The Treaty of Rome – the founding document of what is now the European Union – opens with the declaration of the signatory heads of state that they are “determined to lay the foundations of an ever closer union amongst the peoples of Europe”.
For those who were old enough to have voted in the 1975 referendum and who complain that they told that the EEC, as it was then, was merely a trade agreement, need only to look at this declaration, on page 3 of the HMSO version. A broader hint it would be harder to conceive, as to the true intentions of the organisation that has now metamorphosed into the European Union.
In actually, we have become members of an organisation which is “determined” on political union, its eventual destination a United States of Europe, of which the current institutions – with or without further modification – are the building blocks of its supreme government.
The essence of this organisation, as it currently stands, is that it is based on a supranational structure, meaning that its institutions are above – as in superior to – its members states.
The Commission has the monopoly of proposal over all but a tiny fraction of EU law, which means that no new law can be created, and no law can be repealed, without its agreement, and that law takes precedence over the laws made by member states. The Commission has the power to fine members for non compliance or non-performance, and the European Court of Justice is the supreme arbiter of the law, making it superior to all the courts in all the member states.
All of this we are expected to tolerate for the “privilege” of being able to trade with the other member states on preferential terms – something which other nations are able to do without having to be subordinate to the EU institutions.
Moreover, the rest of the world is able to arrange and manage trade cooperation in an equitable fashion, without resorting to supranational structures, which are replicated nowhere else in the world. Instead, other countries rely on intergovernmental cooperation, which has spawned dozens of organisations and institutions, the sum total of which are facilitating and managing global trade on a far larger scale than is the European Union.
It is our view that the British Government which took us into to the EEC in 1973 made a fundamental mistake in opting for membership of a supranational organisation, when more amendable (and ultimately more efficient) intergovernmental mechanisms were available – and still are to this day. They should not have taken us into such an organisation, where our objective was to promote trade, and its objective was political union.
It is this fundamental mismatch which is responsible for most of the tensions between the United Kingdom and the rest of the 27 member states that form the Union. These tensions can only be resolved by the UK leaving the EU and negotiation a new, different relationship based on intergovernmental cooperation.
In this, there are no half measures. The EU remains committed to pursuing political union, and even if it were to undertake reforms, it would not change its nature – it would remain a supranational organisation, which is not compatible with the maintenance of a Parliamentary democracy.
Therefore, we have no option but to leave the EU. This referendum gives us the opportunity to correct the historic mistake made by past governments in negotiating our entry, in taking us into the EEC and then in approving and ratifying additional treaties – for which they had no popular mandate. We fully support all endeavours to work with our European neighbours, but not on the current terms. We, the free people of the United Kingdom, seek cooperation, not subordination.
The choice offered by David Cameron will be a choice between that same subordination or the road to democracy. He will offer us associate membership or a close approximation. While superficially attractive, it offers no real solution to the fundamental problems a supranational entity creates and marks no real shift in our relationship with the EU entity.
Nothing he can offer changes the nature of the EU and he can make no guarantees about the destination of our continued membership. We have a better vision and a plan to take us there. The obvious choice is to leave.
The views expressed in this article are that of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Conservatives for Liberty