The British press is, unfortunately, infamous for its tendency to overreact, so the articles and comments in the electronic and print media over the appointment of a Frenchman as Commissioner-designate for Internal Market should not come as a surprise. But this is not the time for over-dramatisations, many around Fleet Street and beyond might enjoy crying wolf but we should put last week’s appointment in context.
A Commissioner does not make EU policy alone. A Commissioner does not even make Commission policy alone. It is the 27 Member States in the Council of Ministers who ask the Commission to draw up draft rules, a task undertaken by the Commissioner in charge and the responsible for that policy Commission department. After consultation with stakeholders and all interested parties, legislative proposals are drafted which the Commissioner then presents to the College of 27 Commissioners. It is up to the College to give its approval collectively before the draft legislation becomes a Commission proposal to the Council and the European Parliament. Subsequently, the Member States in the Council and the directly elected MEPs approve, amend or dismiss the Commission’s proposals in a detailed process that ensures all different views are taken under account and the outcome reflects the common will of all actors involved in the EU decision-making process.
It is thus impossible for a single individual, or even a single Member State, to impose their will on others. The system has been designed like that for this very reason. Proclaiming that Mr Barnier will singlehandedly assault the City constitutes a gross over-estimation of his powers. Asserting that the French will be able to seriously damage the UK’s commercial interests under-estimates the role of the other 26 members of the European Union.
The kind of scaremongering that has been going on in the past few days serves no one. The European Commission and the European Council, with Britain’s active participation, have been working hard to ensure that the mistakes that caused the recent credit crunch and inflicted serious damage upon European economies will never be repeated. The Government and the City will continue engaging constructively in the decision-making process. Demonising our partners and victimising ourselves is truly pointless. There’s work to be done to put in place the necessary rules that will safeguard economic activity and financial innovation from risky and unsupervised behaviour. In London, Paris, Frankfurt or anywhere else. We should get on with that work, for the collective good of the EU’s economy.
Britain's future is with Europe! Join the debate and put your opinion forward!
About: European Movement UK
The origins of the European Movement
The origins of the European Movement lie in the aftermath of the Second World War. More than eight hundred delegates from across Europe gathered in The Hague in May 1948, under the chairmanship of Sir Winston Churchill, to create a new international movement to unite Europe and prevent further wars between its members. The British section of the European Movement was founded a year later.
In the 1950s and 1960s, the European Movement put forward the arguments for joining the European Economic Community, and it ran a major campaign in the early 1970s, both among the general public and in parliament, to win the battle for entry. In 1975, during the referendum on membership, the European Movement played a central role in the YES campaign. Other campaigns since then have included pressing for direct elections to the European Parliament in the 1970s and promoting the benefits of the single market in the run-up to 1992.
During the 1990s, the organisation became revitalised around the need to create a new national pro-European coalition. The rise in anti-European feeling threatens to undermine Britain's place in the European Union; our exclusion from the first wave of countries joining the euro is an example of how we lose out when the pro-European case is not put strongly enough in public.
Aims and activities
The European Movement is
- A rallying point: The European Movement rallies all those who believe that European unity is vital where the peoples of Europe have interests in common such as increased trade to improve economic prosperity, an improved environment to tackle climate change, and action to combat global poverty. A politically united Europe is needed to sweep aside the petty tribalism that has historically, at the very least, been an obstacle to progress or, at its worst, has led to bitter conflict and a catastrophic loss of human life. Europe must be united as a region of law, justice and democracy, equipped with the institutions capable of achieving these ends. Members receive a regular newsletter, euromove, with information and news about Pro-European developments. In addition, the office publishes updates on campaign ideas and issues an e-mail newsletter, e-News. Members take part in lively discussions in person and online, and the European Movement maintains an informative website.
- A campaign: The Movement has since its creation in 1948 sought to build and maintain public support for the unity of Europe. In the face of a backward-looking nationalist resurgence in some quarters, this role is as vital as ever. The campaigns include public information points, working with the media, and lobbying MPs and other decision-makers. In addition to the work of the London office, the branches and national councils organise campaign activities in their own areas, as well as political discussions and social events for members.
- A pressure group: The creation of the European Union has been an extraordinary achievement - democratic, sovereign states have created a common institutional framework in order to forge a future together based on the rule of law. But the European Movement is not the Union's information service or an apologist for its weaknesses. It must work to win support for the reforms necessary to improve its ability to meet the hopes and aspirations of its peoples.