I read an interesting article this week about the EU under a headline “Five myths about Europe that need busting before the British general election”.
Having done so, I couldn’t help but agree with the final line which said;
“The challenge, therefore, is trying to work out the truth from the deafening roar of nonsense.”
and I wondered that if the author hadn’t published such a load of drivel the “deafening roar of nonsense” would have decreased by a good few decibels.
Having resolved to respond to this article I found that it was making for a long post so have split it into 3 parts – here is Part 1;
To the authors credit he did disclose that;
“Robert Ackrill has previously received funding from the EU Jean Monnet scheme which supports Lifelong Learning. Receipt of this funding was not conditional on any specific views about the EU being expressed, professionally or personally.”
But it does at least set the scene for degree of balance to be expected.
Before we even get to the 5 myths, the author’s first comment seeks to rubbish our genuine fears about the influence of the EU;
“The party’s representatives take every opportunity to talk up the nefarious influence Eurocrats have on the lives of ordinary people – from dictating our human rights to undermining our democratic traditions”
I don’t think anyone could seriously disagree that the ECHR has impacted British law when it comes to human rights (we’ll deal more with EU and ECHR later), nor that the very nature of the transfer of power from the British government to the EU must, by definition, undermine your and my democratic traditions.
Again, we’re not into the myths yet when we are hit with;
“The problem is, when British voters are told the choice is a simple in/out decision, they are being lied to. There will be multiple options on the table if the UK votes to exit.”
Says who? UKIP have never espoused any other position other than a trade-only deal with Europe. The only people likely to try and muddy the water with options are those of the “In” camp seeking to split the Eurosceptic vote across different ideas and get them fighting each other.
Their hope being that in the ensuing chaos and confusion the British public will conclude that they don’t understand any of it and “oh let’s just stay as we are”. This argument is also returned to later – a clear sign, in my view, that this will be a key tactic of the “In” campaign when the referendum battle begins.
OK, the author’s Myth #1 – That the EU is an undemocratic institution.
“EU policies are decided by the European Parliament and the Council of the European Union … The council is made up of national government ministers … What this means is very simple – EU policy is produced by MEPs and government ministers. These are all people who are voted into office by the citizens of Europe.”
Misleading and not entirely true; the MEPs and CEU do vote on the legislation, but they do not decide what legislation is put up for discussion and vote in the first place – that is done by the European Commission (the unelected part of the EU mechanism). It is the EC that dictates what new laws should be proposed and voted on. If they don’t like an idea, it isn’t proposed as a new law.
The article somewhat opaquely comments, as an aside,
“As for the European Commission, the European commissioners (one from each member state) can be very influential in steering EU-level debates. But MEPs and the council hold the ultimate decision-making power so what the commissioners put forward as formal proposals has to reflect something of parliament and council opinion, otherwise it would not get through.”
To say that the European Commission “can be very influential in steering debates” is a massive understatement.
Part 2 tomorrow.