Sunday, July 18, 2004

Why I ran away

Jim Dougal, until a few weeks ago, was head of representation of the European commission in the UK. On announcing his resignation, he told his story in the Independent and now he is at it again in The Sunday Times, telling them why he ran away.

When he resigned, he writes, he walked (ran?) away from a secure job with private health insurance, an excellent pension scheme and superb colleagues. So why did he leave? Because it had become intolerable for him to work in such a bureaucratic nightmare.

"It is five years since Jacques Santer’s scandal-hit commission was forced to resign en bloc after allegations of cronyism and embezzlement. But the organisation has not yet come to terms with the consequences. The response was to introduce more paper-shuffling and more pettyfogging regulations."

No doubt to the chagrin of his former colleagues, he spills the beans by revealing that "The reality of working in the commission is, I am afraid, not far from what its greatest critics claim: that Brussels does indeed control each country of the European Union with stupefying one-size-fits-all rules."

"It does a great job in preaching to the converted but cannot reach people with Eurosceptic views. Thus, to most British people, Brussels is unaccountable and remote. The heart of the European Union might as well be a million miles away".

But, for all his insight, our Jim has not learned a great deal - nor is he very consistent.  Having already written in is own piece, "Brussels does indeed control each country of the European Union", he then goes on to write in the same piece, "The commission is not a government but it thinks it is", and "…they think they have the right to tell governments what to do."
Er… excuse me Jim, have your read the treaties recently? Have you read your own piece?  The commission does have the right to tell governments what to do and, in its spheres of competence, it is decidedly a government.  As a result - and exactly as you have written - "Brussels does indeed control each country of the European Union".

If our Jim cannot get his brain straight on this, having spent his time at the heart of the monster, no wonder he has become so frustrated that he has opted out. But his own confusion does rather cast doubt on his prescription for winning the battle for hearts and minds.

It is not good enough to blame the failure of the "pro-Europeans" on the Eurosceptic press, he writes. "The pro-European lobby must find credible leaders who will insist on taking the best from European integration".

"If our government wants to be at the heart of Europe, it should be on the offensive now. And it must initiate the debate. The argument cannot be left to outsiders in Brussels — because they are seen as the very foreigners who are trying to take us over."

So, Jim, what you are saying is that the foreigners should keep quite and let the British apologists do their job for them?

If you want to read Jim’s full article, click here.

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