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Heath's EEC Deception - Page 4
However it is presented, entry to the Community will mean major change. It is natural and inevitable that this should he disliked and resisted by many. Even though the “loss of sovereignty” may be limited to fairly precise areas of Government and Parliamentary powers and be without significance for the lives of most of the country, still the phrase conjures up a spectre of major and uncontrollable change and of adjustments that will have to be made which are deeply disturbing. “Loss of Sovereignty” may be a euphemism for fear of’ change and of the unknown.
(iii) Remoteness of the Bureaucracy
It is generally acknowledged that in modern industrialised society the impersonal and remote workings of the Government bureaucracy are sources of major anxiety and mistrust. The operations of democracy seem decreasingly fitted to control the all-embracing regulatory activities of the Civil Service. In entry to the Community we may seem to be opting for a system in which bureaucracy will be more remote (as well as largely foreign) and will operate in ways many of which are already determined and which are deeply strange to us. This bureaucracy is by common consent more powerful than compared with the democratic systems of the Community than is ideal. Yet the way to remedy this balance without reducing the Community to a mere standing association for negotiation between national Ministers is by strengthening the Community’s democratic processes which in turn means more change and more “loss of sovereignty”.
(iv) National Power
As explained in paragraph 6 above, questions of power and influence have a close popular connection with ideas of sovereignty. The British have long been accustomed to the belief that we play a major part in ordering the affairs of the world and that in ordering our own affairs we are beholden to none. Much of this is mere illusion. As a middle power we can proceed only by treaty, alliance and compromise. So we are dependent on others both for the effective defence of the United Kingdom and also for the commercial and international financial conditions which govern our own economy. But this fact though intellectually conceded, is not widely or deeply understood; instinctive attitudes derive from a period of greater British power. Joining the Community does strike at these attitudes: it is a further large step away from what is thought to be unfettered national freedom and a public acknowledgement of our reduced national power; moreover, joining the Community institutionalises in a single, permanent coalition the necessary process of accommodation and alliance over large areas of policy, domestic as well as external. Even though these areas may be less immediately relevant to survival than defence, as covered by NATO, the form of the Community structure and the intentions explicit in the preamble to the Treaty of Rome emphasise the merging of national interests.
What clearly emerges from this is the patronising attitude of the writers. The “mere” public is actually not able to consider “technical” issues and is really against joining the EEC because “Abroad is hell and foreigners are fiends”.
But particularly perspicacious is the view on “bureaucracy”, the writers observing:“This bureaucracy is by common consent more powerful than compared with the democratic systems of the Community than is ideal. Yet the way to remedy this balance without reducing the Community to a mere standing association for negotiation between national Ministers is by strengthening the Community’s democratic processes which in turn means more change and more ‘loss of sovereignty'”.
It acknowledges three things: (i) that the EEC is an inherently bureaucratic organisation and, by implication, is not democratic; (ii) that it is not “an association for negotiation” and therefore is not a “cooperative venture of independent equal sovereign units”; and (iii) involves a loss of sovereignty, which will intensify as attempts are made to make democratise the “Community”. Undismayed, the authors continue:
16. We do not suggest that these issues of public concern have any necessary connection with the technical meaning of sovereignty, but the debate hitherto has been conducted on two levels. On the one level there have been legal arguments defining the implications for external and Parliamentary Sovereignty of accession, implications which are important but have been found politically acceptable. On the other level we believe that argument about loss of sovereignty couched in more general terms has elicited a strong response because of the anxieties about national identity, power and change outlined above.
What is chilling here is another acknowledgement, that the implications for sovereignty “have been found politically acceptable”. Were we told this? I think not.
With that, however, the authors change tack, to deal with the future development of the Community. They write:
17. The account presented of the implications for sovereignty of membership has up to this point dealt with the Community as a static institution. Its effective role now centres upon, though it is not limited to, the Common Agricultural Policy and the Common Commercial Policy based on but now going beyond the Common External Tariff. The Council of Ministers continues to be dominated by tradeoffs between national interests and the principle of majority voting has been side-tracked. The European Parliament exercises little control over the processes of the Community while the Commission though committed to the “deepening” of the Community is hamstrung by the difficulty of reaching agreement on major policy in the Council of Ministers
They then conclude:
18. That the Community within its present limitations should present little challenge to national sovereignty is perhaps inevitable;
This is fair enough, but now the real agenda is laid bare. This is not a Common Market. The authors write:
…but it will be in the British interest after accession to encourage the development of the Community toward an effectively harmonised economic, fiscal and monetary system and a fairly closely coordinated and consistent foreign and defence policy. This sort of grouping would bring major politico/economic advantages but would take many years to develop and to win political acceptance. If it came to do so then essential aspects of sovereignty both internal and external would indeed increasingly be transferred to the Community itself.
Here it is naked in tooth and claw – the prospectus for political integration, including a single currency a common foreign and defence policy. It “may take years to develop and will political acceptance”, the FCO opines, and sovereignty “…would indeed be transferred to the Community”.
“If such a development took place”, they write:
19. …then over a wide range of subjects (trade, aid, monetary affairs and most technological questions) Community policies toward the outside world would be common or closely harmonised. Although diplomatic representation would remain country by country its national role would be much diminished since the instructions to representatives would have been coordinated among member states. By the end of the century with effective defence and political harmonisation the erosion of the international role of the member states could be almost complete. This is a far distant prospect; but as members of the Community our major interests may lie in its progressive development since it is only when the Western Europe of which we shall be a part can realise its full potential as a political as well as economic unit that we shall derive full benefits from membership.
The conclusion, unwritten, is self-evident. The F&CO is entirely at ease with the “far distant prospect” that we should lose our sovereignty since it is only then “that we shall derive full benefits from membership”. Their only problem is that this “far distant” prospect is now upon us and is far from gaining political acceptance.
It is a measure of the F&CO, however, that its authors write: “Such positive development…”. In that single phrase is their ambition revealed. They continue…
20. …of the functions of the Community could probably only take place with concomitant development of the institutions of the Community. It is hard to envisage the necessary decisions being taken under the present organisation of the Community; more effective decision-making at Community level would either require majority voting on an increasing range of issues in the Council or stronger pressures to reach quick decisions by consensus. In either case the role of the Commission would become more important as the Community became responsible for the regulation of wider areas of the internal affairs of the member states and this would in turn increase the need to strengthen the democratic institutions of the Community, including perhaps a directly elected Parliament. In that event the development of a prestigious and effective directly elected Community Parliament would clearly mean the consequential weakening of the British Parliament as well as the erosion of “parliamentary sovereignty”.
Here, qualified majority voting is predicted, with a directly elected European (Union) Parliament, both of which developments would mean “the weakening of the British Parliament” and “the erosion of parliamentary sovereignty”. The FCO knew exactly what it was doing, and exactly what to expect.
And, with more chilling prescience, they observe:
21. The process outlined is an exceedingly long-term one, and depends upon the continuing progressive development of the Community. For a very long time – almost certainly until the end of the century – the major member states would retain the practical “last resort” political possibility of succession (albeit in probable breach of international obligations and with increasingly damaging economic consequences for the defector). So long as the member state’s participation is subject to national scrutiny and can in practice be withdrawn, it may be said that the nation’s status as an equal and independent state in the international community will be unaffected. Parliament’s power will likewise survive; if Britain can in practice renounce the Treaty then the Community laws which are applied automatically within the member states are seen to depend upon the continuing (and pre-eminent) acquiescence of Parliament which may in the last resort be withdrawn.
22. Even with the most dramatic development of the Community the major member states can hardly lose the “last resort” ability to withdraw in much less than three decades. The Community’s development could produce before then a period in which the political practicability of withdrawal was doubtful. If the point should ever be reached at which inability to renounce the Treaty (and with it the degeneration of the national institutions which could opt for such a policy) was clear, then sovereignty, external, parliamentary and practical would indeed be diminished.
…sovereignty, external, parliamentary and practical would indeed be diminished. What more needs to be said, other than we are now at the end of the century?