements about the EU if he is to stand a chance of winning the promised referendum. He will have to make the case for Britain staying in Europe for the economic and political advantages that it brings, as he did on Wednesday. The repatriation of certain powers, assuming this can be negotiated, will not be enough.
European Movement in Sussex
Retired EU official,
former press spokesman for the late Sir Christopher Soames,
Vice-President of the European Commission 1973-1976
West Sussex Gazette, 27 February 2013
in response to a letter headlined “We should be out of Europe quickly”
Your Magna Carta Society correspondent last week is right to say that two horrific wars taught Europe a lesson but it is an appalling and dangerously stupid misreading of History to say that the the European Union project is Germany’s second attempt to take over Europe. To think and say that the state of Europe between the two world wars is the same as the state of Europe now with Germany the threat is not only not to have learnt the lesson but to have got it badly wrong.
Germany defeated France in 1870 and at the start of each of the two ‘horrific’ Wars. At the end of the First World War the Treaty of Versailles, prompted by France, was designed to ruin Germany with punitive reparations. The economic facts of European interdependence with the depression of the late twenties proved that the ruin of Germany harmed all economies and Germany was allowed to recover. The lesson of ruinous war had not been learnt, democratic institutions were suborned and Nazi Germany used its economic power to build its military might. And so there was war again in 1939.
At the end of this last war the Marshall Plan from the United States helped clear the rubble and do the rebuilding and European Statesmen – Schumann, Adenauer, Churchill and de Gasperi – knew, in the face of the Soviet and Communist threat which occupied half of Europe, that Nations had to produce prosperity with contented populations for democratic government to survive. New democratic institutions were established with other nations’ help in Germany. In 1950 the setting up of the European Coal and Steel Community began the process of European economic and political cooperation which has progressively over sixty years recognised their interdependence and reinforced the vision of those Statesmen. Their vision saw that Nations working together do not go to war against each other.
The view of the European Union as a concept from Germany of the 1930s and as a sinister super power project is ignorant of the vision of our great statesmen. They had lived through both horrific wars; Churchill had warned of the coming of the second war; Adenauer had opposed the Nazis in his own country. They saw that the European Nations had to have Institutions to enable their actions in common. These institutions are where the Heads of State of every Nation meet; where the ministers of every National Government meet; where elected Members of Parliament from every national population meet; and the Commission is the civil service for all these people and does what these people want. That is the vision of the second decade of the twenty first century and a vision with which twenty seven nations can work together to face their common problems in the promotion of equal prosperity for all nations. It is a developing vision adjusting as the world is developing with greater problems of world trade and the sharing of diminishing resources which in other ages (and in the nineteen thirties ) would be the cause of wars.