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Last week, the European Union celebrated an important anniversary. Seventy years ago, on May 9, 1950, the French Foreign Minister Robert Schuman, presented the Schuman Declaration on the creation of a European Coal and Steel Community, which was the first of a series of European institutions that would ultimately become today’s EU. Built from the ruins of World War 2, in a bid to establish peace through economic collaboration, the original six-member EU grew to include 28 countries over the years, and only one of them has left so far, the UK.
Keeping the EU alive and going, though, has been incredibly difficult. Economic challenges, migration crisis, unemployment, and a growing nationalism in several of the member states are only some of the challenges that the bloc has faced throughout the years.
The most recent one is the fight against the coronavirus pandemic, which forced the EU to shut its borders, something that has not happened during its 70 years of its existence.
With the challenges faced with the coronavirus pandemic, growing nationalism and anti-EU movements, and a not-so stable economy, the 70th anniversary has found the EU in an existential crisis like never before.
As many wonder whether the bloc will survive, former Conservative MEP David Campbell Bannerman shed light on his time in Brussels in a recent report for the eurosceptic think tank ‘Red Cell’ titled “After Rue Belliard”.
In the report, Mr Cambpell reflected on how the EU works and and what makes the institution so deeply undemocratic.
He argued that once inside the European Parliament, it was incredibly easy to see where true power lies: still with the European Commission and Council.
The prominent Brexiteer wrote: “Too often I sat there listening and thinking: you know, if I reported what I am hearing now, people at home would think I am a crank, an extremist, exaggerating wildly.
“But it is here in front of me – it is real. The fact that the EU was poorly reported and seen to be irrelevant to most including many MPs was a big problem. It was not irrelevant but it was bad.
“That was my Churchill moment – when you think of Churchill being branded a warmonger for reporting factually the dangers of German rearmament and being banned from the BBC until 1939… So how do you tell people what is really happening here?
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“You only have to look at the voting lists and the colourful chart of votes that appears after every recorded electronic vote (Roll Call Votes) and you see how outnumbered we were on most issues of difference.
“Even with a large national delegation – we Conservatives had 20 MEPs, the Brexit Party at its height 29 MEPs; this too often gets lost in a chamber of 751 MEPs (in my time).”
Mr Campbell Bannermann added: “You glance over at where the real power in the EU lies: the federalist-leaning central EPP (European People’s Party) and the federalist-loving Socialist (SD) and Liberal (ALDE Group) blocs – these are the EU’s willing sheep, their little helpers for the real powers in the Commission and Council.
“If these three blocs favour EU legislation, all resistance is futile.”
The European Parliament favours political books, Mr Campbell Bannermann noted, in order to incentivise cross country parties in future.
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He concluded: “This Parliament is meant to be democratic – so often Remoaners would berate you: ‘But you are elected. Of course the EU is democratic’.
“Not if you understand the power structures, and the numbers.
“And how do you leave the EU in the face of such power and resources and numbers ranged against you?
“Nigel Farage was really a one person opposition in this sea of consensus, and instinctively said what so many of us thought.”
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