Letter from Brussels Jun01
Member States, small and large, have witnessed civil war and revolutions.
They have seen their monarchies dislodged and, in the case of Spain,
restored. They have accepted changes in their national boundaries and new
national constitutions under pressure from international mediation.
Hundreds of thousands of people fled from persecution and settled in lands
where they are today’s minorities. Therefore, it is not surprising that
countries with insecure borders, weak political systems and undeveloped
economies will support measures devolving powers from their national
parliaments to EU institutions. They have derived substantial economic
benefit from EU membership. This prosperity has diminished their concern
for the political and economic implications of enlargement.
countries like Poland, Czech Republic, Hungary, Estonia and Slovenia can
hardly wait for their accession as they perceive substantial economic
gains in membership of the EU. Others, like the Balkan states, are hoping
that they would be offered a fast track for membership that will help give
them social and political stability. Ireland has benefited from membership
for the full period of its membership as it drew a net 1bn Euros each year
from the EU budget. Therefore, it was no surprise that the Irish public
rejected the NICE Treaty as they feel enlargement will threaten this
economic benefit as the EU will need to pay for agricultural subsidies and
structural funds for new members.
democracy and economic prosperity have taken root in Europe since World
War II. Birth of the EU and its enlargement to 15 Member States, have
contributed substantially to the economic prosperity and political
stability of Europe. In January 2002, 300 million Europeans in 12 Member
States will adopt the Euro as their common currency. This will,
inevitably, help promote the idea of a "European" identity.
Britain´s history and record of its parliamentary democracy are unmatched
in the rest of the EU. Britain has an international presence - a seat at
both the UN´s top table and the G8. It has the fourth largest economy in
the world and its non-EU trade is larger than any other EU Member State.
It is a net contributor to the EU.
we have been fierce in demanding transparency and accountability in EU
institutions, elected MEPs are still denied full access to information by
the European Commission and the European Council. Whilst we have been
actively engaged in securing the single internal market in the EU, Member
States continue to delay implementation, especially with respect to
financial services. Whilst we have been keen on reform of the Common
Agricultural Policy, the Council of Ministers continues to dither. We are
outside the single currency and exercise no influence on the European
Central Bank. Therefore, it is no wonder that many of our people see
little relevance in our membership of the EU.
is it important for Britain to continue its membership of the EU? How can
we make our people more aware of what the EU does so that they can judge
Amsterdam Treaty of 1999 gave the European Parliament “equal” status
with the Council of Ministers in some major areas through a
decision-making process called “co-decision”. In this way it has
co-regulatory powers in about 75% of policy areas including internal
market measures, employment, the environment, consumer protection, health
and safety, transport and e-commerce. So Member States cannot disregard
the European Parliament’s demands as there is conciliation where there
is disagreement. Conciliation based on negotiations is translated into EU
law that supersedes national legislation.
the EU and the laws it passes affects us directly - our industries,
businesses, local authorities and all of us as individuals!
Currently, the Parliament is, for example, dealing with rules on
company takeover bids; common approaches to product safety including food
safety; defining the EU environment action plan; liberalisation in energy
production and distribution and reform of competition policy.
Clearly, the EU laws will impact us directly. That is why, I believe, Britain has a major role to play in Europe. We must use our reputation for fair play and justice, use our experience and skill in drafting parliamentary statutes and exert our influence with Member States, large and small. We must use our international influence and economic strength to ensure that we are the centre forward in control of the ball and in position to score. We must ensure that the best British practices are adopted as the gold standard in the EU in general and in the European Parliament in particular.
must we do in Europe?
Reform of EU institutions to establish legitimacy - reforms that will
substantially improve transparency and accountability thereby
"connecting" the EU with the ordinary citizens of Europe.
Initiate and insist on reform of the Common Agricultural Policy as well as
the Common Fisheries Policy.
Determine the conditions and pace of enlargement without overstretching
the EU budget and without precipitating social instability in existing
Accelerate the privatisation of state owned enterprises on the continent
to strengthen the Eurozone economy as a weak Euro and recession in the EU
are not in Britain´s best interest!
Shape the development of Europe by formulating policies based on
diversity, subsidiarity and economic competition between member states.
Britain is in Europe and
likely to remain an integral part of Europe.
Therefore, we must be
actively engaged in Brussels. We must fight
for our interests. We can and we must win for Britain and deliver
peace and prosperity to our people!