August 9, 2012

The Compleat Death of Sovereignty


The Commentator

The European Union is snatching our sovereignty, bit by bit. Ever wonder how it's managed it?
100 percent
EU        "My dear fellow! Welcome to the club. It’s splendidly set up, so that all members have an equal say. The members vote on new rules that are then binding on everyone. Voting has to be unanimous, mind. Otherwise it could all get nasty and bad tempered. And there’s a club committee to keep any eye on day-to day things, plus a process for deciding who’s in breach of the rules, a sort of court, but that’s not onerous or intrusive. The rules are only those that all members want. Everyone has a veto"
UK        "Marvellous. Sounds good to me. Where do I sign?"
100 percent – 80 percent
EU        (Unctuously) "We’ve been having a think about the rules. It turns out that a lot of rules (20 percent of them or so) address pretty mundane issues, so we think it’s better that we take decisions by majority voting in those specified areas. Trivial stuff. Nothing important. Better not to bother about it in fact, by getting decisions taken ASAP. And don’t forget that all members will still have a veto on everything else – everything that really matters. OK?"
UK        Thinks: Hmm. Bit of a concession here to cede the principle of unanimity. But a lot of this stuff is trivial and it’s maybe better to get through it faster by majority voting…
"Accepted - but let’s not start nibbling away that remaining 80 percent of important decisions taken by unanimity."

80 percent – 60 percent
EU        (Friendly and positive tone) "We’ve been thinking about the rules. That majority voting has worked well. A few squeakers here and there, but nothing too serious. It is well worth extending this voting to some more areas.
The great advantage to you as a significant club member is that usually you’ll be able to use your influence in the club to pass rules you really like. In theory you can get outvoted on issues important to you, but according to our calculations that will happen very infrequently. And even if you lose a few votes, you’ll gain much more by getting the things you like passed faster and not blocked. Plus you retain a veto on the great majority of decisions! OK?"
UK       Thinks: They don’t give up do they? But maybe they’re right: on balance we’ll do a bit better by getting our requirements pushed through faster. Plus we keep a veto on 60 percent of all decisions – the ones that really matter…
"OK, but I insist - that’s enough fiddling with the rules!"
60 percent – 49 percent
EU        (Thinks: this is the big one. Stay calm and don’t panic) "How nice to see you again. We have an important proposal about the rules. We brought in more club members from Eastern Europe, just as you wanted. Some of them are a bit dodgy, if you ask me. But the problem is now obvious: we now have far too many vetoes.
The time has come to divide issues into those that really matter and those that don’t. We calculate that only 49 percent of issues in this larger club - that you wanted - are important enough to warrant everyone having a veto. We’ve successfully extended voting into many areas in recent times, and life has gone on well enough. So how about another small change? You’ve already accepted voting for 40 percent of issues – another 21 percent won’t really make much difference.
Oh – one other thing. The club court is finding it necessary to interpret some of the rules much more - ahem - flexibly these days. The club’s true vital purposes just can’t be fulfilled otherwise. All these members’ vetoes are jamming everything for everyone! Not everyone is happy about the court, but it’s for the common good which we have all accepted."
UK        Thinks:  Blimey. I did press to allow in all those new members. The problem is that if we don’t accept this new proposal, the club court may rule against us anyway in some of these areas. Maybe it’s better to accept this and firmly ring-fence the remaining areas and so bring this change under some sort of members’ control?
"I’m really not happy about this, but OK. And no more fiddling with the rules!"
49 percent – 10 percent
EU        (using a very firm voice) "The time has come to make this club really work properly. There is far too much time being wasted on silly arguments and people blocking things for selfish reasons. The club’s overall purposes must be fulfilled and not constantly held back!
Let’s face facts. For most members only a very small handful of issues really matter – some 10 percent at most, i.e. those involving your own money. The rest must be decided by majority voting so that we all benefit and move ahead. You’ve sensibly conceded that 51 percent of issues be decided by majority voting. Accept your responsibility. Keep a veto on only the issues of the utmost importance, such as voting club membership fees. You’ve come so far to make the club a fine success - and the club committee salutes you for that. Take this next bold step too."
UK        Thinks: “I am in blood stepp’d in so far that should I wade no more, returning were as tedious as go o’er.”
"I accept but with extreme reluctance. And I want it entered in the minutes that this way of running the club is quite unsatisfactory. You are behaving abominably, sir!"
10 percent – 0 percent
EU        (angrily) "The club Central Committee and Court have decided that the remaining areas open to this so-called veto are no longer acceptable, and are hereby abolished under a wide-ranging rules revision.
Henceforth the club will grow and prosper under rules proclaimed by the Central Committee and Court, the bodies with the club’s true interests at heart. On funding, the Central Committee will wisely decide how much of members’ income goes to the club, and then offer members a wide and generous variety of options for spending the money remaining with them. You may go."
UK        (angrily) "Hold on! I have my rights! This isn’t fair. It’s NOT what I agreed."
EU        (sneering) "Do stop rattling your manacles, serf. It’s disturbing our lunch."
Charles Crawford is a Contributing Editor to The Commentator. A former British Ambassador in Sarajevo, Belgrade and Warsaw, he is now a private consultant and writer: www.charlescrawford.biz. He tweets@charlescrawford

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