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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Byzantine Europe

Robert Oulds

It has been argued that the European Union will go the way of the Ottoman Empire. It is widely believed that the Ottoman Empire - that other top-heavy, pan-national institution - declined and ultimately collapsed because it had become inward looking. However, even on its deathbed the Ottoman Empire was far from being an insular and internationally blinkered regime. It was actually highly active on the world stage and looking to enlarge eastwards. In fact, like a wounded tiger the more it was in trouble the more it thrashed out.

The European Union is not yet on its deathbed but although integration drives on (further integration rests upon more than the Constitution it also uses agencies) the EU is most certainly in decline.

On the economic front we see unemployment in the eurozone increase, competitiveness, production and its share of world trade will drastically decrease. This economic decline is made worse when it is set against the backdrop of the major demographic problem caused by a population in decline.

Politically internal divisions have rocked the EU. There have been arguments over the Constitution, the EU's pièce de résistance of integration. Tensions have emerged between the EU's smaller states and the Franco-German-British axis. And there are even divisions between the EU's integrationists.

But this does not mean the EU is quiet internationally, far from it. A new €3 million a year think tank is being established to enhance the EU's foreign affairs activities and thinking.

On one hand the European Union is quite-rightly set NOT to become a suicidaly protectionist organisation and may well be able to resolve its trade antagonisms with the USA. By 2014 terms may even be agreed to form a trans-Atlantic trade area. But on the other hand the EU like a wounded animal will lash out and seek more power and prestige on the global stage. Why? The once great European powers feel a deep inadequacy at having lost international pre-eminence. 'Who are these Angeles across the Atlantic to take our glory?' And rather than address the issue which has led Europe to decline, i.e. ignoring the need for economic liberalisation, European states are clubbing together and using and bolstering disreputable institutions like the UN and its agencies to punch above their weight and tie-up the United States and other liberal-democratic nation-states into their self-serving web of cross-border political intrigue.

One could say that the EU's (for EU read French) attitude to Foreign Affairs is derived from Kant. This supranational thinking dictates that cordial deals should be struck with tyrants. It dictates that international relations should not be a matter governed by the democratically elected governments of nation-states. Instead international affairs, and subsequently every other matter, should be handed to supranational institutions and regional blocks. A Southeast Asian version of the EU is underway, ideas have been floated for an African one. The Ba'athists pioneered the thinking for the Arab 'nation'. This effort collapsed but the idea is again afoot. Some Mexican's have proposed that NAFTA should evolve like the EU, but perhaps this thinking is simply driven by a desire to grab the USA's wealth.

The United States, which so gallantly took up the gauntlet of the white mans burden, has traditionally been keen for 'Europeans' to carry some of the load. And they will be supportive again as long as NATO is not undermined and as long as US aims are not blatantly thwarted. The EU has moved its military forces into Afghanistan, the former Yugoslavia, even as far a field as the Congo. But unlike the United States the ultimate end product of the EU's peacekeeping activities will not be the exporting of democracy or the intimidation of evil regimes. The result will be that the supporters of 1950's style supranationalism will have the influence to mould the world as the international elite want.

There world, if they have their way will be one where, will be a regulated world where big brother knows best. The nanny state will grow; enterprise will be smothered. It will be corporatist. Britain and the USA will have their hands tied by restrictive international agreements and be confounded by the baseless concept of 'international law'. Their world will produce illthought-out deals like Kyoto. It will use damaging 'aid' and 'development' policies. Vested and corrupt interests will be catered for. It will not be able to deal with the challenges of this age that requires flexibility, competition devolved decision making away from the planners to the actual service user and provider.

This is the new front opened up by the EU's powers that be. This is the latest challenge that we are presented with. It is a battle on the world stage. The challenge for us as Eurosceptics is to prevent the important matters of international relations being taken out of the hands of those we, as citizens, control. The answer is not to club together with them as the Conservative Party continues to do in the European Parliament.

The time has come for Eurosceptics to unite against the out-moded but dangerously active thinking of those old-fashioned corporatists. The time as come for Eurosceptics to advocate and vigorously push for a world of both economically and democratically liberal, free-trading nation-states. In this world wealth creation, democracy and technology can live and grow together.

Then and only then will the EU's (the French) international strategy be as dead as a big lumbering dinosaur. And may the new age of flexibility live long and prosper.

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