EU directives – the bindweed of British politics
A little more trivially, though by no means insignificant, it has also been reported that the decision for councils switching to fortnightly rubbish collection and increasing recycling is due to the EU landfill directive, which demands that the UK reduce the amount of biodegradable municipal waste going to landfill to 75 per cent of its 1995 total by 2010. Councils, like national governments, are powerless to resist, and no vote of the people can change this state of affairs.
But what Cranmer did not know (…though he ought to have suspected…) is that Home Information Packs also have their genesis in an EU directive. The Government has diluted the scheme, the Opposition never wanted the scheme, estate agents despaired at the scheme, and sellers will have to pay for the scheme whether they like it or not. HIPs are here to stay because, as the Government’s website helpfully explains: ‘By 2009, all buildings in the UK that are constructed, sold or rented out will have to have an Energy Performance Certificate, in accordance with the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive’.
These pesky directives are stifling British politics and undermining democracy. The entire canon of EU legislation now runs to 170,000 pages, and new directives are added every month which receive no scrutiny from Westminster. The seeds of this weed are sown, they germinate, spread, bind, and produce more seeds, and (sadly) the ground on which they fall is not arid and stony, but fertile and damp, and there are no competing thorns to choke them.
It is therefore all the more important that the Leader of Her Majesty’s Opposition commit the Conservative Party either to a referendum on the ‘Constitution for Europe’, or to repealing it altogether. According to The Sunday Telegraph, Mr Cameron has said: ‘Any treaty that is about the transfer of powers to the EU must be put to the country in a referendum’. Quite so.
On the eve of the Prime Minister’s departure, he intends to sign the United Kingdom up to the new ‘Constitutional Treaty’, which is simply a re-branded version of what the French and Dutch have already rejected. It will establish a permanent EU President, and an EU ‘foreign minister’ with the power to represent the Union on key international bodies such as the UN Security Council. The ‘Treaty’ also includes proposals to give foreign police the right to freely enter the UK and arrest British citizens suspected of crimes abroad with no regard to the current extradition procedures. Other plans include a central European database of EU citizens, containing highly confidential data such as credit cards records. In addition, the revised voting system will reduce Britain's ability to block unwanted legislation by about a third. The susceptibility of the UK to these interminable directives will thereby be massively increased, and the British people can do nothing about it.
If Prime Minister Brown does not make good his manifesto pledge to hold a referendum, Mr Cameron must do so. The issue is not now one of mere politics, but of morality.