Star Trek: First Contact, 1996
Invasion of the Body Snatchers, 1956
The United Kingdom (UK) has consistently been the most critical and reluctant participant in the European Union (EU), with good reason for disenchantment. While other member states may quibble over the details of the EU, the grand vision of creating a 'United States of Europe' is not widely shared by the British people. This is probably because the fears and fallout from the Second World War which led to the formation of the EU were experienced differently by the UK. The UK did not suffer invasion, dictatorship or revolution and its democracy and national institutions survived mostly intact, unlike those of many other European countries. Yet, the general public in the UK have little idea of the true extent to which the EU now controls their lives at local, national and international levels. Superficial notions of benevolent cooperation between nations, ease of trade, and convenient travel or study within Europe bear little relation to the stark reality: that the EU has relentlessly and insidiously grown into an authoritarian superstate, labyrinthine in its structures and operation, grossly inefficient, prone to fraud and corruption, and only weakly democratic. Its complexity has bred a huge, and often self-serving, ruling elite of politicians and bureaucrats with remarkably limited accountability to the mere citizens of member states. As a supranational legal entity, the EU has already acquired many of the trappings of a nation-state, including its own legislation, foreign ministry, military capability, and the authority to sign treaties in its own right. It is now trying to grab the few remaining vestiges of power only available to "real" countries, notably the means of raising direct taxation and the ability to declare war. In the UK we pay dearly to feed EU expansionism: the UK is about £190 billion per year, or £520 million a day, worse off because of our membership of the EU. The average household in the UK is being ripped off to the tune of £7,000 every year. Basic EU "club membership" costs the UK £54 million per day gross, or around £30 million net when our rebate, subsidies and other EU-approved repayments are taken into account.
Unfortunately, our own ignorance of the EU and complacency towards its irreversible influence have encouraged the euro-elite to become increasingly arrogant and disdainful of national sovereignty and self-determination. Complacency also infects our elected representatives, who are more and more often career politicians with limited experience of other fields of work and with a tendency to hedge their political convictions and lazily acquiesce to the EU hegemon. As most legislation now comes from the EU to be rubber-stamped by Westminster, Members of Parliament (MPs) have less to do and their number could surely be reduced. But costing three times more than MPs, at £1.8 million per year each, come Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) who are feather-bedded by an exceedingly generous remuneration package of salary, pension and expenses. For this reward, MEPs debate ineffectively, rarely influence EU decisions, and are subject to less scrutiny and accountability than members of a normal national legislature.
The EU's political aspirations are entwined with its ambitions for financial power, predicated on the great hope of a single European currency, the euro (€). However, the euro was founded more on integrationist political dogma than sound economic principles, and it is now promoting strife, not unity, between the more prosperous north of Europe - especially Germany - and the heavily indebted south. Huge bailouts have been needed to keep euro debtor states such as Greece, Italy, Portugal, Spain, Cyprus and Ireland afloat. The EU's abject failure to effectively control illegal mass immigration has exposed Europe to huge security risks, especially from Islamic terrorism, and has greatly aggravated the existing assimilation problems with migrants. Led by Germany's Angela Merkel and using majority voting, smaller EU member states have been bullied into accepting mandatory quotas of mostly Muslim migrants. The largest majority are economic opportunists; only a small minority are genuine refugees fleeing the Syrian civil war.
Prior to its current dangerous involvement with Ukraine, the most politically outrageous act of the EU surely took place in 2011, when it took desperate measures to defend the eurozone of member states using the euro. The EU elite engineered coups d'état in Greece, the birthplace of democracy, and Italy, another ancient centre of Western civilisation, to stem the debts of the two countries. Democratically elected governments were removed and replaced with technocratic governments, headed by a banker in Greece and a former EU commissioner in Italy, the latter leading a cabinet composed entirely of unelected figures. Paralysed by economic terror, other member states stood by and watched these two democracies being emasculated by the EU elite, itself unelected, in ways which would be considered as acts of war at other times. Since the fall of the USSR, Russia has given up control of over 700,000 square miles of territory; the EU has gained control over 400,000 of those square miles. A large part of the remainder lies within Ukraine and the EU has aggressively set its sights on bringing Ukraine into its fold, tempting with an 'Association Agreement' and financial bribes as well as actively encouraging the overthrow of a democratically elected president (Yanukovych), much to the Russians' chagrin. The EU's needs also trumped democracy in Portugal, where the president refused to appoint a left-wing coalition government even though it secured an absolute majority in the Portuguese parliament and won a mandate to reject the austerity regime imposed by the EU and IMF.
Please read on, digest the facts and information provided, and then decide for yourself whether the advantages of EU membership can possibly outweigh the disadvantages for the United Kingdom.
The European Parliament was born 22 years after the EU itself, an afterthought to try and lend some democratic legitimacy to the legislative juggernaut already rolling along. The centres of power in the EU have not shifted much since, as the Parliament's authority is limited in comparison to national legislatures. Voter turnout declined steadily at every election to the European Parliament until 2014 when it stabilised. A drop of a third from the first election to the most recent indicates public apathy about the Parliament, despite its power increasing over that period. There are wildly different participation rates among member states, discounting those where voting is compulsory. For example, turnout in Slovakia was just 13.0% in 2014, compared with 74.8% in Malta. Turnout in the UK has been consistently low, but now it is only a little worse than the last EU average (see chart). The weakness of the electoral mandate obviously questions the legitimacy and relevance of the relatively toothless Parliament. Roman Herzog, former German president, wrote in May 2014:
Referendums are the only other way in which some EU citizens have been asked their opinion on EU issues. 20 member states have held a total of 36 referendums, but 8 states, representing almost 41% of the EU population, have never given their electorates the chance to participate. This further widens the EU's 'democratic deficit', especially considering the length of time which the EU has been in existence and the profundity of the issues at stake. To make matters even worse, only 3 states - Ireland (with 9 referendums), Denmark (with 6) and France (with 3) - have accounted for half of all the referendums held. The EU average turnout for referendums is a little over 65%, with 64% voting in favour of the result sought by the EU. This represents approval by only 42% of the electorate on average in the states which have held referendums. In the UK, which has only held one referendum in 1975, no person under the age of 56 years has ever had an opportunity to directly vote on an EU issue, despite numerous broken promises by politicians of all shades and opinion polls consistently showing demand from a majority of voters.
The final nail in the coffin for democracy in the EU comes from the rejected Constitution and its phoenix, the Treaty of Lisbon. By deliberate design, a 'self-amending' clause was introduced, allowing the euro-elite to change the treaty incrementally and grant themselves more powers at any time and in any area of the EU's activities. This avoids the hassle of the EU having to propose a new treaty and the inherent risks of some member states seeking opt-outs or facing the wrath of recalcitrant voters in referendums. At the same time the measures in the Lisbon Treaty are irreversible, so they cannot be rescinded or removed. With the treaty to end all treaties finally ratified, the opportunities for the electorate to exercise their vote in fresh referendums will be greatly reduced or even extinguished in many member states. Further doubts are raised by the treaties permitting more use of Qualified Majority Voting (QMV) by the Council of the European Union in its decision-making. The EU itself has said that "extending qualified majority voting is vitally important in an enlarged Union where unanimity will become ever more difficult to attain". This may expedite EU business, but can lead to misbegotten deals and coalitions as individual member states try to avoid being outvoted, isolated or downright bullied on an issue of importance to them. The full force of the Lisbon Treaty was felt from November 2014 with QMV deciding 44 areas of importance. This represented a massive transfer of power to the EU, as the UK lost its right to veto legislation which is against our national interests. The House of Commons Library blog tried to rebut this conclusion.
Some commentators on the EU have gone so far as to say that if the EU applied to join itself, its application would be refused as it does not meet the democratic criteria it demands of its members.
The EU has been content to allow the 'European Union' to become synonymous with 'Europe' but it is so wrong to compare the homogenised leviathan of the EU with the great tapestry of peoples, cultures, languages, styles, tastes, and of course histories, which really defines the continent of Europe. It is entirely reasonable to be pro-Europe, to love and respect the diversity of its countries and their peoples while being sceptical or critical of an artificially imposed EU superstate with limited democratic accountability. There is no need to be confrontational or isolationist in our relations with European neighbours, as we can welcome trade agreements, cooperate to reduce cross-border crime, protect the environment, etc while still honouring the freedom and sovereign self-determination of individual states. It is being neither small-minded nor parochial to be able to discern that, when a nation is stripped of its own laws, economy, defence, foreign relations, agriculture, fishing and so on, what remains is at best a colony, or at worst, a theme park.
Through its economic might and political clout within the EU, Germany now has an unassailable influence over the destiny of Europe which Charlemagne, Napoleon Bonaparte, Kaiser Wilhelm II and Adolf Hitler could only have dreamt of. (The extent to which this dominance has actively been sought or forced by circumstances is another debate.) More than any other member state, Germany has profited economically, politically and morally from the EU and the euro, including the euro crises, which counter-intuitively have actually saved Germany money. Some facts to ponder about Germany: it has the largest economy and largest population in the EU, and it is the largest exporter of goods to other countries in the EU, with such exports being worth €626 billion in 2012, double those of other large competitors. Its economy is about equal in size to the 20 smallest EU economies combined, and is around one and a half times the scale of its nearest EU competitor. While Germans may resent the profligacy of southern EU states, they seem to accept that "better a German euro than no euro at all".
In its sole referendum concerning Europe held in 1975 the UK electorate voted to stay in the 'Common Market', but most people had no idea they were ultimately voting to create a supremacist European superstate at the cost of our own national sovereignty. The vote was swung by the then Prime Minister, Labour's Harold Wilson, claiming that a successful renegotiation of the UK's terms of accession had been achieved. History has shown that this renegotiation was largely illusory and much more to do with domestic political spin. This shoddy precedent and more recent failures by the Blair, Brown and Cameron governments to stick to their word on EU policy (recall Cameron's "cast-iron guarantee" of a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty in 2007) have further eroded trust in politicians and left the public sceptical and even cynical about any new renegotiation of membership terms. This resulted in a significant surge of support for the UK Independence Party (UKIP) with consequent knee-jerk reactions from other parties driven to preserve their political turf rather than by a sincere intent to confront EU power. The government's review of the balance of competences - "an audit of what the EU does and how it affects the UK" - was little more than a sop to the electorate and eurosceptic MPs. Its reports reined in controversy and as apparently intended, they concluded and proposed little of any significance.
At first sight, it would seem reasonable and feasible that certain powers could be repatriated from the EU to a member state through friendly but firm diplomacy. The reality is that this would be a negotiating feat unprecedented in the history of the EU; the EU has never relinquished powers in this way before. Its treaties are deliberately binding and irreversible, and can only be changed with the unanimous consent of all the EU's member states. This would be very unlikely if one member state was going back on what had been previously agreed and perceived to be cherry-picking directives and measures to its own advantage. Powers, once ceded to the EU, "frankly are un-negotiable" according to Sir Stephen Wall, a former UK ambassador to the EU. Member states have previously won opt-outs and deferrals from legislation or treaties of the EU during the original negotiation process, not retrospectively after treaties have been ratified. Some powers, such as regaining the right to conclude international free trade agreements, can only be repatriated by completely leaving the EU (invoking Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty). There is longstanding resentment towards the UK for having its EU budget rebate and more opt-outs from EU policy than any other nation. Coupled with a fear that reopening treaties could lead to a fragmentation of the EU club and interrupt its mantra of "ever closer union", any serious request to repatriate a power would be strongly resisted, with other member states demanding their own quid pro quo. If a country unilaterally breaks its treaty obligations, the EU can issue unlimited fines to member states via the European Court of Justice until the rules are followed.
After months of posturing, the UK's Prime Minister, David Cameron, finally agreed a "reform deal" with the EU to enable him to call a referendum on the UK's membership of the EU. He set the bar for reform so low, and conceded defeat on achieving treaty change so soon, that his resultant deal is extremely trivial. Temporary tinkering with migrant benefits and restating what the EU should have been doing anyway will hardly regain our sovereignty. Furthermore, the deal is not yet legally binding and could still be scuppered by the European Court of Justice and/or the European Parliament. Reform of the EU remains a fallacy.
The scandal of the EU's Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) extends well beyond Europe's borders: its most shameful effects are felt in the Third World. Agriculture provides only 1.8% of the EU's economic output, but it can account for a large fraction or even the majority of the wealth of many poor developing countries. The most sustainable way for these countries to tackle poverty is to export their produce in free trade. However, exporting to the EU is inhibited by the CAP and its triple whammy of: subsidising farmers to over-produce commodities within the EU, thus stifling demand for imports from outside; imposing high import duties on products from developing countries, making them uncompetitive compared to subsidised products from the EU; and subsidising EU farmers to export their excess production, dumping it on Third World markets at less cost than local produce. These policies also contribute to mass economic migration from developing countries. Despite flashy gestures of foreign aid, for every €1 given to Africa, the EU's protectionist policies take away up to €7 in thwarted trade.
Led originally by the French and now enthusiastically endorsed by Angela Merkel and Jean-Claude Juncker, there is a thrust for integrated EU armed forces. The EU has already gone a long way towards setting up a euro-army to supplant the role of NATO and maybe rival the USA's military power. The European Union Military Staff (EUMS) say: "We strengthen the diplomatic leverage of the EU, because together with Member States we ensure that the EU can act militarily being one of its instruments of power. We ensure that our preparations and actions always fit within the political goals of the EU." Clearly undermining NATO, the primary peacekeeper in Europe post-1945, the commitment to mutual defence is required by the EU's Lisbon Treaty which states "if a member state is a victim of armed aggression on its territory, the other member states shall have towards it an obligation of aid and assistance by all means in their power". However, the appalling collapse of Yugoslavia and the lightweight and often ineffective support from French and German forces in Afghanistan, for example, highlight the EU's military pretensions and dangerous bureaucratic baggage. The opening of the new session of the European Parliament in 2014 was subjected to a bizarre display of EU militarism.
The legally binding EU Treaties forbid any discrimination on the grounds of nationality, and the only way this can be bypassed is by quitting the EU. Transitional regimes have been permitted to restrict the access to labour markets of citizens from new member states, but these restrictions are strictly time limited. That is why 29 million Romanians and Bulgarians gained the right to live, work, and claim welfare benefits unrestricted in the UK from 2014 under EU 'freedom of movement' rules. They have joined the other 475 million EU citizens who are already so entitled. Free education and health care must also be made available by the UK. There are very strong financial incentives for Romanians and Bulgarians to migrate to the UK, with take home pay (including benefits) for families being 8 to 9 times higher than at home, even allowing for differences in the costs of living. Note that this incentive is roughly double that which attracted the last influx of Polish workers to the UK. There are now hugely unfair disparities between Commonwealth citizens with family in the UK who struggle to obtain visas whilst EU citizens with few or no links with the UK automatically have the right to live and work here.
Currently, the UK pays child benefit and child tax credits to nearly 50,000 children who actually live in another country, notably Poland, with claims made for almost 30,000 children there. UK rates for these payments are about four times those available in Poland. The cost of this to UK taxpayers is just over £1 million per week. Only four other EU countries permit such payments to be made to non-resident children.
In a bid to allay rising public disquiet and political damage caused by unrestricted immigration from the EU, the UK government is fighting rearguard and ultimately futile actions to try and delay or limit the eligibility of EU migrants to claim various welfare benefits and allowances. Especially contentious is the "right to reside" test which the European Commission claims breaches EU rules on discrimination and eligibility for welfare. The Commission has taken their complaint to the European Court of Justice (ECJ) which has jurisdiction on matters of EU treaty law. The UK will have no option but to accept its ruling and comply, or else pay a massive fine, or leave the EU altogether. While the political posturing will no doubt go on for some time, the ECJ will not rule on whether the UK is disadvantaged relative to other EU countries, but only on whether it treats foreign citizens differently, always within the context of "ever closer union".
Increasingly the EU is demanding that a citizen's civil status and access to social benefits must remain the same throughout the EU. For example, marriages and civil partnerships recognized in one member state will have to be recognized by all other states, regardless of whether they unite different-sex or same-sex partners. (Hence the unseemly haste by the governments of the UK and Scotland to pass legislation on same-sex marriage.) Even polygamous unions could be legitimately thrust upon the UK some day because of this EU policy, regardless of disapproval by the British public. European officials in the Netherlands have granted migrant child brides - some as young as 12 - legal permission to join their older partners if the marriage is officially registered in their country of origin. Thus, the EU is effectively legitimizing paedophilia, and such "marriages" may have to be recognized throughout the EU.
There are many other examples of "one size fits all" rights emanating from Brussels which have proved highly controversial and excessively costly to implement. For instance, the European Working Time Directive (EWTD) was introduced ostensibly to improve the health and safety of EU workers by providing the right to work no more than 48 hours per week, with guaranteed holidays and rest periods. However, the EWTD in practice has had a hugely deleterious effect in many areas of employment, with this one single EU Directive being estimated to cost the UK several £ billions per year. Some of its worst effects have been on the UK's National Health Service (NHS), threatening patient care and safety, and accounting for up to £1 billion for agency workers to fill the gaps in health service cover. The EWTD's simplistic inflexibility (for example, retained firefighters are classed as "working" when only on call) has greatly reduced the UK's competitiveness, especially in a recession, and restricted personal choice of work patterns.
Note that various other rulings on rights - such as votes for prisoners and the extradition of terrorists - come from the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) which is not an EU body. However, the EU has itself signed up to the European Convention on Human Rights and consequently the ECJ recognizes legal precedents set by the ECtHR. If the UK wanted to repudiate the ECtHR then it would find it difficult to remain a member of the EU.
Donald Tusk, appointed (not democratically elected) President of the European Council. Total salary and expenses package up to £291,696. The first eastern European to hold such a senior EU position, resigning as Prime Minister of Poland (2007-2014) to accept it. Reportedly reluctant to leave national politics, until persuaded by his wife to take the "prestige, better money and less problems at work" that come with a Brussels job. His Polish government never cut any taxes but greatly expanded public administration. A history graduate and a journalist, deeply involved with politics since 1980s. Defeated candidate for President of Poland in 2005. Strongly supports greater EU political and economic integration and an enthusiast for the Lisbon Treaty; though moderately conservative on social issues. Has a hawkish attitude towards the Kremlin, especially over the Ukraine crisis. With some sense of realism, Tusk commented: "The greatest tide of refugees and migrants is yet to come … We need to correct our policy of open doors and windows."
Jean-Claude Juncker, President of the European Commission. Total salary and expenses package up to £342,505. Bon viveur, lifelong professional politician, and occasional public drunk, but dumped by Luxembourg voters as their Prime Minister in 2013, undone by a phone tapping scandal. An ardent advocate of EU expansion and a main architect of the euro, but never accepting of its flaws. Outspoken and thin-skinned, with a dubious commitment to honesty and democracy, admitting: "when the going gets tough, you have to lie" and "I am for secret, dark debates". Ahead of referendums on the constitution he infamously remarked: "If it's a Yes, we will say 'on we go', and if it's a No, we will say 'we continue'". He is particularly disdainful of the UK, and advised then premier Gordon Brown to mislead the British public over the Lisbon Treaty, saying: "Of course there will be transfers of sovereignty. But would I be intelligent to draw the attention of public opinion to this fact?". With his practice of squalid backroom deals, secret trade-offs and deceit, Juncker epitomises the EU's crisis of legitimacy.
Federica Mogherini, High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy (or more plainly, EU Foreign Minister). Total salary and expenses package up to £318,260. A relatively young Italian political scientist and politician whose nomination was initially blocked by eastern European EU member states, being seen as lacking sufficient experience - she only became foreign minister of her own country in early 2014 - and suspiciously soft on dealing with Russia. A member of the Italian Communist Party until its dissolution in 1996, and graduated after writing a thesis on politics and Islam. Had some acquaintance with the Palestine Liberation Organization in the past and may be less than objective about Israel. Said that "Islam belongs in Europe ... political Islam should be part of the picture" two days before 30 British tourists were killed by an Islamic terrorist in Tunisia. The European External Action Service (EEAS) foreign ministry which Mogherini leads has been severely criticised by the European Court of Auditors for its inefficiency, poor value and lack of focus.
Martin Schulz, President of the European Parliament since 2012, now serving a second term. Basic annual MEP's salary of £78,000, plus ambiguous president's allowances of around £90,000 and an office of 35 full-time staff supported entirely by the European Parliament budget. Admitting "I am difficult to live with", even admirers say Schulz can be pugnacious and impulsive. Far from being the calm moderator of a great parliament, Schultz is fanatical in his contempt for national sovereignty and for the expression of democracy through referendums, saying "My position is that I am a completely convinced European, in favour of European integration. We cannot continue to cling to the idea of the Nation State", and "We must not bow to populism" on the Irish vote against the Lisbon Treaty. He prefers to be called a "former heavy drinker" rather than a "reformed alcoholic".
Information about former incumbents can be found here.
The 'House of European History' has been created by MEPs "to cultivate the memory of European history and European unification" and "will present different viewpoints and diverse interpretations of history". Its cost of between €56 million and £137 million, depending on your source, comes at a time when many museums and galleries in the UK have had their funding slashed. Apart from the most ardent europhiles, the House is widely regarded as an extravagant vanity project. At least it has moved on from the original disrespectful intention of only beginning European history in 1946, after the so-called 'European Civil War', known to the rest of the planet as the Second World War.
This poster with communist 'hammer and sickle' symbols (circled in red) was displayed by the European Commission in its Brussels headquarters (and probably elsewhere) in 2012 and only removed after a former Soviet-ruled member state complained vigorously. The integration project which produced the offensive image had "been funded with support from the European Commission".
Galileo is a global satellite navigation system, comprising 27 orbiting satellites (plus 3 spares), being built by the EU and the European Space Agency. The European Commission wanted a positioning system which would be independent of, and a commercial rival to, the USA's (free) GPS system and its Russian and Chinese equivalents. Convincing itself that Galileo would be hugely profitable, the EU planned for public money to pay for around 40% of the cost. However, the private sector pulled out in 2006, citing lack of commercial viability, and the project, originally due to be operational by 2008, is now 11 years behind schedule, with the total bill for the public expected to top €20 billion. The EU has had to raid other budgets, including that of the Common Agricultural Policy, to prop up Galileo's funding. The Court of Auditors lambasted the project, reporting in 2009 that "The programme lacked a strong strategic sponsor and supervisor: the Commission did not proactively direct the programme, leaving it without a helmsman" and that the funding model was "inadequately prepared and conceived ... unrealistic". Galileo has become one of the EU's most expensive vanity projects, designed to play one-upmanship with the USA, but without a proper commercial or technical rationale.
International cooperation on policing and criminal justice obviously helps to fight cross-border crime, and this could be achieved without the UK surrendering its democratic control in these areas to the ever-ambitious European Commission and the European Court of Justice (ECJ). Eurojust, the EU’s judicial cooperation body, and Europol, the European policing agency, certainly contribute to such cooperation, but are viewed by the European Commission as stepping stones towards the creation of an EU Public Prosecutor and harmonisation of criminal law throughout the EU. Not content with these potential powers, the Commission used a ruling from the ECJ in 2005 to presume that it could create a criminal offence for any breach of any EU regulation (714,000 pages of them) by any EU citizen in any EU country. Breaching EU bureaucracy can be prosecuted and sentenced with as much zeal as what most people would consider "real crimes".
The European Arrest Warrant (EAW) makes it easier to extradite citizens of one EU country to face criminal charges in another, but has become the most notorious of the EU justice measures. If an EU state demands a person's extradition, other states must act on it without examining the reliability of the evidence, though some countries have severely bent the EU regulations to protect their own citizens. Too many innocent people have been extradited on the basis of speculative or trivial charges, wrongful arrest, manifestly tainted evidence, and without proper checks to prevent miscarriages of justice. Blameless UK citizens have been subjected to corrupt police investigations, slow and incompetent justice systems and appalling prison conditions. Bribery and corruption are widespread, and maybe endemic, in countries such as Bulgaria, Romania and Greece. Long prison sentences have been handed down after trials that would never have resulted in guilty verdicts in the UK, or indeed where the allegations would never even have led to prosecutions. Trials in absentia, not usually permitted in the UK, also take place in some EU member states, where a criminal trial can proceed even though the defendant is not present to argue his or her case. The UK receives around 20 times as many EAW extradition requests as it makes, placing a disproportionate burden on UK police time and costing the UK taxpayer over £27 million per year to administer. We are generally prevented from expelling an EU citizen after he or she has served a prison sentence; expulsion must be considered on a case by case basis, no matter how appalling their crime or threat to our country. In practice it has proven extremely difficult, time consuming and grossly expensive to expel criminals from the UK.
The EU spends vast sums, currently estimated at €664 million a year directly on publicity and communication spending. The total commitment to budgets containing promotional spending amounts to €3.9 billion. This staggering sum - more than the advertising budget for Coca Cola worldwide - buys blatant political propaganda to help the EU justify its existence and propagate the supposed inevitability of "ever closer union". As an example, this bizarre video advertisement (costing £106,000) from 2012 was intended to promote the enlargement of the EU and shows the EU demanding submission from the rest of an evil world.
Even more crackbrained, Captain Euro is a comic book-style superhero character, created by the EU to promote itself and specifically the euro currency. From his relaunch you get a flavour of the nonsense to which children have been subjected at our expense: "Captain Euro has returned to solve the EU's identity crisis and tackle global issues from an entirely different angle. He's back, and this time, it's personal! Times have changed, and so has he. With Captain Euro’s relaunch comes an entirely new approach and audience. The new Captain Euro uses the power of satire, humour, and intrigue to raise awareness of critical global issues. He is also tasked with exposing and criticizing areas which lack effective global governance, or systems with excess bureaucracy; particularly in the context of contemporary national, European and global politics. These new stories include Captain Euro dealing with global issues and world leaders ... When world leaders want advise [sic] and wisdom about EU and global affairs, they come to Captain Euro. Who else!?"
The European Parliament authorized almost £2 million to train and assist its officials in stalking the internet to intrude in social media debates with EU propaganda. From the EU's own documents, "Parliament's institutional communicators must have the ability to monitor public conversation and sentiment on the ground and in real time, to understand 'trending topics' and have the capacity to react quickly ... to join in and influence the conversation". Nervous ahead of the 2014 Parliament elections, the EU said "it is evident that [its] image is suffering", and "particular attention needs to be paid to the countries that have experienced a surge in Euroscepticism". This blatant political activity turns what should be a neutral EU civil service into a biased 'troll patrol' with an explicit brief to target those who legitimately criticize the EU in a free society. Watch this condemnation and read the EU's protestation of innocence. Despite these efforts, the 2014 Parliament elections returned more eurosceptic MEPs across the EU than ever before.
In a particularly unaesthetic twist to the EU's propaganda war, farmers and other landowners are being forced to erect advertisments, at their own expense, to publicize the fact that they have received EU grants, or else face having the money clawed back. Depending on the funding awarded under the Country Stewardship Scheme, landowners must blight the countryside by putting up permanent posters, plaques or billboards between A3 and 4ft by 6ft in size which are visible to the public.
Daniel Hannan, a Conservative MEP, succinctly described in 2005 the well-tried strategy used by Euro-integrationists to determinedly achieve their aims:
Stage One is mock-incredulity:
"No one is proposing any such thing. It just shows what loons these sceptics are that they could even imagine it."
Stage Two is bravado:
"Well all right, it's being proposed, but don't worry: we have a veto and we'll use it."
Stage Three is denial:
"Look, we may have signed this, but it doesn't really mean what the critics are claiming."
Stage Four is resignation:
"No point complaining now, old man: it's all been agreed."
Links to the sources of specific information are embedded wherever possible throughout the text. The sources listed below have been used to provide more comprehensive information generally and are recommended for further reading.
Minford, Patrick, Mahambare, Vidya & Nowell, Eric, Should Britain Leave the EU? An Economic Analysis of a Troubled Relationship (Institute of Economic Affairs, 2005)
We are simply a group of ordinary British voters who are dismayed at the way in which the ruling elite of the European Union have steamrollered their pet project by cynically exploiting the naivety and complacency of citizens in member states, at vast cost to the public purse. Our aim is to raise awareness, from a United Kingdom perspective, of the reality of the European Union through a better understanding and dissemination of the multitude of available facts and data. We think this is essential at the present time, with the continuing migrant and eurozone crises, and the forthcoming UK referendum on EU membership.
We are not sponsored by or linked to any political party, campaigning group or business. However, we readily acknowledge the sterling research work and well founded arguments already put forward by other concerned bodies and individuals (see sources). We try to be accurate, but welcome corrections to errors, inaccuracies and omissions reported to us by email. News is announced on our Twitter account @sceptic_eu.