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(en) UK, Freedom, May 2004 - B-EUtiful Or EUseless?

From Worker <a-infos-en@ainfos.ca>
Date Sun, 16 May 2004 19:41:49 +0200 (CEST)


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Ten new countries have joined the EU, and Tony Blair has
agreed to call a referendum on a proposed EU constitution.
Cyprus, Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta,
Poland, Slovakia and Slovenia joined on the 1st May, possibly to
be followed by Croatia, Romania, Bulgaria and Turkey in 2007.
EU documents also mention a desire to expand further, taking in
every eastern European state (including Russia), parts of North
Africa and the Middle East. These plans are tentatively envisaged
to happen within the nest 20-30 years.
It is thought that the influx for this year will make the 'Old' EU
states £6 billion, with £15 billion being made by the
newcomers.
The new constitution meanwhile is being pushed hard by Blair as
a good thing (he has ordered his party to vote for it), despite an
approval rating of just 42 per cent in recent polls, the second
lowest in the EU.
Both of these issues have been hyped as history-making because
they affect the EU 'bloc', that half-mythical beast that hangs over
all our lives. But what is the European Union all about? Is it a
positive or a negative thing?

What it does

The remit of the EU is massive. First envisaged by Hermann
Goering as the European Economic Community and ratified in
the 1951 Treaty of Paris, its laws and agreements cover trade,
environment, employment, foreign policy, immigration, border
control, drugs and terrorism to name but a few.
Upon its founding the EU accepted the Human Rights Act,
which nominally guarantees various rights for all EU citizens
(such as the right to privacy).
In much the same way as the American constitution, the HRA
was written with altruistic notions, which has allowed some
victories for groups such as prisoners, who can take human rights
cases to the EU court with some hope of success even if the UK
system lets them down.
However, this altruism did not spill over into the EU's economic
laws and policies in quite the same way. Although measures such
as the Maximum Working Week have had a positive impact on
many people's lives, others clearly favour big business over
people.
Recent measures include:
- A ruling by the European court of Justice in March that
corporations can changed their official addresses within the EU
for free. This is likely to mean that big companies paying 30 per
cent corporate tax in Britain can move for free to Estonia which
hasn't got a tax at all. It will also mean that corporations will
much more easily be able to shut up shop in Britain and relocate
to countries where workers receive lower wages.
- Setting up 'Europol', an armed body of police who are 'immune'
from the law. Files on undesirables are kept and can contain up to
56 different types of information on each suspect.
- A series of measures allowing police to read confidential emails
without permission.

How it's run

The EU is split into several sections. One is the European, where
MEPs voted in by the public check and vote on new treaties and
measures. Second is the European Commission, a group of MEP
appointed bureaucrats who draft the laws which are to be
discussed. Third is the Council of Ministers, the main decision
making body, headed by a president who is rotated every six
months and run by a selection of unelected ministers from each
state. Fourth is the Central European Bank, an institution holding
most of the member state's gold reserves, who handle and
apportion the vast quantities of money. They are also unelected.

Trust

In effect three of the most powerful bodies in the EU are
unelected, but according to many the parliament is just as bad.
The population of Europe currently stands at 450 million people
across 25 states. European elections are the most underattended
in Britain, meriting a mere 18 per cent turnout.
These are the bodies we are currently reliant on for much of our
law and economic policy making. They are not based in the UK,
they aren't elected by the UK. Even for non-anarchists it must
seem a bit far-fetched that it is designed to help us.
The only non parliamentary groups able to wield power in
Brussels and exert pressure are big businesses and accepted
institutions, and they are talking to a series of political bodies with
even less reason than most to care about local issues.
It is partly as a result of this that economic policies such as the
notorious Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) continues to go
from strength to strength, despite the estimated cost to
consumers of an extra £1,000 per person every year.
The various bodies are so badly policed that fraud now takes
between $4-6 billion a year from the EU's coffers, money taken
originally from our taxes (we pay on average £450 per person to
the EU). Rather than deal with the problem, a vote last week
absolved European Commissioners of all responsibility for
departmental failures by a vote of 515 to 88 in the European
Parliament.
The referendum, when it happens, looks likely to be fought on
the issue of trust - whether we, the public, feel we can trust the
EU leadership to run our lives from offices across the channel.
Given the evidence, Freedom would argue no.

Visit our forum debate and vote in the enrager.net poll on our
forums here:
http://www.enrager.net/forums/viewtopic.php?t=1609
This article taken from .
http://www.freedompress.org.uk


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