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The Surrender to Europe, What We Give Away

November 1st, 1989

A letter to the Editor of The Field magazine which was published in November 1989.

It was written in answer to a letter from Martyn Bond, Head of Information Office, European Parliament, London, SW1. This followed an article by Professor Bush published in The Field in their August 1989 issue which you can find in the Papers and Articles Section.

Mr Bond wrote in his letter: “The Single European Act was not ‘smuggled through the British Parliament despite the misgivings of the Prime Minister’. It was approved by 319 votes to 160. The Prime Minister herself voted in favour.”

Mr Bond also wrote: “Professor Bush asserts that ‘many decisions in the Council of Ministers are taken now on the basis of one country, one vote’.  In fact, fewer are now taken on this basis than in the past, and more are taken on a weighted basis, according to a key unanimously agreed by all member states and ratified.”

Mr Bond also wrote: “Professor Bush asserts that ‘Britain’s trade with Sweden, a non-EEC member, and theirs with Germany is as free as Britain’s with Germany’.  This is nonsense, as repeated attempts by other members of EFTA to become full members of the EEC have shown including Austria’s current application.”

Mr Bond also wrote: “He [Prof Bush] continues, ‘None of the improvements in our manufacturing industry in the last few years owes anything to the EEC entanglement, any more than Germany’s industrial renaissance did.’ Both assertions are false, ignoring the importance of markets (potential demand) in investment decisions. More representative and well-informed sources (CBI and Bank of England) argue a case opposed to Professor Bush’s in their surveys and reports.”

Stephen Bush replied:

If Mr Bond had cared to consult some of his fellow countrymen up and down the country in April to July 1986, he would have found that few would have ever heard of the Single European Act which was passed through Parliament in that short time.  Contrast this with the exposure given to the current Health White Paper.

Readers will have appreciated that the weighting in the European Parliament I referred to was by countries, and to repeat – seven countries with a combined population of 51 million have around 134 seats to Britain’s 81 for a population of 57 million.

Virtually all of the tariffs on industrial goods in trade between European Free Trade Association (EFTA) members and the EEC were abolished on 1 July, 1977.  In 1988, per head of population, Sweden exported £440 worth of goods to Germany, while the UK exported £170.  Sweden has a policy of not joining the EEC.

Markets are an essential feature of investment decisions, but I deny that the power-hungry European Commission and Parliament are needed to supply this ingredient.  Product quality and market knowledge are the overriding factors as the success of Japanese goods testifies – despite the barriers that were erected against them by the EEC.

Rather than rely on blind faith about the EEC I prefer to use my eyes.  While 85 per cent of our colossal manufacturing trade deficit (about £14 billion in 1988) is with the EEC, our trade with our single biggest customer, the USA, is fundamentally in balance, in fact £2 billion in surplus in 1987.  Whatever ‘informed opinion’ in the CBI may tell Mr Bond, its own members invest most of their overseas capital in North America, not in the EEC.