by Marc Glendening
During Britain's recent general election campaign we were repeatedly told by the BBC and various media pundits that the EU was not a key issue.
The three party leaders only briefly touched on the issue. There was one really telling moment, however.
When David Cameron outlined in the final TV debate his immigration proposals, Nick Clegg rightly informed him that his plans to stem the flow of migrants was doomed to failure as the EU treaty does not allow a national government to deny citizens of other member countries entry.
Cameron was dumbstruck and had to acknowledge his plans only applied to non-EU citizens.
With the German government claiming that 84% of all its laws, since the Single European Act, have had their origin in directives and regulations emanating from Brussels, it is becoming clear to the British and other European peoples that our elected representatives have little meaningful power.
The Lisbon treaty has only recently been passed and this will add significantly to the percentage of laws in the member countries that are determined centrally in Brussels.
Elections are becoming little more than a form of political beauty contest in Europe and, in some cases, not a very good one at that.
A little commented upon fact is that the UK Independence party won over 900,000 votes in the general election and in a number of closely contested seats, including Solihull and Grimsby, may well have denied the Tories victory.
Given that it has been calculated that had David Cameron's party only gained another 16,000 votes strategically distributed it would have gained an overall majority, it is perhaps safe to conclude - as we predicted on this blog at the time - that the party's decision to abandon a referendum on the Lisbon treaty cost it outright power.
While the political dust was still swirling around in the immediate aftermath of our inconclusive election, news emerged that, in his last act as Chancellor, Alistair Darling had agreed to hand over a further £8 billion from the UK taxpayer to the EU as part of the EU-IMF bailout of Greece.
This is on top of the £10 billion contribution we hand over to the EU each year, which is expected to rise yet again following the new round of budget negotiations between the Commission and the member states that will commence shortly.
It will be interesting to see how Nick Clegg's party play this issue, given their fanatical devotion to building an ever more powerful EU and the big cuts the Tories say need to be made early in the lifetime of the new coalition government.
When the Tories announced recently that they intended to cut our relatively small handout to the College of Europe (the institution that trains Brussels bureaucrats) Clegg denounced this and said the contribution should be ring-fenced.
Eurozone member countries are now trying to put together a massive new financial support package estimated to run to €750 billion (£640bn). Some of this will come from the IMF, which Britain also contributes heavily to.
Germany is committed to putting in €123 billion (£104bn) and is facing extra austerity measures at home to pay for the bailout contribution.
This is not going down well with the voters and Angela Merkel's Christian Democrats lost control of North Rhine-Westphalia in the wake of the bailout being announced.
While German and other European voters look on in horror at the scale of the unfolding Greek euro crisis and the implications for those trapped in the eurozone, the European political class are needless to say seeking to use the crisis to centralise even more power in Brussels.
"The Greek case is a potential turning point for the eurozone," says Olli Rehn, the commissioner for economic and monetary affairs.
"If Greece fails and we fail, this will do serious and maybe permanent damage to the credibility of the European Union. The euro is not only a monetary arrangement, but a core political project of the European Union … In that sense, we are at a crossroads."
The Commission is now putting together stricter rules for member states, including "budgetary surveillance" and "reinforced economic policy co-ordination".
Of course, the EU is of no relevance to British politics.
written by Marc Glendening