Stanley's blog

Felipe Gonzales, chairman of the group of wise men on the future of the European Union, is reported as recently stating that countries which are not prepared to be involved in stronger European integration “can leave the EU”. I believe in deeper integration and indeed the Community Jean Monnet had in mind, but do not agree with the Gonzales thinking.

Any Member State, which fails to ratify a new treaty which has been unanimously agreed, should leave the Union. I also believe in the abolition of unanimous voting. However, the EU is supposed to be a democracy, and this means that the views of the majority must prevail but those of the minority must be protected. The treaties do not lay down the final form of European integration. The concept of enhanced cooperation is now in the treaties. Member States which wish to further integration which is not agreed by all are able to use this procedure. Diversity of opinion must be respected.

There are indeed differing views on what “stronger European integration” means. Therefore it is meaningless to assert that countries which are not prepared to be involved can leave. Such an attitude also plays into the hands of the Eurosceptics. We must convince our citizens of the need for further integration by showing the relevance of the EU to their daily lives and that it is a necessity if today’s challenges are to be effectively met.

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