Mrs Merkel finds holding together the EU empire is difficult

 

               The EU visionaries want an EU empire from the Atlantic to the Russian border. I assume even they do not wish to push on to the Urals, well inisde Russia’s own territory, though sometimes rhetoric says otherwise. Recent events have shown just how difficult that will be to achieve.

                 In Scotland some want to split from the UK. The UK is relaxed about it and has agreed it will be settled by a referendum of the Scots. The EU is anything but relaxed, threatening an independent Scotland with no membership of the EU. The EU fears that a Scottish exit from the UK and the EU could create a popular precedent, likely to be followed by Catalonia. If both the UK and Spain were split, parts of the western edge of the EU would crumble. If Scotland left the UK, maybe England would be even keener to vote out of the EU altogether.

                Meanwhile, in the east, the EU empire has pushed too far too fast to get the Ukraine into the EU net. Russia has  preditably baulked at that, and has responded by seeking to split the Ukraine into a Russian sympathising area and an EU one.

                 The history of European empires, unions and currency unions  is a history of instability and break up. An EU empire from  the Atlantic to the Russian border is too big to be realistic. There will be several areas, regions or countries that do not agreee with this drift of policy. We are now seeing the costs of this vision, and the problems posed by the f0rces who disagree with it.

                Let us hope the EU wakes up to the reality that a lot of people inside the current EU and its  wider sphere of influence do not want to belong to a new European empire, before the actions of those straining to get out causes worse problems .

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72 Comments

  1. arschloch
    Posted March 4, 2014 at 6:11 am | Permalink

    The Treaty of Rome says membership is open to any European state. So why limit yourself to the Russian border, why not go from Lisbon all the way to Vladivostok? If you want to be pedantic you could even say its a global empire, if you include the UKs colonies and the bits of overseas metropolitan France. All through the article you keep talking about an “empire’ but you never say whose empire. It would not happen to be Germany’s would it? Its hyperbole such as this that gives Euroskepticism a bad name.

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted March 4, 2014 at 10:47 am | Permalink

      You could ask Barroso whose empire it is.

      http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/1557143/Barroso-hails-the-European-empire.html

      But it’s a “non-imperial empire”.

      • APL
        Posted March 5, 2014 at 7:47 am | Permalink

        an object lesson in the limits of ‘soft power’ projection.

        ‘soft power’ AKA interfering in other peoples countries with plausible denyability.

    • waramess
      Posted March 4, 2014 at 4:46 pm | Permalink

      I don’t think Euroskepticism has a bad name, except with the Europhobes and yes, it is the “German” Empire that we see before us.

      Make no mistake that as the biggest single economy in the EU, the Germans will dominate the agenda and make absolutely no mistake that the Germans have long harboured a vision of a European Empire.

      Anybody ignoring this is frankly not willing to consider the issue other than at a superficial level

      • waramess
        Posted March 4, 2014 at 4:47 pm | Permalink

        ….except with the Europhiles…..

        • arschloch
          Posted March 4, 2014 at 5:51 pm | Permalink

          OK where is your latter day “Mein Kampf” that outlines this plan for global domination? Germany has a the problems of the UK and more e.g. a bloated welfare state, declining birthrate etc. So the threat to your well being is not a load of panzers emerging from the Channel Tunnel its probably a bit closer to home. Its more with to do with an utterly rubbish political class that continue to score a load of own goals that have nothing to do with the EU. There was no German diktat telling us to invade Iraq, devalue the pound with QE or leave our borders wide to open to the non EU world.

          • waramess
            Posted March 5, 2014 at 12:23 pm | Permalink

            The Germans have finally understood that to achieve a “German” Empire they do not need to achieve it by military force.

            Have no doubt however it is happening. First control of the currency, then control of the fiscal budgets, then a common tax regime and a centeralised Treasury, then a common legal mechanism.

            Not only are they smart enough to avoid millitary force but also smart enough to have non German “placemen” in key positions.

            Just watch how the EU objections to the Russian “invasion” melt away as Germany influences events to protect it’s gas supplies.

      • uanime5
        Posted March 4, 2014 at 10:32 pm | Permalink

        Make no mistake that as the biggest single economy in the EU, the Germans will dominate the agenda and make absolutely no mistake that the Germans have long harboured a vision of a European Empire.

        So Germany’s plan involves having more countries join the EU even though this will reduce the percentage of votes German MEPs have in the European Parliament. Isn’t that the exact opposite of what you’d do if you wanted a German dominated empire?

    • libertarian
      Posted March 4, 2014 at 8:24 pm | Permalink

      Arschloch

      Try reading. He clearly says EU Empire. How difficult is that. Stop making up your own arguments then accusing without irony others of hyperbole.

  2. Old Albion
    Posted March 4, 2014 at 7:09 am | Permalink

    Let’s not kid ourselves JR. IF Scotland leaves the (dis)UK. They will wish to rejoin the EU and Angela and Co. will have them back in a trice. Probably forcing them into the Euro too.

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted March 4, 2014 at 11:19 am | Permalink

      I stick with my prediction that a “yes” vote in the Scottish referendum would instantly change Cameron from somebody who was planning to boldly demand EU treaty changes to repatriate powers to the UK, allegedly, into somebody who was on his knees begging for EU treaty changes just to deal with the damaging effects of the impending break-up of the UK.

      Because what has been purely internal trade and movement within the UK for over three centuries under the 1707 Treaty of Union would become international trade and movement when that treaty was terminated, and it would be bad news not just for Scotland but also for the continuing UK to have that trade interrupted or impeded because Scotland was outside the EU Single Market – which under the present EU treaties would be the natural and automatic consequence of leaving the UK – while the continuing UK was still in the EU Single Market.

      In fact for Scotland it would not just be bad it would be potentially catastrophic, as about a third of Scotland’s GDP depends on exports to the rest of the UK, and other sizeable chunks depend on exports to other EU countries and to non-EU countries under EU trade agreements, which would also be affected.

      • Tad Davison
        Posted March 4, 2014 at 5:57 pm | Permalink

        Denis,

        Did you see this piece on the OE website today?

        ‘Cost of EU regulation wipes out UK’s domestic cuts to red tape
        British businesses face extra costs of over £1bn this year as a result of new regulations from the EU, the Government’s red tape advisers have warned. In its annual report, the Regulatory Policy Committee said that 105 domestic regulations had added an annual £128m to business’s costs, outweighed by 73 anti-red tape measures that reduced costs by £274m. However, the 21 EU measures introduced in 2013 had added costs of £1.3bn each year, primarily driven by the EU’s Alternative Investment Fund Managers (AIFM) Directive, which came into force in July and places new reporting requirements on hedge funds, private equity funds and other asset managers.’

        I wonder what Mr Cameron makes of that?

        Tad

        • Denis Cooper
          Posted March 5, 2014 at 9:01 am | Permalink

          I think Mr Cameron believes that there should be less red tape from the EU; but even if there was a lot more he would still claim that it was hugely beneficial to be in the EU and he would never, ever, say that we should leave, no matter how much it costs us and no matter how much it vitiates our national democracy. Bear in mind that we are currently living under an EU treaty which according to his party lacks democratic legitimacy in this country, but he has accepted that as a fait accompli and the oft-repeated pledge that “we would not let matters rest there” proved to be an empty threat.

  3. margaret brandreth-j
    Posted March 4, 2014 at 7:31 am | Permalink

    Yes you are right. The other forces of course, although perhaps presented as weak, are the churches , Christianity and Islam in the EU, and not least the Russian Orthodox church.

  4. Mike Stallard
    Posted March 4, 2014 at 7:39 am | Permalink

    Poles will remember 1830 and Kosciusco. They might perhaps remember the Warsaw Ghetto too. Lithuanians and Latvians under 40 do not speak Russian any more. I wonder why? Niemcy in Poland is a dirty word.
    English people do not even know which is nearer Lithuania or Latvia.
    And this is a world power?
    And Baroness Ashton of Upholland is Palmerston?
    And M. Barroso is Napoleon?
    Come on – Ramshackle is the word I am searching for I think when people describe the EU as a world power.

  5. Mark B
    Posted March 4, 2014 at 7:44 am | Permalink

    The rest if the UK is relaxed about it for now. After, that will be most certainly a different story, irrespective of the outcome.

    The EU for once is not threatening Scotland. They are just clarifying their position, which is both perfectly sensible and reasonable.

    It is hard to know what will actually happen if the Scots vote to leave. We are in early dawn of a new Treaty and that will further complicate matters.

    I am not too sure that they wanted to get Ukraine into the EU, more align them closer to the EU and the West. I think the Ukrainian political class is by far and away the worst of those involved. Self serving bunch who are happy to play one lot against the over in order to fill their own coffers.

    John Redwood said;
    ” Let us hope the EU wakes up to the reality . . . ”

    With respect sir, I think it is you and members of both your party and Parliament that need to wake up. I would also add the rest of the UK population, which is slowly opening its eyes and beginning to see the monster before us.

    • lifelogic
      Posted March 4, 2014 at 11:12 am | Permalink

      Indeed let us hope the UK government mainly & the EU wake up.

      If the Scottish leave the UK but want to remain in the EU we should just rearrange the legal structure so they retain the EU membership (of the UK) and the rest of the UK leaves the EU as they are threatening (or rather promising) Scotland with.

  6. Richard1
    Posted March 4, 2014 at 7:55 am | Permalink

    The root cause of the problem as with so many problems around the world is the soviet empire’s expansionism in the past. Ukraine has achieved independence from Moscow after centuries of oppression, but there was no democracy or self determination about the handover of Crimea to Ukraine in the 1950s. The UK and other European countries should stay out of this, support the principle of democracy and self determination for people in Ukraine, and meanwhile get real about defending NATO countries from any future Russian adventurism. That means going back to George Bush’s sensible missile deployment programme which Obama stopped. And it means getting a rapid move on with shale gas development – as long as there is heavy dependence on Russian gas Russia will be able to act like this.

    Of course what we really need is democracy and the rule of law in Russia. If only the Clinton administration hadn’t been so blase about supporting nascent democracy in Russia under Yeltsin.

    • Timaction
      Posted March 4, 2014 at 9:46 am | Permalink

      From USSR to EUSSR. What we need is democracy and sovereignty returned here. It was given away by the LibLabCon legacy parties, who connived to hide their true intentions from the people with their EU masters.
      What other patriotic Government in the world would open its borders and public services/benefits to 28 other nations, gratis? There is going to be problems as the Doctors/Hospital appointments start to grow to facilitate the deliberate mass migration policies. Schools overcrowded and debts climb to accommodate the new arrivals and congestion and building on the greenbelt with no infrastructure to support it.
      I saw the slight embarrassment of our Chancellor Merkel when she was asked about free movement and her answer was that she agreed with restricting benefit tourism, nothing else as she thinks free movement is wonderful at our expense! As does our President Barroso. The LibLabCons have agreed to the same rules/benefits as the British for the other 28, so they are legally entitled to everything we are, accept we’ve paid for it through our taxes and they haven’t. After 4 years in office where are we with recharging foreign nationals for their health, education or other public services?
      The nonsense about 2-3 million Brits living abroad in the EU is in the main pensioners in France, Spain and Cyprus at no expense to the locals. Same nonsense as the 2-3 million jobs at risk baloney.
      The EU is a political project of ever closer union, nothing more.
      The people are waking up to the reality of what’s being done to them and there is only one solution.

      • Jennifer A
        Posted March 4, 2014 at 11:56 am | Permalink

        Britain (London) is the bauble with which to entice new states to join the EU. The coach and air operators in Ukraine must be rubbing their hands at the thought of their country joining.

        Our free welfare/health/education is a magnet and our own politicians know it but it carries on.

        Clearly a vote for any of the major parties is to show approval for more of the same and I will not vote for someone who has obvious contempt for me and who takes me for a mug.

        Economy safe in Tory hands ? I don’t think so. The recipe seems to be to pack as many people in as possible, drive house prices sky high and to cause another credit boom.

        • uanime5
          Posted March 4, 2014 at 10:57 pm | Permalink

          The coach and air operators in Ukraine must be rubbing their hands at the thought of their country joining.

          Remind me again how much the coach and air operators made when Bulgarians and Romanians were able to come to the UK. I seem to recall it was very little because so few people came.

          • Hope
            Posted March 5, 2014 at 4:33 pm | Permalink

            Rubbish. Have you sent he recent ONS figures? You write a load of pro EU socialist twaddle. How about the the recent reports of criminal offences at court concerning people from these countries?

            etc ed

      • Vanessa
        Posted March 4, 2014 at 12:24 pm | Permalink

        I agree with this piece. But there is no mention of the fact that British travellers, I think, have to have insurance against needing medical care in a foreign country – even the EU? Why don’t foreigners coming to this country have the same? Or am I out of date – I don’t bother to travel any longer, with all the restrictions there is no pleasure.

      • uanime5
        Posted March 4, 2014 at 10:55 pm | Permalink

        The nonsense about 2-3 million Brits living abroad in the EU is in the main pensioners in France, Spain and Cyprus at no expense to the locals.

        What about all the healthcare these pensioners require? This has to be paid for by the taxpayers in these countries. Unless these pensioners have worked and paid taxes all their lives in these countries they are an expense for the locals.

        • Tony A
          Posted June 9, 2014 at 1:18 pm | Permalink

          Health care for Britain’s in the EU is picked up by Britain who gets cross charged by each EU nation under the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) system.

          We pay ‘The Bill’ not Spain. Britain is now owed Billions from other EU counties that it will never get back for the care of their citizens here as the NHS has become a free healthcare system for Europe.

    • Roy Grainger
      Posted March 4, 2014 at 12:21 pm | Permalink

      “Of course what we really need is democracy and the rule of law in Russia”.

      There IS democracy in Russia, it is not open to serious doubt that Putin enjoys comfortable majority support amongst the Russian voters. The ousted President of Ukraine was also democratically elected. Democracy does not mean that only people you personally approve of should be in power and it is dangerous to try to engineer their removal.

      • Richard1
        Posted March 5, 2014 at 7:24 am | Permalink

        I have not suggestsed that. Democracy is not only about elections and supposed levels of popularity. Hitler was elected and was popular in Germany until late in the War, but even he would would not have claimed to be a democrat. Democracy also needs free speech, freedom of association, freedom to stand for office etc. Its much better in Russia now than it was under the soviet union, but its not a free democracy as it looked it could become under Yeltsin. Likewise unless there is the rule of law and contracts can be enforced the is no hope for investment and economic development.

  7. Douglas Carter
    Posted March 4, 2014 at 8:10 am | Permalink

    Maybe a wee bit unfair to Merkel. As a scientist she is a practical prisoner of her previous disciplines. Her nation resides within a flawed organisation which – for better or worse – has been sculpted by specific international agreement. Whether she would approve of any specific obligation of that organisation I would suggest she sees as academic. She will see only obligation and will conduct the affairs of her nation, and stewardship of international responsibilities according to those obligations – no matter if they seem unappetising.

    She’s also in the – probably unwilling – post of unofficial EU leader since she’s aware of the dangers of Technocratic figureheads without national identity in the corridors of Brussels taking the real lead. Either the EU must be led (and it must be led) by people either more distant – or closer to a real democratic endorsement. Or as close to ‘democratic’ as can be achieved. Britain certainly (and rightly) won’t lead the EU even if the rest of the EU’s nations wanted it to. France must never be permitted that leadership which leaves the German Chancellor, whoever that will be, as the defacto senior national figurehead. At least so long as their industrial pre-dominance remains. In basis if the EU has to exist (and it doesn’t ‘have’ to exist and one day it won’t) then it’s better an individual Nation leader was its main representative than ‘leaders’ who have dogmatically divested themselves of national identity affiliation due to extremist utopian ideology.

    But the EU in these terms is itself only an intermediary for decisions and agendas taken higher up in the administrative food chain, for example including, but not limited to, the UN. Even with the UK outside the EU there will still be pressure to accept unanimity with bodies which formulate the rules (bodies in which we will retain membership). There will also need to be a process which denudes the UK Parliament from the ability to cheat its electorate by placing the instruments of accountability beyond the voters’ reach in an administrative hub such as Brussels – but that’s for the future. However it’s crucial the UK is never in the position of having its Politicians lie to its taxpayers to spoof them into such an idiotic Union (or in more realistic terms ‘proto-religion’) ever again.

  8. sm
    Posted March 4, 2014 at 8:14 am | Permalink

    How often, historically speaking, are grandiose notions of Empire truly supported by ordinary people, the ones who have to pay (in gold or lives) for the hubristic fantasies of emperors or dictators or religious fanatics?

  9. alan jutson
    Posted March 4, 2014 at 8:43 am | Permalink

    When any organisation gets too big, individual factions open up a split, sometimes they can be settled, sometimes they cannot.
    Time and the ability to compromise in some way usually determines the outcome.

    Can the EU compromise ?

    If not it will eventually break up.
    Far too many people with far too many different views to survive.

    • Leslie Singleton
      Posted March 4, 2014 at 10:25 am | Permalink

      Alan–We should hang our heads in shame because it was to a large extent the UK that was ever pressing for the EU and its predecessors to enlarge towards and in to Asia. I didn’t begin to understand why we were doing that then and I certainly don’t understand it now. It seems a simple case of over-egging the pudding, with a hardly believable 28 or whatever, and rising, vastly different countries and God only knows how many languages.

      • backofanenvelope
        Posted March 4, 2014 at 4:42 pm | Permalink

        I believe that the theory was that widening would mean the whole thing being shallower and thus less intrusive. However, the EU bureaucrats seem to have managed to enlarge the EU both wider and deeper. Another British theory bites the dust!

        • forthurst
          Posted March 4, 2014 at 6:26 pm | Permalink

          “I believe that the theory was that widening would mean the whole thing being shallower and thus less intrusive.”

          Did the proponents actually believe it themselves?

  10. oldtimer
    Posted March 4, 2014 at 9:00 am | Permalink

    The EU empire is in poor shape, but those in charge give the impression of not recognising this fact. If not an empire with no clothes, the clothes are starting to look extremely threadbare in places. It needs a pause for reflection and reform, not for expansion. The chances of this occurring seem low to me, but it worth giving it a try.

    Without reform and acceptable arrangements for those outside the EZ, then the UK will be better off out. For those inside the EZ, then the issues are much more difficult and the solutions more painful because they will require the abandonment either of the EZ as we know it or the adoption of cross national subsidies.

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted March 4, 2014 at 10:42 am | Permalink

      Ultimately there would be no EU member states outside the EZ.

      When Major agreed that the EC/EU could start to issue its own currency he also agreed that every new member state must pledge itself to join it.

      So enlargement of the EU is automatically followed by expansion of the EZ; for a period of a few decades there would be some new EU member states still on the conveyor belt into the EZ, but that would only be a transitional phase.

      Denmark and the UK are the only two EU member states with treaty opt-outs from ever having to join the EZ, and the Danish political class is determined that Denmark will join; left alone, it is inevitable that the UK would also succumb sooner or later, and then all the federalising measures that Osborne has been publicly urging on the EZ would also apply to us.

      And of course the EU treaties provide no mechanism for a country which has joined the EZ to leave it without also leaving the EU altogether; something else that Major agreed to at Maastricht, and which Cameron has made no attempt to get changed; not when he was in a position to propose a quid pro quo for the EU treaty change that Merkel demanded in 2010, which he simply gave her, and not even later on when the Dutch Prime Minister put his head above the parapet and publicly suggested that the treaties should be amended to allow it.

      • oldtimer
        Posted March 5, 2014 at 9:41 am | Permalink

        You are correct in stating the known elements of the political landscape. Then there are the unknowns such as, in the short run, the outcome of the forthcoming Euro elections and the responses to that outcome or the fallout from the Ukraine crisis on energy markets and energy policy or how the financial pressures inside the EZ play out. What is presently an apparently fixed political landscape is capable of change and may have change forced upon it.

  11. Posted March 4, 2014 at 9:11 am | Permalink

    Empires which have held together in the past have only done so because the individual parts had considerable autonomy and minimum direction from the centre; when we had the British Empire, London did not attempt to govern the day-to-day lives of the countries involved and they mostly continued as they were. I believe the United States only holds together because the individual states have a considerable degree of freedom to go their own way and make their own laws. When I visited California, I found that most people were far more interested in who was the state governor and what their state government was doing in Sacramento, than what was happening in Washington and the White House. It is interesting that the states have more freedom from Washington than we, a sovereign country, have from Brussels.
    The EU is the exact opposite, they want to rule from the centre and determine every little detail of what people do. They wish to minimise the differences between countries with identical laws governing almost every aspect of our lives. Most people want the reverse; they want minimum interference in their daily life and it is easy to understand calls for independence. In this, I believe that Scotland, if it were independent within the EU, would have far less independence than it has at the moment. The SNP should be joining with other independence groups within the UK to get an independent UK which could then decide on its own future – personally I favour a federal set up much as in America.

    • Max Dunbar
      Posted March 4, 2014 at 11:07 am | Permalink

      I think that you need to look at the SNP a bit more closely. The EUSSR suits them perfectly and they have no intention of ‘joining with other independence groups within the UK’ unless they are of the far-left, and then only to undermine the UK and its independence.
      The main independence group you have in mind would, I assume, be UKIP? The communistic SNP hate UKIP and see them as profound ideological enemies.

  12. Brian Tomkinson
    Posted March 4, 2014 at 9:33 am | Permalink

    JR: ” The EU visionaries want an EU empire from the Atlantic to the Russian border. I assume even they do not wish to push on to the Urals, well inisde Russia’s own territory, though sometimes rhetoric says otherwise. ”
    Your own leader is one of those “visionaries” as the Express quoted on 2 July 2013:
    “DAVID Cameron triggered a backlash yesterday after suggesting the European Union should open its doors to new members “from the Atlantic to the Urals”. Talking to Kazakh students in the capital Astana he said: “Britain has always supported the widening of the EU. Our vision of the EU is that it should be a large trading and co-operating organisation that effectively stretches, as it were, from the Atlantic to the Urals. We have a wide vision of Europe and have always encouraged countries that want to join.”
    The Express went on to say: “His remarks indicate that he believes that Ukraine, once known as the bread basket of the USSR, should be admitted to the EU.”
    Please tell me you no longer think he is Eurosceptic.

    • Vanessa
      Posted March 4, 2014 at 12:33 pm | Permalink

      The trouble is that Dave tries to be all things to all men ! He tells the EU elite that he loves them and wants ever closer ties but when he is talking to the British press he is not quite so keen as he knows the British people are Eurosceptic, with a small “e”.

      If that isn’t lying then it is showing that this “man” has no appetite for doing anything but saying “yes” to everyone. Not really a recipe to make anyone believe you.

  13. Roger Farmer
    Posted March 4, 2014 at 9:56 am | Permalink

    You hope that the EU in Brussels will wake up to the fact that not all the people of Europe want a new European empire.
    In the present construct of the EU, how will the unelected of Brussels get to know the opinions of the people of Europe.
    1. Elections and Referenda.
    The unelected in Brussels are not part of this democratic tool, so the results will be ignored as in the past. The so called EU Parliament is only a rubber stamp for what comes out of the unelected bureaucracy so is not a tool for change or response to the wishes of the people.
    2. Civil Unrest.
    This will have to be on a much greater scale than has so far occurred and will need to be directed at Brussels itself. After all this is where the heart of the problem lies.
    3. National Withdrawal.
    Possibly the most effective mind focusing action. As the most likely candidate is the UK it could have a greater effect than many realise. An income drop of 12 billion might concentrate their minds. The fear of a domino effect would also make them think.
    The UK should be out because belonging to a United States of Europe goes against every instinct that made the UK the power it has been in the past, and in a different way could be in the future. We are an island nation and it is in our genetic make up not to wish to belong to anything not of our own making. Our instinct is to belong to the Anglosphere of nations where the thinking on big issues has mostly been in accord, but where there is no compulsion to strive for the same shade of grey.
    Much as I enjoy some of the people and counties of Europe I only feel I can be friends and no more. We are not by nature part of their political psyche. That they have managed to incense Russia in the Ukraine is just the final confirmation of their incompetence and inability to back their rhetoric. Our politicians should learn from this and realise that the EU is a house of cards.

    • uanime5
      Posted March 4, 2014 at 11:15 pm | Permalink

      The unelected in Brussels are not part of this democratic tool, so the results will be ignored as in the past.

      Care to explain how you’re referring to? Is it the Commissioners who are appointed by the leaders of their country and have to be approved of by the European Parliament?

      The so called EU Parliament is only a rubber stamp for what comes out of the unelected bureaucracy so is not a tool for change or response to the wishes of the people.

      Given that the European Parliament can amend or reject bills form the Commission it’s clear that it’s not a rubber stamp for the Commission.

      This will have to be on a much greater scale than has so far occurred and will need to be directed at Brussels itself. After all this is where the heart of the problem lies.

      So the problems in Italy, Greece, and Cyprus weren’t cause by Italian, Greek, and Cypriot politicians mismanaging the economy but were somehow the fault of Brussels. Don’t expect people to believe this when the evidence shows the opposite to be true.

      As the most likely candidate is the UK it could have a greater effect than many realise. An income drop of 12 billion might concentrate their minds. The fear of a domino effect would also make them think.

      Given that the UK gets most of its contributions back the loss of the UK’s contributions will not be a major problems for the EU. Nor will there be a domino effect as no other country shows any interest in leaving the EU.

      Our instinct is to belong to the Anglosphere of nations where the thinking on big issues has mostly been in accord, but where there is no compulsion to strive for the same shade of grey.

      Something that hasn’t resulted in anything similar to the single market or reduced trade barriers.

      • Roger Farmer
        Posted March 5, 2014 at 3:14 pm | Permalink

        Stay in your Guardianista fantasy land and vote accordingly on May the 22nd.

  14. Denis Cooper
    Posted March 4, 2014 at 10:12 am | Permalink

    “The EU visionaries want an EU empire from the Atlantic to the Russian border. I assume even they do not wish to push on to the Urals, well inisde Russia’s own territory, though sometimes rhetoric says otherwise.”

    On the contrary, when he was in Kazakhstan last July this particular EU visionary said clearly and unambiguously that he did want the EU empire to expand to the Urals.

    http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/jul/01/eu-extend-soviet-union-david-cameron

    “EU should extend further into former Soviet Union, says David Cameron

    Speaking in Kazakhstan, British PM says European Union should stretch from the Atlantic to the Urals”

    “In a question-and-answer session with students at the Nazarbayev University in the Kazakh capital, Astana, the prime minister said: “Britain has always supported the widening of the EU. Our vision of the EU is that it should be a large trading and co-operating organisation that effectively stretches, as it were, from the Atlantic to the Urals. We have a wide vision of Europe and we have always encouraged countries that want to join.”

    The prime minister did not name any countries. But his remarks indicate that he believes that Ukraine, once known as the bread basket of the Soviet Union, should be admitted to the EU.”

    Or as reported rather less favourably in the Express:

    http://www.express.co.uk/news/world/411830/Outcry-as-David-Cameron-says-Let-s-extend-the-EU-towards-Asia

    “Outcry as David Cameron says ‘Let’s extend the EU towards Asia’

    DAVID Cameron triggered a backlash yesterday after suggesting the European Union should open its doors to new members “from the Atlantic to the Urals”.”

    “The Urals mark the unofficial border between Europe and Asia in Russia.

    His remarks indicate that he believes that Ukraine, once known as the bread basket of the USSR, should be admitted to the EU.”

    And just to be absolutely clear about this, under the blanket exemption for accession treaties that Hague carefully wrote into Section 4(4)(c) of his so-called “referendum lock” law , the European Union Act 2011, the British people would never be allowed to say directly in a referendum whether they agreed with Ukraine being allowed to join the EU; or Serbia, now a candidate for membership with the rest of the Balkans in the queue behind it; or Georgia and Turkey around the Black Sea from Ukraine; or Armenia and Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan itself and Turkmenistan around the Caspian Sea, and so onwards, the EU’s NATO-backed “Drang nach Osten”.

    Any more than Thatcher allowed the British people to say whether they wanted to vary the contract which had been approved in the 1975 referendum by extending it to Greece in 1981, and then to Spain and Portugal in 1986, or Cameron and Hague allowed us any say on Croatia joining last year:

    https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/35465/eu-act-croatia-statement.pdf

    “All of the provisions of the Croatia Accession Treaty relate to the accession of a new member State to the European Union and thus the Croatia Accession Treaty as a whole is subject to the exemption provided for in section 4(4)(c) of the Act.

    In my opinion the Treaty concerning the accession of the Republic of Croatia to the European Union of 9 December 2011 does not fall within section 4 of the Act and no referendum is required in the UK.”

    • yulwaymartyn
      Posted March 4, 2014 at 11:43 am | Permalink

      Denis well said and well researched.

      You and I are on different sides of the EU argument but it is always helpful to expose hypocrisy and double standards of those in government which you have fully exposed today. Of course I personally have no problem with the EU expanding eastwards and, as I said two days ago, there is cheap food and labour in the Ukraine. I do have a problem with hypocrisy though and those who say one thing and do another. Or perhaps worse do one thing and say the other. The only issue that we share is that we are not fettered by such ambiguities.

      • forthurst
        Posted March 4, 2014 at 6:51 pm | Permalink

        “…there is cheap food and labour in the Ukraine”

        …and HIV/AIDS. “Experts estimated in August 2010 that 1.3 percent of the adult population of Ukraine was infected with HIV, the highest in all of Europe.” wiki

        0.5 million @ £300,000 per patient = £150 billion. Can the NHS afford that over the next forty years, what with the huge increase in GDP from the hundreds of millions of minimum wage peasants heading this way if people not as knowledgeable or as intelligent as Denis had their way?

    • Leslie Singleton
      Posted March 4, 2014 at 2:53 pm | Permalink

      Denis–I had already written a few words on what I have always seen as our inexplicable and daft policy of expansion towards the East but I had not realised that Cameron had gone so far as to mention the Urals; and so recently. I had not thought my opinion on the man’s judgement could go lower. I hold no brief for Russia but how exactly did he expect Russia to react? He probably knows better now, but I seriously wonder whether he knew where the Urals are when he spoke last July.

      • Chris
        Posted March 4, 2014 at 4:30 pm | Permalink

        Reply to Leslie S: Cameron apparently made this statement on the day that Croatia became a member of the EU. It was indeed a provocative statement by him, with the timing being calculated, I believe. See the eureferendum blog.

        • Denis Cooper
          Posted March 4, 2014 at 6:25 pm | Permalink

          I wonder whether we should even allow Cameron to go abroad to make speeches without proper supervision. Putin knows where the Urals are and obviously he has no intention of allowing Russia to be split into two with the part west of the Urals in the EU and the part east of the Urals not in the EU. He will also have observed as I have that the EU follows NATO, it being necessary for NATO to provide the military security before the EU can move in to provide the civil administration, and so he will understand well that what Cameron was mooting in Kazakhstan would necessarily imply a southern encirclement of Russia by NATO. Talk about poking a stick into the hornets’ nest …

    • Hope
      Posted March 4, 2014 at 4:15 pm | Permalink

      By allowing other countries into the EU the government is allowing them free access to our public services, welfare and housing. No more stupid comments about housing problem, it is an immigration problem that the public have no say over and yet are expected to pay for them in their droves! Cameron knows this is the case, he knows he has no control over freedom of movement in the EU and pledges to say he will cut to tens of thousands knowing he cannot do anything about it. He knew he was not telling the truth, some would say lies. It cannot be regarded as anything else. Noe does he have any control of the quality of the immigrants coming from the EU, remember this when he talks about the brightest and the best nonsense.

    • JoeSoap
      Posted March 4, 2014 at 8:12 pm | Permalink

      This is basically Cameron’s smoking gun (sic), and should receive more publicity in the light of current events.

      Having provoked Russia by proposing this silly dream, Cameron now criticises them for protecting their interests.

      Having said that “there is nothing we can do about immigration from the EU, but we are controlling non-EU immigration”, he immediately neuters his own argument by proposing that more states will enter the EU, with increased immigration as a necessary and inevitable consequence.

      Roll on, general election, roll forward UKIP, the one party which doesn’t provoke war.

  15. Neil Craig
    Posted March 4, 2014 at 10:14 am | Permalink

    If economics is anything to do with it the argument for offering EU membership to Russia is infinitely better than for Ukraine. One is a fast growing economy with every sort of exploitable natural resource coming out of its ears. The other is a bankrupt, undemocratic, corrupt mess.

    The argument for both is, in turn, far better than for Turkey, which is neither geographically not culturally a part of Europe.

    If the long hyped purpose of the EU is something to do with peace between formerly warring European countries, as has so often been claimed, then the case for offering Russia membership is unquestionable.

    Of course the truth is the EU is about neither. It is about bureaucratic empire building and Putin’s free market Russia would be too big for the EU to swallow.

    On Scotland – polls show the scots people are only a few per cent less anti-EU than the English but our ruling cartel are absolutely agreed on Europhilia – with the SNP, paradoxically absolutely opposed to a referendum on independence from the EU (or even a referendum on rejoining on far worse terms for Scotland than we have now) and the Tories here rabbiting on about how they will “fight on the barricades” to see we stay in.

    • uanime5
      Posted March 4, 2014 at 11:20 pm | Permalink

      The argument for both is, in turn, far better than for Turkey, which is neither geographically not culturally a part of Europe.

      Parts of Turkey is in Europe, such as Istanbul. The Ottoman empire also resulted in Turkey having a large influence on Europe.

  16. Bert Young
    Posted March 4, 2014 at 10:19 am | Permalink

    Unity in Europe is not a realistic possibility . There are too many cultural and economic divides for it ever to work ; of course the poor want to be richer ; of course the rich want to be richer ;the truth is society is not made up of equals and the differences cannot be bridged by ideology . In Greece it is impossible for them to climb out of the debt burden invoked and caused by them ; in other countries ( like Slovakia ) there is considerable regret at the enormous increase in their cost of living since adopting the Euro ; in Italy Spain and Portugal the disciplines required for them to adhere to a central code are simply not palatable ; in the UK our traditions and democracy make it virtually impossible to fall into line with standards far below those we are used to – the list and differences go on and on . For the EU to believe it can increase and expand elsewhere with the disunity caused in its wake , beggars belief ; today for example we have this mego woman Reding dictating the basis of a European code of rights for all Europeans no matter where they are irrespective of what they are capable of contributing . It is only reasonable in any society for the strong to help and support the weak , but , the strong have to be allowed to develop before they can support and the distribution of giving and taking has to be proportionate ; inevitably there will be some wastage and some casting aside . The EU ought to re-examine the state of its house and clear up its waste long before it tries to push out its borders ; the Ukraine is not a proposition , it is a cauldron boiling over with as many differences in its borders as the whole of the EU put together . We must stay away from this mess and let the people there rationalise their own affairs .

  17. Lindsay McDougall
    Posted March 4, 2014 at 10:20 am | Permalink

    It was de Gaulle that wanted a Europe from the Atlantic to the Urals. But he wanted a Europe of nation states, not a Federation. Very wise.

  18. Posted March 4, 2014 at 10:20 am | Permalink

    If the common market had stayed as a free trade area instead of the empire building we have seen, I don’t think there would have been any problems with Ukraine or even Russia join such an organisation.

    Instead it was hijacked by socialists and communists just like environmental policy has been.

    Today the extremist BBC is suggesting raiding rich Russian’s bank accounts.

    • Mark B
      Posted March 4, 2014 at 7:00 pm | Permalink

      Kenneth, this is totally incorrect. The Treaty of Rome, signed by the Conservative Prime Minister, Edward Heath MP, clearly stated; ” . . . ever closer union . . .”

      This was no Socialist putsch of a trading agreement. In fact politics has little to do with it, as the Commission is apolitical.

      The idea, right from the very beginning, was to create a Federal European Superstate and rid Europe of the Nation State and in turn, democracy.

    • Jennifer A
      Posted March 4, 2014 at 10:06 pm | Permalink

      Visa restrictions and frozen bank accounts.

      *Pop* goes the London boom then.

  19. forthurst
    Posted March 4, 2014 at 10:53 am | Permalink

    “I assume even [EU visionaries] do not wish to push on to the Urals, well inisde Russia’s own territory, though sometimes rhetoric says otherwise.”

    Why was Cameron not ejected from leadership of the ‘Eurosceptic’ Conservative party after giving voice to such an ambition?

    “The EU fears that a Scottish exit from the UK and the EU could create a popular precedent, likely to be followed by Catalonia.”

    Barosso specifically has voiced these fears. This is doublethink, not the rather boring hypocritical variety espoused by John Kerry, but where there appears to be an attempt to hold two conflicting concepts simultaneously: on the one hand, some EU apparatchiks object to European nation states being dismembered, and on the other hand, they belong to an organisation whose ambition is to destroy national borders and replace them with regions of a new Empire with absolutely free movement.

    Instead of a new Treaty, perhaps we need a Credo for the EU:

    “I believe in the abolition of the nation state, the dismemberment of France, Germany, Spain, Great Britain, Italy, and the mixing of all the peoples, whilst importing large numbers from outside of Europe to create an amorphous brown soup which can spooned by those self-chosen to formulate the new improved Euroman.”

    This should be repeated every morning, publicly, by Europhiles whilst being bombarded with rotten EU tomatoes by Eurosceptics. (Cameron, get ready to duck).

    • Max Dunbar
      Posted March 4, 2014 at 6:19 pm | Permalink

      Don’t forget to add ‘…in the 21st century’ to the end of the second last paragraph after ‘Euroman’ forthurst!

  20. Max Dunbar
    Posted March 4, 2014 at 11:52 am | Permalink

    You say that the UK is relaxed about Scotland having a referendum as if Scotland was not a part of the UK. No, Dr Redwood we are not relaxed about it here in the northern area of the UK. It is here that British people will be affected by separation the most. The population in this region will be under complete control of a very unpleasant regime if the SNP succeed and you will be indirectly affected as well. We are still part of the UK in case you had not noticed. England is not the UK.
    If you are going to speak for the UK then please speak for all of us in this nation as one entity and one people.

    Reply All 3 political parties and most MPs in Westminster agreed to the idea of a referendum without dissent – that is why I wrtoe as I did.

    • Max Dunbar
      Posted March 4, 2014 at 6:34 pm | Permalink

      Reply to reply: We need to see some heavyweight politicians from Westminster come to Scotland to put the case for maintaining the Union. I would like to see you come here too, although I can’t promise that it would be relaxing; stimulating perhaps!

  21. Atlas
    Posted March 4, 2014 at 1:04 pm | Permalink

    I read in a newspaper today that one of Cameron’s aides was photographed carrying a recipe for what reads like appeasement, 2014 style.

    I can’t make my mind up whether Cameron behaves in the Stanley Balwin or in the Neville Chamberlain mode of thinking? Any opinion anybody?

    Either way, the Ukraine is now split into two hostile peoples – thanks to EU Empire builders as much as to Putin.

  22. Antisthenes
    Posted March 4, 2014 at 2:37 pm | Permalink

    The EU should never of happened if only it had stayed just a common market. Not satisfied with bullying it’s own members into abdicating their sovereignty and adopting crazy policies one after another that threaten the well being of many of the citizens of the EU it does the same thing outside it’s borders. The euro almost destroyed the EU and may still yet it’s laws, rules and regulations are reducing the competitiveness of the EU which was already declining. And now they have managed to destabilise the whole world and whatever happens next we are all going to regret for a very long time to come. The spectre of another cold war like era can so easily appear in all it’s hateful glory with Russia and China one side and the West the other yet again.

    • Mark B
      Posted March 4, 2014 at 7:01 pm | Permalink

      Antisthenes

      Please see my comment above too Kenneth.

  23. matthu
    Posted March 4, 2014 at 5:30 pm | Permalink

    Judging by news (in Daily Mail), just about anybody will find it tough holding the EU together after today:

    Conservative MEP Marta Andreasen, a former European Commission Chief Accountant, said: ‘I had to make sure my headphones were working correctly when I heard the Commissioner announce he needed a €23.4 Billion Euro transfer to pay for unpaid invoices.’

    She said it is only three months since Mr Lewandowski came ‘cap in hand’ to the committee asking for an €11.2 billion top up to the 2013 budget which was duly granted.

    ‘To blame a number of late invoices is really taking the biscuit and just underlines the utter incompetence, not to say the continued disdain with which the EU treats taxpayers’ money,’ she added.

    ‘It seems that the European Commission is not only unwilling but is also completely unable to live within the means agreed. It repeatedly comes back, blaming others and looking for more cash.

    ‘That it seeks this money for Cohesion, the area of the EU budget most open to ‘errors’ as identified by the Court of Auditors is deeply worrying. But, as usual, MEPs will carry on rewarding this failure.’

    So much for getting the EU to trim its budget …

  24. stred
    Posted March 4, 2014 at 8:07 pm | Permalink

    The debate on foreign policy today was difficult to believe, especially the answer to you question to Little Willy on whether he would support independence for Crimea is they voted for it in the forthcoming referendum, as we have agreed for Scotland. According to Willy, this was not possible because the UK had agreed to let the Scots leave if they wished, but the new revoutionary government had not agreed to allow the Crimeans to vote. Perhaps we should have to ask the EU to let us have a referendum.

    Then he told another MP that the overthrown elected president had fled the country and therefore had no legitimate right to ask Russia to put him back. Perhaps he should have stayed and risked having his throat cut by the peace loving demonstrators, then asked for help. The help for the president of Mali would also be illegal when he was put back by the French. The present government is apparently worthy of support, as the overthrow was brought about by the violence of a proportionally representative crowd of rebels. At least the new unelected president had vetoed the laws being enacted to ban the Russian language.

    There was no mention of the Ukrainians who had moved to Russia to escape beatings by the uncontrolled thuggery, but sympathy for the minorities in Crimea who are threatened by their rebel military, even though, so far, there have been no reported threats.

    When Ben Bradshaw asked whether we could stop the bank accounts of the Ukrainian theives who have stolen $35bn, the answer was that we should be careful not to do anything illegal. In other words, give them time to shift it, if it is in UK banks.

    We were told that were not going to lend them money, but will assist them to sort out their debts and energy policy. Well, aren’t they lucky to be getting our expertise. At least we don’t have to contribute to the IMF any more.

    Despite being a supporter of the the Western democratic system for as long as I can remember, I thought todays performance by most of our politicians was shameful in its hypocrisy.

  25. uanime5
    Posted March 4, 2014 at 11:28 pm | Permalink

    The EU fears that a Scottish exit from the UK and the EU could create a popular precedent, likely to be followed by Catalonia. If both the UK and Spain were split, parts of the western edge of the EU would crumble.

    How exactly will the western edge of the EU crumble when both Scotland and Catalonia want to join the EU after splitting from the UK and Spain, respectively?

    If Scotland left the UK, maybe England would be even keener to vote out of the EU altogether.

    I doubt it as all the people who like the EU don’t live in Scotland.

    Russia has preditably baulked at that, and has responded by seeking to split the Ukraine into a Russian sympathising area and an EU one.

    Though it’s unclear whether Russia plans to create 2 Ukrainian states or plans to annex the parts that will support them.

    There will be several areas, regions or countries that do not agreee with this drift of policy.

    Given that each country can block other countries joining the EU and has MEPs they have a way of trying to change these policies.

    We are now seeing the costs of this vision, and the problems posed by the f0rces who disagree with it.

    In this case the Russian disagreeing with a decision the Ukrainians made.

    Let us hope the EU wakes up to the reality that a lot of people inside the current EU and its wider sphere of influence do not want to belong to a new European empire, before the actions of those straining to get out causes worse problems .

    Given that they keep electing politicians and agreeing to treaties that are doing just that it’s clear that the majority do want a European empire.

    • Lindsay McDougall
      Posted March 6, 2014 at 3:10 am | Permalink

      As the Ukranian crisis develops, it is clear that America and to a lesser extent the EU want us to apply sanctions against Russia that would be wholly counterproductive and poison our relations with Russia. If we had not acceded to the Lisbon ‘Treaty’, for which there is no popular mandate, we could have our own foreign policy. This would be a rejection not only of the EU Superstate but also of the role that the American Left, in the person of Dean Acheson, assigned to us.

  26. megalex
    Posted March 8, 2014 at 2:49 am | Permalink

    If Scotland wants to stay in the EU after independence and the rest of the UK wants out (in both cases after referenda), surely the mechanism for Scottish independence should be for England/Wales/NI to secede from the UK. Scotland (aka the UK) remains in the EU as of right. England (with its subject states) determines its own destiny independent of the EU. Everyone gets what they want.

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  • About John Redwood

    John Redwood has been the Member of Parliament for Wokingham since 1987. First attending Kent College, Canterbury, he graduated from Magdalen College, and has a DPhil from All Souls, Oxford. 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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