I met the boss from the European Court of Justice

 

           On Monday evening I heard a lecture given by Judge Lenarts, Vice President of the European Court of Justice. 

            He began by conceding  many thought there is a democratic deficit in the EU. He argued that the Council and Commission are not directly elected. More power to the EU undermines national Parliaments. There can be a lack of transparency in a  complex decision making process. The EU Parliament does not have full powers of control over the EU government.

             So far so good. However, the thrust of his lecture sought to establish two propositions. The first is that the EU is not a state and does not intend to become a state. The second is that the ECJ, Parliament and Council between them do offer appropriate democratic accountability for the institutions of the Union.  He argued it with several audience pleasing genuflections to UK democracy and court systems, with intelligence and numerous case examples of ECJ decisions. Each was designed to show how in his view the ECJ tried to uphold or strengthen democracy at both EU and national Parliamentary levels.

              I found it unconvincing as an argument. It is difficult to maintain that a set of institutions that have a flag, a supreme court, a currency, a central bank, a Parliament and a vast law code is not seeking to be a state. It is also difficult to argue that a Court which sets out to judge and decide against the wishes of national Parliaments is other than an attempt to impose a superior international law and discipline on unruly democracies that think differently about problems. It was interesting to see  UK Judges, UK Supreme Court judges and a Minister sitting at his feet to hear how he thinks the superior jurisdiction of the EU will develop and affect them.

               The problem with this dispute is that it is fundamental to understanding and tackling the problems of the Euro and the current disagreements between EU states. The Judge took an altogether very laid back approach to it all, as if the EU has all the time in the world to evolve answers to its democratic deficit. Meanwhile the system is posing crucial questions of why should citizens in Greece or Spain obey the policies and laws of the EU  when they feel powerless to change them?

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95 Comments

  1. Single Acts
    Posted October 31, 2012 at 6:20 am | Permalink

    “I found it unconvincing as an argument. It is difficult to maintain that a set of institutions that have a flag, a supreme court, a currency, a central bank, a Parliament and a vast law code is not seeking to be a state”

    Yes indeed; you might also add an anthem, a foreign policy presence and persona viz Cathy Ashton and developing aspirations for an army and the removal of the need for passports or border control within it’s own borders a la Schengen, the free movement of citizens within its own pan-national borders.

    It wants to be a state alright, and perhaps a bit more given the obvious territorial ambition.

  2. Nina Andreeva
    Posted October 31, 2012 at 6:43 am | Permalink

    Yeah and you are going to get “justice” from a court which has a cohort of jurists who received their legal training/domestic court appointments prior to 1989 in member states that were dominated by the Soviet Union? Now perhaps you can understand why it hands out so many decisions which are so incomprehensible to us.

  3. Peter van Leeuwen
    Posted October 31, 2012 at 6:44 am | Permalink

    The EU is (and has always been) a hybrid between national and supranational cooperation, not necessary fitting into existing categories. Even though the EP has vastly more power than say in 1979, democratic control and accountability should get more priority.

    • A different Simon
      Posted October 31, 2012 at 8:51 am | Permalink

      Peter van Leeuwen ,

      Doesn’t it give an incite into the DNA of the EU that the insiders think they can address the so called “democratic deficit” on their own terms and timetable ; ie that it is something for them to “give” to the little people rather than permission they need to “seek” from the little people ?

      Peter , my anger is directed at the politicial classes of member countries who deny their citizens a say on the EU , not the EU itself which I believe to be a tyranny which cannot transform itself into a democracy .

      In this case I can’t see something good coming out of something bad .

      • Peter van Leeuwen
        Posted October 31, 2012 at 3:14 pm | Permalink

        @A different Simon: as one of the “little people” myself, with just an interest in European issues, I’m well aware that the EU has always been a “top-down” initiated project. Where we two differ is that I see this top as more enlighted than you do. Just imagine that a Dutch Jew and a German army officer jumped over their shadows when they started working in the first Jean Monnet committee shortly after WWII. Bottom-up such a peace project (that’s how I’ve experienced the EU) would never haver started, there was much too much hate and distrust among people on the continent. The supranational democracy has always lagged behind in the EU evolution, I’m afraid that it will be no different in the furhter Eurozone integration and will have to be fought for by national parliaments, but I’m not altogether unhappy about my own national (representative) democracy, which may be difficult to understand for you as it is so different. One example: at the very same moment that Cameron and Miliband were shouting at each other today over the EU budget (PMQ), the leaders of the Dutch equivalents of Tories and Labour were defending in the Dutch parliament the government coalition that they are to form together. EU issues were very much part of our national elections of 12-9-12. I don’t share your anger.

      • uanime5
        Posted November 1, 2012 at 4:23 pm | Permalink

        Given that these “little people” aren’t complaining about the democratic deficit there’s no reason to rush any change.

        • outsider
          Posted November 1, 2012 at 8:48 pm | Permalink

          @uanime5
          Reading this and other comment trails, it seems to me that quite a lot of us “little people” are complaining. You may state that we are unrepresentative but not that little people are not complaining.

    • Electro-Kevin
      Posted October 31, 2012 at 9:34 am | Permalink

      Peter – ‘democratic control and accountability should get more priority.’

      Any chance of the EU loosening the ratchet and giving us some powers back ?

      I don’t think so. This is why we have to get out.

      • Peter van Leeuwen
        Posted October 31, 2012 at 3:25 pm | Permalink

        @Electro-Kevin: Why not? Most organizations go through cycles of centralization and decentralization. Look at the UK and Spain giving more power to Scotland and Catalonia. Even the European ideal of “ever-closer union among the peoples of Europe” doesn’t imply that all power has to be centralized, and lastly, the EU (i.e. northern part of it) might bend over backwards not to make the UK leave altogher, see the recent German comments by Mrs. Merkel. All the same, if most people in the UK feel the UK should leave, let it be so.

    • David John Wilson
      Posted October 31, 2012 at 11:15 am | Permalink

      The EU seems to be a lot more cost effective than the UK parliament. In the current financial situation more functions should be left to the EU and the corresponding UK civil service departments closed down. Eventually this would lead to each of the countries of the union having more efficient self contained governments.
      For example Scottish independence would not involve transferring any responsibilities to them but just letting the EU take over most of the responsibilities the Scottish parliament doesn’t currently have.

      • Vanessa
        Posted October 31, 2012 at 3:55 pm | Permalink

        At least we can kick the inhabitants of the UK parliament out at the end of their term, we have no such recourse with the EU; they have their dishonest jobs for life and we can do nothing about it. Also you could stand for the UK parliament and be voted in so you could do something about it. The party politics of lists for the MEPs would make it impossible for someone like you or me to get to the top of the list in a PR system.

        • David John Wilson
          Posted November 1, 2012 at 12:26 pm | Permalink

          A large proportion of the people in the UK vote for a party rather then an individual. Except in exceptional circumstances it is impossible to elect an independent MP and the few that are elected have no effective vote in parliament unless they align themselves with a major party. Thus election from a party list is litle different from the current UK situation.
          We re-elect our MEPs in the same way as we do our MPs. I would agree with any argument that says the MEPs need stronger powers over the unelected commisioners.

        • uanime5
          Posted November 1, 2012 at 4:25 pm | Permalink

          Unless you started your own party and had a policy that some people supported, like UKIP, then the PR system means that you’ll be represented based on the number of votes you got.

      • Jerry
        Posted October 31, 2012 at 4:32 pm | Permalink

        That is why the EU budget -according to the EU- has to be increased each and every year, because they are so cost effective! Anyway, by your rational, perhaps there should be a world government, that would be even more ‘cost effective’…

        • uanime5
          Posted November 1, 2012 at 4:25 pm | Permalink

          Actually it’s increased because the role of the EU keeps expanding because the member states keep wanting the EU to do more.

          • Jerry
            Posted November 1, 2012 at 9:05 pm | Permalink

            But that is the problem, we don’t need the EU to duplicate what national governments do better… This is more about eurocrats employing more eurocrats.

        • John Doran
          Posted November 1, 2012 at 6:10 pm | Permalink

          Jerry hi.
          The EU sees itself as the vanguard for one world Govt
          Google UN Agenda 21.
          JD.

      • Peter van Leeuwen
        Posted October 31, 2012 at 4:39 pm | Permalink

        I rather doubt that the other EU members would join such a radical approach.

        • Jerry
          Posted November 1, 2012 at 9:20 am | Permalink

          @PvL: Except that is EXACTLY what many have sleep walked into, first the EZ and then full Lisbon Treaty ratification (i.e. on opt-outs). On a second reading I’m actually not sure if “@DJW” was being serious or deeply ironic in his comment!

    • APL
      Posted October 31, 2012 at 11:28 am | Permalink

      Peter van Leeuwen: “The EU is (and has always been) a hybrid .. ”

      But what does it intend to become, Peter?

      Peter van Leeuwen: “Even though the EP has vastly more power than say in 1979 .. ”

      So there is a definate direction of travel. To what destination?

      • Peter van Leeuwen
        Posted October 31, 2012 at 3:54 pm | Permalink

        @APL: The EU will always be a hybrid. It’s been argued in this blog that the EU, especially the EZ, gets all the characteristics of a country, but I believe that those arguments underestimate that the EU is an unprecedented construction, with a vague “ever closer union between the peoples of Europe” in its banner, which could be interpreted in different ways. The destination could even still become only a more cultural closer union, or a very decentralized federal construct (federal authorities only having power over 1% of the “federation’s budget) or something unforeseen. Of course the EU could one day come to an end. I don’t expect that for a very very long time. There are some federalists in the EP, but they are a minority, and that won’t change before the 2014 European elections.

        • Jerry
          Posted November 1, 2012 at 9:25 am | Permalink

          @PvL: No, the EU (or at least the top eurocrats) has actually said that they want -no, need- to become a superstate, a United States of Europe, become a federal entity.

          • Peter van Leeuwen
            Posted November 1, 2012 at 9:03 pm | Permalink

            Sorry Jerry, I really don’t agree here: Top eurocrats like Draghi (ECB) and Van Rompuy (European Council) only want the minimum further integration to safeguard the euro, and for good reason: they have to get agreement among EU leaders. Barroso ia not much different. The top ones who propose a superstate are Verhofstadt (ALDE) and Cohn-Bendit (Greens) who will always form a minority in the European Parliament. National leaders are not without power and they don’t want a superstate either.

          • Jerry
            Posted November 2, 2012 at 12:08 pm | Permalink

            PvL: Oh right, so EZ countries will only be part time members of a federal EU, do please explain how that would work or sort anything of the current problems out – considering that is basically what the EZ is now…

            As for national governments not wanting a “Superstate”, if they really didn’t want that then they would have either opted out from parts of, or the full, Lisbon Treaty, remember that document that used to be called a EU constitution. Duh!

        • APL
          Posted November 1, 2012 at 10:52 pm | Permalink

          Peter van Leeuwen: “The EU will always be a hybrid .. ”

          Well yes, until it isn’t. The treaty of Montevideo 1933 attempts to define statehood.

          Oddly enough, with Lisbon, the European Union accreted to itself the remaining characteristic of statehood, that is a foreign service, foreign embassies etc. You may think the EU will always be a hybrid, but Brussels has other ideas.

    • forthurst
      Posted October 31, 2012 at 12:43 pm | Permalink

      We’ve been ingesting that nostrum three times daily for the last forty years. During this period there is clear objective evidence that the patient has become considerably weaker. In fact, the degree of national autonomy that we now enjoy is somewhat equivalent to that of a pre-WWII county council, taking into account that our foreign policy is determined exclusively by carpet-chewing neocons in the Pentagon acting through ‘NATO’.

    • outsider
      Posted October 31, 2012 at 12:56 pm | Permalink

      Dear Peter van Leeuwen,
      If the ECJ claims to have a role in filling holes in democratic accountability, that role must be to hold the Commission to account on behalf of ordinary citizens and member state parliaments and governments. But one hears little or nothing of this, apart from cases on behalf of Commission employees.

      Instead, the ECJ seems to deploy or accept the most abstruse technical arguments to justify actions that, to the plain man, appear to be ultra vires and to misuse Single Market laws or VAT rules to extend central control.

      So one gets the impression that the ECJ is nearer to a judicial arm of the Commission than a curb on its misuse or self-authorised extension of powers.

      • Peter van Leeuwen
        Posted October 31, 2012 at 4:37 pm | Permalink

        @outsider: I believe that the first landmark EJC intrusion into national law was its judgement in the case of “van Gend en Loos” (transport company) against the Dutch tax authorities, establishing the principle of “direct effect”, a verdict given in 1963, thus some years before the UK joined the EEC. If the national governments would have wanted to clip the ECJ wings, it has had numerous opportunities i.e. all the treaties signed and ratified after 1963.
        Even now or in future it is in principle possible to make changes, as there are bound to be new treaties.

        • outsider
          Posted October 31, 2012 at 11:49 pm | Permalink

          @ Peter van Leeuwen,
          So long as you are in the EU you have to accept the supremacy of EU law and the ECJ’s right to enforce and interpret it. If the ECJ were a guardian of democracy, however, it would take what the Americans call a strict constitutionalist position, which I guess we must call “treatiest”. This is an issue of judges’ attitude rather than treaty change.

          What irks me and millions of other ordinary EU citizens, however, is that the ECJ usually rules against EU members states ( except where the Commission has an interest in maximising VAT revenues) but rarely champions cases against the European Commission. I have now found one instance where it backed some East European colleagues on CO2 emissions celings ( though that win was almost entirely procedural).
          Perhaps we do not press enough cases. For instance, I would love to see the Dutch Government sue the Commission symbolically over the compulsory flying of EU flags.

          More materially, I would like to see the Commission challenged more often over directives that appear to cover an area where it does not have full (or any) competence but spuriously moves under a different heading. A famous example is statutory maximum working hours. An ECJ aiming to fill a democratic deficit would want to curb the excesses or malpractices of the executive.

  4. Duyfken
    Posted October 31, 2012 at 7:29 am | Permalink

    I wonder to what extent, totally or at all, our senior judges “sitting at his feet” are sympathetic to the superior jurisdiction of the EU. If we are to haul back on the powers of the ECJ, it surely needs the will and determination of the Supreme Court members and of the Chief Justice and others of the judiciary, to contest and help bring this about.

    • uanime5
      Posted November 1, 2012 at 4:28 pm | Permalink

      Did it occur to you that judges might enjoy being given the power to ignore acts of Parliament that don’t conform to EU or ECHR rules. After all it allows the judiciary to keep the legislator and executive in check.

  5. Posted October 31, 2012 at 7:36 am | Permalink

    On Tuesday 5th November there will be the following Lecture at St Anthony’s Oxford which seems of interest on this topic. Perhaps you will find a way of reporting on your blog on what is said, bearing in mind that “populism” is now EU code for “democracy” and as such seems targeted for destruction:

    http://www.sant.ox.ac.uk/esc/docs/MT12ESCCollegeProgramme.pdf

    ESC Core Seminar Series – Europe in Crisis*
    Governance: Pluralism vs Order
    Walter Kickert (Erasmus University, Rotterdam)
    Miguel Maduro (EUI, Florence)
    Convenors: Othon Anastasakis, Mark Leonard and Jan Zielonka

    Comparing Democracy as in opposition to Order under a heading of Governance strikes me as very ominous.

    • John Doran
      Posted November 1, 2012 at 6:19 pm | Permalink

      Spot on.
      Google UN Agenda 21.

  6. Graham Swift
    Posted October 31, 2012 at 7:54 am | Permalink

    The EUSSR is little more than Merkel’s aspiration to create the Third Reich. I’m surprised that we are not instructed to sing Deutschland Über Alles already. No point in a Westminster Parliament when all laws are imposed on us without debate. Our MPs are powerless.

    • Nina Andreeva
      Posted October 31, 2012 at 3:14 pm | Permalink

      Whats wrong with Germany? Better wages for fewer hours worked, generous benefits system (even post Hartz IV), lower unemployment (especially for the young ‘uns), faster growing economy etc ….. I could go on and on

    • Jerry
      Posted October 31, 2012 at 4:41 pm | Permalink

      @Graham Swift: First you suggest that the EU is a communist plot and within the same sentence you then claim that it is a Nazi plot! Oh do stop ranting…

      In any case our MPs are not powerless, it is just that (with a few notable exceptions, such as our host) they don’t use the power they have – far to many, from back bench to front bench, have their eyes on their political/parliamentary careers rather than the good of the nation.

    • John Doran
      Posted November 1, 2012 at 6:22 pm | Permalink

      You’re glimpsing part of the picture.
      The ultimate aim is one world Govt, hastened by environmental scares like the Global Warming scam.
      Google Un Agenda 21.

  7. alan jutson
    Posted October 31, 2012 at 8:42 am | Permalink

    It does not have to be called a State to be a State, it can simply act like one, and recent history, words, and action, shows it is moving in that direction.

  8. MickC
    Posted October 31, 2012 at 8:46 am | Permalink

    Regrettably the current crop of UK judges are very lacking when it comes to understanding that in the UK , our Parliament is supreme.

    Leveson, whose pomposity is immense, will undoubtedly recommend statutory control of the press-and another freedom will vanish.

    The idea that judges are possessed of benign and all encompassing wisdom is utter nonsense.

    • uanime5
      Posted November 1, 2012 at 4:32 pm | Permalink

      Did it occur to you that judges may not like blindingly following Parliament’s will and might want to decide whether Parliament’s decisions were just, fair, or reasonable.

      • John Doran
        Posted November 1, 2012 at 6:50 pm | Permalink

        Judges jobs are to judge cases in court according to the laws of this land.
        If they want to make the laws they should become MPs, or lobby their MPs, if that’s allowed. It’s the job of the House of Lords to reflect on laws proposed by the commons, not the judges.
        The reason a Democracy wants to keep these powers separate: legislative, executive & judicial is to avoid the tyranny of dictatorship, where too much power is gathered into too few hands.
        Dictatorship is, of course, what the EU wants, & towards which it is stealthily creeping.
        It has some hugely unpleasant (to say the least) aims in mind, which dictatorship will greatly facilitate.
        Protect democracy at every chance.
        Democracy seems to be dying in this country already.
        As Frank Field has remarked, voting turnout is down from when he first came into the House from around 85% to around 60% now.
        Why is a separate debate.

      • outsider
        Posted November 1, 2012 at 8:41 pm | Permalink

        uanime5
        If the ECJ wanted to address the democratic deficit, it would be more frequently holding the European Commission and the EU law-making institutions to account, not only national governments and parliaments, which in any case have their own judiciaries.

      • Jerry
        Posted November 1, 2012 at 9:14 pm | Permalink

        Err, “uanime5”, what is there not to understand, Parliament makes the law, judges implement it! This separation is for good reason, think about the expression “Judge, Jury & Executioner”…

  9. Lord Blagger
    Posted October 31, 2012 at 8:59 am | Permalink

    He began by conceding many thought there is a democratic deficit in the EU. He argued that the Council and Commission are not directly elected. More power to the EU undermines national Parliaments. There can be a lack of transparency in a complex decision making process. The EU Parliament does not have full powers of control over the EU government.

    =============

    So far so good? Bonkers.

    Look at it in detail. The only democracy he is interest in is getting him and his mates voted in, so they can dictate whatever they want.

    Where is the vote that asks the electorate not which thief you want next in government to claim over 100,000 pounds for a ramshackle garage,[1] but do you want taxes raised?

    Until the electorate get a vote on issues, its a sham. It’s a fraud.

    There can be a lack of transparency in a complex decision making process.

    If you think that’s good, how about that election promise of telling us how big the state pension liabilities are.

    Ah yes, its not the way it works.

    It’s make any promise you want to be elected, then do something else for 5 years. That’s the way it works. Hardly democratic.

  10. merlin
    Posted October 31, 2012 at 9:00 am | Permalink

    The reason you found it unconvincing is that the whole European edifice is a complete deception designed to ensnare national governments. Most contributors on this website can see the real truth with certain exceptions. Democracy is slowly being destroyed in order for the creation of a supersate and the 3 social democratic parties of Great Britain are totally happy with this and go along with it.
    Look at the effect as an example that this is having on Greece, a government formed through the control of the EUSSR, a satellite vassel country completely controlled by the dreadful EUSSR. Right wing parties now rule the country, there is mass youth unemployment and anarchy on the streets. Do the vile supremicists in Brussels care about Greece, of course they don’t, the ordinary people of Greece are irrelevant, all that matters is the ruthless pursuit of the European superstate.
    The Nation State is historically the best way of running any country and this is where all countries of Europe should return, and the sooner the better. The only thing the European superstate will cause is civil unrest, mass unemployment and eventually war.

    • John Doran
      Posted November 1, 2012 at 7:04 pm | Permalink

      Civil unrest, mass unemployment & eventually war is an aim of the EU, Merlin.
      The turmoil we are seeing in Greece is not accidental.
      The EU, in cahoots with the Eco-fascist ‘Green’ movements & the IMF see our planet as vastly overpopulated, by about 75% I reckon.
      The 4 horsemen are saddling up.
      Check out UN Agenda 21.
      After 20 years creeping work, Alabama is the first US State to ban UN Agenda 21. Other States are following.
      We live in interesting times.

      • John Doran
        Posted November 1, 2012 at 7:06 pm | Permalink

        Creeping work exactly like the EU power grabbing.

  11. Posted October 31, 2012 at 9:00 am | Permalink

    “there is a democratic deficit”.

    Indeed there is and there always will be as there is no sensible demos with a common language, history and mainly common interests, for democracy to reside. Furthermore there is no way the current bureaucrats will even try to aim for one. Power is power they will not relinquish it without a fight.

  12. Winston Smith
    Posted October 31, 2012 at 9:18 am | Permalink

    Off topic, but what is your opinion on the Child Benefit changes? It must effect many of your constiuents, particularly the hardworking, aspiring families that used to vote Conservative. Its incredible that your Party should be financially punitive towards traditional single income families. As it will probably not save much money, owing to the complexity of administering the changes, we can only conclude that the changes are driven by ideological dogma from wthin the leadership.

    • Nina Andreeva
      Posted October 31, 2012 at 3:11 pm | Permalink

      Osborne says it is a very popular policy even amongst those who it will effect (see the DT website). I do not know if PPE syllabus covers rational choice theory, however I cannot understand why they think anyone who will be effected by this (inc me) is still going to vote Conservative , if they are going to be made financially worse off so the money is still there to pay people whose kids do not even live in the UK?

      With dud policies like this you can easily imagine that around two or three taxis will be sufficient to return the remaining Conservative MPs back to Westminster after the next election.

      • Nina Andreeva
        Posted October 31, 2012 at 3:37 pm | Permalink

        It also would not surprise me if someone in future came up with photo of Cameron and Osborne selling “Militant” or “Socialist Worker” on the streets of Oxford in the ’80s. Their performance in government makes me think that they are part of an entryist plot to destroy the Conservative Party, something similar to what another group of well bred Englishmen were trying to do to the UK in Cambridge during the ’30’s

  13. Brian Tomkinson
    Posted October 31, 2012 at 9:43 am | Permalink

    JR: ” The Judge took an altogether very laid back approach to it all, as if the EU has all the time in the world to evolve answers to its democratic deficit.”
    That has been the approach all along whilst relentlessly taking away the sovereignty of the members states until the country called Europe is a fait accompli.

  14. Jerry
    Posted October 31, 2012 at 10:14 am | Permalink

    How can this man suggest that the EU is not a state and does not intend to become a state when Mr Barroso has stood up in the European Parliament and stated that is the inevitable destination and wish, were has this man been living for the last 12 months!

  15. Atlas
    Posted October 31, 2012 at 10:36 am | Permalink

    Seeing the people on the streets in several EU countries it really beggars belief to me that anybody can think the way the EU is now is worth a row of beans.

    Clearly somebody in the EU wants to have another 1848 revolution.

    • John Doran
      Posted November 1, 2012 at 7:12 pm | Permalink

      Right.
      & they intend to be part of the 25% left standing.
      If it comes to that, history shows that revolutions devour revolutionaries.

  16. sm
    Posted October 31, 2012 at 10:55 am | Permalink

    It does not intend to become a state.( as in a mess).. is that a play with words?

    Well there you have it? A judge in a position of some power applying the law to strip nation states and their parliaments of their law making abilities.Instead of setting non binding decisions for consideration only.

    He sounded rather laidback. I think this is part of the problem. Maybe he should have accompanied Merkel to Greece or Spain.

    The worry is i have serious misgiving about how we are represented and governed.

    A perfect pincer movement most probably by design.

    • uanime5
      Posted November 1, 2012 at 4:35 pm | Permalink

      The problem with anything non-binding is that it can be ignored without any consequences. That’s why EU judgements have to be binding if they’re to have any effect.

      • sm
        Posted November 3, 2012 at 3:16 pm | Permalink

        They could have effect by agreement , where we agree!

    • John Doran
      Posted November 1, 2012 at 7:20 pm | Permalink

      The IMF & politicians from above, the Greens from below & NGOs & bureaucrats, UN, EU & National from the center.
      More like an attack on a broad front.

  17. merlin
    Posted October 31, 2012 at 12:01 pm | Permalink

    The word for the European union, Euroland or the EUSSR is the Great Deception, the title of a book by Christopher Booker and Richard North, in all my opinions and arguments this is where I start from and will continue to do, in the book , by the way it states that those who deceive will eventually deceive themselves. In the conclusion they use the analogy of Le Corbusier, high rise blocks as the ultimate solution to the housing problem in the 60’s and 70’s look what happened they all came tumbling down. Behind the Great Deception are of course the socialists, communitarians, liberals, liberal fascists, communists,marxists etc who also use similar political techniques such as saying anything to get power and when confronted over their politics always deny they are left wing.Tyranny, totalitarianism and dictatorship are much closer than you think vote UKIP.

    • John Doran
      Posted November 1, 2012 at 7:21 pm | Permalink

      Nailed.

  18. David Jarman
    Posted October 31, 2012 at 12:19 pm | Permalink

    You will never get the real truth in these semi-public arenas. We know secret steering groups have been guiding an EU superstate since at least 1952. We should not be sending any money to a system that has not had it’s accounts audited in what, 15 years. In fact anyone who does should be charged with fraud. What gives me hope is the fact the whole political arena and big business in the US has just been filed with a $43 TRILLION lawsuit because politicians have been bringing in laws for their own personal gains.

    (wants to see politicians in prison for fraud, but does not supply names and evidence etc)

  19. Bert Young
    Posted October 31, 2012 at 12:49 pm | Permalink

    Any sort of centralised system in Europe is bound to cut across culture , tradition and other established ways of doing things ; it is foolish to think that it can superimpose its decisions and will against tried and tested democracies . Judge Lenarts must have come here in an attempt to dissuade us not to pursue our toughened stance on the ECHR and , I am not at all surprised that his efforts were unconvincing . No doubt he went back with a clearer idea of where we stand and with a greater respect for the role and practice of jurisprudence in this country . I trust someone asked him why is it that the French turned their back on European Law and turfed out the Romas from Lyon ?.

    • uanime5
      Posted November 1, 2012 at 4:36 pm | Permalink

      Since when has paying the Roma to leave been considered turfing the out?

      • Bazman
        Posted November 1, 2012 at 7:32 pm | Permalink

        This restaurant is to full! Who do I have to pay to leave? You take the money and leave. You have been turfed out.

  20. Posted October 31, 2012 at 1:19 pm | Permalink

    As usual – well put. The arguments are worthless.
    I was onced bounced of a flight and found myself in the company of one of the judges from the UK and a Manchester businessman. We were wined, dined and accommodated overnight by the airline concerned. It was at the time of the Beaujolais Nouveau so the wine flowed freely. There I learnt (to my cost, as I had a case against the UK Government), that the Court then would never look at the internal fiscal workings of a member state.
    A pity that they fail never to interfere with just about everything else and are constantly pushing the boundaries towards ever closer Union!

  21. Robert Eve
    Posted October 31, 2012 at 1:22 pm | Permalink

    Time to leave the EU and live happily ever after.

  22. Denis Cooper
    Posted October 31, 2012 at 1:23 pm | Permalink

    The MP for Peterborough, Stuart Jackson, has just got leave to introduce a Bill for our sovereign Parliament to legally disapply the EU Directive on free movement of workers.

    Of course the government will make sure that it’s killed stome dead, and so avoid conflict with the ECJ and other EU institutions and with other EU member states.

  23. Denis Cooper
    Posted October 31, 2012 at 1:26 pm | Permalink

    The ECJ has always weighted its decisions heavily in favour of the process of “ever closer union” and heavily against the retention of national democratic control, and it will carry on doing that until national democratic control has been completely expunged.

  24. Alte Fritz
    Posted October 31, 2012 at 1:28 pm | Permalink

    A fascinating insight, but I would disagree slightly on the question of the ECJ and national parliaments. The supremacy of EU law was ceded here in 1972. Our judges ignored it for a while, but those days are now long past. It was one of several elephants in the room in the 70’s which that generation of politiians sought to ignore.

    An unintended (I hope) consequence has been a change in judicial policy. Judges used to follow statutes carefully because, for all their faults, they acknowledged that they were subordinate to Parliament. Parliament’s subordination to Europe has encouraged judicial interventionism to an extent which no one expected. Our judiciary has, where possible, set itself up as a source of authority to rival Parliament.

    • uanime5
      Posted November 1, 2012 at 4:42 pm | Permalink

      Judges closing following statues has only happened recently. As late as Victorian times judges were quite happy to misapply statutes so that they conformed to judge made common law.

      Judicial intervention has always happened in the UK and isn’t a bad thing since it protects the public from an oppressive and arbitrary Parliament. Judges have not and never will be drones who blindly obey Parliament when it would be inequitable to do so.

      • outsider
        Posted November 1, 2012 at 8:36 pm | Permalink

        @uanime5
        Perhaps you are confusing common law precedent with the law of Equity, which sadly died with Lord Denning.

  25. Lindsay McDougall
    Posted October 31, 2012 at 1:37 pm | Permalink

    At present the EU is being driven by German ambition, with everyone else trailing in their wake. Germany wants the full apparatus of a federal Superstate, with control of fiscal, monetary, foreign and defence policies. The EU institutions have been designed, or are being modified, to deliver this. How do I know? Because the German Chancellor herself has said so. What is more, she has been explicit about it.

    I think it is time that all of you, from UKIP members to the most loving Europhiles, woke up and smelt the coffee. And it is absolutely no use saying that Angela Merkel is a nice woman. Once a 17 Member State federation has been fully formed, its instruments of power will be at the disposal of whoever in the future is chosen to lead it.

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted October 31, 2012 at 2:56 pm | Permalink

      I would never say that Angela Merkel is a “nice” woman; “evil” is the adjective I’ve used, and not without good reason.

    • Antisthenes
      Posted October 31, 2012 at 7:52 pm | Permalink

      I do not condemn or praise Merkel and the Germans for their stance it is just a matter of self preservation. If there is to be a superstate Germany does not want to be forever bailing out her partners in that superstate. So she wants strict rules to cover that eventuality. It won’t work of course as the peripheral countries will be more in breach of the rules than they will abide by them as they will really have no incentive to do otherwise. Once they have access to the joint bank account they will not be able to resist temptation and become sticky fingered. Apart from which at some point they will all break the rules again the economic cycles will ensure that.

    • martyn
      Posted October 31, 2012 at 8:06 pm | Permalink

      I think it is too late. we are all german now.

      • Bazman
        Posted November 1, 2012 at 7:34 pm | Permalink

        Can I be a Bavarian? Would I have to wear Lederhosen?

        • Lindsay McDougall
          Posted November 3, 2012 at 11:25 am | Permalink

          No, you can dress like Lisa Minelli in Caberet if you wish.

  26. PETER RICHARDSON
    Posted October 31, 2012 at 1:58 pm | Permalink

    Winston didn’t get everything right but he was never a procrastinator believing problems would solve themselves in time.
    I am old enough to remember and know his surname – Google prime ministers for the answer!
    On of his famous sayings was: “We will fight them on the beaches…”
    Today the ‘beaches’ are not either side of the Channel – indeed our friends are the other side of that stretch of water
    I don’t (any longer) believe even one death on the battlefield justifies pulling the trigger but ‘the beaches’ today are in our own national towna and cites and shires and ‘the enemy’ to our future and way of life et alia is within our own national boundaries.
    Time to say we were conned (by my onetime esteemed leader) and our patience and attempts to be reasonable and even compromise aganst our beliefs and conscieces has ended.
    “Who will save us from……” was one famous man’s question. Let it not be rhetorical today.

  27. Muddyman
    Posted October 31, 2012 at 2:33 pm | Permalink

    Indeed, why should the citizens of Greece or Spain obey the policies and laws if they feel unable to change them?. And why should WE?.

  28. David Langley
    Posted October 31, 2012 at 3:03 pm | Permalink

    The ECJ is basically the EU Supreme Court now and of course it is because the Federal EU project needs a supreme court to drag the malcontents before it. We will see how much cohesion there is for that. Its not much of a step for human rights to be evolved into human frailties. The lawyers dont mind it gives them all a chance to shine on a brighter and much richer level.
    I would feel very relaxed if I was that ECJ judge, no doubt his life is well plush. I wonder what it costs to bring a case before these lads and lasses? Legal aid, I thought not.

  29. Antisthenes
    Posted October 31, 2012 at 4:57 pm | Permalink

    For centuries nation states in the west had been forging better forms of democracy but that began to unravel after the end of the second world war as the state’s influence grew and peoples influence diminished. Power drifted from being more bottom up to being now almost completely top down . The EU has exacerbated this democratic deficit as the treaties never properly addresses how democracy would be articulated in an ever enlarging community of peoples with very different cultures so institutions have been built without democratic legitimacy. The latest Politburo initiative to have a Zsar to oversee and control nation states’ budgets is another expression of diminishing the fundamental rights of the citizen “not to be taxed without representation”. We in the UK know what that leads to and I suspect the EU elite will one day find out also. There are not many Western nations that have not drifted away from the spirit of true democracy and replaced it with representative dictatorship. If we continue our membership of the EU that democratic deficit will expand and the people will never get back their hard won freedoms with all that portends. Of course after being rid of the EU influence there would still be much work to do to put democracy back on course where it is the people who decide and not just the privileged few in power and government.

  30. Colin Hart
    Posted October 31, 2012 at 5:19 pm | Permalink

    The EU can never become a fully-fledged democracy as we understand the term in the UK. Whatever common institutions are created and however well they operate, two essential ingredients will always be missing. These are common media and a common language. We conduct our democracy in the UK as much via radio, television, newspapers and the internet as we do through Parliament or local councils. And we are only able to do that because we are all speaking the same language. There never can be European newspapers read by all sections of societies across Europe. This blog could not work in anything other than one language.
    A pan-European democratic state is a non-starter.

  31. Derek Emery
    Posted October 31, 2012 at 5:29 pm | Permalink

    Democracy can only ever be temporary in nature as it has no advantages and many many disadvantages for the elite in being made accountable to those insects the public.

    The ruling elite always want complete power to decide what policies are and how to implement them. The best that can be said for the public is that they are a negative nuisance holding back the brave new world the elite want to implement.

    Titles change over the centuries but the way the elite work cannot unless human nature magically changes. Kings, lords, and courts have been replaced by presidents etc but the drive to be unaccountable is innate in the elite.

    The EU elite maintain the pretense that the EU is a democracy but it never has been and never will be. The EU parliament is merely a rubber-stamping machine for decision already taken by the unelected elite and bureaucrats. The fact that a referendum has to be taken again and again until the desired answer is obtained shows what a sham democracy the EU is.

    The EU can only ever be a sham democracy as there are not two or more parties with differing policies who are voted in power by the public to follow their particular policies. That process would be a complete anathema to the EU elite. The only policies allowed are the policies of the elite who are unelected.

    I suspect their may be big trouble with the loss of democratic accountability in the volatile southern states once their parliamentary decision can and will be overruled as a matter of course by the Brussels bureaucrats. Brussels policies are all about injecting more pain and poverty on the southern states.

    As part of an integrated EU their future is perennial poverty with small reluctant handouts from the rich Northern states as they are locked to a currency that would require them to have huge sums of money to invest to become a competitive economy.

    That can never happen as Germany will never allow them to become competitors with itself. Hence they will always be low growth compared with Germany and need regular EU enforced reductions in salaries and pensions against the higher productivity German standard they can never hope to match. I feel sure this imposition by the EU where they have no voice will lead to trouble in the streets.

  32. Jon
    Posted October 31, 2012 at 6:32 pm | Permalink

    An undemocratic court that can overturn Parliaments and Supreme court decisions will become something sinister later on.

  33. Credible
    Posted October 31, 2012 at 7:03 pm | Permalink

    Being pragmatic, I like many, am fine about the EU when there appears no reason not to and dislike it when they come up with nonsense, but not enough to be too bothered. Not a sophisticated stance I know – and in the end dangerous perhaps if widely held (likewise for more local politics).

    ‘democratic deficit’ is quite catchy.

    I’m probably more pro-EU than most on this blog because there are some good aspects, but I also think there are some serious issues for the EU to address and accountability is one of them as is an over inflated budget.

  34. Posted October 31, 2012 at 8:32 pm | Permalink

    Perhaps the UK should withdraw from that part of the Lisbon Treaty regarding the ECJ. Any disputes the EU has with the UK could then be settled in our own courts.

    Of course getting out off the EU would be better.

  35. mike
    Posted October 31, 2012 at 8:52 pm | Permalink

    The vote tonight was an Edgbaston 2005 moment for me.

    Thank you John.

  36. Jon
    Posted October 31, 2012 at 9:45 pm | Permalink

    Where does Mr Cameron’s stance come from? The coalition? Bargaining power for supposed protection of financial services? Why has he starting off at year on year budget increases?

  37. Mactheknife
    Posted November 1, 2012 at 9:28 am | Permalink

    I’m afraid it seems the judge from the ECJ pretty well destroyed his own argument. The actions of the EU, particularly in recent years, have all suggested that they are moving towards being a state. I dont see how anyone on either side of the EU fence could argue with that observation.

    As an aside, I read a newspaper article some months ago which showed all of the judges at the ECJ and stated that some of them don’t even have any experience of being a judge in their own country !! Clearly they are political appointees who are there to carry out the will of their governments.

    Our own appointee, Sir Nicholas Bratza, is another example of the liberal left who are usurping national justice at every opportunity. The quicker we remove ourselves from this liberal cabal the better.

  38. David Jarman
    Posted November 1, 2012 at 2:02 pm | Permalink

    When is my post going to get approval or is this site not interested in proved facts. Maybe it’s a little too uncomfortable?

  39. Robert Taggart
    Posted November 1, 2012 at 3:44 pm | Permalink

    Given all this Euro confusion – is it not time for all European nations to come together (including the Russkies and White Russkies) in a single European Institution – embracing all aspects of political life ?

    That said – it would have to be a la carte – not all will wish to be subjugated in all ‘walks of life’. The Council of Europe could be the starting point – though Blighty may wish to withdraw from the ECJ beforehand !

  40. uanime5
    Posted November 1, 2012 at 4:21 pm | Permalink

    The democratic deficit regarding the Council and Commission can easily be solved by electing them at the same time as MEPs are elected. However this is likely to prove unpopular with politicians because it will give the leaders of nationals governments less power in the EU (at present the Council is made up of national leaders and the Commission is made up of people chosen by these national leaders, so any changes will effectively reduce the power of national governments in the EU).

    Any country that wishes to be part of the EU has to obey EU laws and to ensure these laws are uniformly enforced there has to be a single body that determines what is the correct interpretation of these laws. The interpretation of EU law cannot be left to national Governments because each country will interpret EU law differently.

    If Greece or Spain wishes to change any EU laws they should elect MEPs who are willing to convince other MEPs to accept these changes.

    • outsider
      Posted November 1, 2012 at 8:34 pm | Permalink

      @ uanime5
      “If Greece or Spain wishes to change any EU laws they should elect MEPs who are willing to convince other MEPs to accept these changes”.
      You may not have noticed that the European Parliament can neither propose new EU laws nor change existing ones.

    • Lindsay McDougall
      Posted November 3, 2012 at 11:32 am | Permalink

      The EU is NOT, repeat NOT, a country. It doesn’t have a demos with which to practice democracy.

  • About John Redwood


    John Redwood won a free place at Kent College, Canterbury, He graduated from Magdalen College Oxford, has a DPhil and is a fellow of All Souls College. A businessman by background, he has been a director of NM Rothschild merchant bank and chairman of a quoted industrial PLC.

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