Sunday, December 26, 2010

The question that is not asked

"Britons want European Union to assert itself on the global stage" says The Observer, telling us that a Fabian Society poll "reveals" that the British public wants EU states to co-operate more on major policy issues such as climate change. This is a YouGov survey, which purports to show that, while anti-Brussels feeling is still deep-rooted, "Britons now want the EU to be more active in meeting specific international and global challenges."

Thus do we discover that, while almost twice as many people (45 percent) believe Britain's membership of the EU to be a "bad thing" rather than a "good thing" (25 percent), when asked what role the EU should take in relation to key policies of global significance they are far more positive. About 71 percent of those questioned said EU countries should co-operate more closely on fighting terrorism and international crime, against only seven percent who wanted to loosen links between member states in that area.

A total of 55 percent thought member states should work more closely on climate change, against 14 percent who thought they should co-operate less. About 53 percent said they should do more to regulate the banks jointly, against 25 percent who said they should do less.

When it comes to assessing these results, however, few readers here will have missed the switch. The poll asks about EU member states co-operating. The Observer translates this into wanting the EU to be "more active". But of course people want member states to co-operate. The real question is whether we have to give up power and sovereignty to do so. And that is the question that is not asked. To do so would give the game away.