Thursday, June 07, 2007

Evaluating the benefits of the EU

A letter has appeared in today's Times, which I print here in full. The Bill referred to has been sponsored by UKIP's Lord Pearson of Rannoch.
Sir, The EU (Implications of Withdrawal) Bill will receive its second reading on Friday. It would, if passed, establish the first independent committee of inquiry into the impact of Britain’s EU membership on our economy, constitution and security. The Bill does not advocate leaving the EU; it merely seeks to establish what are the effects of our membership.

Given that the EU is involved in controlling our trade, immigration, business regulation, environment, farming and fisheries, it is remarkable that such an inquiry has not been established before. A Parliament with regard to any one of these national interests would reasonably be expected to be aware of the detailed impact of these policies. Yet such work is left to limited coverage by think-tanks, pressure groups and individual academics. After years of debate, it is surely essential to set up an official, independent body to publish the facts of our relationship with the EU.

Lord Tebbit of Chingford (Con) | Lord Vinson of Roddam Dene (Con) | Lord Waddington of Read (Con) | Lord Willoughby de Broke (UKIP) | Lady Saltoun of Abernethy (Crossbench) | Lord Stoddart of Swindon (Independent Labour) | Austin Mitchell MP (Lab) | Douglas Carswell MP (Con) | Philip Davies MP (Con) | Philip Hollobone MP (Con) | Bob Spink MP (Con) | Sir Nicholas Winterton MP (Con) | Ann Winterton MP (Con) | Nigel Farage MEP (UKIP) | Dr John Whittaker MEP (UKIP) | Roger Helmer MEP (Con) | Jim Allister MEP (Ind) | Lord Swinfen of Chertsey (Con) | Daniel Hannan MEP (Con)

Naturally, I am looking forward to our various politicans' reactions; wouldn't it be lovely if even one party backed this Bill? After all, even if the benefits of the EU are self-evident to Oliver Letwin they certainly are not to your humble Devil.

But, of course, were we to have an independent commission to examine provide a cost/benefit analysis, the question would surely be settled. My readers will know what my opinion is and it is for this reason that MPs will ensure that the Bill never gets through, but it's always worth a try.


Anonymous said...

I like the EU because it means I can fuck off and live somewhere else whenever I like without going through a load of rigmarole (except Germany, where the bastards still make you suffer for a three month work permit. Isn't that against EU law?). Despite that, I agree that the real pros and cons of membership should be brought to light. They're always moaning about how EU citizens don't take an interest, and yet prefer to push through laws behind our backs.
Another thing that needs examening is the pros and cons of membership for the average EU citizen, regardless of nationality. We (the EU) now have a larger economy than the US, so how come my money isn't going as far as it would stateside?

Back to the UK though, one thing that is patently evident here (after having lived on the continent for most of the 90s) is that Britain is a rip off.

Anonymous said...

Better Off Out, is all I am saying ...

Anonymous said...

Better out than in, like a bout of debilitating diarrhoea.

Anonymous said...

Every journey starts with a single step, this may or may not be it, who knows?

The Sage of Muswell Hill said...

If they'd only tacked this bill onto the FoI (Exemption for Crooks) Bill, it would have gone through in a trice.

Anonymous said...

I bet you a pound this will not be passed. I would love it were it to but I do not believe Gordon Brown would allow labour to allow this.

Anonymous said...

Yes, that's a good idea, one we can all understand. For which reason alone it will be rejected.

You need to come up with a really bad idea, something expensive and pointless and preferably incomprehensible.

Howzabout: 'A 50 year review and celebration of innovative EU legistlative excellence and its key role in facilitating UK regional economic integration in the wider community.'

I don't think this is incomprehensible enough, but it only came off the top of my head.

Now I'm going to lie down with a cool flannel over my eyes.

Anonymous said...

It would be a nice thing if it did get thru but it's a start.

Trixy said...

Lord Pearson is on the today programme at half eight tomorrow morning, against Denis MacShane, if anyone wants to hear more.

Roger Thornhill said...

Mark: Every journey starts with a single step...

Kick up the pants might be more appropriate.

Anonymous said...

A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.
Lao-tzu, The Way of Lao-tzu
Chinese philosopher (604 BC - 531 BC)

Notes about this Quotation

* Although this is the popular form of this quotation, a more correct translation from the original Chinese would be "The journey of a thousand miles begins beneath one's feet." Rather than emphasizing the first step, Lau Tzu regarded action as something that arises naturally from stillness. Another potential phrasing would be "Even the longest journey must begin where you stand." [note by Michael Moncur, September 01, 2004]

Anonymous said...

"A 50 year review and celebration of innovative EU legislative excellence and its key role in facilitating UK regional economic integration in the wider community."

Excellent first draft, but it helps to throw in "sustainable", "vulnerable", "development", "diversity" and "environment".

Seriously, if you suggested a bill that looked like it was going to heap praise on the EU, chances are it'd go through.
"In the community" why do these idiot politicians always say "in the community" where the f*** else do things happen? Can anybody define "outside the community"? If not, there's no need to say "in the community", and who the f*** is demanding "unsustainable development"? Bastards. This links in the post on bad grammar.

Anonymous said...

"why do these idiot politicians always say "in the community"

I hesitate to admit it because it makes me such an wonk, but I can answer that.

Where you are going wrong, you see, is that you are thinking sensibly about the words, and they do not mean what you think they mean. Oh no.

What they mean is this. In 1993 the concept of EU citizenship was crystalized in the Maastricht Treaty. Prior to that, it didn't legally exist, although it was one of those potential concepts (see the thread on abortion for a discussion of 'potential' and 'with potential').

But in 1993 the EuroClubCard was created, much as predicted by Yes Minister. It gave citizenship of the European Community. Linked concepts, innit. If you are a citizen, you've got to be a citizen of something. A Community.

It sounded swell. Additional membership of a Community. Do not misunderstand me; at this stage we are not talking about a physical card, we are talking about a club membership in addition to your nationality and betokened by a large body of legislation and a postulated bundle of rights.

Now, everytime you hear the word 'community' you have to ask yourself: do they mean to invoke a warm huggy sense of connected people, which is a value it would be hard to repudiate? Or do they mean the Community as a polity in the sense of 'Americans', only if they started to use the word 'Eurozens' they would cause even more dismay amongst those who think of themselves in terms of membeship of the nation state?

The pay-off being that using the same word over and over conflates the two concepts. It is hoped that over a number of years the Eurozen definition will subtly replace the local definition of 'a lot of people I live near'.

That is why they always say 'in the community'.

I am sorry, I can't be any clearer than that. I can now see an aura and some flashing lights, as all this Eurotalk has brought on a migraine quicker than the Olympics logo.

Mark Wadsworth said...

Thanks, sorry for causing headache.

Once it's worn off a bit, would you like to have a crack at re-drafting the name of your ostensibly pro-EU bill, such that will sail through Parliament?

Anonymous said...

Not without danger money, thank you. Some people have spontaneously combusted when tinkering with this stuff. It generates a cognitive dissonance field strong enough to suck the fillings out of your teeth, the socks start smouldering and whoosh, that's another one gone.

The only real protection is to believe all that guff, then you stand in a circle magically protected from harm.

We have all seen this trick done, but I have no idea how it works. By rights, Brussels ought to be littered with little piles of ashes, but apparently it isn't. I cannot explain that.

Feel free to have bash, but kindly stand behind an fireproof safety screen as per Council Directive 89/391 Elfin Safety, which strictly applies in situations where a defined relationship of employment is established under the definitions derived from ECJ judgments and therefore isn't directly applicable here, but more importantly if you are going to go off bang it is only polite to do where the audience won't get splashed or burned.

I do believe there could be a killer bill and I'm sure you are just the kind of plucky fellow who can envisage laying down his life to develop one for the benefit of his country folk.

Mark Wadsworth said...

OK, a few small tweaks to the original Times letter and we end up with this...

"EU (Benefits of Membership) Bill.

Aims: to establish an independent committee of inquiry into the impact of Britain’s EU membership on our economy, environment, constitution and security."

Who'd be so churlish as to vote against that???

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