Friday, June 22, 2007

Debating the pros and cons of the EU.

The argument for European integration will never be won in Britain (or any other nation) because it is fundamentally harder to explain the benefits of cooperation than to argue against limiting national sovereignty. The present negotiations for a new EU treaty is a case in point.

The essential elements in the proposed treaty are, in my opinion, these: 1) extension of majority voting in the Council to some 50 policy areas; 2) a new 'double majority' voting system, based on majority of countries and population; 3) the creation of a Council President; and 4) the creation of EU 'Foreign Minister'. Other issues, such as the legal status Fundamental Charter of Rights and the legal persona of the EU, are less important.

The move to more majority voting is the most significant proposal as it would entail the handing over of some sovereignty from member states to the EU. Whether this is a good idea should be debated and not just as a question of loss of sovereignty to 'Brussels' and the creation of federal super state. First because the super state scenario is exaggerated, and secondly because the treaty would also the strengthen democratic decision making process by giving the European Parliament more power through the extension of the co-decision procedure.

However, the media only presents the question of the new treaty as one of handling power away from member states to the perceived undemocratic European Union. The merits of cooperation, the double majority voting system and the strengthening of the European Parliament is hardly ever mentioned or discussed.

An example of how the pro-EU argument is always on the defensive could be seen in yesterdays Newsnight programme. The reporter Jeremy Paxman had a pro and anti EU representative debate the proposed treaty. Paxman didn't ask any difficult questions to the euro-sceptic and let debate center on whether the new treaty was necessary and the certainty of the coming super state. Considering that the BBC is considered by conservatives as a pro-EU and liberal biased, I found the programme decidedly euro-sceptic.


At 22 June, 2007 10:55, Blogger Andrew said...

There's an interseting article on the Guardian's CIF about the importance of the negotiations (yep, I've had to resort to the virtual version, although there are rumours of possible guardian sightings in Rosyth...),,2107736,00.html


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