Celebrating Europe Day, perhaps

There are two “Europe Days.” The Council of Europe celebrates it on May 5th, but the EU does so on May 9th, the anniversary of the Schumann Declaration of 1950 that paved the way for the European Iron and Steel Community. It was issued by French Foreign Minister, Robert Schumann, and put French and German coal and steel production under a single authority, open to other Western European countries that wished to join.

Schumann was explicit that it was designed to bond France and Germany economically, so that no more wars would break out between them. He wrote, "World peace cannot be safeguarded without the making of creative efforts proportionate to the dangers which threaten it.”

He also said, revealingly, “The pooling of coal and steel production should immediately provide for the setting up of common foundations for economic development as a first step in the federation of Europe.”

Note the words “first step in the federation of Europe.” Right at the start of the process of closer unification of Europe, there were people at the heart of it bent on steering it into a federal union, a United States of Europe. The European Iron and Steel Community morphed into the Common Market, that morphed into the European Economic Community, that segued into just the European Community. And that, after the Lisbon Treaty, became the European Union in 2009.

There is little doubt from recent moves and statements that the European Commission looks to a European unitary tax system, with taxes paid direct to Brussels, European law, a European army, EU embassies and an EU seat on the UN Security Council. This is not what the UK thought it was signing up to when it affirmed its membership of the European Economic Community.

At the time of the 2016 referendum, when people were asked the simple question as to whether we should remain in the EU of leave it, a ‘Remain’ vote was presented as a status quo, versus a ‘Leave’ vote that would take a leap into the unknown. In fact there was no status quo option. A ‘Remain’ vote would have kept the UK into a rapidly evolving juggernaut hurtling towards the “ever closer union” of unitary statehood, and with no means of preventing that.

Parliament delegated the decision on EU membership to the people of Britain, and in the People’s Vote they opted to leave.

It is today unlikely that European unity is the only thing preventing another war between France and Germany, so it is possible to argue that it did the job that lay behind its initial impetus. Thus we might hail its success and celebrate Europe Day on this May 9th, but we will celebrate it from the outside.