Welcome to Expat for Brexit – a message to British expats in EU countries that BREXIT is the right option for expats, for Britain and for a free democratic Europe.
British people already legally resident in the EU will retain their present rights and responsibilities.
There is no real threat to their property, rights of residence, pension or health arrangements.
Under the provisions of international law, existing rights cannot be removed – note, for example, the 1969 Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties. This is confirmed by an advice Note from the authoritative House of Commons Library – the resource for British law makers.
It is also a legal principle in free countries that changes in the law do not apply retrospectively.
In this context we should note that all countries in the EU subscribe to the Rule of Law.
Apart from the legal obligations in play, the political pressures to maintain the rights of EU citizens resident in each other’s countries are overwhelming.
Take for example Britain and France. There are at least 370,000 French people living and working in the UK – twice the number of Brits living in France. It is in neither country’s interests to destabilise populations at a time of massive migration into the EU area. Nor is it in either country’s economic interests to destabilise the status quo.
In fact the rights of British and French in each other’s country are not ultimately dependent on the EU. Several bi-lateral accords exist between Britain and France on key matters such as Taxation, Health provision, social security and border control. These agreements will continue, regardless of EU membership, and regardless of whatever threats are made during the Referendum campaign.
There is no reason whatsoever for such arrangements to be changed. Where arrangements are making use of an EU mechanism, they can easily be transferred into bi-lateral accords of the type that already exist. To suggest otherwise is to play callously with people’s ignorance.
But what of the general conditions in Europe apparently secured by the existence of the EU? Surely expat interests are as much concerned with general conditions as with particular personal concerns ?
Certainly the EU has pretensions to be the government of Europe, and has drawn to itself increasing powers and influence. Certainly it was founded back in 1956/7 with the express intent of assuring the peace of Europe by means of increasing economic and political convergence.
Let’s look at the facts.
International police co-operation was undertaken by Interpol long before the existence of the EU/ EEC. International co-operation regarding terrorism and threats to democratic countries are secured by other, extensive arrangements to share intelligence. The idea that countries are going to stop sharing with a UK outside the EU is complete nonsense, especially when the UK is a European leader in Intelligence.
The peace in Europe has not been secured by the EU. Other factors have secured the peace of Europe, especially the refusal of the French and Germans to contemplate war in Europe. NATO is actually the military mechanism for our physical security; and nuclear weapons have been a deterrent, by assuring Mutually Assured Destruction.
In reality, the stability of Europe is now threatened by the very policies and mechanisms of the EU.
The migration crisis in Europe is due to the policy and mechanism of open borders, and the failure over many years to make proper provision to secure the external borders of Europe.
The economic crisis in Europe has been aggravated, if not caused, by the policy and mechanism of the Euro as a Single, one-size-fits-all currency. That Single Currency mechanism has brought terrible consequences in – for example – Greece where the economy, society and democracy have suffered severely.
Politically there is much about the EU to worry true democrats. EU directives and regulations over-ride national laws, the EU’s European Court of Justice upholds this pre-eminence and the EU Commission – the EU Civil Service – enforces it.
In fact these pre-eminent EU laws are initiated and framed by the bureaucrats of the EU Commission, behind closed doors, and often in co-operation with big business interests. They are designed to pursue the aim of a Single European State where entire countries are divided into Euro Regions, becoming mere counties in a new Super State.
Yet there is another Europe wide forum for political co-operation. It is called the Council of Europe and has 47 members – the EU has 28. It is certainly allied to the EU and shares its aims, but it could easily provide a looser forum for co-operation given the political will.
The EU is a project to achieve complete European integration under one European Government. That project has been inspired by a Continental, and especially a French mentality and practice.
Such centralised, dirigiste, state oriented thinking and practice contrast radically with the British approach, culture, institutions and practice. In fact ours have been submitted to theirs.
Let me give you just one powerful and critical example which demonstrates the difference, the experience and the impact of the conflicting approaches.
The decision to make the Euro currency a Single currency displacing national currencies overnight was typically continental and very French. The UK pressed for a Common European Currency to circulate alongside national currencies.
We lost that one – and with it the reality of a European Project.
But the British approach has proved to be right. The Single currency has imposed impossible constraints on lesser economies like Greece. The results we all know. Indeed another Greek ‘bailout’ is in prospect as I write.
If the British proposal had been adopted for a common currency, the Greek crisis, and indeed the Euro crisis would have been avoided.
With the British proposal, national currencies reflecting the different national conditions would float against each other and against a unifying Euro currency.
In reality the EU is a project where the French and the Germans seek to dominate Europe. Britain has always been sidelined by them, and the record proves this.
From the Franco-German alliance of the Elysee Treaty 1963 and De Gaulle’s refusal to allow British entry to the Common Market in the 1960s; through the ERM crisis leading to Black Wednesday in 1992; and on to the adoption of the Single Currency in the late 1990s – Britain’s unique and pertinent contribution to European harmony has been rejected.
If the EU were fundamentally about the Ideal it espouses, British influence would be recognised, valued and incorporated.
It is not.
Ideals are seldom the reality behind any political project, whatever the professions may be.
Certainly not this one.
Ray Catlin read political history at University, voted for the Common Market in 1975, and has lived in France for several years. He observes both French and British current affairs via their respective national media. He believes a historical perspective is vital if we are to understand contemporary events.
In 2016 he votes for the UK to leave the EU.