Friday, 23 May 2008

Like an 'invisible hand'

Europe's power is easy to miss. Like an 'invisible hand', it operates through the shell of traditional political structures. The British House of Commons, British law courts, and British civil servants are still here, but they have all become agents of the European Union implementing European law. This is no accident. By creating common standards that are implemented through national institutions, Europe can take over countries without necessarily becoming a target for hostility. Europe's invisibility allows it to spread its influence without provocation.” Pro-euro author Mark Leonard

The quotation above might sound like something out of a conspiracy theory. But Mark Leonard, a passionate advocate of deeper integration, makes an astute observation. The EU now has powerful influence on our everyday lives. But as a result of the way EU legislation operates, it is often not clear to either voters or even journalists when a particular decision or policy originates in the EU.

Domestic legislation often is actually a “shell” for the purpose of implementing European law. Leonard is indeed right to argue that “Europe’s power is easy to miss”. And often, even if EU legislation has not wholly determined a particular decision, EU law has had important influence on policy-makers and officials.

Take the Lisbon Treaty. By far the most common question asked is:“how will this affect our daily lives?”

The answer is that the Lisbon Treaty reduces Britain’s ability to block legislation. It would allow the EU to pass more measures which affect people’s everyday lives.

The end of the veto over energy would let the EU pass its Oil Stocks Directive, which would cost a household of four £130 per year. It would be harder for the UK to block rules affecting what rights people have at work, or stop the Health Services Directive, which will affect how the NHS Budget is spent. It would mean, as the Government admits, that many more asylum cases will be decided by the European Court of Justice, rather than in Britain.

In other words, it will massively affect people’s daily lives. The Westminster consensus that people don’t care about the EU is wrong. The truth is that the EU’s critics and the media have failed to explain just how much power the EU really has.

The EU and You
How the EU affects everyday life in the UK

No comments:

Post a Comment