Marching to Celebrate 60th Birthday of Rome Treaties

Marching to Celebrate 60th Birthday of Rome Treaties

Yesterday there were several rival marches in Rome, some to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the Treaties of Rome that established the European Economic Community and EURATOM, and some calling for an end to the European Union. We joined a group of British people intent on seeing Britain remain in Europe. After assembling beside the Rose Garden, we joined a much larger international group that gathered in “The Square of the Mouth of Truth”, before marching together to the Coliseum.

Rome was at its spring-time best, under clear skies with a temperature of around 20C. The light wind made the sea of flags, including some very visible Union Jacks and a couple of Saltires, flutter energetically. The wisterias were coming into bloom along our route. And there was an extremely warm atmosphere in the very international crowd. With 27 heads of state meeting on the nearby Capitoline Hill, there was naturally a visible – but unobtrusive – security presence, but all was peaceful and immensely cheerful.

Three of us wore kilts – the organiser of the British contingent, Jeremy Morgan; Alyn Smith, Scottish MEP: and myself. Probably because of my visibility and the generally favourable attitude towards Scotland that one senses in Italy, I was interviewed by several reporters.

Most interviewers questioned why we had chosen to march. In explaining why we believe strongly in the EU – in spite of its many imperfections – I made four main points:

Peace   My father, like so many Europeans of his generation, fought in two immensely destructive European wars and lost many friends in the process. My wife and I have enjoyed over 70 years of peace – the longest period of peace that Europe has had for centuries. The last thing that we want for our children is a break-down of this lasting peace. The EU has played a fundamental role in sustaining this peace, by convening neighbouring nations for peaceful rather than military purposes, fostering trust and familiarity at so many levels, from students to heads of state. As Boris Johnson wrote of Churchill a couple of years ago: “It was his idea to bring these countries together, to bind them so indissolubly that they could never go to war again – and who can deny, today, that this idea has been a spectacular success?

It is alarming to see that this same Johnson, May and others are doing their best to erode this trust, and, in so doing, raising the risk of future conflict.

Shared Values   The EU has successfully nurtured the values to which the majority of people throughout its member countries subscribe – such as respect for people from different cultural, religious, ethnic or linguistic backgrounds; democratic forms of government; freedom of expression – and so on. It comes as a surprise to some people when they start to travel around Europe, that, in spite of much diversity, we have so many common aspirations. The EU, including the European Court of Justice, has helped to protect these values from assault by extremists.

Coordinated Action   The EU has created a vital institutional capacity to address many practical issues requiring transboundary coordination amongst nations. This includes work on human, animal and plant diseases which don’t respect borders; setting and enforcing common food safety standards; addressing climate change; managing energy generation, transmission and use; undertaking joint research and sharing of knowledge in many areas of scientific endeavour; curtailing transboundary crime; adopting common policies towards other countries; striving towards building consensus on strategies for managing immigration, and many other areas. On all such themes, joint action between countries – even when it is difficult to arrive at consensus – is much more efficient and effective than any one country going it alone, avoiding full engagement in arriving at joint solutions.

Single Market and Customs Union   Suffice it to say that the Single Market represents the best free trade arrangement in the world. It plays a vital role in many of the manufacturing, financial, technical and legal systems in Britain and throughout Europe, by setting standards, facilitating high-speed movement of goods (including inputs to just-in-time industrial and retailing systems), avoiding tariffs and all the institutional capacity needed to levy them – and so on. It is absurd that those who claim to favour free trade should be the ones who, even before negotiating an exit from the EU, are calling for Britain’s exclusion from the Single Market, putting the economy and the jobs and living standards of its citizens at great risk.

In response to questions about the prospects for a successful Brexit, I reflected on my own experience in carrying out feasibility studies, working with many governments in developing countries. I learnt that the success of any project – even if it is technically, economically and institutionally feasible – hangs on the extent to which it is “owned” by those who will implement it and stand to “win” or “lose” as a result of it.   A “hard” Brexit is economically suicidal, but its weakest point is that its success ultimately depends not on how people voted on 23rd June 2016 but on the commitment and engagement of the younger generations of British citizens who have to implement it but have made it abundantly clear that they wish to remain in the EU. By ignoring this and treating the young – as well as the Scots, the Irish, the Welsh, Londoners, workers in almost every sector – with haughty disdain, Mrs May’s hard Brexit process seems bound to become a very costly and painful failure.

Future of Our Children

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Future of our Children Flyer for 25th March marches

Here is a text for a flyer that we shall distribute at the Pro-Europe march in Rome on 25th March, celebrating the 60th anniversary of the Rome Treaties creating the European Economic Community and Euratom. We have printed the flyer as a postcard, with a lone poppy on the front and this text on the back. If you are marching anywhere on the same day, you are welcome to use this text and to print your own flyer.

 FUTURE OF OUR CHILDREN

A hefty majority of young people voted on 23rd June 2016 to REMAIN in Europe.

Britain’s success depends on engaging the young. They will bear the brunt when things go badly wrong.

The Prime Minister says she’s listening to young people, but has turned two blind eyes and two deaf ears on their aspirations.

Mrs May is obsessed with driving Britain out of Europe at any cost – even at the cost of our future self-respect, peace and prosperity.

The Brexiteers lied to us in the referendum campaign. Now they are taking us all for a ride again.

Our articles will help you to make the case for the UK to remain in Europe, including the single market. Please read them and share them with others.

If you want to write a piece, we will post it. Please contact us at:

futureofourchildren307@gmail.com

https://www.future-of-our-children.co.uk/

 

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Article by David Quinn on the EU and peace – quoted by London for Europe

Before reproducing David Quinn’s thoughtful and highly pertinent article, may we remind you that 25th March is the 60th anniversary of the Treaties of Rome that led to the foundation of the European Economic Community and EURATOM? There will be events to celebrate this – and to deplore the British government’s commitment to leave the EU through a hard Brexit – throughout the UK and Europe. We shall be joining a march, organised by Brits in Italy, in Rome, gathering at the Rose Garden (close to Circo Massimo) between 11.00 and 11.45 am on Saturday 25th March (see below). We hope that many British, Italian and other European nationals will come to this important event!

Would you like to attend the March for Europe in Rome on March 25th?

MEET US BETWEEN 11:00 AND 11:45 IN FRONT OF IL ROSETO (THE ROSE GARDEN), VIA DEI CIRCO MASSIMO, ROMA.  A BIG UNION JACK WILL BE PLACED ON THE FENCE SO YOU CAN EASILY IDENTIFY THE MEETING PLACE. 

Bring yourselves, friends, kids, family members, banners, flags and face paint if you wish.

We look forward to seeing you there….and please spread the word!  Share this newsletter.

The EU – the transformative effect

In just three paragraphs of the recent House of Lords report on Brexit ( paragraphs 170, 171 and 172 ), in which successive  Irish Prime Ministers  gave witness to the transformation of their relations  with their UK counterparts  as a result of their common EU membership, their Lordships concluded that this joint membership had indeed  been a vital ingredient in the positive transformation of Anglo-Irish relations in recent years and in helping to to lay the foundation for the development of the peace process in Northern Ireland.

The Irish Prime Ministers stressed that it was working  together over the years in the different EU Committees which had enabled them to build good working relationships with UK ministers and develop friendships,  connections and mutual understanding. John Bruton stressed “ how  a bilateral unequal relationship ( between the UK and the Republic ) which had all the difficulties that go with any bilateral unequal relationship, whether in a family, between states or between businesses “ had been  transformed by  their joint membership of the EU  into an equal membership of something bigger than either of them.

What the EEC, and subsequently, the EU achieved in the reconciliation in continental Europe of former  enemies, had once again been successful in the equally fraught area of Anglo-Irish relations. As Jean Monet predicted at the outset of the European adventure “ human nature does not change but when nations and men accept the same rules and the same institutions to make sure they are applied, their behaviour towards each other changes. This is the process of civilisation”. John Bruton’s statement also showed  implicitly the relevance of EU membership to Anglo-Scottish relations and those of  Spain and UK/ Gibraltar.

In reality, the overall objective of the European movement from the start has been to promote peace within the European continent after centuries of conflict, bloodshed and war and ultimately it is on its success in achieving that objective that it must be judged. For the Nobel Committee there was no doubt; it awarded the EU the Nobel Peace Prize in 2012 for  advancing peace, reconciliation, democracy and human rights in Europe over six decades. Its role in this endeavour must not  be confused with that of NATO. The latter was and is an alliance to deter an external agression against its member states and has played no direct role in intra- European relations.

Over the last six decades, national politicians, civil servants and parliamentarians from the member states have been working together towards the integration of Europe whose ultimate form and governance, however,  has yet to be decided. The creation of a Single Market has furthered the process of integration so that one set of commercial regulations henceforth replaces  the national commercial regulations of the 28 member states.  Over time, the 28 member states have grown together in a vast field of activities where they believe that cooperation and collaboration  between them can lead to peace, security and progress in Europe and the world.

The threat of war in Europe , in fact, now appears to be so remote a possibility that peace is being taken for granted. This is a tragic mistake. One only has to look at the atmosphere in the UK following the referendum vote of 23rd June last to notice its effect. Racist and xenophobic incidents have multiplied;  nationality has become an issue; the UK governments message of  “UK interests first” has shocked its European partners. The popular press mocks and pours scorn on the EU and accuses the independent judiciary of being enemies of the people; even the  London Times, which advocated Remain, interpreted a recent speech by the UK Prime Minister on the future negotiations with the EU as being “ Give us a fair deal or you will be crushed “.  In a flash,  the attitude of the UK government  to the EU has changed from one of cooperation to achieve higher goals to one of confrontation and acrimony which will only get worse once the so called Brexit negotiations start.

The withdrawal from the EU by the UK implies its walking away from all those agreements reached with its European partners by successive UK  governments since 1973.  It means the UK will no longer be represented in the  EU Council, Commission or EU  Parliament and will have no say in the future construction of Europe or its future policies.  The working relationships between politicians,  civil servants and parliamentarians  of the member states  and those of the UK in all the different areas of cooperation within the EU will cease. This transformative  process which has resulted in such  mutual understanding and acceptance and has  permitted reconciliation between European nations will, for the UK, be at an end.

However, the EU is not going to disappear and will continue to work to achieve the ambitious objectives  set out in the Lisbon treaty. Indeed, the UK government has recently stated  that it is in the UK’s  overwhelming national interest that  the EU succeeds. And yet, at the same time, the UK’s national interest is, apparently, to set out on a totally different path from the EU.

Clearly, though they state that they do not want to turn the clock back to the days when Europe was less peaceful , the present UK government have not learned the lessons of the history of the last 70 years. In making this decision, the UK government also  overlooks the fact that it is an European country whose destiny has been and will continue to be inextricably linked to that of continental  Europe and, all the more so, in the new inter-dependent global world.

David Quinn

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May’s self-delusions inflate Britain’s capacity for self-harm – but also suggest a way forward

May’s self-delusions inflate Britain’s capacity for self-harm – but also suggest a way forward

It is starting to dawn on many people in Britain that EU referendum campaign promises of a land that would flow with milk and honey, once it was freed from the shackles of the Brussels bureaucrats, are pie in the sky.

As the realities of what a “hard Brexit” would imply seem slightly clearer, it becomes increasingly difficult to identify any groups of people or even any individuals who can point to concrete ways in which they can be sure their lives would be improved through leaving the European Union. For many, the outcome could be catastrophic, with loss of jobs or income, deportation, or inability to get timely access to quality health assistance and affordable care. At worst, the United Kingdom could break up.

We seem to have been pushed into a process that we know will inflict national self-harm on a colossal scale but that we feel powerless to stop.

Worryingly, this process is being led by a prime minister who seems driven by self-delusion and by frequent contradictions between her stated beliefs and her actions.

Thus, in her foreword for the white paper on exiting the EU, she deludes herself by claiming that she enjoys “The strength and support of 65 million people willing us to make it happen”! If she really believes this, no wonder that she has got the bit between her teeth…..

In the same paragraph, May correctly implies that such broad public support is “The essential ingredient of our success”. Yet she contradicts herself in systematically dismissing all those who don’t subscribe to her own interpretation of what she delights in calling “the will of the people”. She has – arrogantly – paid zero attention to the expressed views of the Scots, the Northern Irish, the Welsh, scientists, environmentalists, doctors and health system managers, farmers, the industrial and business communities, trade unionists, the energy sector, banking and financial services providers, immigrants and UK citizens living in Europe, musicians and artists, and millions of young citizens. Without the genuine engagement of all of these groups, whose members know that their interests and livelihoods will suffer, her determination to push ahead as fast as she can with a “hard Brexit” seems bound eventually to end in tears.

In the same contradictory way, the prime minister vaunts the virtues of Britain’s democracy, but has gone to court, not once but twice, to challenge the constitutional authority of the two houses of parliament in which British sovereignty resides. And when the courts have ordered her to engage Westminster in deciding whether to start the process of disengagement from the EU, she has muzzled democratic expression by constraining conservative MPs, through a 3-line whip, to vote on party lines rather than to represent the will of their constituents or to express what they, as elected representatives, believe is right and in the best interests of the country.

Just as she advocates for democracy and then tries to bypass and belittle the institutions which sustain it, May calls for free trade with distant markets but, even before negotiations start, states her intent to withdraw Britain from the EU Single Market. Here again, she is contradicting her own beliefs, having said less than a year ago, in April 2016,  “So, if we do vote to leave the European Union, we risk bringing the development of the single market to a halt, we risk a loss of investors and businesses to remaining EU member states driven by discriminatory EU policies, and we risk going backwards when it comes to international trade.”

What is extraordinary – and dismaying – is that, when given the opportunity by the Supreme Court to debate whether to give the prime minister the authority to invoke Article 50, such a large majority of MPs (many of whom expressed their serious reservations over the consequences for Britain of a “hard Brexit”) voted to give her the green light to go ahead. Hopefully now, when they revisit the Bill to address the amendments approved by the House of Lords, the majority of members of the House of Commons will have the good sense to slam their feet on the brakes of this reckless exercise in national self-harm.

Maybe, as public alarm over the consequences of a hard Brexit rises, the time has come for Theresa May to contradict herself once again. She could genuinely admit that she really has listened attentively to all key players in the UK and to her European counterparts and allies. After due consideration of the evidence, she has decided that it would be advantageous for her country to stay in the EU and to exercise a benign influence on how it operates in future, including the formulation of a new migration policy. She could rightfully claim that she has done her best over the past 8 months to make ample space for pro-Brexit leaders to shape Britain’s future but that they have signally failed to present her with a convincing negotiating position on any of the major issues.

This would be the act of a true stateswoman and patriot.

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