In its early years European integration proceeded without truly revealing its real purpose. It pretended that the European project was only about economic cooperation. Now we know better: it was always about taking more power, becoming bigger and getting more remote.
European integration proceeded in its early decades without truly revealing its real purpose or ultimate goal. Its destination was disguised for as long as possible under the pretence that the European project was concerned only with economic cooperation and dismantling trade barriers inside “a common market”. Denial and concealment were the foundations of integration.
The supra-European approach took its first steps following the Second World War, at the eager prompting of the United States. In March 1947 a resolution passed through both houses of the US legislature declaring, “Congress favours the creation of a United States of Europe”.
This US support for pan-European initiatives was prompted by its fear during the economic dislocation of 1946-47 of the significant membership growth in the communist parties of Italy and France. It was symptomatic of the rabid “resist the spread of communism” contagion that was the hallmark of postwar America.
In June 1947, the US State Department proposed a European Recovery Programme, later known as the Marshall Plan. In July sixteen European nations formed the Committee for European Economic Co-operation, making a case for $19.1 billion aid from the USA. They received $13 billion-worth shipments of food, staple goods, fuel, machinery and vehicles produced in the United States and, later, investment in industrial capacity in Europe.
Marshall Plan funding, which ended in 1951, was not an act of altruism. Europe was an enormous market for American commercial interests. Aid came with two conditions. Firstly, pressure was placed on European governments to adopt trading rules that eased the path for American exports. Secondly, recipient countries had to promote a federal Europe.
The Organisation of European Economic Co-operation (OEEC) was created to administer the distribution of Marshall Plan funding. Jean Monnet, a French politician largely recognised as the founder of the EU, pushed for the OEEC to have an executive council with supranational rather than intergovernmental powers. And the newly formed CIA set up the American Committee on United Europe as a conduit to provide covert funding to promote federalism and integration.
“Our Community is not a coal and steel producers association. It is the beginning of Europe”
Monnet’s scheme was to build a United States of Europe, beginning with the integration of the coal and steel industries and a supranational authority to run them. The plan proposed that Franco-German production of coal and steel be placed under a common High Authority within the framework of an organisation that was open to the participation of other European countries.
This pooling of coal and steel production was intended to set up the common foundations for enlarged economic development and pave the way for the political eclipse of nation states. In effect today’s European Union began in May 1950 with the adoption by the French government of a policy to place all French and German production of coal and steel under one central authority. Known as the Schuman declaration after the French foreign minister of the time, it was explicitly the first step along a road to European political integration. The British government was not even told of these plans. Italy and the three Benelux countries (Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg) joined soon after.
Jean Monnet said, “Over and above coal and steel, it is laying the foundations of a European federation.” Some governments of the six countries were worried about the unlimited powers of the High Authority. An intergovernmental Council of Ministers was created with qualified majority voting. But although this council could take part in decision-making, it could not instruct the High Authority, which was to remain supreme. Britain, which would not at that time submit to a supranational authority, remained outside.
Treaty of Paris
The Treaty of Paris in April 1951 created the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC) requiring the governmental powers of the six states to be abandoned to a stateless and uncontrolled autocracy. Monnet was appointed as the High Authority’s first president. He remarked “Our Community is not a coal and steel producers association. It is the beginning of Europe”.
It is speciously argued that after the war there was a need to form some pan-European entity to subdue the rivalries of the nation states in Europe and particularly France and Germany, binding them within strong institutions. In fact in the postwar world, these old problems were not apparent. European integration was encouraged, particularly by the US, to oppose socialism in the Soviet Union and in Eastern Europe. And a European Community offered Germany “respectability” and a greater role after the twelve years of Nazi rule.
An attempt at a second integrationist step was unsuccessful. In 1954 the French National Assembly defeated a proposal to establish a treaty for a European Defence Community. After that the six founder states proceeded again on the path of further economic integration.
“At every step the powers of EU institutions radically increase.”
For a few years all public statements about a European government disappeared. The strategy pursued was of building Europe through the progressive integration of other economic sectors. The first targets were the nuclear industry, all forms of energy, and transport. Building Europe was presented as merely a matter of trade and jobs, though political integration proceeded under the guise of economic integration.
A succession of treaties has transformed the nature of the European Community, which later became the European Union. At every step the powers of EU institutions tend to radically increase relative to those of the nation states. The EU method has been to ensure that each issue that is addressed collectively by states creates a new set of issues and actions to be added to the integration agenda. An example of this “positive spill over” is that once coal and steel were governed by the new central institutions this created pressure so that related areas of policy such as taxation and wages were influenced and determined by integration.
A strategy of stealth and subterfuge was employed so that Europe’s nations were guided towards the super-state without their people understanding what is happening. Successive steps, each disguised as having an economic purpose, eventually and irreversibly lead to federation.
The EU design is that different national interest groups and elites will shift their loyalty away from national institutions toward the supranational European institution. This is intended to lead to an establishment of elite groups in member countries holding pan-European ideas and norms. These groups will have loyalties to supranational co-operation and not to the national interests of the countries they are from: essentially a set of traitors.
The European Economic Community (EEC) was established in 1957 by the Treaty of Rome by France, Germany, Italy, Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg. The treaty opened up the way to an integrated economy, as the common market was extended to the whole of the mutual trade in goods of the founding countries and the Euratom (nuclear) and common market treaties were signed.
Ever closer union
Though the early ambitions appeared economic, the preamble to the founding treaty agreed by the six heads of state declared that they were “determined to lay the foundations of an ever closer union among the peoples of Europe”. The Rome treaty established the European Investment Bank, the Social Fund and enshrined the free movement of labour as a principle.
From its very inception, the Community was set up to become something more than it already was. Joining integrationist Europe was always much more than accepting a certain set of conditions in the here and now. It was also participation in a process that would lead onwards to complete political union. This is still the case today, and still that final destination has not been reached.
The EEC institutions were similar to those of the ECSC. There was an executive, called a Commission instead of the High Authority. The EEC was given a wide range of economic “competences”, including the power to establish a customs union with internal free trade and a common external tariff; policies for particular sectors, notably agriculture; and more general cooperation.
Each time a competence was agreed in the treaties, power in that policy area was transferred from nation states to the supranational authority. Once competences were ceded to the supranational body either by treaty or passing laws, they could never be returned. All that countries joining the EU can achieve are temporary concessions prior to complying in full later on.
In 1965, the Brussels Treaty streamlined European institutions, laid down the composition of the Council and set out which institutions would be located in the three Community centres – Brussels, Strasbourg and Luxembourg.
The Merger Treaty in 1967 agreed the functions and powers of the European Commission. As well as being the guardian of the treaties, it was able to propose legislation, act as the executive body and represent the EEC’s external affairs. The Commission had the punitive power to take action against a member state or body, and refer the case to the European Court of Justice (ECJ). Its power of proposing legislation ensured that the Commission was the driving force within the community.
Britain’s change of tack
In June 1961 Macmillan’s Conservative government had taken the decision to reverse British policy on Europe and to apply to join the EEC. They deliberately avoided public debate. Only the Cabinet discussed it and voted to endorse joining. It was decided to stay as quiet as possible about the political objectives of the Rome Treaty and to sell British membership of a “common market”, as if it was primarily a matter of economics. When eventually Macmillan announced the decision in the Commons, it was to general public astonishment. However, nothing materialised as France’s President De Gaulle vetoed British entry in 1963 and again in 1967.
When Prime Minister Heath applied for entry to the EEC in the early 1970s, he again consistently described it as merely a “common market”. Yet an EEC report produced by the Werner Committee in May 1970 said otherwise. It outlined the EEC aim to bring about economic and monetary union with one currency in order to confirm the irreversibility of the venture. It suggested that a European central bank would be required at some point.
“The plan for economic and monetary union could imply the ultimate creation of a European federal state with a single currency.”
The British government at the time fully understood all of this. The British Foreign Office produced an internal report for Heath that noted “the plan for economic and monetary union (EMU) has revolutionary long-term implications, both economic and political. It could imply the ultimate creation of a European federal state with a single currency. All the basic instruments of national economic management (fiscal, monetary, incomes and regional policies) would ultimately be handed over to the central federal authorities”.
Yet in a television broadcast in January 1973 Heath engaged in deliberate deception, “There are some in this country who fear that in going into Europe we shall in some way sacrifice independence and sovereignty. These fears are completely unjustified.”
Entry to the Common Market played virtually no part in the June 1970 general election. The Conservative party manifesto had contained only one line on the subject: “to negotiate, no more, no less”. However, within two weeks of the election, Heath’s government had begun negotiations for entry.
These negotiations were a façade. In private talks with the EEC, Heath had agreed to economic and monetary union within 10 years. Britain was to accept the enormously expensive Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), an inordinately high contribution to the EEC budget, the subordination of her courts and the selling out of our national control of our fisheries.
The Heath government began to promote the European Community. A government White Paper in July 1971 failed to mention economic and monetary union at all. A summary of this paper was sent to every household in Britain. On 1 January 1973 Britain became a full member of the European Community on a decision of parliament.
In 1974 the incoming Labour government headed by Wilson offered a referendum on the EC mainly to get disgruntled sections of his party off his back. But Wilson and others were determined to stay in the EC. After a cosmetic “renegotiation”, the Wilson government did recommend continued membership.
This was a sham; Britain got nowhere on CAP reform and state aid restrictions while the form of wording on our budget contribution was difficult to comprehend. Nevertheless in 1975 the voters approved remaining in the EC, though the referendum campaign rarely spelled out the implications of political and economic union. Many still believed it was just a free trade area.
All the while further steps towards integration continued. A European Council was set up in 1974 to provide a regular permanent institution, or, as Monnet privately put it “a provisional government” of Europe. Misleadingly journalists continued to refer to these meetings as summits.
A system of exchange-rate stabilization (the European Monetary System or EMS) was created in 1979. This was to propel later discussions on monetary union.
In 1986, the Single European Act extended qualified majority voting in council. This made it harder for a single country to veto proposed legislation and added substantially to the supranational nature of the EC. It provided for completion of the single market by 1992. It significantly extended the Community competences – to the environment, technological research and development, and social policies relating to employment. It brought foreign policy cooperation more into the Treaty’s architecture.
This first serious revision of the Treaty of Rome pointed the way to further changes, with a declaration of intent about “economic and monetary union”. The British Parliament ratified this in a rush and with little interest even though it was a major constitutional issue. Prime Minister Thatcher made no attempt to oppose or frustrate it.
In 1992, the Maastricht Treaty prepared for European Monetary Union and introduced elements of a political union. 300 million people got citizenship of the European Community; common foreign, security, defence and internal affairs policies were adopted. The ECJ was given power to levy fines on member states which failed to implement its rulings.
This treaty further extended EU competences. It brought qualified majority voting to 30 more areas of policy such as social policy, public health, consumer protection, telecommunications, energy, education, culture, vocational training and transport. There were major extensions of EC control over environmental law including town and country planning and choice between different energy sources.
“Most of the points in the treaty had not even been seen by the British negotiating team.”
Britain secured an agreement outside the Maastricht Treaty to opt out of the single currency (euro), but an immense range of powers had been ceded. As most of the points in the treaty had not even been seen by the British negotiating team, Prime Minister Major was no doubt wrong to announce that “This is a treaty which safeguards and advances our national interests”. Maastricht was another step on the road to federal organisation.
In September 1992 Britain left the Exchange Rate Mechanism (successor to EMS) to protect our currency, sterling. Changes to the EU came along rapidly in the following years; Britain did not sign up to them all.
In 1995, the Schengen Agreement came into effect. This allowed travel without passport control between seven countries (later joined by others, but not Britain).
In 1997, the Treaty of Amsterdam gave extra powers to the Commission, increasing its power of initiative, elevating its role in the formulation of European Union policy. The treaty also created a new senior post, a Foreign Minister for the EU, the High Representative for Common Foreign and Security Policy. Britain enthusiastically signed up for this, with no opposition from parliamentary political parties.
In1999 the single currency (euro) was launched, Britain stood aside, though many of those calling for supporting Remain today wanted us to join in too. The European Central Bank was created to manage it. Despite being outside the eurozone, the Bank of England was a shareholder and remains so; a mechanism to link our economy to the eurozone was in place from the outset.
In 2001, the Treaty of Nice replaced the need for unanimous voting with a qualified majority system in 27 different policy areas. This again diluted the power of a nation state to block any measures that it does not like.
A proposed constitutional treaty was signed by EU member states on 28 October 2004. The document was ratified in most member states without reference to the views of the peoples involved. But referendums held in France and the Netherlands rejected the constitution and that killed off the treaty. Though the European Council agreed that the constitution proposal would be abandoned, most of its changes were retained in an amending treaty. In December 2007 the treaty was signed, containing opt-outs for the more eurosceptic members and no state-like elements.
The Lisbon Treaty finally came into force on 1 December 2009. This extended qualified majority voting to yet more areas, established a legal personality for the EU and created a new post: President of the European Council.
The EU, of course, already has a flag and an anthem. Plans for a European army have been discussed. To the ultra-integrationists of the EU, the final destination is clear: a completely integrated United States of Europe without countervailing powers at national level.
The expansion of the EU means it has become more diverse and encompasses countries with a widely differing level of economic performance. The original six signatories to the 1957 Treaty of Rome were joined in 1973 by three more: Denmark, Ireland and the UK. Greece joined in 1981, followed in 1986 by Portugal and Spain. In 1995, Austria, Finland and Sweden joined, making a union of 15 countries.
However, it was in 2004 that the EU had the largest of all expansions. Eight former members of the Soviet bloc were brought in, plus Malta and Cyprus. In 2007, there was the accession of Romania and Bulgaria. And in 2013 Croatia joined, creating a union of 28 countries. Turkey and a number of Balkan countries are waiting in the wings. There are so many fault lines within the EU that further political and economic earthquakes are inevitable.
The EU line is that some sort of fiscal and political union will be necessary if the euro is to survive. So a United States of the Europe is on the agenda. In January 2014, Viviane Reding, Vice-President of the European Commission, said: “We need to build a United States of Europe with the Commission as government and two chambers – the European Parliament and a ‘Senate’ of member states.”
But there is no example in history of a sustainable currency which isn’t backed by a single government. Whenever it’s been tried, it has always fallen apart and caused chaos. And it is impossible to create a single government on the backs of 28 countries that have varying levels of economy and needs. The tensions will eventually rip it apart.
The people of Britain have a choice and can decide to leave the EU in order to rebuild our country. There is no chance of reforming or redirecting the EU. Its direction is clear from an analysis of history. In June, let’s reclaim our sovereignty and start to put things right.