On national security as with trade and social affairs, the case for Brexit hinges on the conflict between intergovernmentalism and supranationalism
In his latest Telegraph column, Christopher Booker joins this blog in refuting the baseless, scaremongering claims by the Remain camp that being in the EU in any way protects Britain from the risk of terrorist attack.
It was unfortunate timing for our not very convincing Defence Secretary Michael Fallon, when he used the Brussels terrorist attacks to claim that they only confirm how disastrous it would be for Britain to leave the EU. “The fact is,” he said, that “across Europe we do have these mechanisms now” for “sharing intelligence about terrorists’ movements” that enable “all intelligence services across Europe to pool their efforts”.
Do those “mechanisms” for sharing intelligence include the Parliament, Court of Justice, Commission, the supranational elements by which the European Union undermines nation states and seeks to usurp their role on the world stage? Of course not – these are all explicitly political institutions. All of the collaboration which actually helps to combat terrorism in Europe occurs on an intergovernmental, not a supranational basis, mostly outside of European Union structures.
When sovereign governments are free to co-operate on mutually important issues, they can often do so well. But when a busybody supranational regime seeks to take on ever more responsibilities from the nation state, vesting them in inappropriate and unproven institutions, that’s when things can easily fall through the cracks, as this blog explained yesterday.
Booker rightly goes on to argue:
In fact, there is here a much wider point, which highlights one of the most common misunderstandings about the EU, whose supporters try to persuade us that without it, international cooperation could not exist. In fact, over a whole range of issues, countries have long evolved extremely effective systems of inter‑governmental cooperation, such as on air-traffic control, Interpol, the international postal union, the European Space Agency and dozens more (not to mention Nato).
All these, negotiated between national governments, regardless of whether or not they are in the EU, work very well. And not the least absurd feature of the EU’s attempt to make itself a “supranational government of Europe” is how often it has tried to absorb these examples of effective cooperation into its own clumsy bureaucratic empire: as when it launched its “Single European Sky” programme, or set up “Europol”, or issued directives on postal arrangements with which it then expected non-EU states to comply, or tried to take over the European space programme for its crazy Galileo satellite project.
If only more people appreciated the crucial difference between “inter‑governmental”, which works, and “supranational”, which doesn’t, how much more enlightening our debate might become.
Inter-governmental versus supranational. It is very much in the interests of the EU’s apologists and closet federalists for the general public not to realise the difference between these two important terms.
The former describes the healthy co-operation between friendly allied countries, sometimes bilaterally and other times facilitated by an organising body (like Interpol). The latter describes weak nation states outsourcing key responsibilities to a higher third party, a reckless and unproven approach only ever attempted by national politicians seeking to escape accountability to their own electorates.
If the Remain camp succeed in their effort to lay a thick fog of war over the EU referendum debate so that important terminologies and ideas are confused and muddled, they automatically win. If they can persuade people that the EU equals warm, fuzzy co-operation with our friends while Brexit equals snarling isolationism and being an international pariah, the Remain camp need to nothing else. And so far, they are succeeding.
In order to turn this around, the Leave campaign absolutely must succeed in educating the public on the difference between laudable and (ideally) transparent and accountable co-operation between European countries on one hand, and the outsourcing of core government competencies to undemocratic, unwanted and untested unified European institutions on the other.
This applies not only to national security, but economic and social affairs too. When the Leave campaign are able to cut through the fog of confusion and make people realise that leaving the EU would actually represent an affirmation and strengthening of the only kind of co-operation which actually delivers positive results (the inter-governmental kind), they are far more likely to embrace Brexit and realise how the EU actively harms healthy intergovernmentalism in its rabid pursuit of ever-closer union.
Can the Leave campaign this message across in less than three months between now and the referendum? Perhaps. But enlightenment will not spring from the mouths of deliberately ignorant “leaders” like Boris Johnson.
Those who can actually distinguish between the real issues and the cosmetic ones – which sadly excludes much of the British press corps – urgently need to find a way to amplify their message.
Bottom Image: Cartoon by Wolfgang Ammer, published in Intergovernmentalism & Liberal Intergovernmentalism
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