Wednesday, 6 June 2007

Dear John … The Euro Haggling Has Just Begun

On 31 May, the well-versed European correspondent of the Guardian, John Palmer, criticised the awkward tactics of the British position in her persistent haggling with the dominant pro-European visionaries – this led him to call for the end of “Euro haggling.” In his commentary, Palmer criticises the British refusal of a “consensus agreement among its EU partners”. His claims are, on the whole, erroneous.

I could not pull Mr. Palmer from his general framework, as I am aware that it seems to be so firmly entrenched within such a disturbing European ideology that it blinds a fuller analysis from grasping the overwhelming public disaffection with further European integration across Europe – such as the rejection of the Constitution in France and the Netherlands and the public calls for referendums on further integration across the Member States.

In particular, he loathes the situation that “we now have the grotesque prospect of a Labour government – yes a Labour government – campaigning for the charter [of Fundamental Rights] to be excised entirely from the treaty. All of this is justified by ministers in muttered terms about "changed political circumstances". What they mean is that they have an understanding with the proprietors of The Sun and the Daily Mail etc not to whip a new euro-phobic, anti-treaty jihad among Tory MPs.” To be honest, this analysis gravely misconstrues the issue and offers an undemocratic assessment of the current process.

The decision over the Charter is not about reaching an understanding with the proprietors of The Sun – it is about whether human rights issues should be governed by the laws of Brussels or Westminster. (And may I remind Mr. Palmer that it is still the demand of this country that Westminster laws and institutions should take precedence over those of Brussels). Those like Mr Sarkozy who are now seeking to sign up to the Charter of Fundamental Rights as a declaration are now doing so under the erroneous belief that a “declaration” will not have the force of law. Yet, as Bill Cash declared in The Times: “…evidence from eminent QCs to the European Scrutiny Committee has made it clear that the European Court would still construe any such declaration as being a matter for the European Court, taking ‘precedence over those by national judges.’” A declaration on the Charter would therefore have the force of law. Thus, the case for rejecting the Charter of Fundamental Rights – as a principle and as a part of the Constitution – must be repudiated by all political parties. The decision over the Charter is not about reaching an understanding the proprietors of The Sun – it is about the battle to prevent Europe taking legal and political authority over British law and government. That is why even our very own dreaded and occasionally-democratic Labour government might be looking to remove the Charter.

Of course, Mr. Palmer’s wishes for the enforcement of an EU legal personality, and to further legitimise the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR), would be a death knell for national sovereignty. John Reid’s earlier remarks on national security – which have made it clear that British government needs to reinterpret parts of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) – are a significant step towards redressing the current failures of human rights in meeting the needs of national security in the UK. The incorporation of ECHR into UK law via the Human Rights Act (HRA) of 1998 is, in actual fact, a major obstacle to public security in the UK. We need to opt out of ECHR, not promote it. The Human Rights Act of 1998, which allowed for the enforcement of the ECHR, needs to be repealed so that Britain may control her own affairs.
A call for the end of Euro haggling is therefore misplaced, since the true Euro haggling must continue.

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