What is the official language of the European Union?

Adam   Tuesday, October 05, 2004, 14:11 GMT
Why was the European Union formed?

There are so few good arguments for being in the European Union (EU) today that it is hard to remember why it started. The two most important reasons belong to the last century and are now out of date.

First, in 1945 the French wanted to stop the Germans starting another war in Europe. They thought they could tie Germany down within a union of all European countries.

Second, the Americans wanted to support a bloc in Europe against the threat of the Soviet Union. EU believers still claim that the EU is crucial to keeping peace in Europe. But wars are not started by democracies. They often begin when different nations are forced together. Yugoslavia is the latest of many examples. Even in the UK, the recent troubles in Northern Ireland are a horrible reminder that living under the same roof is no guarantee of a happy marriage. To cram the British together with the French, Germans, Italians, Greeks and Spaniards would be asking for trouble.

A third reason for the EU was the creation of the Single Market - the duty free exchange of goods and freedom of travel across Europe. That was a good idea. But it didn't - and still doesn't - need to lead to a single government for all of Europe.


2. Why did Britain join the EU?

It was understandable that Britain wanted to join the Single Market. However, there was no need to join the EU and Britain made a big mistake in doing so. Most people thought that the EU was a natural extension of the Single Market. They did not realise that, as a result, Britain would lose its sovereignty and independence.


3. Can Britain veto decisions we don't agree with?

Britain's right to protect itself has been steadily eroded. We can still block decisions in a few areas but even these are under threat. In most cases, Britain can be outvoted by other EU countries. The House of Commons is then compelled to put the EU's decision into law.

It is not just that Britain often loses to the other EU countries. We also have to fight the bureaucrats who work for the EU institutions: the Commission, Council, Court and Parliament. They are committed to building a single government for Europe, giving them increasing power over us. They approach every problem with this goal in mind.


4. Is there any protection for minority interests like the UK under European law?

The EU does have a special Court to hear this kind of appeal. Unfortunately, it invariably finds in favour of the 'ever closer union of the peoples of Europe' as required by the Treaty, rather than protecting the rights of individual nations.

Britain has a long history of protecting the rights of its citizens, going back to Magna Carta in 1215. But the EU's new Charter of Fundamental Rights will override all our legislation.

One key element of our tradition is 'Habeas Corpus'. This means that British people are treated as innocent until proven guilty. But the EU has an idea called 'Corpus Juris' which would destroy our traditions. If an EU country wants to arrest you, our police would have to give you up even without any evidence.


5. Would our trade suffer if we left the EU?

There is no need to worry about future trade with the EU if we withdraw from it. We buy far more of their goods than they buy of ours. If trade stopped altogether, the EU countries would lose far more than we would.

The Germans will still want to go on selling to us their Mercedes, BMWs and Volkswagens, the Italians their Fiats and the French their Renaults, wines and perfumes. We could easily enter into a Free Trade Agreement with them, because they would be mad not to. Indeed, the EU has just entered into a Free Trade Agreement with Mexico, for example, which would suit Britain very well. Even without negotiating a Free Trade Agreement, the UK would be better off if we exported to the Single Market from outside the EU because our contributions to the EU outweigh our trade advantages by about £2 billion per annum.

Only about 14 per cent of everything Britain produces (Gross Domestic Product - GDP) is exported to the EU. This amount is declining and in deficit. Another 14 per cent goes to the rest of the world. The remaining 72 per cent of our GDP is our domestic economy. We should not let the mangy EU tail go on wagging our healthy UK dog. They need us far more than we need them.


6. If we left the EU would we lose out on its aid to the UK?

Don't fall for that one. We give to the EU more than we receive. We pay about £11 billion annually to the EU from which it gives us back about half. So there really is no such thing as 'EU aid'. We would be far better spending our money ourselves, without the costly and corrupt bureaucratic filter of Brussels. The net amount of money we give them would buy over 50 hospitals every year for example. Surely this would be a much better way of spending our money?


7. What do we pay our contribution for?

Much of it is wasted running the absurdly over-regulated bureaucracy of the EU. The EU is like a paper-making factory. The number of regulations, directives and legal acts issued by the EU has increased more than tenfold since Britain joined and there are now over 25,000 in force.

The EU spends most effort on the least important subjects. The Ten Commandments run to 300 words and the American Declaration of Independence to just under 1330. In contrast, the EU directive on the export of duck eggs runs to over 26,900 words - a time-consuming bureaucratic blizzard of bumf.


8. Is it really true that there is a lot of fraud and corruption in the EU?

The EU Commission has admitted to fraud of about £500 million a year , enough to build 5 hospitals a year in Britain. But experts in the House of Lords think that the true figure is at least seven times as much. The EU Court of Auditors refused to pass the EU accounts for several years and every member of the Commission had to resign in 1999 because of the scandalous record. The EU's £7 billion annual foreign aid budget is also grossly mismanaged; much of the money does not arrive at its destination.


9. Have we benefited from the Common Agricultural Policy?

The CAP is a complete nonsense. The EU pays some farmers not to produce food. It pays others to produce food which is not worth growing. For example, the EU obliges us to provide only 85 per cent of the milk we need, while our farmers spray milk onto fields to avoid exceeding their quota.

The result is that British people pay more for food than they should. The CAP costs the average UK family an extra £1000 a year in food costs. We need the CAP like a hole in the head.


10. What has happened to our fisheries?

Fishing was the livelihood of thousands of British workers and indirectly of thousands more. The EU's Common Fisheries Policy has destroyed most of this. We can no longer simply catch fish in our waters. Instead, the EU tells us what we can and cannot catch.

Britain used to own over three quarters of the fish in EU waters. Now we are allowed to catch only one third of the EU's fish. By the end of 2002, all the EU's fishing fleets will be able to fish in our twelve mile coastal belt.

The Brussels bureaucrats who designed this absurd policy thought they could conserve fish by limiting the numbers landed in port. They did not realise that most fish are dead when they come up in the nets, so millions of tonnes of fish are thrown back dead into the sea each year in the name of EU conservation.


11. Have we benefited from the EU in any other industries that might compensate for the loss of our fishing waters?

On the contrary, the cancerous influence of Brussels has also affected adversely our waste disposal, beef, herbal medicines, lorries, dairy farmers, whisky distillers, market gardeners, cheesemakers, paper rounds, boat builders, hotels, art market, duty free shopping and many other British interests.


12. If the EU has its way, will we still have the capacity to wage war or defend ourselves?

The current plan is for the EU to have a force of 60,000 soldiers. It will be used only for humanitarian purposes. But the long term aim of creating a single European government means that we can expect demands for a single EU army. In this event, NATO, which has kept the peace in Europe for many years, would be severely undermined. The men and women in our armed forces might be required to fight a war under a French or German general for a cause in which we do not believe. We might also find it difficult to help our allies, like America.


13. Is there another way of continuing trade preferentially with the Eurozone?

Norway is a successful example of this approach. They twice voted against joining the EU but are still members of the European Economic Area and enjoy full tariff-free access to the Eurozone. Norway's exports to the EU have been at record levels since then.

Norway enjoys good relationships with the EU but does not have to contribute to the EU budget and is not part of Common Agricultural Policy and Common Fisheries Policy. Clever Norway!


14. Is the EU working well?

Far from it. On average there are twice as many people unemployed in European countries than in the USA. Europe is in fact lagging behind America in every respect. It has more people out of work. Its people earn lower wages and suffer higher taxes. It is behind in the key industries of the future such as the internet.


15. Can Britain go it alone?

Of course we can. Britain is one of the world's strongest countries. We have the fourth largest economy in the world. The City of London is one of the world's leading financial centres. We sit on the United Nations Security Council with the world's other leading countries. We founded the Commonwealth and English is spoken by over one billion people.

This year Britain has twice been voted the second best place in the whole world to do business. In a recent survey by the Economist Intelligence Unit, Britain's prospects for the next five years were rated second only to the Netherlands. Germany and France were 10th and 15th respectively.

We lead Europe in the industries of the future, such as the internet. Britain has expert knowledge in advanced technology, art, science, engineering, telecommunications and medicine.

Before too long we would not miss the EU Single Market. It already costs very little to trade with most countries around the world. The World Trade Organisation is aiming to remove the last remaining duties. Trading blocs like the EU will become a thing of the past. But until then we should have no difficulty in negotiating a new Free Trade Agreement with Europe. Because we buy more of their goods than they do of ours, they would be mad to let us withdraw without one.

On our own we would be free from the crushing bureaucracy of Brussels and free from having to pay billions of pounds towards its costs. This money could be far better spent in our economy.

Britain has had to fight many wars to preserve the right to govern ourselves. We should not give up our sovereignty lightly. Our current leaders do not seem to have grasped that our freedom is at stake. The British people themselves need to take a stand.


16. Isn't joining EMU more about trade than politics?

That is what most politicians tell you. They say that Economic and Monetary Union (EMU) is only a commercial project. But in Europe all politicians accept that it is designed to create a single European government, with its own foreign and defence policies and its own legal system. You have only to listen to what some of the key people in the EU have been saying for years:

A previous President of the EU, Jacques Delors, said: 'Yes, we have to have transfers of sovereignty to achieve economic and monetary union.'

More recently, the new President of the European Commission, Romano Prodi, told the European Parliament: 'We must now face the difficult task of moving towards a single economy, a single political unity.'

Wim Duisenberg, President of the European Central Bank, said: 'The process of monetary union goes hand in hand, must go hand in hand, with political integration and ultimately political union. EMU is, and was always meant to be, a stepping stone on the way to a united Europe.'

Hans Tietmeyer, former President of the German Central Bank, said: 'A country that merges its currency with that of another currency cannot be politically independent.'

Gerhard Schroeder, the new Chancellor of Germany, said: 'The introduction of the euro is probably the most important integrating step since the beginning of the unification process...it is certain that the times of independent nation states are definitely over...the internal market and the common currency demand joint co-ordinating action.'

So who do our Euro-enthusiasts think they are kidding, other than themselves?


17. Would interest rates fall if we joined EMU?

The problem with EMU is that it allows only one interest rate for 11 diverging economies, all growing at different rates at different times. The 'one-size-fits-all' interest rate will never be right for all 11 countries.

At present, the German economy is in difficulties with unemployment twice that of the UK, while the Irish economy is booming. The Germans need lower interest rates to stimulate their economy, while the Irish need higher rates to avoid a property crash. In EMU, they must both have the same rate, whether they like it or not.

If the UK joins the Single Currency, we would certainly be forced to accept an interest rate (as we had to in the ERM) that would be wrong for our economy. If it is too low as is currently likely, we would be stoking inflation.

If we continue to fix our own interest rate, our economy will not be put at risk. For this reason, the Governor of the Bank of England said recently that he was 'relieved' we did not join the euro when it started.
Adam   Tuesday, October 05, 2004, 14:13 GMT
18. Will our taxes go down if we join EMU?

You may have been told that our taxes will be left alone if we join EMU, but take no notice. The true position was clearly stated by someone who ought to know - Hans Tietmeyer, the former President of Germany's Central Bank. He said: 'A European currency will lead to member nations transferring their sovereignty over financial and wage policy, as well as in monetary affairs. It is an illusion to think that states can hold on to autonomy over taxation policy.' Very recently, the French government announced that tax harmonisation was a priority for its Presidency of the EU. If this happens our taxes will go up by over 18 per cent.

Believe it or not, at present the UK has the lowest taxes in Europe and is a comparative tax haven. Britain's corporation tax for business is 30 per cent and is the lowest of any major industrialised country in the world. The EU average is about a third as much again.

The countries using the Single Currency cannot reduce their tax burden in the future because, unlike Britain, they have not set aside enough for their pensions. Britain has more money put aside in private pensions than the rest of the EU put together.

If France and Germany do not take action, they will find themselvs spending more and more on pensions as their populations get older. This will require even higher taxation.

Europe's leaders are openly arguing for control of Britain's tax policies. The European Commission already has plans to impose VAT at a uniform rate of between 15 per cent and 25 per cent on all goods, including children's clothes, books, newspapers, travel fares, new houses, and food, all of which are at present exempt in Britain. If we want to keep low taxes, we have to stay out of EMU.


19. Would joining EMU help our inflation rate?

Only if you want to double it! At present the UK's inflation rate of under 1 per cent a year is the lowest in Europe and is about half the European average.


20. What will happen to our pensions if we join EMU?

Like most things in the EU it will cost us dearly. At present, UK pensions are the best funded in Europe. By 2030, Germany will have to spend three times as much as us just to keep their pensions at their present rate.

As populations age, this pensions timebomb in Europe will lead to either reduced benefits or higher taxes. If we join EMU, there is an obvious danger that we will end up, one way or another, having to make substantial contributions to the pensions deficits of Germany, France and Italy.


21. What will happen to our gold reserves if we join EMU?

Can't you guess? They will be transferred to the European Central Bank which will 'hold and manage the official reserves of the Member States'. For the UK, this would mean surrendering control of our gold reserves of £28 billion. This is one of the many reasons why joining EMU would be irreversible.


22. Is it true that foreign investment into the UK would suffer if we did not join the Single Currency, and that jobs would be lost?

Foreign investors know what they are doing. They are attracted to the UK because we have by far the lowest business taxes in Europe and a reliable workforce. We also have considerably less regulation and bureaucracy and we are comparatively free of corruption. In addition, we speak the world's most popular commercial language - already 80 per cent of all electronically stored information is in English.

We continue to receive the lion's share of inward investment in the EU. Last year we received twice as much inward investment as France and three times as much as Germany. Our share has not been affected by foreign investors already knowing that the majority of the British people are against joining the euro. Companies like Honda, Vauxhall, Marconi and Ford have all announced big investments in Britain because of our much more favourable business climate.

There will undoubtedly be a new Free Trade Agreement with Europe if we don't join EMU and leave the EU. The interests of present and future investors would be fully protected, so they will go on investing in the UK.


23. Would joining EMU help reduce unemployment?

Many trade unionists have now realised that 'EMU' also stands for 'Even More Unemployment'. Countries using the Single Currency have a much higher unemployment rate than Britain. Since we left the ERM, Britain has created more jobs than the rest of the EU put together.


24. Did we learn anything from our membership of the Exchange Rate Mechanism, the forerunner of EMU?

One crucial lesson - it is absolutely vital to keep control of our own interest rates. Our two year membership of the Exchange Rate Mechanism (ERM) was disastrous for Britain. It cost one million jobs and made 100,000 businesses bankrupt. Since we were liberated from the ERM by market forces the British economy has prospered far better than Europe.

Last year the UK overtook France as the world's fourth largest economy. We achieved this since leaving the ERM, because we have had the right level of interest rates for our economy and the right exchange rate for developing our world trade. This would not have been possible within the Single Currency.


25. If EMU is such bad news for the UK, why does the Prime Minister, some leading politicians, and a number of leading businessmen argue in its favour?

The Prime Minister is no longer content with his role as Mr UK. He wants to play the political game on a bigger stage and sees himself as Mr Europe.

The Conservatives took us into the EU. Like most politicians, they are not very good at admitting their mistakes. They also fear that a movement to withdraw now would be seen as too right wing and would frighten the voters. They are wrong about this too - polls indicate that, if forced to choose, more British people would vote to leave the EU than join EMU. This is in spite of being told for 25 years that the EU is vital to the national interest. If a fraction of the money spent on propaganda had been spent on explaining the 'get-out' case properly, popular support for it would be overwhelming.

Businessmen who support EMU are in the main from big global businesses. Independent surveys show that only a quarter of all UK businessmen want to adopt the euro. Three quarters want to keep the pound. Most small to medium-sized businesses are against the euro and it is they who are today's job creators.

The businessmen who say they like the Single Market are usually just expressing their belief in free trade, which could in any event be preserved by negotiating a Free Trade Agreement if we left the EU.


26. If EMU is such bad news, why are France and Germany keen on it?

As in the UK, you have to distinguish between the politicians and the people. After a tremendous amount of Government spending on the case for EMU, European France voted against Maastricht. Those in favour reached just over 50 per cent because of votes from Guadeloupe and Martinique.

In Germany, there is growing disquiet as unemployment continues to be a major problem and as the mark falls in value with the euro.


27. Can you think of any argument in favour of the Single Currency?

Not on balance. There are three main points in its favour but there are far more against. There would be some savings on business transaction costs. It would be easier to compare European prices with our own. We would not need to incur the cost of changing pounds into other Eurozone currencies. However, when put on the scales against being forced to accept the wrong interest rate for the UK, the loss of exchange rate flexibility, higher taxes, higher unemployment costs and massively increased regulation and bureaucracy, there is an overwhelming case against joining.


28. At some point in the future, can we leave EMU, like we left the ERM, if it does not work out well for us?

No, if we join EMU, it will be irreversible. We will lose the pound, our gold reserves and domestic monetary control forever. EMU is the ERM without the escape hatch.

The nightmare will be permanent. It will be no good saying: 'What a shame - I wish I had thought about it a little more before I cast my vote.'


There is very little that one person can do on their own but if we get together a great deal can be achieved. Politicians change their policies when they are faced with a tidal wave of public opinion. You can help to create that wave and this is how you can do it.

1. Pass this pamphlet on to a friend who might be unsure about the EU and EMU. Ask your friend to carry on the good work and pass it on to another friend.

2. Write to your MP at the House of Commons, London SW1A 0AA and make your views clear.

3. Write to the BBC (Fraser Steel, Head of Programme Complaints, BBC, Broadcasting House, Portland Place, London W1A 1AA), or ITV (Programme Complaints Department, ITC, 33 Foley Street, London W1P 7LB) if you think any of their programmes are biased or the full case is not being presented fairly.

4. Vote against EMU if and when there is a Referendum and try to persuade your family and friends to help preserve the pound.

5. Never vote for any political party that is intent on closer integration with Europe.

6. If you are against the EU or EMU make a donation of whatever you can spare to The Democracy Movement, Freepost LON 10777, London SW6 1YZ. We arranged for the production and distribution of this booklet and have been working tirelessly to promote the anti-EU cause. With your help we will be able to step up our campaign substantially and make sure that the Government gets a resounding NO from the Electorate when they call for a Referendum on giving up the pound.

Tremmert   Tuesday, October 05, 2004, 14:32 GMT
I get the vague feeling that this has very little to do language.
nic   Wednesday, October 06, 2004, 08:37 GMT
As french will vote "no" about the future constitution which will include Poland and other countries.
because after 20 years of europeanisation, the social result result is a complete disaster.
nic   Wednesday, October 06, 2004, 08:42 GMT
Excuse me guys, there is only ONE OFFICIAL LANGUAGE AND IT'S ENGLISH.

It was written on the famous french newspaper "Le Monde", equivalent of tje Times, El Pais, Il corriere della serra...
The courier   Wednesday, October 06, 2004, 09:21 GMT
"Le Monde" is also notorious for sensationalism like UK's "The Sun". I wouldn't take these newspapers too seriously.
nic   Wednesday, October 06, 2004, 10:06 GMT
i think you are making a confusion with "Le Figaro"
nic   Wednesday, October 06, 2004, 10:09 GMT
Le Monde does not have any common point with the Sun. You don't know it, do you?
Damian   Wednesday, October 06, 2004, 13:04 GMT
The Sun "newspaper" (that's a misnomer in itself) has the largest daily circulation of all daily British papers. Doesn't say much for the overall national intellect does it? It's time the Sun set in the west and never again rose again.
nic   Wednesday, October 06, 2004, 14:18 GMT

European union has been suggested before 1945
The courier   Wednesday, October 06, 2004, 15:18 GMT
Which British nation? Scotland?
Easterner   Wednesday, October 06, 2004, 15:36 GMT
>>Excuse me guys, there is only ONE OFFICIAL LANGUAGE AND IT'S ENGLISH. <<

This is true in a "de facto" sense. English sticks out far above the other 19 languages used officially in the EU, therefore it can be taken for the "lingua franca" of the Union on administrative levels. On the other hand, I think the inhabitants of the southern countries are far less proficient in English than those of the northern ones (I had a chance to see the difference between The Netherlands and Italy...). And English is still competing with German to be a short-term lingua franca used between the new eastern member countries (though the outcome of this competition is not very doubtful on the long run).

>>As french will vote "no" about the future constitution which will include Poland and other countries. because after 20 years of europeanisation, the social result is a complete disaster. <<

My feeling is that the accession of the East European countries will only widen the gap between the "centre" (Germany, France and maybe Belgium and Poland) and the "periphery" (all the rest, with the possible exception of Ireland, that has benefited from the EU economically). (I meant "centre" and "periphery" in a political, not an economical sense). The result of the newest EU accession bears to me a strong resemblance to German unification, only it is even more ambiguous, given the conflicting interests of the individual countries. It remains to be seen what happens if both the "old" and the "new" countries start feeling the burdens of it...

Nic, what precisely do you mean by the "social result"?
Damian   Wednesday, October 06, 2004, 15:56 GMT
<<Which British nation? Scotland?>>

Nah.....course not, don't be silly! Why bother with the Sun when we have the Record!

Who are you, Courier? My mum has always told me never to speak to strangers..... ;-)
Billy goat   Thursday, October 07, 2004, 07:00 GMT

Bill Connolloy should be beheaded while on stage. Now that would make his fat Scotish head funny.
nic   Thursday, October 07, 2004, 07:09 GMT

By "social result" i mean political liberalism (in the french meaning) has completely destroyed social progress hearned by people in the past. Social security less efficient, people has to work more and will be retired older then their parents...

There are 20 years, Miterrand (french president in the 80'S said to people, Europe Community is necessary because of wars there has been in the past and because of social progress, where are the social progress today? It's the opposite!

What do you mean by centre (in the economic sense), Italy was at beginning of european foundation like Germany and France.


Courier seems to be a provocator or an ignorant guy. Mu mum told me the same, my gran told me those who don't tell their name are unpolite, and we musn't speak to them.