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Neil Parish MEP: It's time we seize the EU from the federalists

Neil_parish_2_1 Neil is a Conservative MEP for the South West

Have you ever been on holiday and gotten hassle from someone desperately trying to sell you his dodgy wares? No matter how many times you say "no", your message just doesn't seem to be getting through. Well that is exactly how I feel some days in the European Parliament!

Not content with the "no" votes in France and Holland, and overwhelming opposition in other countries across the EU, many MEPs, EU Commissioners and even a few heads of governments are still desperate to push through the most lamentable elements of the constitution, either through the front door, back door or down the chimney.

Back in October, avowedly federalist Liberal Democrat MEP, Andrew Duff, launched a paper entitled "Plan B: how to rescue the European Constitution." His solution to the impasse is to rewrite part III of the constitution so that it tackles issues like economic governance and climate change. My understanding of the purpose of any constitution is to check against the power of the state.

Rewriting part III would just outline a plethora of opportunities for more EU interference in our daily lives. But on the other hand, a sketchy short constitution would be open to a great deal of interpretation by overzealous European judges, who have already consistently ruled in favour of more integration. Britain’s system of government has remained stable and effective because our lack of a codified constitution allows a degree of flexibility. The EU has gradually eroded that flexibility and a constitution of any sort would make our democracy far too unbending.

In January, Germany took over the EU Presidency and top on their list of priorities is raising the dead. Germany's ambassador to the EU, Wilhelm Schonfelder has said recently that he does not intend to use "Brussels machinery" to find a solution to the impasse otherwise "you will never come to a solution." He argued the impasse "can only be solved at the highest political level with heads of state and government." I have no problem with Herr Schonfelder bypassing Brussels but I am concerned how easily he is prepared to bypass the voters of France, Holland and the other EU citizens who would have rejected the constitution outright had they been given the chance.

The EU is supposedly in a period of "reflection" right now, where we are all to be learning the lessons taught to us by the French and the Dutch. I believe there are some people in the corridors of power in Brussels who have learnt that the constitution will never wash, but there are still too many who have their heads buried in the sand. We need to watch out that the constitution is not regurgitated, reconstituted and presented to us exactly as before, except under a different name. I believe that this is the agenda in Brussels and we have to be on our guard against it.

Our job now must be to move the debate on in the European Union. In December, David Cameron outlined four areas where the European Union could add some value: the environment, global poverty, tackling fraud and making Europe's economy more competitive. None of these areas requires a constitution.

So it's time to take no for an answer. Advocates of the constitution need to understand that if they keep flogging a dead horse, they will inevitably see the European Union they adore so much destroyed by the very people they have ignored for far too long. As socialist and federalist attempts to raise the dead cause them to lose their grip on the EU, surely our priorities should be to get out of the EPP, form a new group in the European Parliament, and finally seize the agenda for ourselves.


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