The first set of reports from the Government’s Review of the Balance of Competences, assessing what powers the EU has and their effect on Britain, were published last week. The media had little to say about it because the content was broadly what was expected of the Whitehall mandarins that compiled the reports. Their conclusions can be summed up as: ‘all is well’. According to them, EU membership is beneficial to Britain and the level of EU influence on our affairs is not too intrusive at all.
Of course, we know that all is not well. This is another cynical attempt to whitewash the undemocratic nature of this relationship. To our dismay the reviews tell us nothing about the costs of EU membership in fiscal terms, an issue which Hague’s cronies managed to sidestep. It would have been silly to expect the Foreign Office to say anything else, because it is in the interests of the Foreign Office officials to deepen, not loosen, Britain’s relationship on the EU. The EU gives them more power, important-sounding meetings to attend with like-minded mandarins from around Europe and, if they’re really lucky, perhaps a cushy job with gold-plated salary for their good service in maintaining Brussels’ chokehold over the UK.
This was most definitely not an exercise in asking the hard questions. Much of the evidence submitted by third parties was from pro-EU lobbyists and big businesses keen to protect their cosy relationship with Brussels. After all the hype about how the government will scrutinise Britain’s relationship with the EU, all we can really learn from this set of reviews is that the drafters are thoroughly content with the status-quo. No surprises there, but the British public is not content.