Wednesday, 11 November 2015
We don't get the best because our MEPs don't turn up to vote.
When you're in the parliament, you have a fairly good idea in advance which way various parliamentary groups and nations are going to vote. If you know you are going to lose a vote hands down, it's not worth the trip.
More to the point, the European Parliament is not like our parliament. It's a rubber stamping house for whatever's put in front of it. These will be motions put forward by the Commission, the substance of which will already have been written by one of the many global regulatory agencies. For sure, the parliament has more powers than it did, but MEPs cannot propose any law of substance, nor can they instigate an amendment to, or repeal an existing law.
As a rule EU law doesn't work like that anyway. It gets superseded rather than amended. To get law like that changed you need to be in at the top of the chain with more national involvement in the consultation process. This surprisingly good report from The Morning Star shows just how far we are marginalised in that process. We are marginalised at the global level and our own officials describe in this post that this is not a good thing for anybody.
The European parliament is only part of the law making process and not central to it like our own is for domestic laws. Given how much is already decided by the time it reaches the European Parliament, you'd probably find me with my feet up in a Strasbourg bar were I an MEP. Though not the same one as Nigel Farage.
So we need to reform it!
We can't reform it in any useful sense. We still have only 8% of the available vote in the parliament and no real power of veto in the Commission so we are structurally outnumbered. If we want to better laws then we need to be in at the top tables where the laws are made. We are gong to see some major reforms of the EU, but it is written into the DNA that the EU does our trade deals (and a great deal more) for us and so our influence is limited - and shrinking all the time. More so as the EU takes on new member states.
The EU is based on the principle of surpra-nationalism - ie the euro-elties have supreme authority. It is not based on intergovernmentalism where everybody gets a voice, a vote and a veto. The only real way to secure that for us is to leave the EU and engage at the global level. The EU is never going to be a democracy no matter how many reforms we make.
Kippers often complain that "Brussels bureaucrats" are unelected. It makes no difference. Even if they were elected, it still wouldn't be a democracy. Democracy basically means empowerment of people. When the entirety of the British people can be overruled by a judge, elected or not, it's still subjugation and subordination. A lot of the time the EU is right, but when it isn't, the results can be catastrophic.
We need to engage with the EU to get the best from it!
The fact is, we do engage with the EU. But the process is slow. Ultra slow. So much so that we don't get round to implementing global agreements on things like environmental regulations specifically because they are still held up by the EU machine. Moreover, if we want to change things we have to go to Brussels and ask nicely rather than going to the top table and making demands. Sometimes we can plead all we like, but if Brussels says no, their word is final.
We will see in the near future some carefully choreographed political theatricals designed to make it look like Britain has influence - but it's all just for show. The EU is doing it's bit to help Cameron keep us in the EU. Cameron's trips to China and India are all just for show too. The EU calls the shots - and Cameron does as he is told.
So why have I never heard of any of these global organisations then?
You'll find that quite a few MEPs have never heard of them either. Pick on Ukip MEPs all you like but in reality they are all a bit thick. They'd only really come across these standards bodies and regulatory agencies if they actually read the regulations they were voting on. They don't. Partly the reason why is because there's bugger all chance of changing them, and largely because of the way they are written. You have to be a little bit weird to sit down and read revision texts to regulations on VHF radio equipment aboard North West Atlantic icebreakers - or some equally arcane text.
MEPs take a lot on the trust of their advisers and in most cases that tends to be family members, friends and whoever else they can get on the gravy train. It's not just Ukip. They all do it. I know a few - some of them as about as thick as our MEPs are.
More to the point, the EU doesn't WANT you to know about it. You've heard the rhetoric about "we need to be at the top table" - and the euro-elites need you to keep believing that the EU is the top table. You won't hear anything about this law making process in the media because they consider the global conventions and "summits" to be foreign news, and again, the minutia of regulating laundry equipment at sea is not nearly as entertaining as the biff-bam drama of Westminster. Put simply, our media doesn't really bother to report on the real law making process. Our domestic politics is reported as light entertainment, largely because it is.
There's another good reason the EU is in no hurry to advertise the role of these bodies too. It wants the people of Europe to love the EU. They crow about how they have made flights cheaper and regulated plastic bags and cut roaming charges for mobile phone users, but these are just three small examples of the EU taking credit for what are global agreements. And like I say above - the EU very much delays the implementation.
If I'm entirely honest, I used to spout all the same crap as Ukip about Brussels making 75% of our laws until it was pointed out to me that there is a whole universe of lawmaking that sits above the EU. At first I didn't quite believe it, but then someone pointed out to me that the reason Australia was able to get a mutual recognition agreement with the EU for its own safety, food, automotive and industrial regulations is because the regulations come from exactly the same places.
The truth is, we're never going to get a good deal out of the EU and we're never gong to get what we want from it. The process leads to procrastination, delay and indecision. Sometimes with murderous consequences as we have seen in the Mediterranean over summer. To get the best for Britain we need to be thinking about the global single market and getting back in at the top tables.
Brexit doesn't mean we stop cooperating with the EU. It just means we have a choice when we don't want to. We can join any number of coalitions or trade associations at the top tables so the EU (or China) doesn't bully us. Start looking into the UNECE, the ILO, the IMO and the myriad of virtually anonymous organisations that shape the world we live in. When you do, you'll arrive at the same conclusion I did. The EU is a middleman, not very good at what it does - and largely obsolete! It's not just a twist of rhetoric when we Brexiteers say we want to go global and pull out of "little Europe". It's all 100% true and we means it.