25 april 2008

The centralisation of power in the European Union (Jeroen Benning)

On Thursday April 17th, the Mises Youth Club organised its first conference in Brussels in over a one-year period. The Mises Youth Club is a social and political debating society aiming to unite all freedom-loving internationally oriented students and young professionals in the Brussels area by hosting drinks and receptions, organizing lectures and conferences, and publishing articles and opinion pieces. The theme of the conference was the centralisation of power in the European Union and the keynote speaker was the British MEP Roger Helmer, representing the East Midlands for the Conservative and Unionist Party in Brussels. Nearly forty people took advantage of this rare opportunity to listen to one of the most colourful MEPs and gathered in the headquarters of the Brewers of Europe lobby group for this Mises Youth Club conference. And measured by their enthusiasm and in-depth participation, the crowd apparently enjoyed themselves. There were cheers and laughter, and vivid discussions between the Europhobe speaker and the rather Euro-enthusiast audience.

A two-term member of the European Parliament and the chairman of the Freedom Association, Roger Helmer is a libertarian Eurosceptic and one of the first elected politicians in the United Kingdom to rally for a referendum on the European Constitution. A die-hard supporter of the Better Off Out campaign, he was ejected in May 2005 from the EPP-ED group in the European Parliament for his Eurocritical stands. A collaborator with the Make Socialism History blogging group and the author of numerous books on European issues, he seeks the complete withdrawal of Britain from the European Union. Throughout his business and political carreer, he has developed close relationships with libertarian and conservative political groups in the United States, and has been a regular speaker at American conferences, resulting in the appointment as Adam Smith Scholar in 2005 by the American Legislative Exchange Council, amongst others.

Roger Helmer was pleased to be invited and even stayed a day longer in Brussels than usual to address the Mises Youth Club conference. He presented himself as being a non-typical politician: he has worked in business all over the world during 30 years before he got into politics. His motivation to enter politics was the point in 1997 when the Conservative Party’s MEPs gathered in London and defended the Euro currency to their party leaders, something true British conservatives should never do, thus Roger Helmer.

He furthermore pointed out that the UK joined the EU for the reason of the common market, and that the Britons of today feel neglected by the EU apparatus which is imposing more and more regulation on the British people in other areas than common market issues. According to Roger Helmer, the European Project is turning into some kind of European Super State, which he proved by quoting a series of EU competences resembling a centralist form of government. To Roger Helmer, the current European Union can be seen as a federation that is even more centralized and integrated than the USA. Many states in the USA, for instance, chose not to accept all legislation coming from Washington DC, while EU member states are subject to an unaccountable democratically deficitary system where opt-outs remain the sole possibility to get rid of unnecessary and counterproductive EU interferences in the sovereignty and self-determination of member states.

Being a regular speaker in the USA, a die-hard Atlanticist and a libertarian oriented politician, he started pointing out the huge differences between the European and the American Constitutions: 75,000 words compared to 7,500 words respectively. And what was even more disturbing to Roger Helmer was the EU’s refusal to deal with the rejections of the EU Constitution in France and the Netherlands. If the EU would live up to its own rules and the democratic norm it is defending, the EU would have respected the will of the people, even if they voted against them in referendums.

Roger Helmer argued that the Lisbon Treaty is exactly the same draft as the initial constitution, especially when one looks at the opinions that different leaders gave about it. Roger Helmer quoted a dozen EU leaders stating that the Lisbon Treaty and the EU Constitution are vastly the same texts. The democratic control of the people over their politicians gets even more lost with the new treaty, as already witnessed in Britain where the referendum promises were broken, in spite of 89% of the people clamouring for a referendum. He is also campaigning for the no-side in Ireland since they are the only country in the EU organizing a full-scale referendum on the treaty, and Roger Helmer is trying to convince the Irish people to vote “no” in the name of all Europeans who were deprived from their democratic rights and who were refused the referendums initially promised. Unfortunately for Roger Helmer and the no-side, and in spite of all their efforts, all main opinion polls indicate a massive “yes” vote.

Speaking in the week marked by the 40th birthday of Enoch Powell’s Rivers of Blood speech in the UK, Roger Helmer also addressed the issue of immigration and the growing EU control in border security measures. Britain is one of the least xenophobe countries in Europe, as shown in 2004 when they were the only EU country to unlimitedly open their borders to Eastern Europeans, but the British isles are overcrowded. A population of 30 million people should scientifically be the most advantageous one for Britain, but today over 60 million people live in the UK. Roger Helmer wants to maintain Britain’s power on border control and immigration policy, and not outsource it to faraway EU institutions.

The conference ended with a final remark by Roger Helmer, capturing the whole essence of his exposé and his political convictions. Opposing every form of EU integration outside the areas of the common market, he referred to the unique position of Britain in the world. Being one of the largest economies in the world, a strong and self-confident nation-state, a main military power, a linguistic and cultural hegemony, and a preferred partner for both, the Commonwealth countries and the USA, there is no need for Britain to be part of the EU project and to be ruled by other people than themselves. Euro-MP Roger Helmer concluded his lecture by stating that Britain must be put first at all times, and added to this jingo statement, that every other freedom-loving European is also free and must also be encouraged to put its own country first.

De auteur is de ondervoorzitter van LYMEC (European Liberal Youth) en de internationaal politiek secretaris van de Mises Youth Club.

Meer over dit debat op www.misesyouth.org/April2008.htm.
Meer teksten van Vincent De Roeck op www.libertarian.be.


At 25/4/08 01:31, Anonymous Anoniem said...

Niet meteen een "kritisch" verslag hé, Vincent. Ik ken je Eurosceptische kijk op de dingen wel, maar een neo-fascist van het Roger Helmer-type komt er bij jou wel héél goedkoop van af... Het doel heiligt de middelen (en de personen) zeker?

At 25/4/08 01:31, Anonymous Anoniem said...


First of all, let me congratulate you with your terrific conference last week. Unfortunately I could not be there since I had a wedding in India, but the pictures and comments suggest that it was a real success. Roger is a great speaker, and I believe he truly believes the things he stands for. And although I do not concur with his radical positions on immigration, I am his wing man on Britain-EU relations.

But, let me try to start an in-depth discussion here: would some sort of Norwegian/Swiss EEA/EFTA-agreement be more in the interest of Britain than being a full member of the EU? After all, hardly anybody can see it ever happening that Britain would scrap the Pound or give up on the current travel arrangements. And on the other hand, Britain being outside the EU might be completely excluded from the huge common European market. All those overseas connections wouldn´t make up for the loss of the European market.

I know my opinion on these rather rhetorical questions very well, but that's not the point here. I just want to get to know what my Flemish Eurosceptic friends really think of the EU and their relationship with our sceptered island.

Vincent, keep up the great work! And let justice and the rule of law roll down as waters, and righteousness and freedom as a mighty stream.



At 25/4/08 14:38, Blogger Pieter Cleppe said...

@anoniem 1:

Roger Helmer is helemaal geen neo-fascist, maar een eerbare eurosceptische conservatief, zoals vele van onze Britse vrienden. In feite is hij zelfs zeer gematigd, in bijna alles wat hij verdedigt.

At 25/4/08 17:41, Anonymous Anoniem said...

Over een anoniemeling kan men OP VOORHAND niets weten. Dat kan een zeer wijze man of vrouw zijn of een grote onnozelaar, of van alles tussenin. Over een pseudoniemeling komt men vlug wel het een en ander te weten als die persoon regelmatig onder dezelfde pseudonaam zou posten en dus opinies verkondigen.

Over Roger Helmer is veel geweten. Als politieker is hij een 'publieke' persoon, en hij geeft zelfs publieke voordrachten voor allerlei organisaties, zoals ondermeer die van Vincent in Brussel. Vor zover ik weet is er geen enkele aanwijzing die een eerlijke observator zou toelaten van hem een "neofascist" te noemen. Niettemin, is dat nu precies wat Anoniem-1 wel doet, zonder enige staving daartoe. Het is dus Anonieme-1 die een fascistische methode gebruikt. Dat is misschien onvoldoende om Anonieme-1 een fascist te noemen, maar het is wel een (enkele) observatie die in die richting zou kunnen verwijzen.

At 25/4/08 19:00, Blogger Marc Vanfraechem said...

@anonieme: Het is voor jouw eigen goed dat ik het zeg.
Gebruik sommige straffe woorden niet al te vaak, want op alles komt sleet, en voor je het weet zeg je het omgekeerde van wat je bedoelt.
En schraap eens al jouw moed bijeen, en teken dan met een naam waar je fier op bent. Ik zal je dan met u aanspreken.


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