What defines a state? There are plenty of things that a state can do, but it seems to me that a state only needs certain functions in order to be classed as such. Namely, the ability to raise revenue, control over law and order, and defence. I bring this up because I don’t see how anyone can avoid calling the EU a state anymore. It has the ability to raise revenue (through payments by member states), it makes laws which supersede all others, it is beginning to mould an ‘EU army’, and it now has the rudiments of a police force. It has, as historians say, a monopoly of violence (in that it ultimately controls the forces of law and order):
“What is envisaged here is a powerful new EU interior department, called the Standing Committee on Internal Security (COSI).
When MPs recently debated the treaty’s justice and home affairs provisions, Jacqui Smith, the Home Secretary, did not even mention COSI. She sought to define this aspect of the treaty solely in terms of enhanced cross-border cooperation against crime and terrorism, as though that cannot be achieved without setting up an EU Interior Ministry that will rival, or exceed, her own department in importance.
Internal EU documents uncovered by our Brussels correspondent indicate how COSI might develop. One discussion paper states: “Internal security should at least include… the prevention and combating of crime, the prevention of the terrorist threat, intelligence exchange, public order management, the prevention and combating of criminal offences such as illegal immigration and trafficking in persons, the provision of an integrated management system for external borders and crisis management with cross-border effects within the EU.”
The EU already has an embryonic police force (Europol), a courts arm (Eurojust), a paramilitary riot squad (European Gendarmerie Force), a European Arrest Warrant, and will now, under Lisbon, have a European public prosecutor and what could become an interior ministry (COSI) to pull it all together.
For many years, these matters were regarded as off limits for the EU. Yet with the barest of debate in our supposedly sovereign parliament, and with ministers clinging to the fraying life-line of their negotiated opt-outs, we are about to hand control of our criminal justice system to the European Commission and the European Court of Justice.”
As the EU is now a state in all but name, is this what people want? Do you think that the EU should concentrate on bringing in more countries, or consolidating its hold over the existing ones? Has the EU gone too far, and should it just be a trading block, with freedom of movement for goods, services and people? What role should the EU play in the world?
As we don’t debate the EU much on Pickled Politics, I think that such wide-ranging questions are okay (personally I would like to see the EU reduced to a trading block).
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