CAEF Statement made at Grassroots Manchester meeting on 5.2.16
Speech delivered by John Boyd
My organisation, the Campaign against Euro-federalism, CAEF, was founded in 1992 to address the labour and trade union movement and win that movement back to the anti-EU position it held from the 1960's until 1988. This is the year when Jacques Delors sold the myth of Social Europe to the trade union movements in Denmark, Ireland and Britain in exchange for the European Union, This was in the run up to the Maastricht Treaty, single market and single currency. The labour movement has organisations which represent, in one way or another, the aspirations of the vast majority of the population which is working class.
CAEF's position stands firmly on the right of nation-states to self-determination, national independence and democracy.
We have made clear that the EU is the antithesis of democracy. It is a superstate governed by EU institutions. We also make clear that there is the continent of Europe or the European Union, not 'Europe'.
The Commission is unelected, unaccountable, meets in secret and is the executive and legislator. Although the EP is presented as the EU's democratic face it can't raise taxes, an army or police force and cannot legislate but can temporarily block or suggest amendments to the Commission's legislation in what is politely named 'co-decision'.
The Council of Ministers and EU Summits meet in secret and use a Qualified Majority Voting system. In QMV Britain has 12.6% of votes and has to gain support from 15 other Member States which with Britain must represent 55% of the EU population to win the vote. Incidentally, Ireland has 0.9% and Malta 0.08%. QMV shifted power away from smaller populated Member States to the largest. In contrast the UN General Assembly and other international bodies have one vote for each nation state.
The European Court of Justice consists of 28 judges and overrides national courts and parliaments. Judgements by the ECJ cannot be appealed against. Only Member States can take cases to the ECJ. Some judgements have come out against collective bargaining and for the free movement of labour.
There are other EU institutions: some are not well known. For instance COREPER is a committee of permanent ambassadors from EU Member States. This committee prepares the agenda for the Council of Ministers and decides beforehand what can be rubber stamped and what has to be discussed. There is a European Rail Agency in Lille where legislation for rail privatisation and other rail packages are prepared and passed on to the Commission and national governments to put in place. Directive 91/440 was used to privatise the railways. There was a Directive to privatise postal services and so on.
EU laws and legislation were changed from an intergovernmental system to a superstate and a Union by the Lisbon Treaty or European Constitution. In Britain we never had the opportunity to discuss this Treaty before ratification. If we want to leave the EU it is the Lisbon Treaty which must be discussed and published by the government and not the charade of the trivial reforms now on the table in Brussels with red and yellow cards as though it were a game of football. We must show the red card to Cameron and get him off the pitch with a massive leave vote in the referendum. The Commissioner for Trade is negotiating undemocratically the secret Transatlantic Trade and Investment Treaty (TTIP) with her counterpart in Washington. TTIP and ISDS overarch the EU with the object of bolting together the EU and US markets with poorer regulations on food, labour conditions and wages. The claws are out to grab and privatise the NHS for the largest lobby group in the US - the health and pharmaceutical companies. TTIP and ISDS override national parliaments and national democracy. There is a growing movement across the EU against TTIP and the Inter State Dispute Settlement (ISDS). 250,000 demonstrated against TTIP in Berlin. A petition of over three million was presented to the EP and they don't know quite what to do with this. The TUC and most trade unions oppose TTIP. Although there is all this opposition to TTIP and ISDS the same institutions support the EU which is a complete contradiction. You cannot be both against TTIP and for the EU.
Democracy only works within nation-states not between them. There is no democracy between Britain and Greece or Latvia or any other Member State. The EU cannot be democratic despite the years of talk about putting right the democratic deficit. The way the EU operates is to take away the powers of national governments and at the same time cull national democracy.
To date the world is run with nation-states having the right to self-determination and national democracy. There are more nation-states today than ten or twenty years ago with the prospect of more coming into being. The nation-state is here to stay and is not a 19th century anachronism. Those who want an end to nation-states and national democracy are those forces behind TTIP, ISDS and the EU.
Britain as a nation-state to function to the benefit of the peoples' of Britain must have control of its own borders, must be able to control its fisheries, must be able to protect its industries and jobs involved. We must be able to decide who comes into the country. That means we will be able to bring to an end the free movement of labour in order to protect wages and conditions which is of growing concern to trade unions and those who work for their living. Further the free movement of labour is not Immigration. They are different issues.
Since the 1975 Referendum the deindustrialisation of Britain is all but complete. If you remember we had a coal industry, a steel industry, shipbuilding and manufacturing. We traded across the world. These industries were the backbone of the economy which created wealth to pay for all the public services such as the NHS, education and the welfare state.
There are 1,680,000 people currently unemployed in Britain and many of those are young people. We have soup kitchens and food banks. The alternative to EU membership is to have an economy based on manufacturing, associated industries and to trade across the world including nation-states in the EU, instead of an economy based on the financial, banking and service sectors which got us into deep water in addition to being locked into a crumbling crisis ridden EU. Thank goodness we did not join the euro.
For example for jobs, the nation-states of Africa need electrification so does India and Pakistan. We should be making some of this equipment and a lot, lot more besides. We will need a merchant navy to carry the goods and a ship-building industry to make these ships. You can help work out a rational future for Britain and its peoples yourselves.
CAEF makes the strong case that the only way to oppose TTIP and ISDS and EU legislation from Brussels and free movement of everything is to repeal the ratification of the Lisbon Treaty. This is to show the red card to Cameron in a massive vote to leave the EU. I wish you all well in our joint efforts to extricate Britain from the EU.