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Friday, January 25, 2013

Stop me if you think you've heard this one before...

The Director of Open Europe Berlin, Prof. Dr. Michael Wohlgemuth, has dug up this old quote, which has a great deal of relevance for where we're at today. 

It's taken from the third Jean Monnet Lecture delivered in Florence by Ralf Dahrendorf - in 1979 (Dahrendorf was Member of the German Parliament, Parliamentary Secretary of State at the Foreign Office of Germany, European Commissioner for External Relations and Trade, European Commissioner for Research, Science and Education, Member and life peer of the British House of Lords, director of the London School of Economics, Warden of St Antony's College at the University of Oxford and Professor of Sociology at a number of universities in Germany and the United Kingdom...).

Pay attention:
"It is emphatically not the desire of some of the founding fathers to create another superpower; to have as much decentralization as possible and only as much centralization as necessary, is a prescription for a humane society to which many, including myself, would subscribe today."
He continues:
"The policy of the British government is to express its commitment to the Community – which is appreciated – to assure its partners that it does not propose to break the law – which is more than can be said of some others, though it remains to be seen what exactly the British Government has in mind – and to demand a « broad balance » of contributions and benefits. It will be for politicians to try and find out how much room for manoeuvre the notion of « broad balance » allows; at first sight, it certainly does not seem unreasonable. To say that we have to start again in order to build Europe would be wrong; there is much in the acquis communautaire which is worth preserving. But what we need is more than mere adjustments and reformlets; we need a fundamental reappraisal." 
 Then he absolutely hit the nail on the head:
"I have often been struck by the prevailing view in Community circles that the worst that can happen is any movement towards what is called a Europe à la carte. This is not only somewhat odd for someone who likes to make his own choices, but also illustrates that strange puritanism, not to say masochism which underlies much of Community action: Europe has to hurt in order to be good. Any measure that does not hurt at least some members of the European Community is (in this view) probably wrong. In any case it is regarded as unthinkable that one should ever allow those members of the Community who want to go along with certain policies to do so, and those who are not interested to stay out. The European interest (it is said) is either general or it does not exist." 
Full lecture here.

As they say, most things that are being said today, have been said better before...


jon livesey said...

I am always puzzled when someone says we can't have a Europe a la carte, when in fact that is exactly what we do have.

Some nations are in the euro and some not. Some are in Schengen and some not. Some in Schengen reserve the right to reimpose border controls. Some are in EU military structures and some are explicitly neutral.

And it's no mystery why this is. At each stage of enlargement, enlarging was seen as more important than 100% conformity.

But enlargement is only one kind of change. Integration is also a form of change, and it involves negotiation and exceptions, just as enlargement does.

When you are making a change to a body like the EU, the existing members must have a voice, and must be able to negotiate exceptions.

Rollo said...

Of course we can have an a la carte menu, and we do not want any foreigner laying down Delors. We get out of the EU, easily. We maybe monitor EU directives and regulations, and if we were to find one which was beneficial to the country, our Parliamnet could debate it and perhaps pass it into law.

Denis Cooper said...

Indeed much of it has been said before, including the nonsense about "subsidiarity" that Open Europe is now pushing.

Just put ["douglas hurd" "nooks and crannies" subsidiarity] into google,and numerous references come up from two decades ago when the Major government was trying to pull the wool over our eyes with rubbish about "subsidiarity".

For example:


"DOUGLAS HURD, in the middle of capital-hopping to garner support for next week's EC summit, has been warned by some of Britain's partners not to hold the entire Community hostage to the Government's problems with its own 'Euro- sceptics'. The partners have told Britain that its fixation with the concept of 'subsidiarity', or decentralisation from Brussels - which the Government is deploying as a way to placate domestic opponents of the Maastricht treaty - should not be used to arrest or undermine progress in the EC."

"A British official said the Spanish had made clear that 'they don't suffer to the extent we do from a public opinion which is anxious about interference in nooks and crannies' - Mr Hurd's favoured expression to describe an overly meddlesome Brussels."

Same old, same old.