The Bruges Group spearheaded the intellectual battle to win a vote to leave the European Union and, above all, against the emergence of a centralised EU state.

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Bruges Group Blog

Spearheading the intellectual battle against the EU. And for new thinking in international affairs.

Bordering on Madness

The thing that first drew me to being opposed to our membership of the EU in 1991 was the realisation my elected Government was not in control of our country, that authority had passed to an offshore, unelected and unaccountable body.  My awakening came through a letter written to the Chancellor of the Exchequer during the terrible recession o...
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The New Project Fear

Since Theresa May's Lancaster House Speech in January of this year, two new Project Fears have sprung up. The first (from The Labour Party, EFTA4UK, Liberal Leave, Leave HQ and Dr Richard North) states that “We need to remain members of the EU's internal market after we officially leave the EU”, even though there are over 50 countries outside of the single market which have free access to it via free trade agreements. The second (from Nick Boles, Lord Hague and Chancellor Philip Hammond) states that “We need to have a transitional period of up to four years during which time we would still be members of the single market and the customs union”.

 

Before we pay these campaigns and their claims any attention, we should bear in mind just how wrong the previous Project Fears, which were often run by the very same people, really were.

 

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Barnier's career of wacky ideas and EU power-grabs

Michel Barnier is quickly becoming a pantomime villain in the UK, with his regular grandstanding and puerile PR stunts. But a lot of British commentators still give him far too much credit - we can only guess they haven't looked into the wreckage of his political career.(Photograph courtesy of Foto-AG Gymnasium Melle)Barnier's track record, described below, is marked by wacky EU-federalist ideas which have been his undoing on several occasions.From his less-than-subtle effort to force the EU Constitution onto all of us through to the range of smaller proposals for EU power-grabs, which resulted in criticism, rebukes and a dismissal.The Brexit talks show that he might never learn from these errors.Despite having absolutely no elected mandate in his current role, he is stuck in the EU Commission mindset and trying to boss Britain around.Any eurosceptic would have known that EU intransigence would soon surface in spite of David Davis's efforts to create an amicable and respectful exchange of views.We highlight eight of his career low points here:1. As French Minister for Foreign Affairs......he helped write the despised EU Constitution, a massive EU power-grab, that was trashed and rejected by French voters in a referendum and later in a Dutch referendum.http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/acf7f084-afa6-11d9-bb33-00000e2511c8.html?ft_site=falcon&desktop=true  2. Sacked as French foreign minister......because his EU Constitution campaign was so roundly trashed in the French referendum. He later complained he was "unfairly singled out" for the referendum defeat, but he still didn't learn his lesson as the next items shows. https://www.expatica.com/fr/news/Ousted-French-FM-laments-teams-beheading_129910.html  3. As French nominee to rewrite the failed EU constitution......he was asked to produce a new document to replace the constitution alongside other panellists. An unrepentant Barnier and his colleagues instead produced virtually the same list of power-grabs in the controversial and hated Lisbon Treaty. Co-writer Valéry Giscard d'Estaing confirmed it was "substantially the same as the EU Constitution".http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/eu-treaty-is-a-constitution-says-giscard-destaing-395521.html  

4. As EU Commissioner for Regions...

...he oversaw the EU regional funding team which proposed a much-criticised funding project of more than EUR 60 million to the Spanish enclave of Melilla including millions spent on a luxury golf course next to a refugee fence and refugee reception centre. Although he oversaw the team which wrote the funding proposal and gave the initial approval, final approval to the criticised scheme was by his successor Jacques Barrot.Description of funding:http://ec.europa.eu/regional_policy/en/atlas/programmes/2000-2006/spain/objective-1-programme-for-melillaCriticism:https://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/oct/23/-sp-african-migrants-look-down-on-white-clad-golfers-in-viral-photohttp://www.europarl.europa.eu/sides/getDoc.do?pubRef=-//EP//TEXT+WQ+E-2014-008767+0+DOC+XML+V0//EN2004 revised decision:https://ec.europa.eu/transparency/regdoc/?coteId=3&year=2004&version=ALL&fuseaction=xls&Original decision: http://ec.europa.eu/regional_policy/archive/country/pdf/spain.pdf  5. As adviser to José Manuel Barroso...When asked to look into civil emergency response, he was ridiculed for his proposals for an EU Civil Protection Force which turned into an obvious power-grab for the EU Commission. He is credited with invented the phrase 'the cost of non-Europe' and his civil protection paper includes the bizarre phrase: "As the tsunami so tragically bears out, the price of non-Europe in crisis management is too high". He was also a Barroso adviser when Barroso made his famous gaffe, "the EU is our empire". http://www.europarl.europa.eu/meetdocs/2004_2009/documents/dv/031006barnier_/031006barnier_en.pdf  6. As EU commissioner for the internal market...He was criticised repeatedly over: Solvency II insurance regulation; EU Commission power-grabs; toothless bank reform proposals; and half-baked banking reform proposals. He was also criticised by the UK Government for his banking reform proposals and the Alternative Investment Fund Managers' Directive which was especially punitive to the UK financial services industry.Slammed over the Solvency II legislation processhttps://www.insuranceerm.com/guides/solvency-ii-timeline.htmlCriticised for toothless proposalshttp://www.euractiv.com/section/euro-finance/news/eu-tables-toothless-law-to-tackle-mega-banks/Criticised for half-baked banking reform proposals:http://www.guengl.eu/news/article/gue-ngl-news/too-big-to-fail-dogma-still-dominates-barniers-latest-banking-plansCriticised by UK gov for his first draft of banking reformhttps://mlexmarketinsight.com/insights-center/editors-picks/brexit/europe/barnier-brings-record-of-dealmaking-over-ideology-to-brexit-talksFaced Uk gov criticism over AIFMDhttps://books.google.co.uk/books?id=ZIdlwrESdT0C&pg=PA56&lpg=PA56&dq=criticised+%22commissioner+barnier%22&source=bl&ots=GINzIDWHJ9&sig=G2MBFXyUaW4QZqxgYFXi7y3eeF4&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjbyfvz9IPVAhWpJ8AKHcowDlUQ6AEIUjAI#v=onepage&q=criticised%20%22commissioner%20barnier%22&f=false  7. As defence adviser to Juncker...He helped create the concept of the European Defence Fund and the European Defence Action Plan. From 2015 to his appointment as EU Commission Brexit negotiator he helped plan the EU's defence powergrab which was eventually rolled out in a legislative onslaught at the EU Council between November 2016 and June 2017.http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_IP-15-4437_en.htm8. As co-president of the Albertville Olympic Committee......saw the event costs escalate to more than double its intended budget. UK analysts later found the event suffered a cost overrun of a whopping 137%.https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1992_Winter_Olympics#Cost_and_cost_overrun Flyvbjerg, Bent; Stewart, Allison; Budzier, Alexander (2016). The Oxford Olympics Study 2016: Cost and Cost Overrun at the Games. Oxford: Saïd Business School Working Papers (Oxford: University of Oxford). pp. 9–13. SSRN 2804554 Freely accessible.
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A challenge to the TED talks: Brexit is ending the control of outmoded hierarchies

Technology is driving changes that remote bureaucrats have yet to imagine. Brexit is about openness. It’s about people realising their global role and forging new links with counties and other people. The British people, through Brexit have embraced what made this country so dynamic; freedom of information and limited top down control.

13th March 2017
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As reported in the Memo Chris Anderson, Founder of the renowned TED talks series of lectures has criticized Brexit and poured cold water on the possibility of Brexiteers speaking at his events. Stating that TED are pro-globalisation. Clearly he has jumped to the wrong conclusions about Britain’s EU exit and perhaps has globalisation very wrong.

Some cannot distinguish between internationalism, working with others, and the brand of globalization being pushed by supra-national institutions. Organisations like the EU are, in the words of Dr Anthony Coughlan in Tackling the EU Empire, ‘imperial arrangements like the Austro-Hungarian Empire, once known as a “prison-house of nations”, where different countries are ruled by a centralized bureaucracy in a far-away imperial capital.’ That model failed then and will fail again.

Supranationalism, what Chris Anderson must be confusing with Globalisation, is according to Dr Coughlan ‘the opposite of internationalism, which is a benign and progressive concept. Internationalism – from Latin inter, “between” – implies the pre-existence of sovereign Nation States. It refers to relations of co-operation between the States that constitute the international community, but with each controlling and deciding its own domestic and external affairs in accordance with the wishes of its people. Recognition of States based on the right to self-determination of nations and peoples is a basic principle of modern democracy and international law.

‘Supranationalism, in contrast to internationalism, implies a hierarchy, with the supranational level on top. Internationalism implies legal and political equality between the parties. Properly understood, internationalism is opposed to all forms of chauvinism and xenophobia. It implies coexistence among progressive “nationalisms” – that is, broad nationalisms rather than narrow, using the positive rather than the negative sense of that word in English. It implies patriotism and love of country, combined with respect for the many national communities into which humanity is divided and admiration for their varied cultural and other achievements.

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