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Democrat June-July 2002 (Number 63)

Fortress Europe walls made higher

fortress Europe cartoon

The EU June 2002 summit in Seville agreed to remove the right of member states to decide their own asylum policy by next year in another move towards an authoritarian "Fortress Europe".

EU leaders agreed to strengthen EU borders and implement a single asylum policy by the end of 2003. They also agreed to continue discussions about creating a European border police force, ignoring opposition from Britain and others.

EU wide Police Force

German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder made clear that this so-called enhanced co-operation was a stepping stone to a fully fledged police force under Brussels control. "The creation of a common police force to guard our borders remains our long-term goal," he declared.

Italian interior minister Claudio Scajola revealed that plans for a Brussels-controlled border guard force had been in the pipeline for some time. "The work that has been going on for eight months has been coordinated by our experts," he said. The move is a major embarrassment for British Prime Minister Tony Blair and Foreign Secretary Jack Straw who claimed before the summit that "the principle of a common an EU border police will not feature." In fact, the conclusions recorded that leaders "welcomed" the Italian plan and urged the creation "without delay" to harmonise border controls.

Hain claim

The move made Europe Minister Peter Hain's claim after the summit that Britain "got everything it wanted" even more ludicrous than usual. Blair was also stung by a failure to push through proposals for sanctions on poor countries which did not take back immigrants. Under pressure from Sweden and France, keen to be seen as a friend of the small member states at the moment, there was no mention of possible sanctions, although the final communique says that future relations could be affected if third countries failed to cooperate.


However, blackmailing poor countries to take back asylum seekers is not a new strategy and has been going on for years in EU trade negotiations with the African, Caribbean and Pacific(ACP) countries. There were also huge splits over a proposal by Blair and Schreder to extend majority voting to some decisions at EU summits. This was meant to outflank European Commission president Romano Prodi's power grab announced just before the summit.


But the attempt by London and Berlin to wrest more control for the bigger states was met with opposition from smaller states. France and Belgium were among those arguing against the change, which would have allowed some intractable debates to be settled by a majority vote. For instance, under the British/German plan, France's reluctance to fully open its energy markets might have been pushed through by heads of government at the last EU summit in Barcelona.

No agreement

The 15 member states were also unable to reach agreement on a plan by the Spanish presidency, written by Javier Solana, to create a new "fix it" committee to resolve disputes before they reach heads of government at EU summits. However, leaders agreed that future summits should last only one day, with attempts to resolve contentious issues in advance in even more undemocratic backroom fudges. The number of ministerial councils is also to be slashed from 16 to nine. Prodi- traditionally the main force for EU integration with the sole power to initiate legislation in many areas- faced a grilling over plans to concentrate more power to an inner cabinet. The streamlined structure, which he can introduce before the 2004 IGC, will give him more authority. It will also get around the question of how the Commission can operate after the enlargement of the EU by 10 new countries without the ratification of the Nice Treaty.

Mr Prodi has also set out a plan for the Commission to acquire new powers after 2004 from the EU council in areas such as justice, home affairs and foreign affairs.


All this infighting not only shows the madness of the EU empire but promises an almighty storm at the EU Copenhagen summit in mid-December, meant to finalise EU expansion plans. The sense of a real bunfight was heightened by demands from basket case Turkey for a firm date to start membership talks about joining the EU at Copenhagen - a move opposed by Germany and others. However NATO member Turkey could make life difficult for the EU on the questions of NATO co-operation with the new European rapid reaction force, and on the explosive issue of Cyprus.

Prison house

Eurocrats must now be wondering if this is any way to run an empire and be looking forward to a mythical time when the nations of Europe are quietly locked in a federal prison house and they will hold all the power.