Richard North, 02/05/2004  

The President of the European Parliament, the Irishman Pat Cox, has been sickened by some of the coverage of the “historic” enlargement of the European Union. (Incidentally, what were the other enlargements? Unhistoric?)

As usual, it is Britain that has upset the venerable euro-politician, more specifically, the British tabloid press. Could this be because he does not read any other language and, therefore, has no other idea of what other tabloid press may be like? Surely not.

In sentences that were large-minded rather than specific he said:

"I have been sickened at the reductionism of this wonderful moment of enlargement into tabloid headlines in so many places which should know better about floods of migrants.

"The only flood we have seen is a flood of tabloid ink and prejudice. "So we must be clear that where there is prejudice we must confront it."

What on earth does this mean? Is one not allowed to express doubts about the wisdom of the eastward enlargement? Is one allowed to do nothing but sing the praises of the great and the good of the European Union, all of whom were tonight dining in splendour in Dublin? After all, we are paying for that dinner. We should, at least, be allowed to have opinions.

In what seems to be a non-sequitur, Mr Cox went on from wagging his finger at the British tabloid press (which, admittedly, has many faults) to sheer and incomprehensible pomposity.

For some reason he decided to remind everyone of the Balkan wars of the nineties and bring up that old chestnut of how things would have been so much better if the EU had seen fit to have some sort of a common policy. Or not exactly a common policy or even a common army but “a common capacity to resolve to do more together, pooling our respective sovereignty where we choose to do so." Oh dear. Is it something in the water? There is not a coherent or accurate thought anywhere.

First of all, pooling sovereignty is not really a clear concept. Sovereignty either exists or it does not. One can pool power, one can have alliances, one can have treaties but if a country does not control its legislation and taxation it is not a sovereign state.

Then there is the question of Europe’s and the EU’s record in the Balkans. That, as our readers may remember, was going to be the prime example of EU common foreign policy. Far from not acting together, the EU used the collapsing Yugoslavia to try to construct a foreign policy for itself, regardless of the effects this might have had on the people who were there.

And what did this policy consist of? That Yugoslavia must be kept together, no matter what the people in the countries that made it up wanted and no matter what methods were used. In effect, the EU for several years supported and, sometimes, encouraged the bloody rule of Milosevic and his gang, refusing to help or arm his victims.

As the erstwhile Foreign Secretary expressed it so clearly: “We do not want to see level killing fields.” And on that they all agreed, until Germany rediscovered its conscience and recognized Slovenia and Croatia and helped to arm Bosnia. Or, perhaps, Mr Cox thinks that is wrong and all the EU member states should have gone on together, encouraging massacres such as that of Srebrenice? Who knows.

Clearly Mr Cox has also forgotten that, in the end, it was NATO, that is the Americans with British support who sorted out, at least partially and, probably, temporarily the mess that the EU had helped to create.

We strongly suspect that Mr Cox would not like to hear this. He would consider comments of this kind to be prejudice - but would he confront them?

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