Sunday, May 29, 2005


In the column this morning, Booker takes apart Malcolm Wicks, our new energy minister, who last week launched his crusade to build "2000 more wind turbines" across the UK.

Writes Booker, "he was guilty of such a stunning act of disinformation we can only believe he did so from ignorance." The story is accompanied by a stunning photgraph, which really brings home the impact of the renewables policy. Unfortunately, it has not been reproduced online so, to see it, you will have to go out and buy a copy of The Sunday Telegraph.

For his second story, Booker reminds us that, according to President Chirac, speaking to journalists in Paris on 28 April 2004, any country voting "no" to the constitution must leave the EU. He may not wish to be reminded of it today, but this was what just after Tony Blair announced that he was to hold a British referendum. Chirac, already under pressure to follow suit, was angry with Blair and said, as the Financial Times reported two days later, it was a matter of "ratify or quit". Booker continues:

As the unthinkable possibility now looms that it might be the people of France who face the "European project" with its most embarrassing setback in 50 years, the one thing certain is that every kind of pressure will be mounted to ensure that the "project" and its constitution remain on course. So single-minded are those behind it that they have long since jumped the gun by implementing various provisions of the constitution even before it is ratified.

These range from setting up the EU’s own worldwide diplomatic service and its police college in Hampshire, to co-ordinate EU-wide police training and procedures, to launching the EU's Galileo space programme and the European Defence Agency, to co-ordinate the ‘Union’s’ defence forces. At present all these are being pushed forward on an "intergovernmental" basis, because it is only when the constitution is ratified that they can become fully-fledged "Union’ institutions", paid for from the "Union" budget.

The project Brussels is particularly keen to see brought under its wing is the European Space Agency. This is because its Galileo satellite programme, unlike its US equivalent, will charge for its services, including a "tax" on all aircraft entering the "single European sky" and an EU-wide system of congestion charging and road tolls.

There is much the EU can get on with without the constitution. But without the ability to raise cash through Galileo, the ‘Union’ stands to lose billions of euros a year. Meanwhile we look forward to hearing President Chirac announce that France, which itself stands to earn billions from Galileo, largely a French project, is now obeying his own injunction to "ratify or quit".
The third story is yet another account of the baleful effect of the implementation (and lack) of the EU’s Common Fisheries Policy. The story needs no elaboration:

Two items in Fishing News bring home the ongoing tragedy of Britain’s fisheries. In Yorkshire, two Bridlington fishermen, Peter and Bob Ibbotson, announced they are giving up fishing, after a lifetime in the industry, after Whitby magistrates imposed on them more than £5,000 in fines and costs for breaching EC fisheries regulations. Their crime, after 36 hours at sea with only two hours sleep, had been to enter Scarborough harbour without giving advance warning to ministry inspectors.

Under EU rules, if a boat is carrying a ton of cod, a phone warning must be given, so it can be inspected. In fact the inspectors were already waiting when the Wayfarer arrived. They also found that, although the catch itself was wholly legal, the two men had not yet completed their extensive ministry paperwork. Peter Ibbotson, leaving court, said that "unworkable bureaucracy" now made it impossible for small fishermen to earn a living.

Elsewhere was reported the recent devastating onslaught of 10 large Russian trawlers on haddock stocks around Rockall. When Scottish fisheries inspectors boarded the Russian boats, they found each was carrying between 200 and 400 tons of haddock, whereas Brussels allows Scottish boats to catch only 562 tons in a year. The Russians were also using minute 50 millimetre mesh nets, allowing nothing to escape, whereas the Scottish boats use much larger mesh nets, allowing small fish to go free. It is good to know that European Commission officials later spent a "full day discussing the problem" with their Russian counterparts.
Booker's fourth story has a go at that great doyen of science, Sir David King, appointed by Mr Blair as the government's chief scientist during the foot-and-mouth crisis. As it is not directly related to the EU, I will leave you to read it online, via the link provided.

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