Thursday, 27 July 2006

What is the alternative to the eu we have now got?


Opinion polls in every EU country show that people want powers that have been taken by Brussels “repatriated” or brought back to the member nation States. “Hardline” EU-critics who would like to leave the EU or who believe the EU’s lack of democracy is bound to blow it apart in time, and “soft-liners” who think the EU can be reformed into becoming something quite different from what it is now, can unite in demanding that powers be taken back from Brussels. This is one alternative they can all agree on: to return powers to democratic States and national Parliaments where laws can be made by people elected by citizens and where a country’s own people can change the laws they do not like, which it is impossible for them to do in the EU. There is plenty room for argument as to what EU powers might be repatriated. For Ireland one obvious candidate would be fisheries. If Ireland did not have to share its sea-fisheries with the rest of the EU and had developed them as Norway and Iceland have done, their annual value over the years would be greater than all the money we received from Brussels since 1973.

The Laeken Declaration which established the Convention that drew up the proposed EU Constitution instructed its members to consider the possibility of returning some EU powers from Brussels to the Member States. But the Convention, which was dominated by Eurofederalists, totally ignored this. Instead it proposed shifting over 60 new policy areas from Member States to the EU under the EU Constitution that it drafted. The Constitution does not propose that a single power should move the other way. As true believers in the intoxicating superstate-building project, those who drew up the Constitution regarded the acquis communautaire as sacrosanct. National powers that have been surrendered must stay surrendered for ever. EU legal aficionados call this the “doctrine of the occupied field”. What the EU has occupied, stays occupied.

By Anthony Coughlan
Secretary of The National Platform EU Research and Information Centre, 24 Crawford Avenue, Dublin 9; Tel: 00-353-1-8305792