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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Stairway to where?

Robert Oulds

Do we in Britain want to be a truly productive player in the development of the European Union? Should we care, perhaps we should not, after all only 9% of our economy trades with the eurozone and there is a wider and much more important world to concentrate on. A Eurocentric future for Britain is the small-minded and blinkered attitude towards the UK's role in the world.

It is now over 25 years since a Lady we all know came to power in Britain and become prominent on the world stage. Compared to the weakness of recent and current occupants of Downing Street it seems that everything she touched turned to gold. That lady is of course Margaret Thatcher. The Eurosceptic thought she pioneered was not one of this far and no further it was passionately in favour of taking the Thatcherite magic to the whole of Europe. In the UK her legacy is being pursued with vigour but a defeatist attitude has emerged that endangers our positive vision of where the rest of Europe is headed.

It has been argued that if Britain rejects the EU Constitution we can then demand that the price of allowing European integration to proceed will be to demand the addressing of issues ranging from the CAP and CFP and the end to EU over-regulation of British business. That approach would undoubtedly be beneficial to the UK but our interests are best served by vetoing the whole Treaty to Establish a Constitution. Instead of using the ranglings over the Constitution to squeeze out scraps from the table Britain should look towards the broad sunlit uplands and stop the integrationists in their tracks and put an end to the integrationists dream of a centralised and corporatist Europe.

It is not in Britain's interests to allow European nation-states to integrate whether we are part of it or not. Why should the UK be less than happy about European states pooling what remains of their sovereignty? Concerns rest with the kind of Europe they are building.

The dominant class in the EU do not share Britain's world outlook and if the federalists are not stopped every European state could be part of the EU's Empire, that would mean the UK would be surrounded by an entity that does not share our vision. Lets consider that for hundreds of years a policy existed to stop large tracts of the continent of Europe being governed by one entity. This policy was born with the success of one Churchill but died with the passing of another.

More immediate concerns relate to economics. The construction of the supranational government for Europe has always been sold primarily as a successful economic project. One of the main successes of Euroscepticism has been to expose this fallacy. Yet, integration is having economic consequences. There is no better exponent of that view than Professor Milton Friedman, his advice to EU states is,

"Abolish your rules and regulations. Abolish your [high level of] spending. The European economy is too burdened with rules and regulations. There is nothing wrong with the basic strength of the individual countries. But they have burdened themselves with a range of rules that strangle their economies."

It is the case that continental Europe is dominated with wrong-headed politicians enforcing yesterday's dirigiste economic policies but the problem is much deeper than that. The European project if it is to press forward can only interfere. The projects ultimate aim is to see the nation-states emasculated and governed by 'wise' technocrats. Such people can only interfere but more than this the only way to build the House of Europe is to build a code of laws for the EU. The more unyielding the code the more unbending the central institutions will be. One cannot have integration and rolled back state frontiers.

Britain can, if it has the will, reject the process of integration and its interfering laws and save herself from the damage that they do. But it should also concern the UK what happens on the continent.

The Europhiles are right in one respect the eurozone market does have some importance, not much but some. Furthermore, the EU is holding up recovery in the eurozone and this is holding back the world economy. The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) warned that excellent growth in Asia and North America could be hindered by continental Europe's poor economic progress.

According to Jean-Philippe Cotis Chief Economist at the OECD World recovery was,

"Still, to a large extent, bypassing Continental Europe. Core Continental European countries are still struggling to revive their economies, with Germany and Italy facing the most difficult challenges".

Most, if not all, European nation-states will come together to be controlled by a supranational institution if Britain lets them. But it will be as successful as a lead Zeppelin. The UK must ask itself, do we want that to happen?

If the UK vetos the EU Constitution the EU will have reached a dead end, the dreams of its founding fathers will not be realised through that organisation. This possibility has already been foreseen by Jacques Chirac, when in 2000 he said that if the EU cannot create political Union then France and Germany must opt-out of the EU and go there own way. The EU will lose its integrationist motor as the only states who desire such an end will be fulfilling their utopian dreams via other methods. Most EU member states will not follow them. And the pressure for the states of New Europe to agree to the EU Constitution will be no more. The Constitutional Treaty will be dead and the minority of integrationist fanatics will have been forced to opt-out of the EU and its rigid system of requiring unanimity.

A Europe of many circles will be created. The 'outer circle' (the majority) of states would then be pliable to British influence and would be freed from the tyranny of always having to conform with EU solutions for each and every problem and free from integrationist dogma.

We must offer people a better deal and create a new Europe. The time has come for a bloody-minded attitude to the EU and battle for the kind of Europe that we want and what we in the UK think is best for Europe. No longer should Euroscepticism be about slowing down or saying 'no further' to the process of European Construction, nor should it be about securing opt-outs for the UK, we should advocate European deconstruction.

Saying Non to the EU Constitution would be the bold, positive and modern thing to do and in the best interests of the UK, Europe and even world economic growth.

There is still time for us to change the road Europe's on.

This is taken from an article by Robert Oulds for The European Journal