WHILE YOU WERE SLEEPING....
INTEGRATION POWERS ON...
Apart from the Budget shock - keeping up the tradition of giveaways in the quiet period just before Christmas, many will have been lulled into thinking that the Presidency was 'uneventful'.
They could not be more wrong.
Writing in the Spectator, 26.11.05, Times journalist Anthony Browne noted creeping EU control in areas such as:
Browne cannot be considered an 'arch-sceptic', as he believes in 'pooling sovereignty' (sic) in some areas. For him, what has been happening has been too much. He felt that the government should at least 'openly debate' the powers being given away to the EU
Christopher Booker noted Britain and other EU countries moving to close down embassies abroad and replace them with the EU's emerging 'diplomatic service' - without waiting for the Constitution to be ratified. (D. Mail, 10.12.05). Booker has written extensively about the EU's Galileo satellite with its tracking capabilities.
New Labour dropped 'British' for 'National Rail' and renamed HMSO as 'The Stationery Office' on a weak excuse. Now it appears the 'Britannia' 50p coin was dropped for 2005; with an uninspiring 'Johnson's Dictionary' replacement. We tried to ring the Royal Mint to confirm the position but they were on extended holiday.
Minting another 'EU Presidency' coin, as they did in 1998, might have made the public more vigilant, though....
July's London bombings gave the UK EU Presidency an excuse to promote 'action against terrorism'.
Home Secretary Charles Clarke warned MEPs that a failure to act on terrorism, security and immigration issues would damage the EU's standing among citizens. (The Register website, 13.7.05)
He told the parliament that French and Dutch referendum rejections of the EU constitution were, in part, due to citizens fearful of terrorism and immigration. "I am absolutely certain that some of those results were because we are not doing enough in these areas" he said.
The UK was echoing the same line as Commission Vice-President Frattini:
"... security is, in the Commission's view, the appropriate response to build the new consensus for Europe."
European Commission President Barroso arrogantly claimed: "The fight against terrorism is at the top of issues where citizens wish a stronger European dimension."
The EU might face a backlash from voluntary groups after its thoughts on making non-profit organisations (NPOs) register - fund-raising rights may be conditional upon this and there might be a compulsion to use bank accounts for all transactions.
NPOs might have to ensure that no funds are spent on 'terrorist' purposes or 'other criminal abuses' - but of course it won't involve 'bureaucracy' !!!
'EU grants' might be made available to complying NPOs - however the fact that strings are currently attached to grants might ensure that they are prevented from saying anything that gives the EU a bad name or working against the EU's interests. (document refs: COM(2005) 620 final, 13851/03/rev4).
Never mind the EU's record on grants to groups like the Palestinian Authority, which have seen demands for investigation... not to mention the EU's leaky accounts where billions remain unaccounted for, year after year.....
Population tracking will also rise in 2006 with the proliferation of roadside cameras that'll read vehicle number plates (Independent, 22.12.05).
Over the period 2004-14, the UK e-Borders programme will gradually track passengers by air, sea and rail (and internal flights?). Everyone will be 'profiled' as possible terrorists, smugglers or 'other criminals'. The data will be used in 'intelligence-led policing'.
We uncovered a UK Presidency blueprint for a 'European Criminal Intelligence Model', 'intelligence-led policing' - with Europol centrally storing and analysing data, which would 'increase the effectiveness of Europol and other EU bodies. Although e-Borders seems a UK initiative, Privacy International (4.7.05) notes links to the 'European Council Declaration on Combating Terrorism' and Directives. The Home Office is looking at charging passengers fees to cover its costs.
The Charter of Fundamental Rights was part of the rejected EU Constitution. However Document COM(2005) 172 effectively insists that its provisions must be reflected in all new EU legislation. It insists upon: "... a methodology for ensuring that the charter is properly implemented in Commission proposals." (S. Telegraph, 16.10.05)
New laws (all of them) will be subject to "systematic and rigorous monitoring" to ensure that they comply with the charter, the document reveals. The EU is never one to miss a 'right' to legislate, which could be disastrous for our industrial relations.
TRY-ON OF THE PRESIDENCY:
"The EU Arrest Warrant 'protects the rights of defendants' - UK Presidency website.
It doesn't - no evidence is needed for extradition.
Deputy PM John Prescott held a Bristol Presidency meeting on 'sustainable communities'. His 'European Evidence Review' document (6.12.05) sanctimoniously claimed that it was 'important' to protect 'valued natural areas'. However, the house-building blitz favoured by his regional bodies has been condemned as 'unsustainable'.
A Cambridge Evening News letter (2.11.04) quoted independent report concerns on a planned regional development: ("serious negative impacts on water resources, tranquillity, air quality, recreational access and congestion...and the risk of increased flooding") were being ignored to get ODPM's proposal through. It concluded that the Regional Plan consultation was a sham.
A report on ODPM plans for Essex led County Council Leader Lord Hanningfield to claim a bill of £13Bn for council tax payers for new facilities to support the homes - in a worst-case it would take 100 years to make up the shortfall at current spending levels, although there would be some contribution from whatever new council taxpayers chose to move in. (Essex Enquirer, 6.10.05).
An end-of-Presidency report shows various moves to whitewash the EU ('Plan-D', Europe Direct; see also document 15576/05). The terms of grants to promotional organisations bar any initiative that is "directly or indirectly contrary to EU policy", so don't bank on both sides of the story being told.
The Commission is hoping to enlist film stars, sportsmen and other celebs as 'goodwill ambassadors' to improve its image with 'EU citizens'. However when asked if he would get involved in promoting the EU, 'Bridget Jones' star and Oxfam activist Colin Firth immediately refused!
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This page updated: 1 January 2006