Tuesday, January 22, 2013

EU Referendum: snatching defeat from victory


Taking a cue from my previous pieceAutonomous Mind, has picked up and run with the treaty issue and its implications for the forthcoming (we hope) referendum.

Witterings is also running a piece and between them they emphasise the point that the ability of the EU to sign up to treaties has very much escaped public scrutiny, a form of "ever closer union" that really has been carried out under the radar. 

AM observes that UKIP, in particular, has singularly failed to come up with a strategy to protect this country's economic interests after exit from the EU, with the party's website focusing on other things. The "celebrated and high profile EUsceptics" are absolutely nowhere in the debate, he says. 

With the Lisbon Treaty - which gave the EU a legal identity – the problems can only get worse, as the EU embeds itself further and further at the centre of a web of international treaties, binding us by a myriad of silken threads, making it increasingly difficult for us to extricate ourselves. 

The recorded number of treaties is almost certainly an under-estimate, not least because the most recent ones are not on the list. One absentee is a treaty agreed only two days ago with Eurocontol, a 39-member intergovernmental operation responsible for the safety of air navigation throughout greater Europe. 

The treaty is tied in with the development of the EU's Single European Sky, which is planning an entirely new legislative framework for European aviation. 

With the UK a member of both Eurocontrol and the EU, it would be useful to be able to identify exactly the implications of our leaving the European Union on our participation in this initiative, and whether we could continue with our current level of involvement. 

Such are the complexities of the EU/Eurocontol treaties, however, and the legislative framework, I could not at this state offer a firm opinion on the consequences, yet these we must know as the debate on withdrawal develops. 

Yet, as AM reminds us, UKIP's current strategy for withdrawal is to pursue the "magic wand" option of repealing the ECA and unilateral withdrawal. But Farage would not have the slightest idea of the effect of that action on our air traffic control arrangements and plans. For him, and the rest of us, it would truly be a leap in the dark. 

And that is precisely what we cannot afford. Already, we have wasted years, when many of these issues could have been identified and solutions offered, but by and large, the eurosceptic community (of which UKIP is a major part) is unprepared. 

With all the forces ranged against us, we cannot afford to go into battle without the answers, and now we have a huge amount of catching up to do. At least Better off Out seems to be doing some serious work, but we need to do much more if we are to avoid snatching defeat from victory.