An Introduction from the Eurosceptic perspective

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The European Union:
An Introduction
The Eurosceptic perspective
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The EU today: 27 members, 501m citizens
-The most recent members (Romania and Bulgaria) joined in
January 2007
The EU – what’s the point?
• Provide lasting peace and security
• Build economic strength and development
through a common market
• Restore European influence in the wider world
• Create ‘an ever closer union between the peoples
of Europe’
?
EU Enlargement
Founding
members:
Belgium, France,
Luxembourg, Italy
Germany, and the
Netherlands.
1957
1973
The UK
joins the
EEC with
Ireland
and
Denmark
Sweden,
Finland
and
Austria
join
Greece
joins
1981
1986
Spain
and
Portugal
join
1995
Romania
and
Bulgaria
join
2004
10 states join:
Cyprus, the Czech
Republic, Estonia,
Hungary, Latvia,
Lithuania, Malta,
Poland, Slovakia,
and Slovenia
2007
2011
Candidates for
future
membership:
Turkey, FYR
Macedonia, Croatia,
Montenegro and
Iceland
Creating the European Union: EU
Treaties
Single
European
Act
towards
creation of
Single Market
Schengen
Agreement
Treaty of
Nice
Constitutional
Treaty
removes
borders
between 7
countries
Institutional
changes for
2004
enlargement
rejected in France
and the
Netherlands
Ireland
rejects
EU’s
Lisbon
Treaty
1957 1986 1992 1995 1997 2001 2002 2005 2007 2008 2009
Treaty of
Rome
creates the
European
Economic
Community
(EEC)
Treaty of
Maastricht
Treaty of
Amsterdam
creates the
European
Union (EU)
Enabled
‘enhanced
cooperation’
Euro
notes and
coins
adopted
in 12
member
states
Schengen
area
expanded
Treaty of
Lisbon
ratified
following
second Irish
referendum.
How does the EU work?
European Council
-Heads of State or Government from Member States
-Meets twice every six months, to set EU ‘agenda’
European Commission
-Appointed bureaucracy, headed by 27 Commissioners
-Manages EU budget and common policies
-Monopoly on proposing law
European Parliament (EP)
Co-decision
-736 directly elected members (MEPs)
-Cannot propose legislation only
Accept, reject or propose Amendments
Council of the EU
-Ministers from Member States
-Votes, largely by QMV,
to accept/reject Amendments
European Court of Justice (ECJ)
-Oversees implementation of law
Law-making – The Ordinary
Legislative Procedure
• Commission proposes law
• EP and Council debate and vote on adopting law
(co-decision)
• If adopted, Member States are obliged to
implement law (through comitology)
• ECJ can act against, and fine, Member States if
they do not implement the law properly
“The EU’s ways are complicated to the point of
incomprehensibility” -Dr Helen Szamuely, Bruges Group
EU ‘competences’
• The European Commission has sole power to
propose new EU laws. It is responsible for UK
policy on:
–
–
–
–
Trade (e.g. WTO), commerce and industry
Social and labour issues
Agriculture (CAP), fishing (CFP) and the environment
Overseas development aid
• Between 60 and 80% of our laws now originate in
an unelected bureaucracy in Brussels!
EU policies: CAP
• Under CAP, EU farmers are paid a Single Farm
Payment (SFP) on top of what they receive from
selling produce.
• CAP also sets quotas on what farmers produce, to
ensure higher prices, and imposes tariffs (tax) on
agricultural imports.
• CAP takes up 41% of the annual EU budget and costs
the UK c.£10.3bn p.a.
• “The way to build lasting economic growth in
Africa…is for Europe to end the CAP.”
-Sir Digby Jones, Former Chairman CBI
EU directives and regulation
• EU legislation cost UK business £88.3bn
between January 1998 and July 2010.
• Some examples:
– Working Time Directive
– Services Directive
– Child car seats for under-12s below 4’5”.
– Permanent headlights
The €uro
• The euro was launched in 1999. Notes and coins
were introduced in 2002.
• There are 17 Member States in the Eurozone.
• It was intended to make it easier to do business
across the EU.
• ‘One size fits all’ interest rate in the Eurozone is
fitting no-one.
• 2010 Eurozone crisis - €273bn has been spent so
far bailing out Greece, Ireland and Portugal.
• Why risk entry?
The EU Constitution
• The EU drafted a Constitutional Treaty in 2002, which
was signed by representatives of the member states
in 2004.
• The Constitutional Treaty was supposed to combine
existing Treaties to clarify what the EU’s
responsibilities were.
• But it actually increased the power of the EU:
– National vetoes on 63 issues lost (to QMV)
– Created an EU President and Foreign Minister
– EU given ‘legal personality’
– No limits set on extension of EU power
• It included things such as an EU ‘national’ anthem
and the EU flag, yet ignored key issues such as
reforming the CAP and liberalising Member State
economies
The “reformed” EU Constitution
• France and the Netherlands both rejected the EU
Constitution in referendums in June 2005.
• The response of the Constitution’s author :
“Let’s be clear about this. The
rejection of the Constitution was
a mistake that will have to be
corrected.” - Valery Giscard d’Estaing
• The Constitutional project was resurrected under
the guise of the Lisbon Treaty
• It replaced the Constitution (but 96% of its content
was the same as the Constitutional Treaty)
The Lisbon Treaty
‘We are united in our aim of placing the EU on a
renewed common basis before EP elections in 2009’
- Berlin Declaration, March 2007
• The Lisbon Treaty was signed in December 2007.
• However, Ireland rejected it in a referendum in June
2008
• Following controversial negotiations, Ireland voted ‘Yes’
in a second vote in October 2009.
• The euro-sceptic Czech Republic President, Vaclav Klaus,
campaigned against the Treaty, but eventually signed it.
• The Treaty came into force in December 2009
Enlargement
• On 1 May 2004, 10 new countries, mainly in Central and
Eastern Europe, joined the EU.
• Romania and Bulgaria joined in January 2007.
• Yet the structure of the EU was built for 6, not 27,
Member States. It needs reforming.
• Average GDP per head in the 10 Member States that joined
in 2004 was just 52.9% of the EU-15.
• The ‘Copenhagen Criteria’ has been too loosely applied and
was not met by Romania and Bulgaria prior to accession.
Turkey is even further off.
• Enlargement has raised many issues regarding immigration
to the UK, the response to which has been chaotic.
What do the public think?
• In 2010 only 29% of
British people
considered membership
of the EU to be ‘a good
thing’
• Just 49% of the entire
population of the EU
had the same response
to the question.
• By a margin of 60% to
30%, chief executives
support moves to
radically reduce the
powers of the EU to a
basic free trade area.
QA7. Generally speaking, do you think that [your
country’s] membership of the EU is…?
Ans: A good thing. – Eurobarometer 2010
i. Why is the EU so unpopular?
• Complex, undemocratic, and distant from its
citizens.
• Unaccountable and corrupt – the Court of
Auditors has refused to sign off EU accounts for
the last 16 years!
"The creeping unification of Europe ... [has been]
managed by the bureaucrats from Brussels behind
the back of the citizens of individual member
states." -Vaclav Klaus, Czech President
ii. Why is the EU so unpopular?
• The trade rules of the EU disadvantage lesser developed
countries around the world.
• The EU has serious economic problems: high
unemployment, low growth and a growing government
pensions debt, not to mention the ongoing Eurozone crisis.
•It is hamstrung by regulation
and protectionism.
“There is a view that the more
regulation you have, the more
Europe you have."
-Gunter Verheugen, EU
Commission Vice-President
Better off out?
• The EU is expensive, costing
each UK taxpayer
approximately £300 last year.
• The EU should stop the tide
of regulation and focus on
where it can make real
changes: free trade and CAP
reform.
• The EU must return Member
States’ power to revoke
legislation.
“The EU is making us poorer,
less democratic and less
free.” – Daniel Hannan MEP
“Europe should do less, but
do it better!” – Jacques
Delors, 1992
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