Wednesday, 8 July 2015

Ever Closer Union

I sense, with my last blog, there was a little frustration creeping in. A sense that I want the EU to justify itself and clarify its agenda.

I realise that UK politicians have probably never been that keen on over-emphasising the political union aspects that have crept in over the last 40 years.

I think the vast majority of the UK population support any union that promotes open economic activity, particularly as any such trade promotes cohesion and a natural interdependence of the countries involved. This reduces the risk of war which shaped the last Century so much. And all this is good for the future.

I am in Amsterdam airport and just texted home for something like 9 pence quite cheap really. I associate the EU with this benefit. They made this happen. I suspect the mobile phone industry would have clung on to the lucrative trade across EU borders for as long as possible.

Such EU initiatives have to have a legal structure across borders to be effective. Or can it be done through trade or intergovernmental agreements. The issues become complex when you start to think about it in more detail. A free trade zone still needs policing, to restrict the development by mergers of businesses to create monopolies, for example. You could in theory have a French mobile telecoms company completely dominating and controlling the whole mobile phone market in Europe, as a crude example.

So then policies have to be developed and agreed between nation states. 

And with policies comes politics. And who manages that whole process of what to agree upon. How is the agenda set? And by whom?

So if the overriding agenda item is Ever Closer Union....

The phrase "ever closer union" first appeared formerly back in the 1983 Solemn Declaration on European Union, although the Union (meaning its member governments) had no policy to create a federal state.

It can be interpreted in anyway the reader likes. Ever closer economic union. Every closer political union. So where something like this is vague, it can allow the people setting the agenda to move in ways that seem harmless but can have far reaching implications.

The Lisbon Treaty (2007) marked the point where the unqualified majority voting was further fine tuned. This was felt necessary to allow the EU to function effectively and be able to make progress and develop further, particularly since the Treaty of Niece (2001) set the agenda for ever larger union, with the explicit agenda of enlarging the union to allow the Eastern European countries to join the EU.


As a pure layman, I can see that the above table allows for some degree of democracy, some requirement to develop consensus of opinion before proceeding in a particular direction. Together, Germany, France, UK, Italy and Spain, represent 62.8%. So if they are in agreement on issues, then decisions will get carried through most likely as a majority of 65% is needed.

Just as a little aside, if the UK were leave Europe, what impact would it have on Europe? Food for thought!

I remember the Maastricht Treaty being a period when the Conservative Government tore itself apart over Europe. All the other treaties were when a Labour government was in power, I do not remember there being as much open debate about Europe. Tony Blair did offer a referendum when there was talk of a European Constitution being agreed, but then somewhere it was decided not proceed with that, and instead include the main points in the Lisbon Treaty. I suppose Treaties are intergovernmental agreements and so can be viewed as not something that the population at large would regard as a Federal Europe.

The more I look into issues, the more complex this whole issue of a referendum actually is. But the last thing we should all do is leave it to bunch of politicians.

I will just have to keep researching the whole complex issue we are being asked to vote on.

Back soon ..... undecided voter

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