Saturday, May 15, 2004

European Union

Sorry have not got much time but a combination of the Euro sceptics in my History class and the A Europe for Citizens: Our Role conference, which I attended last Saturday with Mark, convinced me to punish you with this rant.

The New Politics Network’s conference A Europe for Citizens: Our Role last Saturday attracted some high quality speakers, including Stephen Byers MP (Labour), Will Hutton (Work Foundation), Richard Corbett MEP (Labour), Lord Maclennan (Liberal Democrats), Jean Lambert MEP (Green), Richard Balfe MEP (Conservatives), Andrew Duff MEP (Liberal Democrats) and many others.

Having never heard most these people speak I have to say that I was impressed by almost all of them but my highlight had to be Lord Maclennan (Liberal Democrats) who’s work on issues relating to the British constitution never fail to impress me. I was also impressed with Will Hutton (Work Foundation) and Richard Corbett MEP (Labour) although Richard Corbett MEP did seem to interrupt everyone during the Where now for Britain and Europe? debate.

Stephen Byers MP delivered his speech very well but then again when does a New Labour Politician do bad job of a speech. He spoke about how pro-Europeans had to take the message of Europe to the wider public (I totally agreed) but then instead of going on and emphasising what we should be telling the public about Europe he finished which was very disappointing. With the BBC News camera crew there he had a great chance send a message out to the wider public but like most politicians of the day he stopped.

The European Union is a way of tackling shared problems (environmental issues, international terrorism etc), upholding shared values such as liberty and equality, settling disputes between traditionally fractious neighbours and applying the rule of law to agreements that have been entered into.

During a debate on Britain’s membership of the European Economic Community and the European Union the euro sceptics in my history class started arguing that the European Union was undemocratic because un-elected officials make decisions in Brussels. This is not true because The European Parliament is directly elected; its 626 Members are elected every five years under a system of proportional representation. The Council of the European Union (formerly known as The Council of Ministers) is made up of government ministers from each Member State and these governments would not participate if they did not have the consent of their citizens. The European Commission (made up of Commissioners appointed by the Member States governments/parliament) and does not make any law. It just proposes laws for the European Parliament and the Council to agree, amend or reject, oversee the implementation of EU policies and the budget, enforce European law (jointly with the Court of Justice) and represent the EU on the international stage, for example, in trade negotiations.

Sorry but unfortunately cannot continue with this for now but I will come back to it later.


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