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Europe: why do we endure a nightmare?

December 3rd, 1989

A letter to the Sunday Telegraph which was published on 3rd December 1989.

I am not sure where Robert Jackson (Letters, Nov. 26th) gets his information about Germany, but as a recent visitor to West Germany I can say the Press and magazines are full of the prospect of reunification.

He seems shaky on the “philosophical basis” of the EEC, which was designed and still operates fundamentally as a system of war reparations by Germany to France.  Its basis is about as incompatible with the Anglo-Saxon way of government as anything could be.

The basis of the majority of the EEC’s pronouncements is the Single European Act (SEA), which is an enabling Act, a form of legislation abhorrent to our tradition, but completely in line with Continental practice.  It was after all the enabling law – Gesetz zur Behebung der Not von Reich und Volk – democratically passed by the German Parliament which was the legal foundation of the Hitler regime.

It is the claim that the SEA covers transport, health, education, etc which enables the EEC Commission, in its view, to issue to our government detailed instructions on matters which in our parliamentary tradition would have to be agreed individually and separately.  The problem posed by German reunification is not our crisis but France’s, whose policy of using German economic power as a prop to its own pretensions is now in ruins.  For us, the suggestion by Mr Andriessen, the Dutch EEC commissioner, that we should resume membership of an EFTA linked to the EEC in a wider European Economic System (EES) with all the Single Market freedoms, though derided by the Foreign Office, renders us everything we could possibly want.

While Germany unifies and draws closer to Russia, and France, Italy and Spain enter some form of Latin federation, we will be free to resume our position as a founder member of the Society of English speaking nations and that expanding society of nations outside Europe who have English as their language of business, industry and technology.

We would be excluded from EEC inner councils – but so what?  We shall also be excluded from the Common Agricultural Policy, from an annual levy likely to reach £3 billion in a year or so (removing which reduces our balance of payments deficit at a stroke), from artificially high food prices, affecting particularly the poorest, from the absurd hyprocrisy of Italian commissioners complaining about our water quality, from an Irish commissioner telling us, a great nation, what we can and cannot do with our industry, and so on.

In short we shall be excluded from a nightmare and wonder why we ever endured it for so long.