Monday, 28 April 2008

Professor: Lisbon Treaty 'not necessary'

A Professor from the European Research Institute at the University of Birmingham has reinforced doubts about the claimed need for the Lisbon Treaty, arguing that under the current treaty the EU continues to pass laws just as quickly as it did before enlargement.

According to Professor Anand Menon, the EU has continued to function as well as it ever did following the 'big bang' enlargement of 2004.

While conceding that he had once argued against the EU's enlargement to Central and Eastern Europe because he thought "it would lead to gridlock," he now admits he was "totally wrong".

"Voting in the Council indicates that the EU has not slowed down at all," he said. "It is producing legislation with the same speed as before. There isn't an institutional crisis to be addressed," Menon insists.

Responding to questions about how enlargement has affected the EU he went on, "In terms of decision-making, there is no evidence that it has slowed down. Interestingly, evidence from systems such as the United States suggests that when a system enlarges, more power tends to migrate to the centre."
"It might also mean that the long-fought battle over the Lisbon Treaty was not as necessary as we thought," he concludes.

His comments reinforce doubts about the government's fundamental claim that the Lisbon Treaty is necessary to make the EU more effective after the EU's increase in membership.

any believe the treaty's only real purpose is to pass decision-making over yet more policy areas to central EU institutions, and reduce still further the ability of elected governments to block EU laws.

More blank cheques

The Professor was commenting in an interviewed published today by EurActiv, in which he also revealed that he "cannot be sure" how the institutional innovations in the EU Constitution / Lisbon Treaty will work in practice.

"There are some important innovations, but we cannot be sure how they'll work. Nobody knows how the permanent Presidency of the European Council will work," he said.

The Professor passes the same verdict on the so-called 'yellow card procedure', whereby national parliaments are consulted on draft Commission proposals (but can be ignored), once again saying "I do not know how the system will work."

Having worked on various aspects of European politics for some 15 years, Professor Anand Menon is very likely better placed than many MPs to understand the workings of the EU.

So his comments once again expose the abject irresponsibility of those MPs who voted to approve the Lisbon Treaty, most if not all of whom cannot possibly know its exact implications for how we are governed.

Sunday, 27 April 2008

Another EU whistleblower sacked for exposing corruption

The Sunday Times today reports the tale of another whistleblower facing the sack after he told fraud investigators about alleged corruption at an EU aid agency.

Terry Battersby has reportedly been removed from his job as head of information technology at the EU-funded Centre for the Development of Enterprise (CDE) after reporting that his boss may have approved the award of lucrative EU contracts to a company in which he had a financial interest.

On its website, the CDE describes itself as an ACP (African, Caribbean and Pacific)/EU "joint Institution" which "operates in complementarity [sic] with the European Commission, the Secretariat of the ACP Group of States and the European Investment Bank in the framework of support to the private sector."

The organisation reportedly receives more than £14m a year of public money from the EU.

Hamid Sow, the agency's former director, is alleged to have arranged for the CDE to back a loan of nearly £3m to a textile company in Mali, without disclosing that he owned up to 20% of the company and was receiving payments from the firm.

Two years ago Battersby discovered documents showing Sow’s apparent conflict of interest, and passed them to the EU’s antifraud investigators, but found himself the victim of a "witch-hunt" for having the courage to speak out.

Standard EU practice

Battersby is the latest in a long line of whistleblowers who have found themselves vilified by EU institutions and forced out of their jobs for revealing fraud, including Dorte Schmidt-Brown, Robert McCoy, Dougal Watt and former Commission chief accountant Marta Andreasen.

In trying to defend their recent agreement to increase Britain's payments into the EU budget by 63% (while holding police, nurses and teachers' pay rises to below inflation), the government made much of a new charter they claimed had been put in place to protect fraud whistleblowers, and 'enshrined' in staff regulations back in May 2004.

That claim wasn't even believeable at the time, given no charter or regulations prevented Neil Kinnock finally sacking Marta Andreasen in 2005 in one of his last acts as an EU Commissioner.

That was before retiring to enjoy his £272,808 pay-off, his £63,900 a year EU pension and take up his seat in the House of Lords (the existence of which he used to oppose) as Baron Kinnock of Bedwelty.

With this latest revelation, the concept of a 'Whistleblowers Charter' - and yet another government claim in defence of its enthusiasm for the EU - lies in complete tatters.

Thursday, 24 April 2008

Brown slapped down by EU over biofuels

Gordon Brown is set to "push for changes" in EU biofuels targets if a government review launched in February shows that they are to blame for driving up food prices and environmental damage.

Quoted in a Reuters report filed at 12:43 today, the Prime Minister said "We need to look closely at the impact on food prices and the environment of different production methods and to ensure we are more selective in our support (for biofuels)."

"If our UK review shows that we need to change our approach, we will also push for change in EU biofuels targets," he said.

However in an embarrassing put-down a matter of hours later, a European Commission spokesman played down the prospects of change.

Quoted in a later EUobserver report filed at 18:07, a spokeman for Commission president Jose Manuel Barroso said that the EU's executive stood by its target of getting 10% of road transport fuel from crops and agricultural waste by 2020.

Confirming that the Commission had requested its own study into links between biofuels policy and rising food prices, spokesman Mark Gray said "The president is not however considering changing the ten percent biofuels target."

Pressure for biofuels u-turn

Pressure is mounting on policymakers for a review of biofuels policy from international organisations such as the World Bank and the United Nations World Food Programme in the light of growing reports of a food crisis and protected landscapes being cleared for biofuel crop production.

The PM's only chance of forcing change, should the government review confirm the targets as extremely damaging, is to go begging to the EU to change their policy.

Even if the Commission were to propose a change, the plan would still have to pass the hurdle of majority voting in the EU Council of Ministers, where a majority for change would by no means be assured.

Rather than elect a government, it seems we now simply elect lobbyists to run to those who really hold power ... in Brussels.

When exactly this became the limit of ambition for our country exhibited by much of today's governing class will have to be a question for another time.

Wednesday, 23 April 2008

Does the Bishop really want a debate?

Following the Bishop of St Albans's letter in The Times last month in support of the EU Constitution / Lisbon Treaty, DM campaign director Marc Glendening has written to The Right Rev Christopher Herbert offering him an opportunity to participate in a public debate on the subject.

This is what the Bishop claimed to want when, back in 2005, inspired by a meeting with then Europe Minister Denis MacShane, he wrote to all senior Anglican clergy encouraging them to "contribute to a more informed debate on Europe".

With his letter to his colleagues, the Bishop enclosed the Foreign Office's highly partisan Guide to the EU.

The Bishop was writing to The Times in his capacity as Chair of the House of Bishops’ Europe Panel - a sub-committee of the House of Bishops.

The panel's terms of reference can be viewed here (in a MS Word document) but its brief is essentially "promoting and shaping an open and transparent Europe close to its citizens and to monitoring the EU institutions in so far as they affect Church life and practice".

Letter's false basis

The Bishop's letter was based on the hackneyed myth that the Lisbon Treaty is 'necessary for enlargement', apparently 'forgetting' that this justification was also claimed for the EU's previous treaties of Amsterdam and Nice which were agreed well in advance of ten new countries joining the EU in 2004.

Only two further countries have joined the EU since then, which it's far from clear in itself warrants transfers of decision-making to the EU that the EU Constitution or its re-named successor treaty encompass.

In truth, such treaties are quite obviously far more about increasing the power of EU institutions at the expense of elected national governments than anything to do with enlargement.

Sadly a reply to Marc's letter has yet to be forthcoming. Which begs the question as to whether the Bishop really wants a debate. Or, as so often, is such a claim merely designed to sweeten a pill of pro-EU propaganda?

Tuesday, 22 April 2008

BBC in smear against Irish treaty critics

On Tuesday 15 April, the BBC reported that an "anti-EU gang" had assaulted the prominent Irish MEP Proinsias de Rossa after a debate in Dublin on the Lisbon Treaty.

The article - written, as so often, by an un-named BBC correspondent and apparently taking a spokesman for a leading pro-treaty party as its only source - said that Mr de Rossa had been "confronted" by a group of men who had "screamed abuse at him" before "knocking him over and pinning him down".

Now this all sounds very serious, and not at all the appropriate way to conduct political debate within a democracy.

Or it would have been, if the BBC report was remotely accurate.

Because it has emerged that the hapless MEP in question in fact tripped and fell on his face while running away from a calm on-camera attempt to ask him a question.

Footage exposes story as fake

The entire incident was caught on camera, showing that the description provided by the leader of the Irish Labour Party, and reported unquestioningly by the BBC, is a complete fabrication and blatant attempt to smear treaty-critics ahead of the looming public vote.

The footage clearly shows de Rossa being approached slowly by the cameraman and an activists with the anti-treaty group We Are Change Ireland, who asks, “Why did you do it?” - a reference to the MEP's recent vote in the European Parliament against respecting the outcome of the Irish referendum.

The two begin walking down the street and de Rossa is the first to physically put his hand on the activist as he moves him out of the way to cross the street.

But then it seems it's De Rossa himself who snaps, first lunging at another nearby cameraman and then proceeding to chase him down the street, before quite independently tripping and falling to the ground.

Questions for the BBC

Knowing the sensitivity of the current EU debate in Ireland, with an important vote looming, did the BBC not obtain the confirmation of any other independent sources confirming the pro-treaty camp's "assault" version of events?

Where are the people who "screamed abuse" before he fell down? And who exactly did the "knocking him over"? None of that is evident from the footage.

It seems the Police confirmed there was an incident, but did they confirm it was "assault"? As the BBC's own article towards the end admits, "Police took statements from witnesses but made no arrests". The activists involved claim they themselves flagged down a passing Police van.

Inaccuracy and bias

Beyond problems of inaccuracy in the BBC's article, it also provides a clear example of subtle continued bias that EU-critics have long complained about.

In a passing reference to the Lisbon Treaty, the article says that it has the aim "of making EU institutions more efficient, now that the bloc has 27 member states".

This is not an unequivocal fact, as the BBC seems to accept (given no opposing voice is offered), but a highly controversial assertion made by the treaty's supporters.

Critics claim that the treaty has nothing to do with 'efficiency' but in fact has only the aim of continuing the process of centralising ever-more decision-making in a growing Brussels 'state',

We would point out that both previous EU treaties - Amsterdam and Nice - were also claimed to be necessary for an enlarged EU, and ask how many times exactly are we expected to fall for this supposed justification for passing more power to the EU?

Doubts re-awakened

The BBC's reporting of this incident re-awakens serious questions - following the 2005 Wilson report into BBC bias and the more recent revelation that the Corporation has taken out £141 million in 'soft loans' from the EU - as to the BBC's journalistic authority and integrity when reporting EU issues.

Having today registered a complaint with the BBC and provided them with this information, we'll be watching the article to see if, in the interests of fairness and impartiality, it is removed and a correction is published at least as prominently as the original article was.

If this doesn't happen, it will surely be confirmed either that the BBC ignores complaints or, worse, that the Corporation has sought to help one side of a controversial political debate perpetrate a blatant smear on the other in the context of a hotly contested public debate and vote.

Either way, not exactly the behaviour expected from an allegedly 'impartial' organisation.

Friday, 18 April 2008

Europol to become EU agency

Europol took a step closer to becoming the EU's own FBI-style police force today, when it was confirmed that the organisation will be turned into an EU agency from 2010.

Europol first emerged out of the Maastricht Treaty as the European Drugs Unit back in 1994. But, typical of the way the EU quietly builds its powers, Europol has progressively had its mandate expanded.

The body is currently tasked with targetting "organised crime and terrorism, with an emphasis on targeting criminal organisations".

But today's agreement is set to subtly expand that mandate once again, to a very vague "all serious forms of cross-border crime" - the need for the involvement of "criminal organisations" having been dropped.

Another key change will be that Europol's funding will no longer come from national governments directly but instead out of the EU's budget, marking a significant effective shift in accountability.

Treaty blank cheque for Europol

The announcement comes on top of changes within the re-named EU Constitution (aka 'Lisbon') Treaty, which broadens Europol's scope to encompass the 'implementation' of operational action and, crucially, to allow its functions to be expanded limitlessly without any future treaty changes or the consequent approval of national parliaments.

Article 69G(2) of the Lisbon Treaty says "The European Parliament and the Council, by means of regulations adopted in accordance with the ordinary legislative procedure [ie. majority voting] shall determine Europol's structure, operation, field of action and tasks."

On the expansion of Europol's activities, paragraph (b) of that article says these tasks may include "co-ordination, organisation and implementation of investigative and operational action carried out jointly with the Member States' competent authorities or in the context of joint investigation teams, where appropriate in liaison with Eurojust."

Compare this with the current treaty, Article 30(2)(a) of which says that Europol's role should be to "facilitate and support the preparation, and to encourage the co-ordination and carrying out of specific investigative actions by the competent authorities of the Member States, including operational actions of joint teams comprising representatives of Europol in a support capacity."

Both sound broadly the same. But closer study reveals that Europol's task will no longer be just to "support" or "encourage" but to "implement" operational actions, carried out "jointly with" rather than solely by competent national authorities.

And the proviso that Europol's officers can only be present on such actions "in a support capacity" has been completely dropped.

Step-by-step and little noticed, this is how the EU's power grows.

Immunity from prosecution

All the while it's worth remembering that Europol's 'officers' have long had broad immunity from criminal prosecution for acts performed in the course of their "official functions" (with the bizarre lone exception of civil liability in the event of a road traffic accident).

This is given effect in UK law by Statutory Instrument 1997 No. 2973 (para 15) and quite possibly was never even debated by Parliament.

Confirming that today's announcement is a major change, a spokesman for Commission Vice-President Jacques Barrot said, "This is a veritable transformation, not merely a cosmetic one."

Don't we know it Jacques!

Tuesday, 8 April 2008

Nick Clegg's troubles deepen

The faltering start of new Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg seems to go from bad to worse.

It all began with a major loss of face over a referendum of the Lisbon Treaty, when nearly a quarter of his MPs defied his instructions to abstain on whether there should be a public vote, and three of his frontbenchers quit to join the rebellion.

A second slap in the face over the issue from his own party came when Lib Dem peers said they were going to ignore his troubled abstention policy and vote against a referendum when the matter comes to be debated in the Lords. A stance that apparently hasn't gone down at all well with those of their fellow party MPs trying to defend marginal seats.

A matter of days later, his much longed-for 'man of principle' image took another knock when he dodged a question tabled by a
Spectator reader as to whether his position in favour of an in-out referendum on the EU (rather than one on the Lisbon Treaty) was going to be in the party's next election manifesto.

A reaction that seems to indicate that the allegedly "principled" policy has already been dropped, fuelling suspicions that it was only ever a lame ploy to get the Lib Dems out of their election promise to support a referendum on the renamed EU Constitution Treaty.

Facing accusations of a feeble first 100 days, next came Clegg's ill-judged claim that he had slept with "up to 30 women", during a discussion of his sexual history with GQ magazine.

And now, according to a report in the Independent on Sunday, it has emerged that after all his woes, poor Nikki Clegg may not be the real leader of the Lib Dems after all!

Hundreds of postal votes, arriving late due to the Christmas post, would apparently have meant Chris Huhne in fact won the race to succeed Menzies Campbell.

Mr Clegg beat his rival by just 511 votes out of more than 41,000 party members in one of the closest-run races in political history.

Yet as many as 1,300 postal votes arrived after the deadline of 15 December – and an unofficial check of the papers showed that Mr Huhne had enough of a majority among them to hand him victory.

Whatever next for 'Calamity Clegg'?

MPs' blank cheque to Brussels

A good illustration of the extent to which a majority of MPs have irresponsibly voted a complete blank cheque of powers to Brussels by approving the renamed EU Constitution treaty are the current wranglings over the new role of EU President.

Because the treaty is vague about the exact role of the EU President - as with so much else - fraught negotiations are already underway as to the precise definition of the role.

Yet there doesn't even appear to be broad agreement between the EU's diverse member countries on the job the EU President is being created to perform.

Some appear not to want a personality in the role who would outshine the Commission President, but would prefer a 'good chairman' to oversee the work of each country as it assumes the 6-monthly leadership role.

On the other hand, other countries specifically want a big name 'world figure' to strut the world stage representing the EU, taking a similar role to that of a national President or Prime Minister (though completely unelected and directly representing no-one).

Our MPs, of course, have relinquished their own governing role in this respect - and so many others where the EU is concerned - by already gifting unaccountable EU institutions the power to make whatever they choose for themselves.

Barroso to open door to unification of roles?

The current favourite for the role is believed to be present Commission President Jose Barroso, as EU state-builders foresee the possibility of merging the new role with that of Commission President to create an undisputed 'President of the Union' - a scenario that the Treaty does not rule out.

Other candidates include Luxembourg Prime Minister Jean-Claude Juncker, Denmark’s leader Anders Fogh Rasmussen and perhaps a surprise entry into the race of Barroso's predecessor Romano Prodi, following his ejection as Prime Minister in the recent Italian elections.

Tony Blair has also been mooted for the job, but appears to be losing ground against other candidates.

Contradicting themselves

Writing about the new role on his blog, former French president and chief architect of the original EU Constitution Valery Giscard d'Estaing writes, "The choice of the first EU Council President is an unexpected opportunity to develop a feeling of political belonging among the EU's citizens. If they have the feeling that they are associated with it, Europe will make a big step forward. On the other hand, if they have the impression they are being ignored, Europe will take a huge step backwards."

Apparently forgetting that he himself has been a leading cheerleader for the views of the "EU's citizens" to be utterly ignored, by pushing for national governments not to hold referendums on the re-named EU Constitution treaty.

Nevermind the flaws in their thinking, do these people not even have a basic level of consciousness about their own previous statements?

And why do the mainstream media never seem to take them apart over such blatant contradictions?

Contempt for democracy

That such negotiations are happening at all shows the contempt with which those driving the EU project regard 'details' like national democratic approval of the Treaty.

Not only are ratification processes still continuing in many EU member countries, but the Irish people will vote on whether to approve the Treaty in their forthcoming referendum.

But that the EU elite have little regard for the role of public opinion in their state-building project is hardly news.

Monday, 7 April 2008

Lisbon, the Lords and their interests

As debate over the renamed EU Constitution Treaty and whether there should be a referendum moves on to the House of Lords, Helen Szamuely - writing on the excellent EUreferendum blog - draws on her own experience as a House of Lords researcher to highlight a concerning exception in the rules governing the registration of Lords' interests.

According to House of Lords rules, the test of a 'relevant interest' that should be registered is defined as: "whether the interest might reasonably be thought by the public to affect the way in which a Member of the House of Lords discharges his or her parliamentary duties".

The test of relevance is further clarified as "not whether a Member's actions in Parliament will be influenced by the interest, but whether the public might reasonably think that this might be the case".

As well as formally registering their interests, Lords can also mention them in the chamber before intervening in a relevant debate.

As Helen writes, Lord Pearson of Rannoch has to mention that one of his children is disabled and his consequent involvement with charities and organizations that help disabled children every time he speaks in a debate that is somehow related to the subject.

And that whenever the
Countess of Mar stands up to speak on matters to do with agriculture and animal welfare she declares interests relating to the small farm she and her husband run.

However, there exists one bizarre exception to the declaration rules. Namely, recipients of extremely handsome pensions from the EU.

There are now a number of former EU Commissioners and MEPs sitting in the House of Lords who do not have to declare their financial interests when speaking in praise of the activities of the EU institutions that provide their pension income.

When the EU has the right to withdraw that pension, should any recipient make a statement that could be deemed to be against the interests of that organization, then it's quite within the boundaries of 'reasonable thought' that their behaviour could be influenced by such a situation.

So given this interest clearly passes the relevance test, will these Lords be required to declare these interests before they stand up to praise the EU and vote to block the referendum we were promised by all parties at the last general election?

Sunday, 6 April 2008

EU's rush to biofuels key factor in food crisis

There are increasing signs that the rush for biofuels - in which the EU is playing a major role - is a key factor in the growing world food crisis and causing increasing global instability.

Under the government's Renewable Transport Fuel Obligation, from this month all petrol and diesel sold at British pumps must include at least 2.5% biofuels - renewable fuels, made from crops such as sugar cane or maize.

his target is set to rise to 5% by 2010, towards achieving 10% of vehicle traffic powered by biofuels by 2020.

These are targets that the EU has instructed the government to meet, initially via its Directive on the Promotion of the use of biofuels and other renewable fuels for transport (2003/30/EC) .

This Directive stipulates that national measures must be taken by countries across the EU aiming at replacing 5.75% of all transport fossil fuels with biofuels by 2010, and the European Commission back in January this year proposed a new Directive setting the '10% by 2020' target.

Result of EU targets

The consequences of this action were set out quite comprehensively in yesterday's Guardian.

Spurred by generous subsidies from the US government and these EU targets to increase the use of biofuels, at least 8m hectares (20m acres) of maize, wheat, soya and other crops which once provided animal feed and food have been taken out of production in the US - a major supplier to UK fuel companies now having to meet the new targets in their products.

Additionally, large areas of Brazil, Argentina, Canada and eastern Europe are diverting sugar cane, palm oil and soybean crops to feed the new thirst for biofuels.

The result, exacerbated by energy price rises, speculation and shortages because of severe weather, has been big increases of all global food commodity prices.

Robert Zoellick, president of the World Bank, said this week that prices of all staple food had risen 80% in three years, and that 33 countries faced unrest because of the price rises. The bank predicts rice price rises of 55% in 2008.

Protests in world's poorest countries

The crisis has already sparked protests and even riots in the world's poorest countries, including Guinea, Egypt, Morocco, Uzbekistan, Yemen, Burkina Faso, Mauritania, Niger, Uzbekistan, Senegal, Haiti, Bolivia, Indonesia, Ivory Coast, Egypt, Vietnam, Cambodia, India, the Philippines and Thailand.

Many of these countries are reacting by placing export restrictions on home-grown staple foods and drastically cutting duties and taxes on imports.

In Bangladesh, where families spend up to 70% of income on food, more than 50,000 households are getting emergency food after rice price rises. A government source said: "One reason is that the overall drop in food production because of biofuels has prevented food being exported."

Josette Sheeran, director of the World Food Programme, said in Ethiopia this week: "The cost of our food has doubled in just the last nine months. We are seeing more urban hunger than ever before. Often we are seeing food on the shelves but people being unable to afford it."

Friends of the Earth claim that biofuels are not only pushing up food prices, but they are also linked to human rights abuses and land-grabs from the poor. The group is calling for EU targets for increasing biofuel use by adding it to petrol to be scrapped.

Targets threaten natural habitats

In addition to the problems for food production, a separate article in the following day's Guardian cites an example in Kenya to demonstrate the environmental consequences of the EU's rush for biofuels.

The article takes a look at the Tana river delta - lush wetlands on the east coast of Africa teeming with birds and home to hippos and crocodiles, lions and elephants - set to be the latest victim of the EU-driven thirst for biofuels.

To meet demand, Kenya's Mumias Sugar Company is planning to plant 20,000 hectares of the Tana delta to grow sugar cane for biofuels and food.

Environmental campaigners say that the £165m project, including an ethanol refinery and food-processing plant, would destroy the wetlands - home to 345 species of birds considered 'internationally important' to the global populations.

They claim that if the project is approved, large areas would become 'ecological deserts', destroying wintering grounds for birds and the bugs they feed on, and dams would divert water essential to wildlife and cattle herders during the dry season.

Paul Matiku, executive director of campaign group Nature Kenya, is also worried about water diversion causing soil erosion, pollution harming fish stocks and damage to the nascent tourism industry.

"This development would be a national disaster, wreaking havoc with the area's ecosystem and spelling the end for wildlife across much of the delta," he said.

Government not in charge

In a sign of growing splits within government, last week the former Environment minister Elliot Morley called for the government to delay the new biofuel requirement until 'comprehensive certification and assessment schemes are put in place', echoing criticism by the Environment Department's chief scientific adviser, Professor Robert Watson.

However, Mr Morley appears to be unaware of the extent to which the government is only acting according to EU instructions - as decided by majority vote in the EU Council of Ministers - and has little choice but to push biofuels as a means to achieve EU targets.

While the EU defends itself by pointing to regulations governing the sustainability of biofuel production, critics claim that EU-led demand will indirectly cause supplies to be sucked in from other markets, which would then be forced to turn to new suppliers like Mumias.

Beyond democratic debate

Whatever people's views on the merits or otherwise of biofuels, the most dangerous aspect of this is that it is one of an increasing number of policy areas that, decisions having been handed to the EU, have now been removed from democratic debate.

Under the EU's treaties, our elected government is forced to take this action regardless of domestic public opinion or even the views of its own ministers as the targets are stipulated by the EU Directive.

Within the EU, where such Directives are shaped, decisions are made on environmental policy by majority voting in the Council of Ministers.

This means that those we take the trouble to elect can be over-ruled by ministers from other EU member countries - completely unaccountable to people here - even if they did object to the policy and the targets imposed regardless. Under EU Treaties, the government is then committed to implementing them.

This is the undemocratic nature of government the European Union project has created for those in all its member countries.

Through the likes of the Lisbon Treaty, passing more powers to EU institutions, making more policy areas subject to majority voting, the state of democracy on our continent is degrading ever more rapidly.

How many outside the political elite and those who benefit financially from the EU system seriously still believe that this is a stable or sustainable path for the future of our continent?

Wednesday, 2 April 2008

EU announces new propaganda plan

The EU has announced a new plan, funded by millions of pounds of public money, aimed at making itself more popular.

Dubbed "Debate Europe", the plan is part of the Commission's so-called "Plan D" – a scheme launched 2005 to try to turn around public opinion after the No votes to the EU constitution in France and the Netherlands.

As that scheme clearly hasn't been working very well - given neither the French government nor the Dutch dares risk a second referendum on the renamed EU Constitution - EU communications commissioner Margot Wallstrom is having another crack at it.

This time the strategy is to set up a series of debates, seminars, "training sessions" and exhibitions on EU matters, involving EU officials in activities at regional and local levels in the different EU member countries.

The programme has been given a budget of a cool €7.2 million (£5.7 million).

Talking to EUobserver about the plan, Ms Wallstrom says "We must consult citizens [because] when we do, we have a better political agenda and a better political result."

How true! So you'll presumably be supporting calls for a referendum on the renamed EU Constitution Treaty in your home country of Sweden then Ms Wallstrom?

Tuesday, 1 April 2008

More EU hypocrisy

"The European Union is watching closely the discussion concerning the revision of the Constitution, while noting that any changes to the Constitution have to be decided by the people and the institutions of Cameroon."

So says a declaration by the Presidency on behalf of the European Union in relation to the situation in Cameroon, 27 March 2008

Yet how strange that "decided by the people" doesn't apply when it comes to the EU revising its own constitutional treaties.

In fact, leading EU figures like Jose Manuel Barroso have been actively discouraging EU member countries from consulting their peoples over the re-named EU Constitution Treaty.

How is anyone supposed to take seriously a body that behaves on the basis of 'do what I say, not what I do'?