Tags: Britain, Britexit, Community, de Gaulle, empty chair, Franco-German, Germany, nationalist, referendum, Schuman
If a UK Referendum to leave the EU succeeded, Britain would have to deal with a complex, new set of negotiations. They would have to deal both with facts of commerce and economy but also with myths that would reinforce treating the UK as an unreliable partner. Material loss from a poor negotiating stance would only be part of the story. If Britain was left with an unfounded reputation as a wrecker and trouble-maker it would be far worse for its future.
Britain’s entry negotiations into the three European Communities (Coal and Steel, ‘Common Market’ and Euratom) were not happy. High rancour was engendered by de Gaulle’s veto in 1962. It has coloured subsequent relations by creating great suspicion among the British of French and its partners’ intentions.
Europeans are still being fooled by Gaullist propaganda and myths. On the French side, many have imbibed Gaullist propaganda for generations. And not only the French. De Gaulle tried to destroy the Community system yet as recently as 2013 Charles de Gaulle received a jubilee triumph. It was if the Gaullist idea of the Franco-German axis was the opposite of his concession of failure. The real Gaullist policy was to annex parts of Germany. He advocated this policy during the war and right up to the moment he seized power and several years later. The Franco-German motor is his myth.
The Community idea involves the opposite to a bi-national motor. Cooking up deals in private is the opposite to open democracy. The Community does not involve fooling the public by fraudulent Beef Mountains, Wine Lakes and useless infrastructure projects to buy local votes. It calls for real, equal partnership and solidarity of all Member States and all sections of society in supranational democracy. The present euro is the latest anti-European Gaullist fraud.
De Gaulle opposed pro-Europeans and above all Schuman’s ideas for peace and prosperity. He had long advocated French annexation of parts of today’s Germany such as the Saarland and other territories up to the Rhine river. He wanted the Ruhr to be placed under French and Allied control.That would make France and in particular, Charles de Gaulle the new emperor of the Continent. There were enormous rows with the Americans and the British who saw de Gaulle as a man of the nineteenth century. Indeed his nationalist policy was based on the past not the future.
De Gaulle only changed this policy after he failed to stop the establishment of the German government in Bonn and the operation of the three European Communities. He called the Federal Republic of Germany the Fourth Reich.
He only changed his mind in 1963 — more than a decade after the supranational Community system had begun. It was after a decade and a half of positive German experience of democracy that started with votes in the Laender.
When he seized power in 1957, pro-European parties such as the MRP and the Socialists, made an agreement that they would support de Gaulle’s temporary powers to solve the Algerian crisis as long as he did not attack the Community idea, vocally or in politics. He reneged on that. His policy of boycott of the institutions typified by the empty chair in the Council of Ministers and his attempt to turn an independent European Commission into a political secretariat (the Fouchet Plan) met with resistance. When he ruled out any future of the Community system in May 1962 by saying ‘There can be no other Europe than the Europe of Nation States,’ he was opposed by French Europeans and those in other States. The MRP ministers in his government resigned.
So if de Gaulle fooled most of the European people and still does, how can Britain create a better impression and reputation once the Referendum affirms that Britain should leave the EU?
The blueprint of the ‘Supra-Solution’
The proposed solution (which we will call the Supra-Solution) will not only deal with such often forgotten complications of the Communities but also enable the negotiations to boost British trade with the EU and the world. It will safeguard this solution against any complications from the Scottish referendum (or possible Welsh or N. Irish ones). The proposed blueprint for the exit will ensure that the UK is not placed in a weak negotiating position that allows the remainder of the EU to blackmail it. This occurred in the 1972 Heath negotiation. In 1961 the Macmillan application was subject to unilateral and humiliating rebuffs.
The plan’s outcome will leave both the EU and the UK stronger.
Britain’s negotiations must comprise five strands
1. Moral: The UK needs to tackle the negotiation from a high moral ground. The strategy must be adequately prepared before negotiations.
2. Economic: The UK should ensure that it does not lose out economically both during negotiation and afterwards. The potential for providing for positive outcomes both for the UK and the EU requires careful preparation, implementation of successive stages and follow-through to the final operation.
3. Political: The negotiation should leave the UK with friendly relationships across Europe and elsewhere.
4. Social. It must maintain human rights of all British citizens and associations and their political voice in the negotiations according to best social teaching of the common good. Negotiations cannot be top down like Bismarck but need to integrate society’s various interests. Even a referendum for exit does not mean that the rights of referendum minorities can be trampled on. The solution must bring social justice for all.
5. Legal: How can negotiations take place without being tied in legal knots? Will the result be legally permanent? The competence of and for the EU’s competence (Kompetenz-Kompetenz) lies with governments or more specifically national sovereignty.
It needs to have a smooth negotiation process so not to cause disruptions to the economy and legal/social order. It also has to be future-proof. It therefore needs to set up long-term instruments for future relations with the EU Member States, (MS) and Brussels.
Those instruments are not only the key to Britain’s future after the Referendum but also for the other Member States of the EU.