Blame the Government not the EU

May 23, 2006 3:12 PM
UK and EU flags

The UK benefits hugely from EU membership

The *Government* is responsible for regionalisation in England, not the EU; and the EU is not responsible for most of the other "sins" that people wish to heap on it. So says Chelmsford Liberal Democrat Stephen Robinson replying to a recent letter in the Weekly News. This is what Stephen said:

"Neither of your correspondents P Fleming or G Gowers (last week's Postbag) addressed the key issue posed previously. Namely, where is the evidence for whatever it is they want to blame the EU for this week?

Mr Gowers is right that people PERCEIVE the EU to be behind regionalisation of England, but that does not make it true. It was John Major's Conservative Government in 1992 that created the structure of regional government offices; Labour has expanded them. Only the Liberal Democrats have consistently called for these structures to be accountable to voters rather than Whitehall civil servants.

Mr Fleming also tries another misguided attack - this time on "stifling directives emanating almost daily". The simple fact is that an EU directive merely states objectives to be achieved by each national government. Sadly, the UK Government, under both Labour and Conservatives, all too frequently uses "Brussels" as a excuse for their own desire to create new laws and red tape.

Whitehall frequently engages in what is known as "gold-plating" i.e. adding new restrictions and rules to what had started as fairly simple objectives.

Mr Fleming then goes on to, once again, push a myth about the Liberal Democrat position on the single currency. The Lib Dems were the FIRST party to call for a referendum on the subject. Yes, we think a single currency (at the appropriate rates) would be good for Britain. However, more important is a proper public debate about the EU - to counter the myths put about all the time.

Millions of UK jobs depend on membership of the EU because of free trade within the EU. The EU has delivered equal pay for different people doing the same job; cheaper prices in the shops; the freedom for us to travel anywhere in 25 countries to find a job; compensation if your holiday plane is delayed, and it is delivering higher environmental standards. The list goes on.

The Liberal Democrats welcome public debate about the EU, on the basis of the facts. If only the same could be said for other parties and the press.

Yours faithfully,

Stephen Robinson

Liberal Democrat Candidate for West Chelmsford 2005

More information exposing myths about the EU: http://ec.europa.eu/dgs/communication/facts/index_en.htm

See also the website of the UK office of the European Parliament: www.europarl.org.uk