In the Daily Telegraph today, Boris Johnson says there is no deception. The EU is open about its plans to force us into an EU superstate. Wanting things to stay as they are now not an option.Boris begins: “We make at least one fatal mistake in dealing with our beloved friends and partners in the European Union. And that is that we persist in the delusion that they do not really mean what they say.
Every so often the hierarchs of Brussels publish a manifesto or programme, sketching out the route map to further integration. They set out their ambition in black and white – to create a monetary union, a political union, a social union: in essence, to take a load of disparate countries and to try to fuse them into one, with common citizenship and loyalty to a “European” idea.
Oh come off it, we say. It’ll never happen – it’s just the usual old windy Euro-rhetoric. I well remember how we reacted to the news that they wanted to create the euro – with a sort of benign incredulity. I have just re-read former Prime Minister Sir John Major’s famous article in The Economist, in 1993, in which he poured scorn on the very text of the Maastricht Treaty: “I hope my fellow heads of state and government will resist the temptation to recite the mantra of full economic and monetary union. If they do recite it, it will have all the quaintness of a rain dance, and about as much potency … The plain fact is that economic and monetary union is not realisable in the present circumstances.”
Sir John was by no means alone. Across the political spectrum, people scoffed at the idea. It defied common sense that a one-size-fits-all monetary policy would be imposed on such divergent economies as Germany and Greece. Well, the sceptics were confounded: they did go ahead with the euro – and a thoroughgoing disaster it has proved .
Now EU chiefs are struggling to remedy the defects in that project, and they have produced a report explaining what they want to do. It is called the “Five Presidents’ Report”, and it came out last year and got rather buried in the aftermath of the general election. History teaches us that we would be mad to ignore this text. The five presidents in question are those of the European Commission, the Council, the European Parliament, the European Central Bank and a body called the “European Stability Mechanism”. They want to prop up the euro by creating an all-out economic government of Europe.
They want a euro-area treasury, with further pooling of tax and budgetary policy. They want to harmonise insolvency law, company law, property rights, social security systems – and there is no way the UK can be unaffected by this process. As the Five Presidents put it: “Much can be already achieved through a deepening of the Single Market, which is important for all 28 EU member states.” So even though Britain is out of the euro, there is nothing we can do to stop our friends from using “single market” legislation to push forward centralising measures that will help prop up the euro (or so they imagine), by aligning EU economic, social and fiscal policies.
Insofar as the recent “UK Agreement” has any force, it expressly allows these measures to be pursued, and agrees the UK will not attempt to exercise a veto. In other words we will find ourselves dragged along willy-nilly, in spite of all protestations to the contrary. So-called “Single Market” measures affect us as much as they affect the eurozone – and the question therefore is what we mean by “Single Market”. The answer is a mystery – because the single market has changed beyond recognition.
Twenty years ago there was a clear conceptual difference in the EEC between things that were done at an intergovernmental level – between member states, without the Commission, the Euro-parliament and the Court of Justice – and things that were part of the “single market”. Foreign and defence co-operation was done intergovernmentally, and so was anything to do with police, or justice, or borders, or home affairs, or asylum, or immigration, or anything to do with human rights. Then there were all the fields of EEC competence: the common trade policies, the common agricultural policy, the competition policy, environment policy, and so on.
Since Maastricht, that has all changed. Successive treaties have vastly expanded the areas in which the EU bodies operate so that there is virtually no aspect of public policy that is untouched. The EU now takes an interest in energy policy, in humanitarian aid, in education, in health, and in human rights of all kinds. There is a common European space policy. All of these policy areas involve the European Commission, the parliament, and above all the European Court of Justice. And remember – as soon as something enters within the EU’s field of competence, the Luxembourg Court of Justice becomes the supreme judicial body; and every time that happens, power is sucked away from this country.
We have seen recently how the Home Secretary has lost the power to deport murderers, or to conduct surveillance of would-be terrorists, because that might put the UK in breach of the European Charter of Fundamental Rights. What has that got to do with the “Single Market”, you may ask, and the answer is nothing at all. But any clever lawyer can easily blur the boundaries: it is a short hop from a common policy on free movement of workers to a common policy on deporting terrorists.
The idea of the Single Market has become so capacious that it is a cloak for full-scale political and economic union. We now have up to half our law coming from the EU (some say two thirds); and if the Five Presidents get their way, the process of centralisation will simply continue – much of it in the name of the “Single Market”. It’s time we learnt the lesson. The federalists do mean it when they sketch out these programmes. The ratchet is clicking forwards. When you come to vote, the status quo is not on offer.