By which we mean the problems created by the Maastricht Treaty otherwise known as the Treaty of European Union. It is important to recall that it was not till this treaty was signed that the Common Fisheries Policy became part of the consolidated treaties, having been before that a policy created by regulations. (Discussed here and here.)

As mentioned in a previous posting, it was Article 38 under Title II that formally stated:

The common market shall extend to agriculture and trade in agricultural products. "Agricultural products means the products of the soil, of stockfarming and of fisheries and products of first-stage processing directly related to these products.

The Maastricht Treaty did something more that was noted by some people at the time but dismissed by the defenders of the treaty and the whole European project as being of little real importance: it established a European citizenship. In Article 8 we can read:

1. Citizenship of the Union is hereby established. Every person holding the nationality of a Member State shall be a citizen of the Union.

It then goes on to define various aspects of that citizenship and this Article has remained in all succeeding treaties. A good many people have argued that the citizens of this country were not asked whether they wanted to be citizens of the European Union and should, therefore be able to give it up. But can they?

This is what Lord Stoddart of Swindon (a good friend of FAL) wanted to know and asked

Her Majesty's Government what is the process by which British subjects may renounce their European Union citizenship.

The response given by Lord Henley on behalf of HMG but, undoubtedly, written by one or more of his minions in DEFRA was illuminating:

Under the Maastricht Treaty, every citizen who is a national of a member state is also a citizen of the Union. The UK has defined its "nationals" for European Economic Area (EEA) purposes as:

British citizens;

British overseas territories citizens who derive their citizenship from a Gibraltar connection and;British subjects under Part IV of the British Nationality Act 1981 having the right of abode under s.2 of the Immigration Act 1971.

A UK national as defined above who renounced that status and did not have the nationality of another member state would cease to be a European citizen. It is not possible, however, to renounce European citizenship while remaining a UK national.

So hard luck. If you want to remain British you have to remain a citizen of this preposterous Union.

Monday, 11 June 2012

Looking at the bigger picture

Once again apologies for the silence. The weather has not been conducive to much thinking and there were many distractions such as the Jubilee week-end. All that is over though the weather continues to be the reverse of charming.

When we discuss the CFP, its real structure, aim and purpose as well as the supposed reform, it is important to think about the bigger picture. The CFP is part of the EU's treaty structure (since the one signed at Maastricht) and the difficulties with it reflect the difficulties with that idea: a centralized integrated political construct that cannot function either efficiently or to the benefit of any member state or community.

Recently, there have been various calls for an IN/OUT referendum on the EU membership. We, on this blog, are not happy with that as the campaign merely fudges a number of issues and takes away attention from things that matter. We consider that a healthy economic and political life (and that includes the fishing industry) cannot be revived in this country as long as it stays in the European Union, where reforms cannot be achieved except towards further integration.

Therefore, we need to concentrate on the two vital questions: how do we get out and what do we do afterwards. We hope to have a discussion about what needs to be done about the fishing industry on this blog, which will now become considerably more active (depressing weather or not).

In the meantime, it is worth recalling that some of the organizations and think-tanks that have presented themselves as being "eurosceptic" are, in fact, little more than front organizations for the EU or, as some people have referred to them, perestroika europhiles. In other words, they cannot see beyond a pointless and unachievable call for a reform in the EU or something they describe as a change in the relationship between Britain and the EU.

Of course, there is no relationship between Britain and the EU as Britain is a member of the EU. That is like calling for a change in the relationship between Devon and the UK - a nonsensical concept.

Furthermore, given the structure of the EU and the fact that any change in that can be achieved only through a wide-ranging change in the treaties that need to be accepted unanimously and implemented unanimously, the idea is well-nigh inconceivable.

That does not stop some organizations, too frightened to follow their own logic to the end. The latest of these is the research organization and think-tank, Open Europe, who have produced numerous reports that showed severe structural flaws in the EU and in its many policies.

For all of that, they proclaim on very little real evidence that Britain is better off in the EU; they also repeat that some kind of nebulous change in the relationship is achievable simply because Open Europe think it desirable - a fallacious argument. But it is worth looking at their report and the article about it, if for not other reason then to understand that not all organizations that proclaim to be on our side, really are.

For any of our readers interested in commercial fishing in Alaska, here is a link to an interesting blog on the subject.