If we want stronger action on the environment, we need to stay within the EU


3:17 pm - September 16th 2013

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by Rosie Magudia

Last Friday, the Green Alliance published their review of the three major political parties’ activity on the environment since May 2010. The “Green Standard 2013” makes disappointing reading for all parties – but for none more so than the Conservatives.

On becoming Prime Minister in 2010, David Cameron said he would lead the “greenest government” ever. He described the existence of a fourth, mysterious minster at the Department for Energy & Climate Change, “who cares passionately about this agenda – and that is me, the prime minister. I mean that from the bottom of my heart”.

Yet despite such reassurances, Cameron’s own Chancellor has repeatedly suggested that environmental progress would compromise a healthy economy. Meanwhile, Owen Paterson, the UK’s Secretary of State and political leader on all things environment, has publicly questioned the reality of human-induced climate change.

However, neither the Liberal Democrats nor Labour have come away unscathed either. The Green Standard describes Labour’s failure to lead upon, prioritise, or even propose credible solutions to green the UK economy.

The Liberal Democrats are portrayed as having “no clear vision for the environment” –a portrait which certainly rings true as only yesterday, the Lib Dems backed a motion to support fracking- a fossil fuel industry vociferously opposed by 1000s of demonstrators nationwide, with 67% of citizens preferring to have a wind turbine near their home than a fracking site.

As extreme weather and energy insecurity bear down on our continent, we need someone to lead us to a better place, fast. While British politicians flag, our EU membership may haul us out of the smoggy darkness. The EU’s record on the environment, while not perfect, is often better than Britain’s record.

From addressing carbon capture, to banning bee-harming pesticides, the EU is providing both a platform to debate these issues, as well as leadership in exploring change.

Let’s take fish as an example. In 2005, the Northeast Atlantic was 95% overfished. Recognising the seriousness of the situation, the European Commission tackled the issue head on through determined fisheries management. Today, the same waters are only 39% overfished.

Concurrently, the European policy governing fisheries has undergone significant, progressive reform; a process frequently led, perhaps surprisingly by Richard Benyon, the UK’s Tory Fisheries Minster. A chance on the world stage allowed him to push for positive change, in a way which he’s failed to do at home, as shown by his desultory progress in establishing only 31 of the originally propose 127 marine conservation zones in UK waters.

The possibility to participate, shape and share a common future on issues such as air quality, weather, natural resources and energy security is one that shouldn’t be overlooked by the debate on our membership of the European Union.

The environment is one issue we’re unable to go alone – we need to be in it to win it.

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Reader comments


1. Richard Carey

Citing the Common Fisheries Policy is not a wise strategy when trying to support EU membership.

What about democracy?

Is the only way to get green policies imposed on people through technocratic institutions like the EU?

Hi Richard Carey – yep, the previous Common Fisheries Policy was certainly compromised. But the reformed CFP (as of 2013), represents a huge, positive change, as agreed by many environmental NGOs.

Rosie,

A post combining environmental action with remaining in the EU… you’re brave!

5. So Much For Subtlety

Meanwhile, Owen Paterson, the UK’s Secretary of State and political leader on all things environment, has publicly questioned the reality of human-induced climate change.

Good for him. Especially as the IPCC begins the long process of walking back from their claims.

only yesterday, the Lib Dems backed a motion to support fracking- a fossil fuel industry vociferously opposed by 1000s of demonstrators nationwide, with 67% of citizens preferring to have a wind turbine near their home than a fracking site.

That is because they have not seen a fracking site.

As extreme weather and energy insecurity bear down on our continent

But can I give you credit for the seamless segue from deriding the Lib Dems efforts on fracking to demanding something is done about energy insecurity. Something apart, it seems, from Britain becoming a major gas producers. It seems to me the Greens have it right – we should do something about energy insecurity – drill, drill and drill again.

Incidentally extreme weather is a nonsense. It isn’t happening.

While British politicians flag, our EU membership may haul us out of the smoggy darkness.

Yes, damn those British voters. If only there was a way to ignore their wishes entirely …..

The EU’s record on the environment, while not perfect, is often better than Britain’s record.

From addressing carbon capture, to banning bee-harming pesticides, the EU is providing both a platform to debate these issues, as well as leadership in exploring change.

So their record consists of being talking shop and considering a few options?

Let’s take fish as an example. In 2005, the Northeast Atlantic was 95% overfished. Recognising the seriousness of the situation, the European Commission tackled the issue head on through determined fisheries management. Today, the same waters are only 39% overfished.

So your great example is that this fishery, after 30 years of EU management was 95% overfished? It has improved over the past seven years, but you know that is probably well within the margin of error for natural fluctuation. In other words, you have no idea if this is an improvement or if the warmer waters of recent times just means more fish. Want to bet it is the latter?

Concurrently, the European policy governing fisheries has undergone significant, progressive reform; a process frequently led, perhaps surprisingly by Richard Benyon, the UK’s Tory Fisheries Minster.

So this improvement was not the work of Greens or the EU, but of British Tories. You know, the ones with such a bad record of achieving much. Interesting.

The possibility to participate, shape and share a common future on issues such as air quality, weather, natural resources and energy security is one that shouldn’t be overlooked by the debate on our membership of the European Union.

Jollies and Jobs for the Boys all around! After all, we don’t want a single NGO to be left out of the Brussells gravy train do we?

The environment is one issue we’re unable to go alone – we need to be in it to win it.

Actually the evidence seems to be that we can only go it alone. The EU is a corporatist nightmare that favours special interests. The environment is not one.

I am not opposed to the EU on principle but the EU as currently constituted can only continue to be a part of the environmental problem. Based on the neo-liberal principles embedded in its foundational treaties it is currently a facilitator of environmental destruction and of course it is those same principles that are, since the 2008 collapse, tearing the whole thing apart and dividing Europe once again into two distinct and opposed power blocs.

What we need is a renegotiated EU based in the principles of socialism and environmentalism. Otherwise both it and the environment are screwed.

The EU should be a federation of sovereign states membership of which requires a commitment to full employment by sharing the available productive work, the minimum of a trade union living wage for all and the development of a democratic and sustainable plan for the continent.

This is sheer EU genius.

“Regardless of whether or not scientists are wrong on global warming, the European Union is pursuing the correct energy policies even if they lead to higher prices, Europe’s climate commissioner has said.”

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/environment/climatechange/10313261/EU-policy-on-climate-change-is-right-even-if-science-was-wrong-says-commissioner.html

@cjcj
From the article that you link: ‘… because a growing world population will put pressure on energy supplies regardless of the rate of global warming.’
I add that it is not just a growing population, it is a growing population with many more seeking a Western European and USA style of living.

@ Greta

Surely then shouldn’t the EU be persuing policies which lead to lower enrgy prices, so more (especiallly poorer) people can enjoy living at the western standard….?

@Tyler
How would that work?

@ Greta

Not persuing policies which deliberately increase fuel prices for a start.

It’s one thing to say fuel/energy prices will increase thanks to increased deemand from a larger population. It’s totally another to increase them directly via cost push measures such as higher taxes or subsidies for so-called “green” energy, then blame it on a larger population.

I do find it amazing that the left can be against rent-seeking in the housing market, or even the energy market (complaining about ever increasing fuel bills and those evil energy companies) then campaign for green energy and the massive subsidies it requires to survive – with those subsidies ultimately coming out of poorer people’s purses to pay rich landowners or large corporates.

If there was going to be pressure on supplies then prices will naturally rise.

No need for the EU to raise them sooner than necessary.

So much for European “rebalancing” towards manufacturing…

@Tyler
But, how will it work?
What would happen if all subsidies for energy were removed along with fuel duty on petrol and diesel?

@ 13 Greta

“What would happen if all subsidies for energy were removed along with fuel duty on petrol and diesel?”

This isn’t rocket science. Prices would come down.

Petrol duty does raise money for the exchequer, but subsidies for green energy are just a cost – either directly from the treasury or out of people’s pockets. You could cut that, and we’d have a few less (pretty uselss for power generation, given they need constant backup gas power) windfarms, but people would save a lot of money.

Gas power is probably the way to go, not least because it burns so cleanly, but thanks to the left/green lobby people are having a hissy about fracking (despite it going on the UK since the 1980′s with no problems) and trying depserately to rule that out – again playing into the hands of rent seeking landowners and power companies.

@Tyler
But what about the subsidies for other forms of energy?
What about the subsidies for energy consumers such as the train companies and bus companies?
What about the Winter Fuel Allowance subsidy for pensioners? – The Tories have slashed the payment so, why not get rid of it altogether?

@ Greta

You’ll notice that most bus and rail companies are now privatised, so the subsidies there aren’t that large any more. The subsidies that do exist tend to be a government decision to reduce a price, on a cost/benefit analysis. For example, what transport subsidies do exist tend to be there to enable people to get to work cheaper and quicker, which boosts GDP as people work longer. Or to get people out of their cars, causing less congestion and emissions etc.

Winter fuel subsidy is purely a political decision and could indeed be cut, but was made to alleivate high energy costs (not least thanks to green energy policies) for the elderly. You could start cutting that if energy prices come down, again by cutting green energy subsidies (given that the WFA is aobut 100 a year, yet green energy subsidies add about 80 a year to the average households fuel bills).

As for energy prices, google the openEI/US DOE database numbers. It’s very comprehensive. You’ll see that the cost per MWh for onshore wind is roughly the same as for gas or coal power….BUT, and this really is the big but….the availability of it (capacity factor) is about 40%, whereas gas and coal are about 85%. Once you factor that in wind is more than twice as expensive – and that doesn’t take into account that when the capacity factor is so low, you need constant backup (coal or gas) generation, further adding to the costs. Making wind power yet more expensive in comparison.

Direct subsidies for other forms of energy are minimal by the way – most of (5.9bn ish) the 6bn the government spends is actually to clean up old nuclear plants from the days of nationalised power generation.

So by all means, stick up loads of wind farms etc, but then don’t question why energy bills skyrocket.

17. Paul peter Smith

So according to the EU (government without a mandate) it doesnt matter what the science says they are committed to fuel poverty in its own right.
Then this article comes along pointing out that the EU itself is crap on the environment, apart from the odd Tory, so lets hand more power to Brussel’s. Because thats the only way to impose their self/human hating ideology without reference to science, democracy, common sense or anything else.
When science favours big, collectivist solutions the EU goes all sciency, when science isn’t so sure the EU ignores it and presses on anyway. And no one thinks this is about the real kind of power not the kind that comes from a windmill (sometimes).
Obviously I’m a conspiracy nut job for even pointing this out, but what would be the correct terminology for someone who wilfully ignores it?

PpS
How, in your mind, does “The EU’s record on the environment, while not perfect, is often better than Britain’s record.” translate into “the EU itself is crap on the environment, apart from the odd Tory”?

I would imagine the UK is on it’s way to being one of the ‘greenest’ places in the world. Less and less industry, fuel prices so high that visiting granny is a rarity, decline in farming, little or no road building. WONDERFUL!

20. Robin Levett

@Peter paul Smith #17:

So according to the EU (government without a mandate)

Unpack this, please; how do you imagine EU legislation gets passed?

21. Paul peter Smith

Happy to Robin
Of the many powerful bodies that make up the EU; council of ministers, commision etc, the weakest one is also the only one we get to elect – the parliament. The rest are appointed. But thats only really a minor point compared to the question,
When did we vote on joining a political union?
Am I the only one that thinks its cute of both Labour and the Tories to talk about offering us a referendum,LOL, I’m still waiting for the New Labour manifesto (1997 I recall) promised one.
Or did you mean a different kind of mandate?

22. Robin Levett

@Peter paul Smith #21:

Of the many powerful bodies that make up the EU; council of ministers,

Made up of ministers from democratically elected national governments.

commision

Nominated by democratically elected national governments, confirmed in office by the EU Parliament.

etc, the weakest one is also the only one we get to elect – the parliament.

…which has final say on legislation and the Commission. If Parliament says no, there is neither Commission nor legislation.

Insofar as there is a democratic deficit, it is because democratically elected national Parliaments insist on it.

The rest are appointed. But thats only really a minor point compared to the question,

When did we vote on joining a political union?

In 1972, following elections in which mebership of the EEC was a clear manifesto issue, our democratically elected Parliament under a Tory Governemnt witha m mandate for this purpose passed the European Communities Act 1972 which provided for our accession to the EEC and other communities.

In 1975 we had a (constitutionally “innovative”) referendum on the subject, which was won resoundingly by the “In” camp. There was no secret made in the referendum campaign of the effect of an In vote; that it was an irrevocable step, and that the EEC, as it then was, was as much a process as an institution; the phrase “ever closer union” is in the original Treaty of Rome. The “Out” camp made a lot of noise about this, and lost. I remember thinking at the time that this was the first step toward a United States of Europe. This wasn’t a new idea: that the EEC would eventually become a USE was standard currency from just after the Second World War – Churchill, although he saw the UK remaining outside, expressly envisioned this in 1946.

The idea put about by the historical revisionists in UKIP that 1975 was a vote purely on membership of a free trade area is terminologically inexact, to be polite; Farage certainly won’t remember it, he was 11 at the time.

Since then, every 5 years or less we have had free elections to Parliament, which has ratified each successive step in the evolution of the EEC to the EC to the EU.

So the answer is: on any number of occasions, how many depending on how you define the question.

23. Paul peter Smith

I define it very simply, no vote ever on an explicit yes/no over political union.
I was old enough to vote in 1975 and voted ‘in’, because a European common market really is an excellent idea, both in terms of trade and mutual security. The referendum was never sold to the public as a first step to a U.S.E. Those were the fears of most of the in camp and were met with continual dont worry noises. Like ‘dont worry, there would have to be a separate referendum for political union’. I recall that one being knocked out as late as the eve of Maastricht.
Claiming a specific mandate from buried manfesto promises is pretty thin Robin, if manifesto’s were ever honoured the electorate may occasionally take them seriously. Your a legal man, does a manifesto constitute a contract in law? I’m hoping the answer will be yes so I can spend my twilight years bringing nuisance law suits against both main parties.

Paul peter Smith
The Labour Manifesto of 1997 did not contain a reference to a referendum on the EU.
The Labour Manifesto of 2005 stated that there would be a referendum on a ‘Treaty Establishing a Constitution for Europe’ however, France and the Netherlands voted against the Treaty and the Treaty was abandoned.

25. Paul peter Smith

Ceiliog
I stand corrected on the particular manifesto, but it alters the fact we haven’t had one – how?

Paul peter Smith
The Labour Party explained that as the Treaty on which they promised a referendum was abandoned there was no obligation to hold a referendum on the Treaty. I have no idea if the Labour Party had drafted the wording of the referendum.
There was a two period of reflection.
In 2007, Germany, holding the EU Presidency at the time, issued a declaration of intention to form a new treaty and, after much debating and voting, the Treaty of Lisbon became effective on the first day of December 2009.

27. Robin Levett

@Paul peter Smith #23:

I define it very simply, no vote ever on an explicit yes/no over political union.

What do you mean by “political union”? To my mind, to the extent that we have “political union” now, it was envisioned in 1972, let alone 1975. What wasn’t provided for at the time?

I was old enough to vote in 1975 and voted ‘in’, because a European common market really is an excellent idea, both in terms of trade and mutual security.

If you were old enough to vote in 1975, you’ll remember that we had been in a common market – EFTA – before we negotiated membership of the EEC.

Claiming a specific mandate from buried manfesto promises is pretty thin Robin, if manifesto’s were ever honoured the electorate may occasionally take them seriously.

Oddly, manifestos have always been the way the electorate knows what a political party proposes to do if voted into power. There is no tradition of referenda in this country; certainly there has never been any principle whereby any given area of legislation has to be subject to referendum. The 1975 referendum came about because the Labour Party was hopelessly divided over Europe; the AV referendum because it gave the Tories an alibi for stabbing the LibDems in the back over constitutional reform.

28. Paul Peter Smith

@ Robin Levett
“Oddly, manifestos have always been the way the electorate knows what a political party proposes to do if voted into power.”

Is your argument that the electorate is bound in some way to the entirety of a party’s manifesto, even though a party can cherry pick from its manifesto promises and forget the tough nuts/outright campaign lies? And if manifestos are the primary means by which the electorate choose to give a mandate, should a government be allowed to introduce major, pre-planned legislation that it left out of the manifesto?

So to return to my question, are manifestos legally binding contracts? Because that would mean that anyone taking part in the democratic process did indeed give a clear mandate to those elected and the expansion of the European project.
If they are not then no mandate can be assumed!

” There is no tradition of referenda in this country; certainly there has never been any principle whereby any given area of legislation has to be subject to referendum.”

There’s no tradition of giving up sovereignty without a fight either, until the 20th century there was no tradition of universal suffrage, until the 1940′s there was no tradition of universal free health care.
Tradition is not always a good reason not to do some thing.

@Paul peter Smith #28:

Is your argument that the electorate is bound in some way to the entirety of a party’s manifesto, even though a party can cherry pick from its manifesto promises and forget the tough nuts/outright campaign lies?

I don’t think that’s what I’ve said, is it?

I think what I’ve said is that political parties tell the electorate what they [intend/want the electorate to think they intend] to do if elected into office by means of their manifesto. The elctorate then votes. If by some mischance that party then actually fulfils a manifesto commitment, then the electorate can’t say “but we never voted for that”; because they did vote for that.

As an aside, this is one of the things that is deeply dishonest about the whole UKIP Little Englander schtick; they complain that the process by which we’ve got to where we are in Europe is undemocratic, but promise to take us back to the golden age of Parliamentary democracy, whereby that process is wholly unexceptionable.

I still don’t know what you mean by “political union”, by the way…

30. Paul Peter Smith

Robin Levett
The “is your argument” bit was poorly phrased I should have put ” are you inferring”. As my understanding of your post was that you deemed manifesto promises as fair warning, which would be the case if there was any reciprocal obligation on the part of the elected. My argument is the absence of reciprocity makes them meaningless other than as a way of scoring the relative dishonesty of each party.

My definition of Political union is what we’ve got now, at risk of sounding like Bloopers Bloom, what’s NOT united about top down ‘management’ of every aspect of our daily lives by a partially elected, extra national body. And more importantly, what’s NOT political about that particular body?

I’m certainly not a little Englander and as I stated, was and remain pro common market specifically and against European wars generally. But we have been sold an ever changing version of Europe by the bullshit class and they know it, why else would they keep bleating about a referendum?

31. Robin Levett

@Paul peter Smith #30:

And what about what we’ve got now was not known at the time of the 1975 referendum? The system is actually more democratic now than it was then; the European Parliament is now directly elected, and has been since 1979.

@PPS and Robin regarding manifesto ‘commitments’.

A manifesto comprises three main elements:
* general statements about the character and philosophy of the party; words about who they are and where they derive ideas, reflecting current economic and world circumstances.
* lists of explicit policies which ‘will be delivered’ or ‘will be worked towards’; in theory, policies are coherent with the general statements.
* nasty words, politely or disagreeably expressed, about other political parties and their aims.

I *think* that PPS and Robin agree that parties are not bound by policy lists, limitations which are unrealistic in multi-party governance (Lib-Lab pact as well as Lib-Con coalition, say). There is also a relatively new (?) consensus about major legislation which requires that it was ‘in a manifesto’, if not ‘in the manifesto’.

So when considering ‘commitments’, we should be thinking about how parties behave with regard to their general statements. We’ve got 40 years’ worth of party manifestos to examine (for the masochists) and it would take until the next General Election to study them in detail.

I’ll presume that there is a general acceptance that, for the last 20 years, the approach towards EU of the mainland UK parties with MPs has not changed significantly. But the world has changed an awful lot. Aside from saying that ‘it was an inevitable clusterfuck’, I’m unaware of consideration of a UK role (if any) concerning Euro failure and recovery. It is insufficient to disregard it as ‘not our problem’ because UK is a trading nation which requires economically active trading partners.

My gut feeling is with PPS. I too believe that the EU is a top down structure and I don’t know whether an MEP has ever changed anything. On the other hand, I know that UK civil servants and politicians have interpreted EU rules bizarrely, very differently from our neighbours. By zealousness, literalism or cussedness. Perhaps tax payers should pay for holidays to learn the Gallic or Catalan shrug?

Aside from handbag swinging to get financial rebates, UK is not very good at working within the EU.

If the mainstream parties go into the next General Election with the same old EU policies, or approach to European affairs, UK is up the creek.

If fuel is provided for anti-EU movements, UK is further up the creek. UK would become a member of EEA but without a voice in decision processes.

33. Paul peter Smith

@ Robin Levett
If, in 1975, there had been the slightest hint that johnny foreigner would be demanding that rapists and murderers be given the vote, the UK’s involvement in the European would have ended the same day.

34. Paul peter Smith

Cont….(bloody phone!)
That example is a bit ‘Daily Mail’ I know but illustrates the everyday reality of EU membership. People quite like the ease of travel/job opportunities and the fact that inter-European warfare has been outsourced to the Champions League.
What they hate most is cultural domination by a distant, unaccountable elite. Which is what we ended up with and were specifically told would not happen by various politico’s.

35. Paul peter Smith

@ Charlieman
I couldn’t agree more that the UK is terrible at playing the Euro club game and yet simultaneously amongst the most gung ho at applying the letter of EU law. We will be richer and safer in a close relationship with Europe than going it alone, which is why UKIP are bothering me more than they should. The arrogance of the EU and general shifty, ineffectiveness of the main party’s re the EU is really winding people up. Enough for the cast of ‘one flew over the cuckoo’s nest’ to look like a credible party. How many protest votes have gone to UKIP in Euro elections in an effort to wake up Labour and the Tories? (sorry Mr. Farage but I’m sure in your heart you know thats why you win elections sometimes). UKIP are not going to win anything at the next election, they could be just handed it on a plate.

33. 34. Paul peter Smith
Probably more than a “bit Daily Mail”. Voting rights for prisoners is a matter between the UK Courts and the European Court of Human Rights. The ECHR is separate from the EU.

35. Paul peter Smith
UKIP is the 2nd largest British Party in the EU so, it is hardly surprising that the UK does not have a sufficient number of MEPs who are prepared to sit down, debate and get the best deals.
The Tory MEPs are just as bad – They’re usually up to things like touring the USA rubbishing the NHS.

One of the poor decisions made regarding EU elections was to abolish area constituencies and replace them with regions.
We now have a situation where electors vote for a Party rather than a named candidate.
The Party vote system, coupled with apathy, results in poor turnouts.
In poor turnouts, fringe Parties benefit.

38. Robin Levett

@Paul peter Smith #33:

If, in 1975, there had been the slightest hint that johnny foreigner would be demanding that rapists and murderers be given the vote, the UK’s involvement in the European would have ended the same day.

It’s a very good job that johnny foreigner has never made that demand then, isn’t it?

In any event, what conceivable relevance does a decision by the ECtHR under a convention written by British Civil Servants to export the genius of the British Common law to johnny foreigner have to do with the EEC or EU?

39. Robin Levett

@Charlieman #32:

There is also a relatively new (?) consensus about major legislation which requires that it was ‘in a manifesto’, if not ‘in the manifesto’.

Note very new at all. The Salisbury doctrine, governing the circumstances in which a Conservative-dominated House of Lords felt it appropriate to seek to frustrate the legislative will of the Commons, goes back to 1860. There’s a very good note in the Lords’ library on the topic:

http://www.parliament.uk/documents/lords-library/hllsalisburydoctrine.pdf?bcsi_scan_6ff3f37d49d6906c=8+YbDEYgahXHWmEA1BMKkfYLzt4cAAAAZAaNEA==&bcsi_scan_filename=hllsalisburydoctrine.pdf

Money quote:

That is the convention that the House will not oppose legislation for which a government with a majority in another place have a mandate; that means in practice that the House does not seek to vote down a manifesto Bill at second or third reading. Like the noble Lord, Lord Shackleton, I am an unashamed supporter of the doctrine. It is not merely true that it has served the House well. It has, I think, become essential to our parliamentary system.

The theory behind this expression of the principle is that a commitment included in the Governmen’s manifesto is taken to be the will of the people, and hence that the Lords have no mandate itself to frustrate it. The country had the opportunity to vote on the proposal, and approved it.

@36. Ceiliog: “Probably more than a “bit Daily Mail”. Voting rights for prisoners is a matter between the UK Courts and the European Court of Human Rights. The ECHR is separate from the EU.”

There is nowt simple about ‘Europe’, whether it by judiciary or executive.

The European Convention on Human Rights is distinct from the European Court of Human Rights. The Convention founded the Court. The Convention raises standards; the Court interprets them.

The Council of Europe (a wide organisation) encompasses all of the EU, EEA and *most* of the EFTA countries. All Council of Europe countries subscribe to the European Convention on Human Rights — so that is all of the EU, EEA etc. Consequently, countries are subservient to the European Court of Human Rights.

Should the UK wish to exempt from considerations of the European Court of Human Rights, UK has to remove itself from EU, EEA etc.

I might suggest the EFTA relationship of Greenland as an example. If it works for 56 thousand people, why not try it for 56 million people.

I am cautious enough that I would not try that experiment.

41. Robin Levett

@Paul peter Smith #34:

What they hate most is cultural domination by a distant, unaccountable elite.

Again, explain what you mean. What “cultural domination”? Which “distant, unaccountable elite”? The Commission, accountable to the Euro-Parliament? The Council of Ministers, made up of ministers accountable to their respective democratically elected legislatures? Or the Euro-Parliament, accountable to the respective national electorates?

Yes, the structure of the EU is top-down, because the Euro-Parliament has no power to initiate legislation; the UK Parliament has never been prepared to agree to that. But the Euro-Parliament’s assent to Euro-legislation is *required*.

And Europan legislation has overriden national legislation, in the EEC/EU’s areas of competence set out in the treaties to which its constituent nation’s governments agreed, from the very beginning. Denning delivered his “incoming tide” judgment in 1974.

42. Paul peter Smith

@ Robin Levett, Ceiliog
I used the daily mail example slightly tongue in cheek but I now realise it was more apt than I thought. As you both rightly point out the ECHR wasn’t an EU creation, it sprang from the loins of the EU’s warm up act, the council of Europe.. The founding of which was hailed as the seeds of ‘ a United States of Europe at its founding, but it never had the impact desired so we get version 2.0. A conspiratorial mind might see the council and ECHR as essential precurser’s for the Euro project, but I couldn’t possibly say.

43. Robin Levett

@Paul peter Smith #42:

I used the daily mail example slightly tongue in cheek but I now realise it was more apt than I thought

I think you mean “less apt”.

You got the content of the decision massively wrong. You also got the context of the decision wrong. And now you get the context of the decision-maker wrong.

@39. Robin Levett: “Note very new at all. The Salisbury doctrine, governing the circumstances in which a Conservative-dominated House of Lords felt it…”

I intentionally placed a question mark in my thoughts. And whilst it is pertinent to recall the Salisbury doctrine, I don’t think that all governments (or opposition) have subscribed to it.

45. Robin Levett

@Charlieman #40:

I might suggest the EFTA relationship of Greenland as an example. If it works for 56 thousand people, why not try it for 56 million people.

I am cautious enough that I would not try that experiment.

We tried the EFTA experiment between 1960 and 1972. We left to go into the EEC. (BTW, Greenland isn’t in EFTA).

This of course is another area where UKIP is dishonest; the claim that all the British people voted on in 1975 was membership of a free trade area.

@41. Robin Levett: “The Commission, accountable to the Euro-Parliament?”

According to Wikipedia, an untrusted source by me too: ‘The European Commission (EC) is the executive body of the European Union responsible for proposing legislation, implementing decisions, upholding the Union’s treaties and day-to-day running of the EU.’

Somewhere in the fusion of tongues, we learn that the Commission is responsible ‘for proposing legislation’.

Who proposes legislation? Are they the same people who execute it?

45. Robin Levett: “BTW, Greenland isn’t in EFTA”.

Fair enough. I was using Greenland as an example of a nation outside EU etc which strives for independence whilst being an EU trader. And I comprehend that Greenland, a nation oppressed by notorious imperialist Danes, seeks to be more than the place where Danes send their fools to grow up.

The OP basically says: if you want what I want environmentally, support a largely unaccountable EU commission, because nation-state democracy won’t deliver the green’s agenda….Crudely, and in a word, this is eco-fascism.

@48. Ceiliog: Thank you for the link to:
http://www.europarl.europa.eu/aboutparliament/en/0081f4b3c7/Law-making-procedures-in-detail.html

The section ‘Own-initiative reports’ is both illuminating and obfuscacating.

‘In the areas where the treaties give the European Parliament the right of initiative, its committees may draw up a report on a subject within its remit and present a motion for a resolution to Parliament. They must request authorisation from the Conference of Presidents before drawing up a report.’

So MEPs are sometimes allowed to do something useful, within constraints, but they must ask first.

51. Paul peter Smith

@ Robin Levett #41
‘distant elites’
The Euro parliament is the only effectively accountable part of the ‘distant elite’, in theory we can vote them out. The Commision and the Council of Ministers are not directly accountable to me. Yes they are political appointments that are theoretically accountable somewhere down the food chain but in effect the electorate have no direct means of disaproval barr rioting. If every Uk euro seat went to UKIP they wouldn’t even be able to slow the ship let alone change its direction. But whoever achieved this imaginary majority would find that the entire electorate of the UK had the political clout of an annoying fringe party. So why let increasing elements of policy be decided by a body which you can only influence by agreeing with it and hoping you can slip a few of your pet ideas in.
Seems pretty distant and elitist to me.

@Charlieman #44:

I intentionally placed a question mark in my thoughts.

Hence my response. It wasn’t intended to be snarky.

And whilst it is pertinent to recall the Salisbury doctrine, I don’t think that all governments (or opposition) have subscribed to it.

They pretty much all have since 1860 – the note I cite is pretty comprehensive. The general point is that Governments are considered to have an electoral mandate for manifesto commitments.


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