back to article Has Europe cut the UK adrift on data protection?

In 1805, William Pitt the Younger, on hearing of Napoleon's victory at the Battle of Austerlitz, is reported to have said: "Roll up that map (of Europe) – it will not be wanted these 10 years". Well I have attended two meetings which suggest that the European Union has already rolled up its Data Protection Map of Europe so it …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The human rights convention isn't an EU thing, though. The UK was a signatory of the convention; the EU put out a directive implementing one legal definition of the convention, but as a signatory the UK was required to implement the human rights convention into law regardless. Letting the EU do the heavy lifting in terms of legislative drafting was a pragmatic choice given our position at the time.

    1. MyffyW
      Coat

      Alphabet Potage

      Quite right. The European Convention on Human Rights is not an EU thing. Likewise the European Economic Area (EEA) is not either.

      To be honest I get very confused by the different European bodies. The following link may help somewhat:

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Supranational_European_Bodies-en.svg

    2. Ian 55

      Quite true

      But that doesn't stop the morons in the Tory party from wanting to renounce it.

      1. Graham Dawson Silver badge

        Re: Quite true

        They want to repeal the human rights directive, not the treaty.

        1. LegalAlien

          Re: Quite true

          There's no such thing as a 'human rights directive'...

          European Convention on Human Rights (shortened to ECHR). The ECHR is a Council of Europe treaty, including all EU countries, but also Russia, Turkey etc. (41 countries are signatories, as well as the EU itself additionally).

          The European Court of Human Rights (which is in Strasbourg), rules on breaches of this treaty, which is why you have cases like "R v Russia" and "Z v United Kingdom". Churchill was a fan.

          The Human Rights Act [of [UK] Parliament], gives effect to this treaty in the UK.

          Withdrawing from the ECHR would be a bit like the USA withdrawing from its Constitution. Crazy.

          1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

            Re: Quite true

            "Withdrawing from the ECHR would be a bit like the USA withdrawing from its Constitution. Crazy."

            PATRIOT act.

          2. Graham Dawson Silver badge

            Re: Quite true

            Lets just say I meant act rather than directive.

            The comparison with the US constitution isn't particularly apt. Their constitution outlines a list of very strict, tightly defined negative rights without any exceptions or special cases and was aimed squarely at telling the government what it wasn't allowed to touch. The ECHR delves into far different territory (and also spends a lot of time inserting caveats and exceptions to its various rights, but lets ignore that for the purpose of this argument), framing so-called positive rights - rights that require some sort of social interference - and also spends a fair amount of time telling people what they aren't allowed to do. It assumed rights extend from the state, whereas the US constitution assumes that the state only protects what already exists.

            The point is, regardless of all that, the treaty isn't the target. The act is. It was badly framed, badly implemented and is generally a bit shite.

  2. Squander Two

    Democracy

    Looks like yet more evidence of how undemocratic and tyrannical the EU is. Can we imagine stripping Scottish MPs of their voting rights and disallowing them from joining parliamentary committees because Scotland is going to have a referendum on UK membership? Although it's even worse than that, as there is still no EU membership referendum: can we imagine stripping Scottish MPs of their voting rights for the last thirty-odd years simply because Scots nationalism existed and was quite popular? To ask the question is to ridicule it.

    1. SiempreTuna

      Re: Democracy

      "Looks like yet more evidence of how undemocratic and tyrannical the EU is"

      What part of democracy do you not understand? We are in a minority of one: in a democracy, that means we lose.

      Further, we're threatening to leave and our government is doing everything it can to engineer that exit, so from a purely pragmatic point of view: why waste time on us? Particularly when we're esssentially just another lobbyist for business interests with zero concern for our citizens' interests?

      1. returnmyjedi

        Re: Democracy

        We haven't actually left the EU yet and there is no mandate or legislation for us to do so. Who's to say we won't be in the EU in ten, twenty maybe one hundred years time? To preclude the UK from policy is undemocratic regardless on our stance on data protection etc.

      2. Squander Two

        Re: Democracy

        > What part of democracy do you not understand? We are in a minority of one: in a democracy, that means we lose.

        Looks like I understand it a bit better than you. Democracy is the system whereby we choose our representatives and leaders. Once we have done so, they are supposed to discuss things. The whole point of committees is that they look into things and gather lots of information, not that they just count how many members they have and have the biggest faction make a decision.

        Meanwhile, here's what the actual article says (maybe you should read it):

        At the Information Commissioner’s press conference to launch his latest Annual Report (15 July), he reported that in the Working Party 29, it was difficult to get the British pragmatic view across – irrespective of the arguments. This was not because the UK was speaking in runes and riddles, it was down to the presumption that the UK could easily leave the European Union and therefore what it had to say carried little weight.

        The claim is absolutely not that the UK is being outvoted because it's in a minority; the claim is that the views of the UK's representatives are being wholly ignored not on their merit but simply because the UK's population are not sufficiently pro-EU. Again, can we imagine doing that to Scots MPs? No, because to do so would be appalling and undemocratic. Hey, even Sinn Fein have elected MPs, who may appear and vote in the House if they wish (that they choose not to is another matter). They're in a tiny minority, yet Parliament, quite rightly, takes their views into account.

        > our government is doing everything it can to engineer that exit

        If that were true, UKIP's last election performance would have been mediocre at best.

        > so from a purely pragmatic point of view: why waste time on us?

        Pragmatism? Well, from a purely pragmatic point of view, why bother with all that tiresome voting at all? It's expensive and inefficient. Everyone knows the most effective way to run a country is to have one guy at the top who makes all the decisions.

        Honestly, it's almost as if we have democracy and freedom for principled reasons, not pragmatic ones.

        > Particularly when we're esssentially just another lobbyist for business interests with zero concern for our citizens' interests?

        What, you mean to a greater extent than other EU members? Are you on crack?

        1. Chris Hunt

          Re: Democracy

          Try sitting on a committee, constantly disagreeing with points that everybody else agrees with, and threatening that soon you might leave altogether. See how much notice anybody takes of your views.

          1. Squander Two

            Re: Democracy

            > Try sitting on a committee, constantly disagreeing with points that everybody else agrees with, and threatening that soon you might leave altogether. See how much notice anybody takes of your views.

            Two things. Firstly, you're claiming that British representatives to EU committees keep threatening to leave? But that is not the case. What is happening, rather, is that the UK as a whole -- certainly not the British Government -- is perceived to be threatening to leave, which means that what is being punished here is not some unsavoury debating tactic in committee but the fact that the populace aren't sufficiently pro-EU, the fact that the populace are actually discussing the option of leaving. It is sad that anyone might need it explained to them how bad that is, in a supposed democracy. Again, is this what the UK does to Scotland? No -- in fact, we have been doing the opposite.

            Secondly, are you even reading what you write?

            > constantly disagreeing with points that everybody else agrees with

            God, yeah, how appalling that such a thing might happen in a democracy. You're right: democratic bodies should be composed entirely of people agreeing with each other at all times. Disagreement is so crass. We should get rid of that tiresome "Opposition" we have in Parliament, too. Did you know, they keep disagreeing with the Government! The nerve!

            This isn't some ad-hoc committee for managing the sixth-form common room we're talking about, where everyone can ignore James 'cause he's such a wanker and frankly it doesn't matter. It's supposed to be part of a democracy. The other members aren't supposed to decide whether to listen to each other based on how much they like each other or whether they're annoyed at each other's opinions. They are supposed to incorporate everyone's views because each member is representing the views of an elected government of the people.

            This unfortunate idea has taken hold in recent years that concensus is a good thing in government. As Tony Benn pointed out, every time two opposing political sides agree to agree with each other, what they are actually doing is taking choice away from the electorate.

      3. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

        Re: Democracy

        What part of democracy do you not understand? We are in a minority of one: in a democracy, that means we lose

        That's not democracy, that's "Majority rule", and is never a successful approach. Look at N. Ireland from 1920-1970 for the most obvious example.There are plenty of others.

        Democracy means rule by the people, which requires agreement, not totalitarianism by the 50.1%

        1. Mage Silver badge

          Re: Democracy

          N.I. no longer has a Democratic Government. It's a fraud to keep IRA happy.

          It's an example of a place where Democracy doesn't work. The same is true of some other countries. e.g. Iraq, Afghanistan, Egypt, Jordan, Syria, Libya, Palestine, Sudan, marginal in Turkey and Pakistan (That's why the Military keep taking over to protect people).

          1. Squander Two

            Re: Democracy

            > N.I. no longer has a Democratic Government.

            What ill-informed bollocks.

            NI has a democratic government in which the democracy is constrained by certain constitutional limits that arose as a result of horse-trading by democratically elected representatives with the aim of guaranteeing safeguards from the tyranny of the majority. Much like, say, every democratic state on the planet. I may not like all those constitutional limits, and I certainly may not like the idea of making a murderer Minister for Education, but it is still democratic.

            > It's an example of a place where Democracy doesn't work.

            No, it's an example of a place where a majority exercised tyranny and have been prevented from doing so again.

            In this place where democracy can't work, the people chucked out a party leader from his supposedly safe seat and my own MP, Lady Hermon, quite rightly left her party and thrashed them in the subsequent election as an independent.

            Even if you were right, the problems Northern Ireland faced were basically the ridiculously long-drawn-out tail-end of the English Civil War. If problems caused by that war make an area unsuitable for democracy, that area would be the entirety of the British Isles.

      4. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Democracy

        "Why waste time on us?"

        Because we are still there and because we are paying our f**king money to be there. So these officials should take their collective heads out of their collective arses and start doing their job properly.

    2. E_Nigma

      Re: Democracy

      Except that no one is stripping UK of their voting rights. The British input during a Working Party on data protection did not make it into the final documents? Boo-hoo! Guess what, no single nation's opinion has enough weight to change EU policy when that one nation's opinion is contrary to everyone else's. That IS democracy. If it really was that, this time, nobody cared what UK had to say on data protection, perhaps one should look for the reasons no further than the "A slice of data protection history" passage from this very article, or the article titled "British Lords: Euro 'right to be forgotten' ruling 'unreasonable and unworkable'", currently on the front page. In short, if there is a nation that has historically been privileged in the EU, in terms that their opinion has often been accepted even when it was contrary to the majority and that a blind eye has been turned when it says "We don't like this global EU policy, so we decide that it applies to everyone except us.", that is the UK. Yet no other nation is so ready to cry "Foul!" and complain that "the tyrannical EU" (the adjective "fascist" is also often used) is trampling over their rights.

      1. Squander Two

        Re: Democracy

        > Except that no one is stripping UK of their voting rights.

        And I didn't claim they were. I was making a comparison. Since the EU's decisions are not made by voting (the EU "Parliament" exists in a merely advisory role to the unelected EC), I thought it was a reasonable analogy: voting is the way British MPs affect legislation, and wrangling in working groups and committees is the way representatives to the EU affect legislation.

        > Guess what, no single nation's opinion has enough weight to change EU policy when that one nation's opinion is contrary to everyone else's.

        That will come as news to the nations who want EU economic policy to favour their collapsing economies more than Germany's.

        However, that's not what the article said. See my other comment above: the UK is not being ignored because of the substance of its arguments but because it might at some point in the future leave the EU.

        1. E_Nigma

          Re: Democracy

          @Squander Two: Ah, sorry, I didn't quite understand how your analogy worked. So, you were comparing the situation where none of the rights of the UK delegation were removed with a hypothetical situation where Scottish MPs would have their voting rights removed? Well, in that comparison, the latter sounds really bad, the former not so much.

          I'd like to make a distinction between the (objective) facts and an unnamed person's subjective opinions and impressions. The facts are that there was a Working Party, that the delegates from most of the EU came with certain ideas, that the delegates from the UK came with different ideas, that everyone was allowed to speak and no vote was left uncounted and that the ideas of the majority were adopted. Everything else are one unnamed person's personal (subjective) impressions, opinions and speculations.

          Their trail of thoughts is, apparently, that the fact that the British input didn't make the final cut can only be explained by it being ignored, "irrespectively of the arguments" (which assumes, obviously, that those arguments were valid). Then, trying to explain such behaviour of the other delegations, another leap is made that it was because the UK's soon departure from the EU was a sure thing, and that that was already clear to everyone else in the EU.

          I don't think that that makes too much sense. As no one denies, the British delegation participated in the Working Party and, regardless of whether their suggestions were later ignored or not, they were heard, just like everyone else's. If Britain had brought to that WP something that was good for Europe (and not maybe just the UK), do you really think that it would have been ignored simply for the "fact" that it was leaving? I think not. My opinion is that the rest would think "Hey, UK sometimes has good ideas. It's too bad it's leaving." To make an analogy myself, if you knew that your business partner was going to leave your venture, but he came to you with a proposal that was going to make your company money, and would continue to make you money even after he left, would you ignore what he told you simply because he was leaving? That doesn't make any sense. That's how angry couples might think, not the majority of people in charge of pan-European policies. Having already heard them, had the British ideas been good for Europe, Europe would have taken them. It's that simple.

          My conclusion is that the entire story is a bit of Euro-sceptic propaganda, carrying two messages: first that EU is ostracizing, ignoring the UK (being bad to the UK) and second that the UK's departure from the EU is a sure thing and everyone already knows.

          1. Squander Two

            Re: Democracy

            > So, you were comparing the situation where none of the rights of the UK delegation were removed with a hypothetical situation where Scottish MPs would have their voting rights removed?

            I was comparing a situation in which the ability of the British representatives to influence legislation was removed to a hypothetical situation in which the ability of Scottish representatives to influence legislation would be removed.

            > I'd like to make a distinction between the (objective) facts and an unnamed person's subjective opinions and impressions. ... Everything else are one unnamed person's personal (subjective) impressions, opinions and speculations.

            That's interesting, because I was just reacting to what was in the article. You want to make confident assertions that you know what's really going on and that you, who weren't there, have more insight into the proceedings than someone who was -- and that this is you rejecting impressions, opinions, and speculations.

            > Their trail of thoughts is, apparently...

            Wow. You're even, in your stand against subjective opinion and speculation, telling us what someone else's train of thought was. Impressive.

            1. E_Nigma

              Re: Democracy

              @Squander Two: Whatever formulation you choose, it boils down to one thing, you drew a parallel between being outvoted and being denied the power to vote. Those are two fundamentally different things and the analogy is an offense to everyone that has ever truly been oppressed and unrepresented.

              Do I know how the proceedings went? At least in part, I do, and it's from the article. If the Reg's source claims that the UK input was ignored, despite the arguments, what follows is that the British delegation was able to present their view and the arguments behind it. Furthermore, had the British representatives been disallowed to participate in the work of the WP in the same way as everyone else, then THAT would have been the story, and a huge scandal. No scandal - then procedurally everything was fine.

              I can follow the person's trail of thoughts not because I am psychic, but because it is laid down in the article. Also, of course that, in my post, I expressed certain conclusions and opinions of my own and of course that El Reg's source expressed his. If we are to turn to philosophy and the question of whether we can truly ever know something, arguably, expressing opinions is all that we can ever do, so that is not a sin in itself. I merely wanted to separate the bits in his account that could be considered facts, from those that were his subjective observations, impressions, deductions and speculations, so that I could assess which parts stand to logical scrutiny and which do not.

              The Reg's source expressed the opinion that the British input was outright ignored, even when well supported by arguments and that it was due to everyone "knowing" that UK will be gone from the EU very soon. I ascribed to him no more than that, so, really, no psychic work was done by me. I do however find it illogical, for the reasons mentioned in my previous posts. In short, though, according to Reg's source, UK is about to leave the EU; despite that, UK is still diligently participating in EU activities, even though it practically has no interest in them, whereas, on the other hand, the rest of the Union is ignoring British efforts even when the Brits come and serve them good pan-European data protection policy on a silver platter. Yes, it makes perfect sense.

              1. Squander Two

                Re: Democracy

                > Whatever formulation you choose, it boils down to one thing, you drew a parallel between being outvoted and being denied the power to vote. Those are two fundamentally different things and the analogy is an offense to everyone that has ever truly been oppressed and unrepresented.

                No, because, as I already explained, it is not the job of committees to vote. Their job is to discuss and negotiate.

                > the Reg's source

                You mean, the Information Commissioner? Why are you trying to make it sound like this is some dodgy information from a mysterious figure? Like, you keep saying that he's "unnamed". Oo, how shady. Except, of course, that it is simply established tradition that senior civil servants are not named, not to keep their identities secret, but because, unlike politicians, it is their job that matters, not them. His name's Christopher Graham, apparently. Does knowing that make his report more credible?

                So the Reg's source is the official report published by a senior figure an important part of whose job is to publish such reports. And I don't know whether you know any diplomats, but they generally take these things pretty seriously, and what they report is what has been happening in negotiations, not how they feel about things.

                Viviane Reding, the Commissioner responsible for the Regulation, was reported in the German press saying that discussions with Britain and Ireland were "not important"

                That's an unelected Commissioner refusing to discuss legislation with elected governments prior to overruling them. I hardly think pointing that out is an offence to anyone who has ever been unrepresented.

          2. fritsd

            Re: Democracy

            OK your response was much more sane than mine .. I humbly stand corrected. Thanks!

      2. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

        Re: Democracy

        if there is a nation that has historically been privileged in the EU, in terms that their opinion has often been accepted even when it was contrary to the majority and that a blind eye has been turned when it says "We don't like this global EU policy, so we decide that it applies to everyone except us.", that is the UK.

        Hardly.

        The two most Eurosceptic nations, the UK and Denmark, have historically a far better record on implementing EU directives tham the so-called europhile nations. The UK may well complain about directives it doesn't like, but in general it will implement them, under protest.

        Contrast that with France, for example, where every new EU directive is greeted with welcome open arms in public, and then the unpopular ones are either quietly ignored, or implemented on some way that pays lip service to the title, and little else. Since the EU needs France more than it needs the UK, it says nothing.

      3. Mike Pellatt

        Re: Democracy

        Well that is Democracy by majority vote. AKA "The tyranny of the majority".

        Democracy by consensus-seeking is another form of democracy.

        Edit: Oh, I see Mr O'Sophicall made much the same point. Good :-)

      4. rh587 Silver badge

        Re: Democracy

        "In short, if there is a nation that has historically been privileged in the EU, in terms that their opinion has often been accepted even when it was contrary to the majority and that a blind eye has been turned when it says "We don't like this global EU policy, so we decide that it applies to everyone except us.", that is the UK."

        It's probably worth noting though that this in part to our attitude towards rules and regulations - i.e. we have clear, specific laws (though that's gone under a bus these past 15 years), but what we have we follow to the letter.

        As opposed to the European example of pass some vague and broad-reaching laws in spirit, follow them in a manner that makes sense and if the Police disagree then a court can interpret...

        Simple example, if a British farmer doesn't dot his i's and cross the t's on his DEFRA paperwork he'll get run into the ground by the bureaucrats. Mislay a movement form? Nice knowing you.

        Compare that to France where no farmer worries too much about the paperwork and the ministry doesn't press them on it either.

        As a result, we've always tried to be a lot more picky and specific. If there's an implementation date and you miss it, the French will come up with another date. If we miss it we're into fines, performance clauses, etc because we've done it as written. Culture clash and two fundamentally different ways of writing rules and laws. We stupidly end up trying to enforce broad directives to the letter, they get pissed off with us trying to be picky and specific because they rarely have any intention of actually implementing them anyway, just taking them as guidelines to inform their own policies.

        1. speedbird007

          Re: Democracy

          "It's probably worth noting though that this in part to our attitude towards rules and regulations - i.e. we have clear, specific laws (though that's gone under a bus these past 15 years), but what we have we follow to the letter."

          Ahem, cycling on pavements is actually illegal...so that's the one under the bus?

    3. fritsd

      Re: Democracy

      "Looks like yet more evidence of how undemocratic and tyrannical the EU is"

      Um... I disagree

      Let's put it in a musical way:

      If 28 people form a choir, and 27 of 'em are singing Thomas Dolby's "Dissidents", yet one of them loudly yells George Michael's "Shoot the Dog", it's not really undemocratic to ask him to shut up or go sing together with someone else. Tyrannical .. maybe.. not in this case though. Blanket surveillance makes things a LOT easier for potential future tyrants to look into your internet case file for the last 40 years.

      I especially LOL-ed at the cartoon on page 4 of the report that Amberhawk Training referred us to (much more funny than the cartoon on page 23, although that brought to memory that particular George Michael song -- see if you can still get it on Youtube in the UK).

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Little Englander syndrome

    Sadly, many have no clue that Britain is now just a small island off Europe which becomes less relevant as each year goes by. Leaving the EU will not bring back the glory years, it will simply mean the UK has to follow EU/US rules without having any input into the decisions.

    The EU isnt perfect but its better to be inside the tent as they say.

    1. SundogUK Silver badge

      Re: Little Englander syndrome

      We have no real input anyway, so why not make that explicit? And in fact many so-called EU regulations are handed down from the UN or other international bodies where the UK's influence will be equal to any other country.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Little Englander syndrome

      Finally someone who gets it...

      The amount of people who think leaving the EU will magically solve our problems is staggering. Here we are in an ever increasingly connected world that gets smaller and smaller by the day. Travelling and connecting to places that were a pipe dream forty years ago are now easily achievable and greater integration makes sense because of that.

      Then you have the likes of UKIP who think that leaving the EU will make this country prosper because we will be able to set our own laws.... However we don't make anything and the vast majority of our biggest employers are owned by European or foreign countries so retreating from Europe and pulling up the drawbridge is just shooting ourselves in the foot. We will be stiffed on trade deals with European nations and they will just mess us around if we leave.

      People say the EU is expensive and we get nothing in return, but certainly out side of London there are a lot of major projects that couldn't have happened without EU financing that our own British Government wouldn't put their hands in their pockets for things like city regeneration and transport infrastructure that our own Government deems not important because it doesn't serve London

      1. Squander Two

        Re: Little Englander syndrome

        > Here we are in an ever increasingly connected world that gets smaller and smaller by the day. Travelling and connecting to places that were a pipe dream forty years ago are now easily achievable and greater integration makes sense because of that.

        So of course you believe that the USA, Canada, and Mexico should be amalgamated into a single nation-state. And that China should merge with Mongolia. And that the USSR should be reformed. And that Scotland should not be allowed to leave the UK. Come to that, we should probably take back Ireland.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Little Englander syndrome

          So of course you believe that the USA, Canada, and Mexico should be amalgamated into a single nation-state. And that China should merge with Mongolia. And that the USSR should be reformed. And that Scotland should not be allowed to leave the UK. Come to that, we should probably take back Ireland.

          No I am not saying that at all. As SiempreTuna pointed out the world is slowly dividing into increasingly large and powerful trading groups. USA, Canada and Mexico are all covered by the North American Free Trade agreement and America, China and Russia are big enough countries to hold enough sway on their own. As you can see with this Ukraine farce it has all came about because Europe is trying to make a grab to make closer ties with former Soviet countries with the eventual end game of adding them into the European fold, which Putin is determined to stop, because he wants them to be integrated into a Russian Union.

          It would be foolish not to be in one of those trading blocks and if we were the first country to leave the EU they'd no doubt make an example of us and then suddenly doing business with them would be a lot harder. This recession would be a drop in the ocean compared to the effect leaving would have especially if major businesses start leaving.

          British Stubbornness is a trait of this fair isle, but we need to put that to one side and accept the empire is dead and we are becoming increasingly irrelevant and being a key player and driver of Europe is one way we can stay relevant.

          Instead it'll be an even bigger increase and reliance on food banks and we will have to send George Osborne back to China with his begging bowl

          1. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

            Re: Little Englander syndrome

            if we were the first country to leave the EU they'd no doubt make an example of us and then suddenly doing business with them would be a lot harder.

            That's the real problem. What the UK really wants is a return to a common market, a trading organization which doesn't try and impose centralized political and fiscal control. Leaving the EU entirely won't recreate that past situation.

            Remaining in the EEA would be a good position, but the one thing that the EU cannot tolerate is a country leaving the EU and being successful outside it. If the UK were to leave, Juncker and co. will try every illegal dirty trick they can to make sure that the UK economy fails. The only way to successfully leave will be to find friends aong the other non-federalist states who, even if not yet ready to leave themselves, will be willing to stand up to the dirty tricks brigade. Few if any of the likely friendly countries will take that risk in the current climate.

            Perhaps when the Euro finally fails, or when eurosceptic mood hardens elsewhere, something will happen. Right now, being the first to leave the EU, on its own, would be dangerous for the UK, no matter how satisfying it would be.

          2. Squander Two

            Re: Little Englander syndrome

            > if we were the first country to leave the EU they'd no doubt make an example of us

            You're making my point for me. Does anyone think that's what the English will do to Scotland after they vote Yes? Punish them for it? Refuse to trade with them in the hope that their economy will suffer? Of course not.

            If that really is what the EU are like, that is a reason to leave, not to stay.

      2. El_Fev

        Re: Little Englander syndrome

        @Anonymous Coward - I could spend time going through all your bollocks but that day is not long enough, but just to put you straight on a couple of things..

        1) "People say the EU is expensive and we get nothing in return, but certainly out side of London there are a lot of major projects that couldn't have happened without EU financing "

        As we put in more money than we take out, we are essential using our own money , minus the EU's administration to pay for our own work!

        2) We actual do make a hell of a lot in this country, the fact that you think we don't is becuase you spend to much of your time, with your head stuck in the guardian sipping your choco loco , low fat latte and lapping up all this guff about how we are barely weak , diminished and need protecting oh woe us., while waiting for your cheap eastern European nanny to bring back tarquin from nursery!

        The UK has one of the biggest Markets in the world in terms of spending power and if you think for one instance , that everyone will not want to start selling here becuase were not in the EU then you are a complete and utter moron, an if they are so stupid enough to do so, then you can be damn sure someone in this country will set up a company toot sweet to replace them!

        Just remember apart from the EU the others 180 countries are on their own and prefer it that way!

    3. P. Lee

      Re: Little Englander syndrome

      Inside the tent or on a train heading for a broken bridge? Analogies do not truth make.

      I'm not sure why the author thinks the UK would leave the EEA. For a sceptic, that would be the very best place - all the trade benefits and none of the political malarky.

      The EU is a bit of swings and roundabouts. Some decisions are so much better than the corresponding ones made in Westminster. Unfortunately, democracy doesn't scale well. It can be logistically achieved, but its purpose, the goal of self-determination, is lost.

    4. mike2R

      Re: Little Englander syndrome

      Why does it always have to be one extreme or the other in these debates? Those who seem to think leaving the EU will make Britain again a world power are certainly fools, but why do those who argue against them always end up as ridiculously exaggerated in the opposite direction?

      Is France just the irrelevant bit on the west of the continent? Germany the middle area that no one cares about? Why then do those who most accuse others of clinging to an imperial heritage, themselves appear to dismiss modern Britain so completely. I think you're as much a prisoner of our past as the most stereotypical Little Englander. If we aren't an Empire, we are nothing?

      Britain is a large European nation, and will continue to be so no matter what. We are a mid-sized country on a global scale, gradually declining in relative importance as the world develops, just like the rest of Europe both individually and collectively. And we will continue to be so no matter what.

      All else is hyperbole.

    5. Mike Smith
      Thumb Up

      Re: Little Englander syndrome

      Spot on.

      If every UK government that's followed Heath had put Britain's interests ahead of America's and made a determined effort to put paid to the dream that we're still a superpower, we would be well and truly in the Big Three in Europe, and Westminster would have a lot of clout right across the continent.

      As it is, there's a lot of suspicion across Europre that Downing Street is just the kennel for America's pet poodle. Blair's involvement in the Iraq Crusade did nothing to dispel that impression.

      Seems to me there are three possible scenarios in the next few years:

      1. The referendum gets a nice big No vote and try seriously to mend fences with Brussels. Fat chance.

      2. The referendum gets a nice big Yes vote, Britain flounces out of the EU and finds itself at the mercy of American corporate interests. It then finds out too late that it hasn't got the economic muscle of the EU to back it up when the trade disputes start.

      3. The referendum gets a No vote, Britain continues as it is and becomes increasingly sidelined and ignored, regarded by the other 27 EU members as being neither use nor ornament.

      On a personal (and admittedly selfish) level, I'm starting to hope that Scotland votes Yes in September, and can follow through on its promise to stay in the EU, as I was born there and will be back over the border like a shot the day a referendum on EU membership votes to leave. Britain without the EU will either become a third-world basket case, a fascist dictatorship to rival North Korea or the 51st State of the US, all while the middle-class inhabitants of leafy Surrey suburbs grumble about what the Daily Mail's saying about influxes of foreigners depressing house prices.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: On a personal note

        Should Scotland get "independence", then the EU would have to have all nations voting to admit it. With some other nations fighting independence sentiments in their own country admitting Scotland would be a swift no chance. You'd be out for good boy.

        1. Ken Hagan Gold badge

          Re: On a personal note

          "Should Scotland get "independence", ..."

          ...then the logical approach for everyone to take in the ensuing negotiations is for RUK to leave the UK, taking the nuclear weapons with them. That leaves the part of the UK north of the border still in the EU, still in NATO, but nuke free and the seccessionists in the south free of the EU but with a boatload of nukes to grease their NATO application.

      2. Muscleguy Silver badge

        Re: Little Englander syndrome

        I very much doubt you will either the first or last Scots émigré to return here after a Yes vote. As a Scot who left aged 6 for New Zealand and came back as an educated adult just in time to vote for the first Scottish parliament in 300 years I would welcome you hame.

        The place will boom after March 2016. With a land registry at long bloody last the landowners will finally be able to be taxed and land reform will not be stifled by not knowing who owns what. If you recall The McLeod of McLeod tried to sell the Cuillin Mountains on Skye (his castle roof leaked you see) but it turned out after court cases and much trawling of mouldering documents that he didn't own it. Not even the aristocracy can look up a registry to see what they do and do not own.

        That's just one benefit. I was chewing the fat with a neighbour on the issue (yes really) the other day. You would not believe how switched on to political issues the Scottish electorate is these days. Outsiders who have only recently engaged with the referendum are so far behind the knowledge curve it is no longer worth the time or effort to bring them up to speed with only 5 weeks to go.

        I will vote Yes with you, and a lot of others, in mind. You won't recognise the place, in a good way. The Scottish people have learned how to hope.

    6. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Little Englander syndrome

      Sadly, many apparently still awash with some form of self loathing constantly see Britain as just a small and irrelevant island off the coast of Europe. The reality, we are actually a very large and rather well populated island, with a very large economy, a significant armed force, a rich and varied demographic, good educational standards, a highly trained workforce and a willingness to embrace change and new ideas.

      The fact that a bunch of other nations when they add their numbers together has moar does not mean much and their tent, though I'm sure large, may still smell.

      "it will simply mean the UK has to follow EU/US rules without having any input into the decisions"

      If the article is correct, and I'm not saying it is Chatham house rules or no, then the indication is we don't have much input now.

      What's the next country after us? You know the one who despite being in has a sense of not always going with the flow, of wanting things to be different, who doesn't like the direction being taken? I can't imagine they'd be happy if we go, all those good little European drones pointing their way instead and telling them to behave.

      1. Grikath

        Re: Little Englander syndrome

        "The reality, we are actually a very large and rather well populated island, with a very large economy, a significant armed force, a rich and varied demographic, good educational standards, a highly trained workforce and a willingness to embrace change and new ideas."

        the reality:

        large and well populated... You mean greater london and it's satellites?

        a very large economy ... which is why there's tons of british working in mainland europe, because there's f*ckall to be had at home.

        a significant armed force .... funny you felt the need to include that...

        a rich and varied demographic .... which is rampant with racism and discrimination, despite the blanket of political correctness.

        good educational standards ... could have fooled me there.

        a highly trained workforce.... of which the fraction that actually can and will do anything productive tends to look for work on mainland europe. What's left is B-Ark material..

        a willingness to embrace change and new ideas... If there's one country famous for it's hidebound conservatism it's the bloody UK....

    7. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Little Englander syndrome

      You've got to love unionists who either paint those in favour of Scottish independence as isolationist and small-minded or scaremonger as to whether an independent Scotland will have to "rejoin" the EU.

      Yeah, that'd be the same union whose governing party is pandering to potential UKIP supporters in the Tories' South East England heartland (*) for party political reasons, and holding a vote that could well end up taking us- as part of the UK- out of the EU anyway.

      The pro-unionist David Tennant said "Why do we want to become smaller? Surely we want to expand and look outward?"

      Yes, David. That's *exactly* why I don't want to remain attached to an increasingly right-wing Little England as it attempts to detach the UK from the rest of Europe (successfully or otherwise), all the time growing more politically divergent from Scotland (as it has been for the past generation).

      The current status quo isn't an option here; things are moving regardless, it's just a question of which fork in the road you want to take, and I'm not interested in the one that leads to Tunbridge Wells.

      (*) Yes, I'm aware that UKIP won a Scottish seat at the recent European elections. Fact remains that overall they got a tenth of the vote here compared to around a third in England.

  4. SiempreTuna

    Losing Data Protection rights will be the least of our troubles if we leave the EU.

    The world is dividing into increasingly large and powerful trading groups - next year, the EU and NAFTA will effectively join to create the largest and most powerful trading group (ironically, the EU's lead negotiators in crafting the deal have been we Brits). Leaving this new grouping will leave us out in the cold, economically and diplomatically.

    The idea that we will be gifted favourable trading terms on exit from the EU is nonsense: why would EU leaders, who want to discourage other countries from leaving the EU, go out of their way to make life easy for the first high profile country to leave? Where's the benefit for them? They hold all the power in any future relationship: between them, the US and EU account for around 70% of our international trade. We account for a tiny percentage of theirs. Clearly, they matter way more to us than we do to them.

    1. Warm Braw Silver badge

      >lead negotiators in crafting the deal have been we Brits

      For a parliament that's allegedly increasingly concerned at the foreign threat to its power and influence, it's depressing to read how little they apparently know or care about the work of their compatriots in this area - see the first couple of paragraphs here:

      http://britishinfluence.org/point-view-ttip-global-economic-game-changer-british-business/

      It seems like MPs want influence but aren't prepared to put in the effort to use it. Hardly surprising that Britain seems to see its role in Europe in similar terms.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Why provide _decent_ trading deal?

      Because many German companies are largely dependent on the UK market. It's not like the buying power of the UK is insignificant dear

      1. newro

        Re: Why provide _decent_ trading deal?

        You might find that BMW and Audi are still capable of economic survival without the UK market.

        For example, from 1.5 million Audi's sold in 2013, only 123,622 made it into the UK [1]. On top of that, BMW for example are currently employing around 18.000 UK Jobs + sub-supplier [2], which would be at stake if the independent UK would try to ... erm ... do something against it?

        Not saying the UK is an insignificant market, but they certainly bring a lot less weight to the table. And keep in mind, they are not negotiating with Germany directly, but the entire EU market.

        [1] https://www.audi.co.uk/about-audi/latest-news/audi-reflects-on-another-record-sales-year.html

        [2] http://www.bmw.co.uk/en_GB/footer/publications-links/aboutus.html

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Why provide _decent_ trading deal?

          Wow so because those 2 will be fine we extrapolate the line and find that they all will.

          Excellent work, A* to you. You should do this for a living!

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Why provide _decent_ trading deal?

          Do you really think directors of said companies would accept "economic survival" against the very profitable situation they currently have? Hah. It's capitalism sir, and that overrides all for some (as sad as that is ...)

  5. Slx

    I'm just curious as Viviane Reding's comments about discussions with Britain and *Ireland* being a waste of time never made the press over here in Ireland.

    That being said, we mostly seem to run EU updates on the TV at about 1am on a Sunday night! So it's very easy to miss or to fall asleep as it's usually very boring and technical.

    Ireland's definitely moved more towards an attitude of 'critical engagement' than British style Euroscepticism in recent years. There's been a serious change in attitude towards the European Commission and I don't think the Irish public is blindly pro-EU as they're often painted. We've thrown spanners in the works a few times with that highly inconvenient process known as democracy that our constitution insists on. At one stage the European Commission were actually forced to turn up and pretty much directly negotiate protocols with the Irish public as apparently we'd regected an EU treaty.

    Can you imagine the horror for the poor commissioners!? Having to actually debate with voters in TV studios and town hall meetings.

    I definitely wouldn't describe Irish attitudes as being in line with the UK on the EU though. I don't see any growing demand to pull out and there was a very long (multi-year) in depth debate about the Euro and how membership has played out during the economic crisis. I don't really think there's a sense that exiting and devaluing would be a good strategy.

    I can only assume Ireland's been trying to negotiate to ensure it doesn't have to be too harsh on Facebook, Twitter etc all of which have European HQs in the Emerald Isle so technically the Irish Data Protection Commission is responsible for being their watchdog.

    I mean if there's one thing Britain and Ireland agree on it's light touch regulation and corporate brown nosing! We wouldn't want to upset our respective business friendly reputations.

    The UK's probably more concerned about being prevented from data slurping. Ireland's just trying to avoid having to annoy big data outfits.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I've found the same in Ireland. Back in the boom, with lovely EU grants, some of Ireland did very well and of course we all loved the EU's pockets... Now that austerity has hit and the EU wanted to get more than their fair share of money back from us to bail out their own issues (put us on the rack to some degree), we don't love them as much - more a we kinda like you, we're not sure we trust you but we still wanna be part of the 'team' - so we'll go along with it.

      I used to live in the UK and now looking in, I find that a good proportion of people around my parents age (and younger) are very anti Europe - for no logical reason other than it's inbuilt. They've become increasing insular (or it was always there but now they have an outlet with the UKIP party and can voice it) and can not see the benefits, only the downsides of the EU. I think most of their stance is a mis-guided form of nostalgia, fed by the Daily Mail and all. Oh yes...things were better back in the war before all these EU rules.......

      1. Squander Two

        > I find that a good proportion of people around my parents age (and younger) are very anti Europe - for no logical reason other than it's inbuilt.

        Rather than just assuming that anyone who disagrees with you must have no logical reason for doing so, why not try asking them?

        > They've become increasing insular (or it was always there but now they have an outlet with the UKIP party and can voice it)

        UKIP's policy is to trade with the whole world and to allow controlled immigration from the whole world rather than the current system of giving preference to the EU and allowing the EU to enforce protectionism against the rest of the world on our behalf. How does that give an outlet to insularity?

        > I think most of their stance is a mis-guided form of nostalgia, fed by the Daily Mail and all.

        You think? Again, why not try actually asking them?

        I'm not nostalgic and I don't read The Mail. In fact, I used to be staunchly pro-EU. I've turned against them on simple grounds of democracy: the UK, for all its imperfections, has it, and the EU doesn't.

        Since I have actually seen pro-EU politicians use the fact that Italian restaurants are really nice as an argument in their favour (as if we won't have any Chinese restaurants unless we cede some of our sovereignty to China), I find it amusing when people tell me that it's my side who are illogical.

        1. T_o_u_f_ma_n
          Meh

          >UKIP's policy is to trade with the whole world and to allow controlled immigration from the whole >world rather than the current system of giving preference to the EU and allowing the EU to enforce >protectionism against the rest of the world on our behalf. How does that give an outlet to insularity?

          The insularity comes from the belief that the UK could achieve better trading terms with the rest of the world as a separate entity than as part of a huge trading block. It might be possible in some cases but other countries might decide that a potential market of 64 million people isn't as interesting as a market worth 550 million people.

          As for controlled immigration, it is just an argument for segregation by nationality stemming from xenophobia. If UK companies find better candidates outside of the EU, there is nothing that forces them to give preference to EU candidates. It just happens to be easier to hire nationals from EU countries because of the abolition of visa requirements. The difference in labour rates between EU nations is actually a boon for UK companies since it is as close to free market conditions as they could expect.

    2. Squander Two

      > I don't see any growing demand to pull out

      Well, the Irish did vote to pull out in a referendum, which surely constitutes some demand to pull out.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        "Well, the Irish did vote to pull out in a referendum, which surely constitutes some demand to pull out."

        Are you serious? The Irish, in the face of a campaign that ran on the slogan "If you don't know, vote no", rejected 2 EU treaties, and then, after further widespread debate (to address the concerns about not knowing) and some additional concessions (the Seville Declaration for the Nice Treaty, and the retention of a Commissioner for every country for the Lisbon Treaty) voted very strongly in favour of the 2 treaties - over 60% voting Yes in each case, on higher turnouts.

        The Irish electorate has NEVER voted to pull out of the EU - it has acted to make sure that some of the concerns of a small Nation in the EU were taken seriously, and the EU Heads of Government took these concerns on board. The Irish equivalent of UKIP insists that this process was "undemocratic", but both of these 2nd referendums actually had far greater public engagement on the often complex issues covered in EU treaties than probably anywhere else in Europe, (except accession debates, which are just as contentious in Eastern Europe today as they were in Ireland and the UK in the 60's and 70's)

  6. JamieL

    Let's be clear on definitions and scope of territories

    "...if ... UK votes to leave the EU:

    The UK will be outside the EEA "

    The one does not automatically follow the other. Plenty of countries in the EEA but not the EU, so the rest of the article about the UK therefore no longer able to benefit from the DPA is open to challenge

    1. Mark #255

      Re: Let's be clear on definitions and scope of territories

      Plenty of countries in the EEA but not the EU...

      Well, if by "plenty" you mean "four": Liechtenstein, Iceland, Switzerland and Norway. And Iceland was on track to join the EU until it went bankrupt.

      1. Mike Pellatt

        Re: Let's be clear on definitions and scope of territories

        And Norway keeps voting not to join the EU....

      2. despun

        Re: Let's be clear on definitions and scope of territories

        Well, they're all pretty prosperous. Iceland had the option of default, took it, and seems to have done relatively well compared with, say, Greece.

        1. Indolent Wretch

          Re: Let's be clear on definitions and scope of territories

          and Spain....

          And Norway.... they're broke aren't they.. Oh wait maybe not.

          Personally I'm not in favour of exit but I always love it when people bang on about the benefits of the EU and then don't mention any.

          When pushed they say things like "well if we leave XYZ won't trade with us", "embargoes", "duties stuck on British goods", etc. FWIW these are the same arguments I heard when we "HAD" to join the Euro otherwise British industry would die within the week.

          So their argument boils down to "the benefit of being in the EU is that the EU won't beat us up".

          That's a VERY unhealthy relationship.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Let's be clear on definitions and scope of territories

      The EEA is based on the same "four freedoms" as the European Community: the free movement of goods, persons, services, and capital among the EEA countries. Thus, the EEA countries that are not part of the EU enjoy free trade with the European Union.

      But but remaining in the EEA will mean Europeans are still free to move between EEA countries. The whole reason we want to leave the EU is because there are millions of foreign people arriving on a monthly basis and getting thousands of pounds handed to them by that bird from the postcode lottery adverts. We will have to leave the EEA too

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Europeans are still free to move

        You mean like they can move uncontrolled to Switzerland now after the recent democratic vote to reject that particular aspect?

  7. spam 1

    Formally speaking, the UK is still an EU member, but that's on paper only. Once the other countries act as if you were no longer a member, leaving is the only choice left.

    1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

      Brilliant move !

      Yes, make it the fault of everybody else that the UK leaves the EU.

      That way you'll be able to continue blaming the EU for whatever antagonizes you in the next twenty years.

  8. kmac499

    The Law of Unintended Consequences

    Personally I think we could be on the road to a very difficult future thanks to our politicians panic over loosing elections and or their desire to maintain votes.

    1) The Scottish refrendum was offered as a sop in the belief that Salmond and Co couldn't possibly win. Well that could be a very close run thing. Whatever the right and wrongs of self determination if the Scots vote to leave there will be earthquakes to cope with. Not least of which the likely change in the balance of power at westminster and the rise of English nationalism in the R-UK.

    2) Immigration and UKip, again whatever the rights and wrongs, the actual numbers of people and their origins. Demographic changes can be toxic in a shrinking economy. Plus the growing cultural changes embedded with 2nd and 3rd generations from commonwealth migrants of 40 years ago. In order to head off UKip, the Govt-of the-Day would probably sacrifice their eldest children or any other electoral bribe to stay ahead in the polls.

    (Mind you I do chuckle when the die hard English enjoy and boast about the benefits of a cheap Polish builder whilst spending the saved money going for a curry washed down by German lager..)

    So it is possible that in the next couple of years we will have a shrunken UK (unexpected consequence 1) blaming all of it's problems on Europe. With the English demanding a trading relationship with the EU whilst denying Scotland use of the pound etc. etc.. Leading up to an absolute IN\OUT referundum (unexpected consequence 2) which may result in us leaving. The R-Europe could then say to the R-UK, 'Sorry you couldn't stay, but at least we can crack on without you now.. And Oh by the way could you take back your Two million ex-pats pensioners..' (unexpected consequence 3)

    Can I suggest a growth industy to get into could be repatriation\removals

    Against a lilkely possible future of serious climate change and a still dodgy financial system. it does all seem a bit silly, but that's Five year time horizon politicians for you.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: The Law of Unintended Consequences

      > a curry washed down by German lager..

      Don't be silly, it'll be an Indian lager brewed in the UK.

  9. Davie Dee

    Given that not a single member of the general public has ever voted for what we have in Europe today, I fail to see what the problem of giving the people a vote to either legitimise it or remove it?

    Or shall we just scrap all remaining traces of our democracy an give us no say in anything?

    I also find it funny that assuming that we left Europe, we'd become isolated and lose trade left right and centre falling in to a pit of oblivion. Which is curious given that there are many examples of countries doing very well indeed without being tied to the EU and we are in a prime position to setup direct trade links with free trade to the rest of the commonwealth, one of the largest markets on the planet.

    Now I'm not saying we should leave the EU but it should be changed and we should all have a say in whether we want to be apart of that, that is not unreasonable

    1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

      Re: not a single member of the general public has ever voted for what we have in Europe today

      Sorry, but that is simply untrue. Every single country entering the EU had the possibility of asking its citizens if they agreed, many did - some with negative results (ie Norway, of course).

      Since that time, there have been a few referendums to have citizens decide on key points. You can find a comprehensive list here.

      But your opinion is nevertheless quite interesting, it demonstrates exactly how you consider the EU. Maybe that is the reason your government wants to leave it.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: not a single member of the general public has ever voted for what we have in Europe today

        You should watch Peter Vlemmix's documentary about the EU: EUROMANIA (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cO4Ayo4mYZg)

        Pay attention to the part where some countries voted against the European Constitution, with more votes planned and they got so worried that more people would vote it down. So they just changed the name to Treaty of Lisbon and did it in a way so that in the end almost no one voted on it.

        1. SleepyJohn

          The EU was instigated by the Nazis in the 1940s

          Thanks for the link - a riveting film. I have just watched a bit as it is bedtime in the deep south where I live but I will certainly continue it tomorrow.

          One thing I would mention is that he did not go back far enough in his search for the origins of the EU. The initial germ was planted long before the European Coal and Steel Community in the 1950s. It was apparently planted by the Nazis in the closing stages of the war when they realised they were going to lose and decided to lay the groundwork for a new United Europe, which would adopt different tactics to the fire and brimstone methods that had failed them. This was based on a plan originating from the German company IG Farben in 1940.

          The first President of what would evolve into today's European Commission was a prominent Nazi lawyer called Walter Hallstein. Google 'nazis and EU' for a lot more disturbing stuff like that.

      2. Davie Dee

        Re: not a single member of the general public has ever voted for what we have in Europe today

        Actually my friend, the only thing the UK public has ever voted for regarding Europe is the EC elections of 1975, the EC was setup in the 60s, in 75 we voted to remain apart of it, since then any resemblance of the EC was absorbed and transformed in to the EU. There is largely nothing wrong with the concept of the EC as it was, its the EU I have a problem with given that it dictates policy (though WM has to rubber stamp it) without any public mandate to do so. I also have a problem with the common agricultural policy which has spanned the two (EC / EU) and has been nothing sort of disastrous for the industry here. but that's a debate for another time.

        If the people want it and vote for it then fine, I wont like it but that is democracy, as it is, we haven't voted for most of it.

  10. regadpellagru

    UK leaving the EU

    I'm always baffled by the number of people supporting Cameron in leaving the EU and/or wielding the dangerous threat to do so, at the risk of having to do it for political reasons. Who cared a single second when he went berzerk on Junker election ?

    After all, the UK is one of the few countries to still have a full sovereign currency in the EU: it can print money ad nauseam to start the economy again, so doesn't suffer from one of the sole EU problem.

    Then, it seems unavoidable, to me, UK (minus Scotland) will leave the EU, so noisy was the spin around how it would make things better. This data protection ridicule posture and how no-one cares is one more syndrom that it will make everyone outside of UK happy.

    End of the day, this will only kill UK exports to EU (yeah, no painful security/safety requirements anymore, china-style, only to be treated as the same rubbish).

    I really hope Cameron gets to his senses again, so as to avoid the UK going down ...

  11. James 100

    Cameron's position

    regadpellagru: Cameron was determined not to hold a referendum in the first place, until his hand was forced; even now, he is determined to accept whatever terms the EU may offer rather than support leaving. You should also bear in mind the exports in question are mostly in the opposite direction, *from* the other EU countries *to* the EU, so any barriers erected would actually be more to the UK's benefit than the other way round!

    I'm always baffled by this continental perception of Cameron as if he were some sort of extreme Eurosceptic, when in reality he is still firmly on the Europhile side of British public opinon, having fought hard to prevent a referendum earlier this parliament (tearing his own party apart with a 'three line whip' to block it) and now being determined to fight on the EU's side if there is one next parliament.

    If you're worried about Cameron, I'd love to see your reaction if we ever get a Eurosceptic government!

  12. Red Bren

    In, Out, Shake it all about...

    If Scotland votes for independence, it won't happen overnight, so how long will the transition take? If the 2015 general election results in a Conservative led coalition or minority government that relies on UKIP support, an EU referendum could take place before Scottish independence is completed. If the Scots vote to remain in the EU while the rUK votes to leave, then the Scots could inherit the UK's membership. But if Wales and Northern Ireland also vote to remain within the EU and effectively join with the Scots in a new federal UK, the end result could be England no longer being in the UK or the EU.

    As an aside, I'd like to know how many "better together" supporters of maintaining the United Kingdom are also "better off on our own" supporters of withdrawing from the EU...

  13. Hubert Thrunge Jr.

    Mr Cameroon...

    As I understand it, Mr Cameroon does *not* wish the UK to leave the EU, but wants the EU, particularly the EC to become more efficient, and more in tune with the electorate of all nation states, rather than it being this deaf leviathan that is hell bent on creating a monster Federal Europe. Something that the people of France, Germany, Italy, etc.. do NOT want.

    It is that un-listening monster that is rearing it's head here.. "Don't listen to the UK, they're not part of what *we* want to do".

    And what if what "*we*" want to do is wrong? And what the UK is saying is right?

    That is my concern here. The arrogance of the issue. Whether the UK is undergoing a political upheaval is neither here nor there, it is the matter that the UK is being ignored in a matter where it has every right to be part of the process.

    We're (UK) not the only country to show an anti-EU Nationalist resurgence in recent times. The French, Danes, Dutch, and others have all seen dissent grow in recent times, yet I don't see them getting the same treatment.

    Perhaps we should complain to the European Court of Human Rights?

    My view - better in than out, but steering the ship, not hanging over the side puking up all the time.

    And a ship that only has one berth, not two! The regular movement between Brussels and Strasbourg has to stop - it costs the EU tax payers and is a total waste of money.

    Not that the EU has ever wasted money before....

  14. Jess

    If Scotland leaves the UK...

    ... I would hope it would put paid to any stupid ideas of leaving the EU.

    England, Wales and NI outside the EU (and especially if Scotland remained inside, which is most likely) would be a very weak entity, and hopefully enough little Englanders may actually face up to this.

    And given the choice between Scotalnd being part of the EU or part of the UK outside the EU, which would they choose?

  15. SleepyJohn
    Big Brother

    Someone runs this show, and it's not the muppets on stage

    The British were tricked into joining what liars like Edward Heath convinced them would be a friendly trading cooperative, by a self-appointed European political elite who knew exactly what it was always intended to be - a dictatorial European Super-Power controlled by a single, economically powerful country masquerading as one of the team. What is it the Scots say about 'he who pays the piper'?

    Instead of cowing the peasantry with bombs and bullets as the last lot tried to do, the EU very shrewdly chose the weapon of stultifying bureaucracy - it is cheaper, does not damage the infrastructure, does not kill off the cannon-fodder, and is more effective at sapping the will and clouding the judgement of the people. The EU's non-stop, mind-numbing bureaucratic diarrhoea is easy to mock, but it is an essential, and carefully manipulated part of this process.

    There is no place for Britain, with its long history of freedom and democracy, in this lumbering, bullying behemoth. And the notion that, despite its infrastructure, expertise, economy and global connections, Britain could not survive outside the suffocating Euro-monster, is simply ludicrous. The last European dictatorship that invited Britain to join was rebuffed with disgust, and this one should be too.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Data protection & the UK

    There is a fair amount wrong with the EU democratically, but there is increasingly things wrong with the UK implementation of the state operating system known as democracy. The UK ruling elite all seem to be concerned with reducing citizens freedoms and protections (data and otherwise) often in favour of 'relations' with another powerful state (USA if you dont know) that is only concerned with its allies if it is within its current interests (what a surprise). The EU for all its faults is amenaible to change and challange (see M Thatcher) and increasingly is the only refuge from an increasingly oppresive state - they protect our freedoms more and more better than Parliament, which is appalling.

    The method of implementing EU directives etc by gold-plated UK legislation is a rod the UK created for its own back,and probably to ensure the rise of something like UKIP - is that paranoid?

    If we are not careful we will end with a state similar to that 'V' fought against, only with no hope of a 'V'.

    The mention of Scotland is a red-herring here until they are independent or have voted to be so..

    by the way the icon selection appears to have gone wrong, I tried to select Unhappy

  17. Europe

    from the outside ?

    Living in Belgium, but being connected to the UK via numerous TV-stations, websites and some friends (who are British but living in Germany), I find it hard to believe that the UK is so negative towards Europe. Especially on forums the gratuitious comments are abound. I wonder if this isn't just a way of getting rid of all unhappy feelings in their life. What will you vilify if you have lost the EU ;-) The tabloids will go bankrupt !

    Few things in life have a healthy financial return on investment. Do you get more from the government than you pay ? Do you get more from your insurance-company than you pay ? Your marriage ? Your children ? The EU is no exception, but it is a ticket to power on a global scale.

    If you are in Europe you play on a bigger stage. Cameron seemed to want a "forceful" intervention from Europe in the Ukraine... while he does everything in his power to prevent Europe from having such a united say in international politics, let alone military clout. He wanted sanctions that other nations would have to pay, none that would hurt the financial interests of the city... He is not what you would call a loyal partner. He wants the power, without the cost...

    We should have European elections for a president, like in the US, with parties working on a European scale, that would change the whole game. Every politician would have to gain votes in every state of the EU. Perhaps Cameron would even be inclined to learn German :-)

    Frankly I wouldn't like to stand in his shoes... He is gambling with everyone's future, and what is he hoping to gain ? The US wants him to stay IN, to block every move that might go against their interests (like the data protection act), alas the UKIP is stealing his votes so he has to pretend his has the power to change Europe so he can stay IN, AND promise a referendum to get OUT. Sleepless nights.

    For a long time I have wished the UK to become a full member of the EU, leading the way, instead of the grumbling dead weight it seems to become. Still nothing is lost yet.

  18. paddy1991

    We paddies left you UK Brits a while back.....

    Can you get your X marker man to shift the X so that we paddies are not shown as part of the UK on the map.

    It took us 800 years to extraditable ourselves from your loving embrace, so we are a tweetch sensitive about it.

    If the Scotties leave X marker man will have upgrade his photoshop skills!

  19. Hargrove

    Democracy v. Republic

    With regard to the threads of discussion on democracy--

    The story is told that upon leaving the Constitutional Convention, Dr. Benjamin Franklin was accosted by a woman who demanded to know "What kind of a government have you given us?" Dr. Franklin is quoted as replying, "A republic, Madame, if you can keep it."

    There is a significant difference between pure democracy and the representative forms of "small r" republican government most Western "democracies" attempt to practice. If I understand what I read, Plato's belief was that true democracy would inevitably degenerate into mob rule.

    Our Brit cousins avoided this by turning parliament into the longest running comedy review extant. This is, at least, intellectually diverting and entertaining.

    We in the US dodged the bullet by cleverly transitioning directly to an oligarchy of special interests who at regular intervals purchase the services of those who govern us--giving us the leisure to watch such edifying fare as the Kardashians and Duck Dynasty.

    Fortunately, both our fine nations still have the power to address this at the polls--something we need to get about in the US before those 2700 armored vehicles the feds bought to protect us get fully armed and deployed.

  20. Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge

    I think the issue here...

    I think the issue here may be EU wanting to continue strong data protection laws, whilst UK is probably following the US line of "Well, let's 'balance' this against the need for whatever" which means watering down and removing people's rights. If you have UK and only UK (out of EU members) arguing to water this stuff down, then eventually the rest will just quit listening to them.

POST COMMENT House rules

Not a member of The Register? Create a new account here.

  • Enter your comment

  • Add an icon

Anonymous cowards cannot choose their icon

Other stories you might like

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2022