The EU isn’t perfect, but it isn’t the enemy – and Wales has a role in shaping its future

A statue at the European Parliament in Strasbourg

Jill Evans MEP

I have been an MEP since 1999. I am more aware than most of the disinformation that has long been promoted in Wales and the UK about the EU.

Even following the referendum, the smear campaign continues.

With exactly a year to go until withdrawal day, the Westminster Government and the right-wing press still use inflammatory language and words like ‘war cabinet’, ‘punishment’, ‘provocation’, ‘weaponising’, blackmail’ and ‘annexation’. They still paint the EU as the enemy.

That is why twenty MEPs, myself among them, sent a letter to the Foreign Secretary at the beginning of the month calling for an end to the use of hostile language.

It is not conducive to achieving any agreement, in this, the most important and sensitive negotiations we have ever been involved in.

With the eyes of the world on us, we should be promoting a spirit of respect and co-operation.

This is not the case.

In last week’s parliamentary session in Strasbourg, we voted on the European Parliament’s guidelines for the future agreement between the UK and EU.

The difference between the parliament’s priorities and those of the Westminster Government are stark.

The Westminster Government’s decision not to convert the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights into domestic law means British citizens will be stripped of protections such as the ability to bring a case to court founded on EU general principles, including the right to equality.

The parliament, on the other hand, has stressed the overriding obligation on the EU and UK to protect the rights of all citizens, and the responsibility of the British government to ensure there will be no diminution of the rights of citizens as set out in the Good Friday Agreement.

The resolution called on the EU to examine ways of mitigating the loss of rights UK citizens enjoy now through their European citizenship.

This is something that I have campaigned on since publishing research last year that showed that no-one had the right to strip us of citizenship against our will.

Change

Parliament made clear that if UK wants a trade deal with the EU, it must adhere to the EU’s standards on taxation, including anti-money laundering legislation, exchange of information, anti-tax avoidance measures and that it must also address the situation of its tax havens in the Channel Islands and the Caribbean.

The European Parliament has just set up its own special committee to investigate Financial Crimes, Tax Evasion and Tax Avoidance, so has a particular interest in this area of policy.

These are all fair, clear and decisive foundations on which negotiations can be based. The same cannot be said of the Westminster Government’s position.

They have chosen to obfuscate and pursue impossible ‘cake-and-eat-it’ strategies, rather than engaging with the issues set before them. This will not be an option any longer.

The European Parliament has agreed its position, the Commission also. We are now – as we have been for some time – waiting for Westminster.

On the 23rd of June, people voted following a referendum campaign filled with wildly inaccurate descriptions of what the future would be like outside the EU. As Theresa May admitted in her speech earlier this month, “life is going to be different”.

The evidence shows that people will be poorer. People and businesses will inevitably suffer higher prices and fewer opportunities – especially if we are dragged out of the Single Market and Customs Union.

As the first phase of negotiations draw to a close, I remain optimistic that Wales should, and can, be at the heart of the European decision-making process, working to build a more peaceful and tolerant future.

The European Union must and will change. Small countries will a powerful voice in shaping its future. Wales has a great deal to contribute in a positive way to that process.

Jill Evans is a Plaid Cymru MEP.

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Capitalist and Welshnash
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Capitalist and Welshnash

Ffiniau agored, masnach rydd. Ffyniant.
Frontières ouvertes, libre-échange, prospérité.
Open borders, free trade. Prosperity.
Otwarte granice, wolny handel, dobrobyt.
Open grenzen, vrijhandel, welvaart.

sianiflewog
Guest
sianiflewog

Annwyl Jill Evans – you don’t understand, you still don’t get it, do you! The so-called negotiations are nothing with trying to get a deal, but an excuse for the drop off the cliff that is looming. When, very likely, the uk drops out of the eu without any sort of meaningful deal, the union of english fascists (aka the tory partei) can turn to us who will be suffering food shortages, increased prices, and a declinging public sector, and say: ‘But we dealt with them in good faith, but they (johny foreigner/eu -rocrat) spat in our faces. We asked… Read more »

CambroUiDunlainge
Guest
CambroUiDunlainge

I think the Catalan issue is a problem. I also feel as a Nationalist it’d be hypocritical of me to say on one hand that Wales could help shape the EU’s future and not claim Wales could shape the UK’s future. I know we cannot shape the UK’s future… therefor i am sceptical we can have any kind of effect on the EU.

CapM
Guest
CapM

“I know we cannot shape the UK’s future… therefor i am sceptical we can have any kind of effect on the EU.”
You need to find out more about how the EU works.
I suggest you could start with looking up what vetoing rights member states have and the conditions required for a qualified majority in the Council.

CambroUiDunlainge
Guest
CambroUiDunlainge

Not saying the EU doesn’t have the framework to change. Saying the states within do not have the desire to change. Well aware of how the EU works thank you.

JR Humphreys
Guest
JR Humphreys

Like the hokey cokey, I have one foot in and one foot out, but Mrs May and Boris, they just shake it all about. ( Actually, don’t they shake everything about? But that doesn’t concern us here).

If we could get independence outside of the UK and EU, that would be fine with me. Other than that, partial independence within the EU would not leave me tearful.

JR Humphreys
Guest
JR Humphreys

Read Peter Hitchens Blog today , as he gives further thought to a possible nasty `British Values´ – turn from May and co.

As Philomena might have said, “Well, I never saw that one coming. Did you?” Suddenly, Junker doesn’t look that bad after all.

Edeyrn
Guest

EU = top-down distant federalism.

I want a confederate union of European and world alliances – Ground-up (Confederations are much more empowered)

I was on the fence during the referendum….. The EU was founded by uncaring corporate magnates, however it was a step better than the elite-fest of Westminster at the time

Liberals Cymru
Guest
Liberals Cymru

Ground up can be discriminatory as socialism is because it values one section (or socialism’s case an economic group) within society over another. Confederations are good, but they are not necessarily ground-up because each nation within them still requires variance in social classes to function through open trade and build a refined culture for itself. Localism implies power will be localised, but it implies that there still will be sources of power. Rather than attempt to destroy those sources of power through bloody iconoclasms, as happens in revolutions and during the births of republics, we should strive to make those… Read more »

Jonathan Edwards Sir Benfro (+North Carolina)
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Jonathan Edwards Sir Benfro (+North Carolina)

Yet another Plaid leader with a sedative. “I remain optimistic that Wales should, and can, be at the heart of the European decision-making process, working to build a more peaceful and tolerant future.” Miss Evans, you and Plaid will have to do better than this. You have been an MEP since 1999 ie 17 years. The best possible base from which to make sure Wales supports the EU. Yet Wales didn’t. You should have done more than “remain optimistic”. And you should have nailed another lie by now. The EU is not broken. The EU offers unparalleled opportunities to countries.… Read more »