- WR has, since its inception, put the region’s future as part of a united Europe at the heart of its ambitions. However, we believe in a Europe of the Regions; a Europe from the Atlantic to the Urals; a Europe of the people not the corporations.
- WR wants Wessex to be a part of Europe, not apart from it. We will continue to campaign for the closest co-operation with similar regional groupings across Europe to build a better and fairer Europe for all its citizens. We believe that can best be achieved by remaining as close to the EU as is possible.
- WR, by its very name, a devolutionary movement, has always stood against strident nationalism, which invariably leads to conflict and incubates a sentiment of superiority. Our approach to the European Union has been, and remains, supportive of its protective powers in promoting peace and stability across this previously war-torn continent, whilst recognising the many aspects of it with which we disagree. These protective powers, enshrined in Article 42.7 of The Treaty of Lisbon (see Appendix), allow the EU to act independently from a US dominated NATO.
- The EU, as currently constituted, is a vehicle that will always favour the largest companies and the largest countries. Germany has the largest trade surplus ($293bn; source: The Economist) of any country in the world and uses the Euro to maintain the balance in favour of its corporations. Seven of its top ten export destinations are within the EU. That is why Germany insists on open borders for its goods but demanding the national “ownership” of debt within a shared, single currency. By comparison, the UK has a trade deficit of $152bn. As they evolve, the EU institutions of Commission, Parliament, and President have been assuming a governing role, beyond the initial concept being the facilitator.
- What Europe needs, we believe, is a union that allows all its historic regions to emerge and flourish as self-sufficient entities free from subjection and coercion by any other entity. It does not need another superior layer of centralised control and command.
- WR believes in a Europe of the Regions, a Europe of the people not of the corporations. Such a Europe would see the gradual dilution of the central power of nation states to the benefit of regions but within a Europe-wide organisation that promotes co-operation through a confederation. To achieve that aim means being within the EU; to be in the club to be able to change its rules.
- What we seek is to promote dialogue, co-operation and a shared understanding with peoples anywhere and everywhere. We recognise the right to be different and to do things differently but decisions must not be based on deliberate misunderstanding or careless misrepresentation.
The Problem With Europe
- WR recognises that the 2016 referendum exposed genuine misgivings and concerns amongst the electorate over the way the EU operates. We share many of those misgivings.
- For the sake of political expediency, the EU has ignored economic realities to press ahead with expansion. This particularly applied to the fast-track admission of former Soviet bloc countries in eastern Europe to stop them falling back under the influence of a newly aggressive Russia, even when it was clear that their economies were still too weak, and their experience of democracy and the rule of law were yet to become firmly entrenched. This has led to the massive outflow of peoples from the east to the west which has given those racist, xenophobic elements that unfortunately exist in many countries a stick with which to beat the EU, and was a key factor behind the Brexit referendum result.
- This also applied to the creation of the Euro. The two drivers, Germany and France wanted it for very different reasons. For Germany, the largest exporter of manufactured goods in the world, it meant an expanded and secure market, freed from the vagaries of currency speculation; for France it meant being tied to a strong currency to avoid having to restructure its own weak industrial sectors. But the only countries that could have fully met the rigid requirements for membership either didn’t want to join or would have created a politically unacceptable northern European monetary union. Rules were knowingly bent to ensure the weaker countries of southern Europe could also qualify. The Euro has paid the price ever since.
- The history of the EU, EEC, Common Market, is that of an evolving and expanding economic union. From the outset it lacked a truly democratic, popular agenda, something which continues to today. It has neglected its people other than when the interests of the economy dictate. It lacks a truly Europe-wide democratic dimension. Its organs are still wedged into national straitjackets.
- The EU has allowed the new 21st century institutions of the centre in Brussels to develop without deciding on how they fit with the 19th century creations that are its member states. In the era of globalisation this 19th century model is becoming increasingly weak and less able to object to or combat the power of multinational corporations, financial institutions, military alliances, etc. A confederate Europe of the regions could counteract this anti-democratic trend.
- In theory the EU supports subsidiarity – it’s enshrined in the Treaty of Maastricht, but the centre keeps attempting to exercise increasing powers over matters that immediately bring it into conflict with the vested power of national governments, all of whose ministers depend on popularity at home for their continued survival. There is also the tension between the Big Hitters – Germany, France (and once upon a time the UK) – and the minnows – Malta, Cyprus, Ireland, Greece – who have no real influence over the direction of travel of the EU. The only answer that works is one that no government of the large countries will accept, most would resist as it would spell the end of their influential positions. The answer is a true confederation but not between nations but between the component parts of the larger nations and the existing smaller ones, with an agreed split between the responsibilities of the centre and those of the regions.
- The EU has to be about more than economics; it has to focus on democracy and the quality of governance for the sake of its people. This means doing two things in opposite directions: less ideology in key economic decisions, if it is doing more harm than good; more politics in key democratic decisions, enabling a more contented continent.
Steps To Achieve Our Goals
- The EU dream is of a Federation; WR’s vision is of a Confederation. Co-operation – yes; control – no. We would seek to reform and remodel the EU. Brexit risks destroying any hope of that being achievable. For that reason WR stands opposed to Brexit.
- We will continue to campaign on behalf of the people of Wessex for:
- the preservation of the EU gains for ordinary citizens i.e. human rights, worker protection, environmental protection laws; the preservation of freedoms to travel, study and work in Europe with a right to be formally acknowledged as EU citizens
- a greater involvement with the various regions of Europe through the European Free Alliance to directly influence European affairs.
- We seek to work up from here to rejoining the Customs Union and the Single Market and then towards once again taking an active role in shaping the EU from the inside. To fail would leave a Little Britain dominated for decades to come by a rightwing, rabid, rampaging Tory party funded by neo-liberal Big Business.
- The geographical position of Wessex means it is ideally placed to forge direct links to the other peoples of Europe. This would also allow us to bypass the dead hand of Westminster and its parochial view of international relations which holds areas like Wessex back. Many towns, cities and other local government areas in Wessex are twinned with their equivalents in Normandy, a similarly agricultural region with aspects of a shared history. Wessex is an outward-looking region with maritime links to the countries of the Atlantic seaboard and beyond. We would seek to ally Wessex, politically and economically, with other regions within Europe in defence of common interests and against their transformation by those regions that are more heavily urbanised and industrialised.
- In the interim we would strive to make Wessex the most democratic, tolerant, fair state or region in Europe – the envy of all the others and a model for Spain, Germany, Italy etc to truly federalise or disband; a modern Wessex in a modern Europe. We would seek to reform and remodel the EU. For that reason, WR stands willing to work with like-minded movements across Britain and the EU to create a Europe that benefits all its people.
Appendix: Treaty Of Lisbon Article 42.7
If a Member State is the victim of armed aggression on its territory, the other Member States shall have towards it an obligation of aid and assistance by all the means in their power, in accordance with Article 51 of the United Nations Charter. This shall not prejudice the specific character of the security and defence policy of certain Member States.
Commitments and cooperation in this area shall be consistent with commitments under the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, which, for those States which are members of it, remains the foundation of their collective defence and the forum for its implementation.