Tuesday, October 04, 2005



The FT is highlighting Foxy's comments yesterday that Britain should be prepared to pull out of the EU if certain "red lines" were crossed. The Times has a much more comprehensive report of the speech.

Hmmmmm.... Is this an outlandish proposal or has it got some merit? The way the story is being spun is that Foxy is playing the Eurosceptic card for all it's worth, but is that actually what it's about? Let's be honest, as the EU enlarges (with Turkey and Croatia joining formal accession talks this morning) the need for a stronger executive is clear - having 30+ countries needing to agree everything is a highway to doing nothing. The problem though is that as the EU gets (necessarilly I agree)
more centralised, the individual priorities of the member states get submerged.

Now, there's something to be said for the principle of sacrificing one's own interests for others, but what happens when one's interests are so ignored that they become meaningless in the debate? While we need to get away from an island mentality that thinks we can ignore what happens across the channel, there is something intrinsically different to Britain then there is to the Belgians, the Austrians or the Poles. I mean, hands up anybody living in Britain who can jump into their car, drive half an hour and be in a different country? No. See what I mean?

There are all kinds of implications to the British judicial and economic system that further EU enlargement and centralisation will bring. Here's what Foxy said on the 15th of June:

The legal systems of the 25 current and future member states vary widely, in both procedure and substance. They reflect deep, culturally-determined attitudes about the relationship between citizen and state. Beyond the legitimate international crimes discussed specifically in the document, the broad notion of "judicial cooperation" challenges the member states' unique approaches to criminal law. In particular, the constitution will create a European prosecutor who will be able to investigate and try certain types of cases. Perhaps, at first glance, that doesn’t seem so objectionable- but the constitution would expand the prosecutor's jurisdiction to include "crimes affecting the interests of the Union." At this level of generality, virtually all crimes occurring in the Union (and many occurring outside it) affect its interests. Given that E.U. institutions would be responsible for interpreting the extent of their own jurisdiction this is an unwarranted intrusion into our legal traditions and independence.

See the point? The EU is a good thing, we should stick with it and work within it as long as possible, but we need to have a good hard think about the direction it may be going, and whether we want to stay on the bus all the way to Centralisation Central.

Priveliged Partner status anybody?

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