Theyll come out to vote and we shall express the popular will of the peoples of

Theyll come out to vote and we shall express the

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we are important. They’ll come out to vote and we shall express the popular will of the peoples of Europe.” It has not happened. In 1979, an average of 69 per cent. of the EU electorate voted in the first European election. In the next election, the figure dropped to 65 per cent. and thereafter to 64, 58 and 53 per cent. In the most recent European
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Parliament election, the percentage of the people of Europe who voted dropped to 48 per cent. The electorate either say no in referendums or “We couldn’t care less” in elections. They certainly never regard themselves as democratically represented, in any real sense of the word, in the European Parliament. In the treaty, we are suppressing democracy at national level without replacing it at EU level. The democratic deficit, which is already yawning, is set to grow worse. The treaty does something else, and it does it specifically to the UK. It locks us into a continental system that is in defiance of our historical experience, outlook and pattern of trade. The UK is of course in part a European continental country; we are anchored offshore but we are geographically part of Europe. That 11 Mar 2008 : Column 235 is a magnetic force that operates on us, and much of our history has been bound up with what happened elsewhere in Europe, but we are more than that. We are what General de Gaulle called a maritime country. That other magnetic field operating on us is a result of our historical experience as part of the Commonwealth, part of the English-speaking world—sometimes called the Anglosphere—and part of areas of the world that are showing greater dynamism and higher economic growth. The treaty tries to switch off that maritime global magnetic field and suck us irreversibly into a continental destiny. That is doing grave damage not only to us but to people all over the world to whom we have responsibilities. Like many Members, I am interested in development policy, in helping the poorest people of the world through aid and trade, but the process is hindered, not helped, by the fact that we have no trade policy. There is much to do with aid in the treaty, which states that aid is to be made part of the foreign policy of the EU. However, the provision that until now explicitly required the EU to give most of its attention to the most deprived is removed from the treaty. Rather than gaining power to help the poorest in the world, we are losing it. African countries that want to trade with the UK have to go in supplication not to us, because we no longer have a trade Department, but to the European Union with its protectionist attitudes. It is a disgrace that the world’s fifth biggest economy cannot set its own trade policy even when we want to help the poorest people in the poorest countries.
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  • Fall '08
  • Finklerberg

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