EU Referendum

EU has ‘lost its attractiveness’ because it ‘interferes’ too much in people’s lives admits Brussels chief

European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker (pictured addressing MPs from member states in Strasbourg today) said the EU had passed too many laws that should have been left for national governments to decide
European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker (pictured addressing MPs from member states in Strasbourg today) said the EU had passed too many laws that should have been left for national governments to decide

European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker said the EU had passed too many laws that should have been left for national governments to decide.

In a stark assessment, the former prime minister of Luxembourg conceded the bloc is ‘losing economic clout’, but he said this meant countries needed to work together more rather than less.

At the parliamentary assembly of the Council of Europe in Strasbourg, Mr Juncker was questioned by British MPs on the EU’s future.

Asked by Tory MP Nigel Evans whether the EU recognised there was a problem as Euroscepticism grows throughout the continent, Mr Juncker replied: ‘We are not blind.’

He said: ‘We are listening to those who are expressing their views. You are right in saying the European project has lost parts of its attractiveness.

‘What does the European Commission do? The Commission is doing less.

‘I think that one of the reasons that European citizens are stepping away from the European project is that we are interfering in too many domains of their private lives. And too many domains where the member states are better placed to take action and pass legislation.’

Under his leadership, Mr Juncker said there had been a reduction in the amount of EU legislation being proposed, but he said it was better to make certain laws at a European level.

‘I take issue with the suggestion that Europe should give priority to national solutions to the detriment of European solutions,’ he said.

‘Yes it’s true we are not very popular when we advocate for Europe, when we emphasise the need to give priority to the EU.

In a stark assessment, the former prime minister of Luxembourg Jean Claude Juncker (pictured speaking to David Cameron at a European summit last year) conceded the bloc is ¿losing economic clout¿, but he said this meant countries needed to work together more rather than less

‘But there we will eventually end up with the ruins of this ideal, people who want more national things at the expense of European principles and they will find themselves defenceless. And the EU will no longer be respected around the world.’

Recognising the declining economic power of the continent, he added: ‘One hundred years ago 20 per cent of the global population was European. At the start of this century it was 11 per cent. At the end of this century four per cent of 10 billion citizens will be European.

‘We are losing economic clout in a very visible way with the low birth rate. If we continue all of this in the face of major problems that are emerging that is not the sort of image I want of Europe.

‘We want a strong influential Europe in the world pushing the values that are European.’

Mr Juncker denied that the EU is German-dominated and said he did not believe other leaders ‘kowtowed’ to Angela Merkel.

He became visibly annoyed when Tory MP Kelly Tolhurst asked him how the EU was tightening its belt in a time of austerity, but later answered her question and said it was trying to be careful with its finances.

The Council of Europe, which has 47 member states, is a separate body to the EU, which is made up of 28 countries.

The EU could crumble like the Soviet Union if Britain leaves, Gove claims as he urges voters to ‘liberate’ the continent

Michael Gove has insisted the EU could crumble like the Soviet Union if Britain chooses to leave – urging voters to ‘liberate’ the continent.

The Justice Secretary said the UK had a chance to restore ‘democracy’ in the referendum on June 23, dismissing fears that the country would be punished economically for abandoning the union.

The emotional appeal came in a speech as Tory infighting on the issue grew increasingly bitter.

Justice Secretary Michael Gove delivers his speech 

A Tory backbencher has accused George Osborne in the Commons of ‘disgraceful’ behaviour by publishing a Treasury dossier making apocalyptic predictions about Britain’s prospects outside the EU.

Mr Gove warned that the country was being held ‘hostage’ by Brussels and rebuked David Cameron for treating the public like ‘children’.

He insisted the UK would be better off outside the European single market, arguing that major players like Germany and France would ensure we could still trade freely.


EU trade commissioner Cecilia Malmström represents the grouping on the WTO
EU trade commissioner Cecilia Malmström represents the grouping on the WTO
Justice Secretary Michael Gove dismissed the EU’s representative on the World Trade Organisation (WTO) as an ‘ex-sociology lecturer from Sweden’.

He was referring to Cecilia Malmström, who leads on trade issues for the European Commission.

Although EU states technically still have WTO seats in their own right, in practice they rely on Ms Malmstrom to stand up for their collective interests.

The married mother-of-two became trade commissioner under commission president Jean-Claude Juncker in 2014, having previously served in the home affairs brief for four years.

Before that she was minister for EU affairs in the Swedish government and vice-president of the Swedish Liberal Party, according to her biography on the commission website.

In 1998-1999 she was senior lecturer in the Department of Political Science at Göteborg University, where she received a PhD in Political Science.

He also dismissed the EU’s current representative on the World Trade Organisation as a ‘sociology lecturer from Sweden’.

‘At different points In campaigners like to argue either that Brexit would lead to EU nations using their massive muscle to punish us, or that Brexit would lead to contagion and the collapse of Europe – just as Yugoslavia and the Soviet Union collapsed following secession from those unions,’ Mr Gove told the audience in London.

‘Manifestly both cannot be true. An EU without the UK cannot simultaneously be a super-charged leviathan bent on revenge and a crumbling Tower of Babel riven by conflict.

‘The UK’s success will send a very different message to the EU’s peoples. They will see that a different Europe is possible.

‘It is possible to regain democratic control of your own country and currency, to trade and co-operate with other EU nations without surrendering fundamental sovereignty to a remote and unelected bureaucracy.

‘And, by following that path, your people are richer, your influence for good greater, your future brighter.

‘Our vote to Leave will liberate and strengthen those voices across the EU calling for a different future – those demanding the devolution of powers back from Brussels and desperate for a progressive alternative.

‘But for Europe, Britain voting to leave will be the beginning of something potentially even more exciting – the democratic liberation of a whole continent.’

Deriding the ‘Project Fear’ approach of the Remain campaign, Mr Gove suggested they had recruited in horror writer Stephen King to drafted their script.

‘The City of London would become a ghost down, our manufacturing industries would be sanctioned more punitively than even communist North Korea, decades would pass before a single British Land Rover or Mr Kipling cake could ever again be sold in France and in the meantime our farmers would have been driven from the land by poverty worse than the Potato Famine,’ he said.

‘To cap it all, an alliance of Vladimir Putin, Marine Le Pen and Donald Trump, emboldened by our weakness, would, like some geopolitical equivalent of the Penguin, Catwoman and the Joker, be liberated to spread chaos worldwide and subvert our democracy.’

He added: ‘The idea that if Britain voted to leave the European Union we would instantly become some sort of hermit kingdom – a North Atlantic North Korea, only without that country’s fund of international good will – it’s a fantasy, it’s a phantom, it’s a great grotesque patronising and preposterous Peter Mandelsonian conceit, that imagines that the people of this country are mere children, capable of being frightened into obedience by conjuring up new bogeymen every night.’

Earlier Mr Gove had been unusually given three minutes of uninterrupted airtime on the BBC Radio 4’s flagship Today programme to make his case for Brexit.

He used it to accuse the Remain campaign, led by Mr Cameron and Chancellor George Osborne, of portraying the public as ‘hapless and feckless’.

Justice Secretary Michael Gove arrives in Downing Street ahead of a meeting of the political Cabinet The London Mayor waves to reporters outside Number  10 after taking off his cycle helmet
‘Britain’s a great country. It’s the world’s fifth largest economy with the world’s best armed forces, best health service and best broadcaster,’ he said.

‘We’re first in the world for soft power, thanks to our language, culture and creativity. And yet the In camp try to suggest that we’re too small and too weak, and our people are too hapless and feckless to succeed without Jean-Claude Juncker looking after us.

‘That’s a deeply pessimistic and negative vision. Britain could do better. We’re a uniquely inventive nation and our greatest invention is representative democracy – the principle that the people who run our county should be chosen by us and can be kicked out by us. That’s why it’s time to take back control.’

Mr Gove also made a pointed reference to the controversial dossier published by the Treasury yesterday, which included an assumption the government will fail to hit its target for cutting immigration.

The Treasury's Brexit dossier assumed net migration to Britain will  fall 'towards' 185,000 by 2021 - still well above David Cameron's target of 100,000. But officials also argued that leaving the EU would not cut numbers

He said the report amounted to an ‘official admission from the In campaign that if we vote to stay in the EU then immigration will continue to increase by hundreds of thousands year on year’.

‘Instead of a European open-door migration policy we could – if a future Government wanted it – have an Australian points-based migration policy,’ he said. ‘We could emulate that country’s admirable record of taking in genuine refugees, giving a welcome to hard- working new citizens and building a successful multi-racial society without giving into people-smugglers, illegal migration or subversion of our borders.

Mr Gove rejected the idea that Britain would emulate any of the existing models for relations with the EU after leaving. The Treasury analysis published yesterday considered Norway-style membership of the European Economic Area, a Canadian-style trade deal, and Russia-style membership of the WTO.

But the Justice Secretary insisted the UK was in a position to forge an entirely different model outside the single market. and restoring control over our borders.

‘We’d be part of a European free trade area. It’s already the case there’s a European free trade area that extends from Iceland to the Russian border. The only country in the European land mass outside that is Belarus,’ he said.

Chancellor George Osborne launches the Treasury's dossier on Brexit in Bristol yesterday flanked by Environment Secretary Liz Truss, left, and Energy Secretary Amber Rudd

‘We would be part of that and we would be able to benefit also by being able to take back control of our seat on the World Trade Organization. At the moment Britain is represented on the WTO by the EU single representative, an ex-sociology lecturer from Sweden.

‘I’d like to see a Briton on the WTO determining trade policy. More than that I would like to see trade barriers that we’ve erected in the EU against developing nations come down.’

Ministers have spent a decade resisting a ruling by the European Court of Human Rights, a non-EU institution, that inmates should vote.

Mr Gove said the European Court of Justice was now threatening to make a toxic intervention on the issue, which could leave us with no option but to comply.

Mr Gove went on to say: ‘The Remain campaign want us to believe that Britain is beaten and broken. It treats people like mere children, capable of being frightened into obedience by conjuring up new bogeymen every night.’

He also mocked the Prime Minister’s renegotiation with Brussels, saying it has made ‘no difference and will not stop the next EU power grab’.

He warned that a Remain vote would lead to ‘transfer of powers over tax and the financial system, so we are less able to guard against a repeat of the 2008 financial crisis, and the transfer of powers over the heart of our legal system’.

‘If we vote Remain, British taxpayers will be paying ever-higher bills for years to come as the EU uses its growing power,’ Mr Gove will claim.

Eurosceptic MPs have conceded that it is hard to see how the Tory party will heal following the referendum on June 23.

One backbencher dubbed the Treasury dossier ‘Project Utter Cr**’, while others described it as shameful and accused Mr Osborne of pretending he had a ‘crystal ball’.

Speaking during Treasury questions in the Commons today, Kettering MP Philip Hollobone described the report as ‘disgraceful’ and ‘worth of the children’s programme Jackanory’.

London Mayor Mr Johnson branded Mr Cameron and senior Remain campaigners the ‘Gerald Ratners’ of politics over the weekend – because they were trying to sell a ‘cr**’ product.

He also said President Obama would be ‘hypocritical’ if, as expected, he argues during a visit this week that Britain should stay in the EU. Mr Johnson said the US would never accept a similar erosion of its sovereignty.

His intervention comes only days after his fellow Out supporter, Boris Johnson, labelled David Cameron and his allies the ¿Gerald Ratners¿ of British politics ¿ trying to push an EU project that they know is ¿c**p¿

But Lord Hague said it was a ‘bit rich’ of Mr Johnson to say Mr Obama should not express a view.

‘I would note that British leaders and commentators do not hesitate to hold forth on the foreign policy of the United States: a policy supported by David Cameron, attacked by Jeremy Corbyn, and denounced or questioned by many others with regard to the Middle East, defence spending, drone strikes, the handling of Cuba and scores of other issues. Our Parliament has even held a debate on the deficiencies of Donald Trump,’ he wrote in the Daily Telegraph.

‘So it would be a bit rich for us, opining as we do on every aspect of America’s relations with other states, to turn all precious and sensitive when American leaders comment on ours.

‘Secondly, I would advise that the President has the right wherever he is to explain what is in the interests of the United States of America.

‘And since the US is our one indispensable ally, our biggest single trading partner and the ultimate guarantor of our security, its interests matter to everyone in Britain whether we like it or not.’

Last night Education Secretary Mrs Morgan, who supports the UK staying in, warned against allowing the debate to tear the Conservative Party apart.

‘We need to step back from the brink and take a long hard look at ourselves,’ she said, ‘Yes, let’s debate our EU membership but let’s keep that debate on the issues and, above all, let’s not undermine the work that this government is doing to deliver real social justice.’

Mr Johnson was among those arriving in Downing Street this morning for a meeting of the political Cabinet.

There is speculation that Mr Cameron could offer Mr Gove the post of Deputy Prime Minister as an act of conciliation after the referendum.

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