Poking the Russian Bear

by Roger Helmer

Roger Helmer

 

UKIP has criticised EU actions in Ukraine, and has immediately been branded “Apologists for Putin” by the press. We are, of course, no such thing. Russia has behaved reprehensibly and is clearly in breach of international law (though sadly there are too many precedents when the West has also intervened in third countries, on questionable grounds and with doubtful legality). Nevertheless I do blame the EU for creating a problem where there was no need to do so. President Roosevelt’s advice was “Tread softly and carry a big stick”. In Ukraine, the EU has talked loudly and made extravagant promises and raised improbable expectations, while wielding no stick at all — so much for “influence”. Imagine if the situation were reversed, and Russia had made enerous offers implying very close links – and maybe membership of the CIS – to, say, Austria. How would the Germans feel about that? Or to Ireland? What would be the UK reaction? The Ukraine is in the Russians’ “Near Abroad”, their historic sphere of influence. For decades, Ukraine was governed from Moscow. The Crimea (bizarrely) was handed over as a gift from Russia to the Ukraine, but with the clear expectation that Ukraine, now including Crimea, would remain part of the USSR. Khrushchev would never have dreamed that Ukraine might join Western Europe, taking Crimea with it. So I am not justifying Russia’s action. But I am condemning the EU’s approach to Ukraine, which was bound to infuriate and humiliate Moscow, and was always very likely to provoke a hostile reaction – as indeed it did.

Another EU threat to national sovereignty

There was an excellent article in the THE DAILY TELEGRAPH today which is reproduced below:

One of the few “successes” of the British negotiations over the Lisbon Treaty, which came into force in 2009, was a partial opt-out from the Charter of Fundamental Rights. This political agreement was proclaimed by EU institutions some 14 years ago to replicate the European Convention on Human Rights. The difference is that while the convention comes under the auspices of the Council of Europe, an organisation of more than 40 countries -including Russia and Turkey – the charter is an EU document. The distinction is significant.

Whereas the convention is administered through the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) in Strasbourg, the charter is enforced by the European Court of Justice (ECJ) in Luxembourg. The former, at least in theory, has no direct jurisdiction over our courts; but the latter is the supreme judicial body, whose decisions are binding. This is because EU law has a direct effect under the European Communities Act 1972 and therefore overrides British courts and Parliament.Increasingly, these rights are being transferred to the EU.

Vivienne RedingViviane Reding, the vice-president of the European Commission, says she wants the charter to be the EU’s “very own” Bill of Rights, which would apply to all member states and have legally binding force. The UK’s so-called exemption would effectively be null and void.

In fact, the ECJ is already attempting to impose charter rights on Britain, much to the alarm of senior judges and MPs.Lord Mance, a justice of the Supreme Court, recently warned of the EU “steamrolling” national courts into imposing European human rights rules on the UK. He echoed comments by Mr Justice Mostyn, a High Court judge, suggesting that many of the rights in the charter have already taken effect in the UK despite the opt-outs.

At a time when Britain’s future in Europe is such a controversial political issue, Commissioner Reding’s intervention could hardly have come at a worse time for David Cameron. He wants to renegotiate the terms of membership yet finds that plans are afoot to water down national sovereignty even further.

Moreover, the Conservatives also want sweeping reforms of the human rights convention and the Strasbourg court. But these will be meaningless if the powers are simply taken on by the EU, since they would then trump anything that MPs decide.

This sort of statement from the Commission is grist to Ukip’s mill ahead of European elections on May 22 – and the possible in/out referendum. If Commissioner Reding and her colleagues want Britain to remain in the EU, then they have a funny way of showing it

The EU’s Political Subversion of European Churches

DR ANTHONY COUGHLAN of the Irish National Platform is a long-standing friend of the British Eurosceptic movement.  It was his cogent précis of the constitutional effects of the Lisbon Treaty which inspired to compilation of our CIB booklet “A HOUSE DIVIDED – Can Parliament serve two masters, the nation and the European Union?”.

 He has kindly given his permission for the following letter to be circulated to British colleagues who may find this overview of the EU’s involvement with the Churches of Europe useful.

The EU is an organisation which works through other organisations – as with member states, so with Churches.  If it can capture the political leadership of a state of a Church to advance its project, it really does not need to bother much about the citizens of the member state or the individual members of a Church or other organisations which it subverts.  It is a corporatist organisation, dealing with other corporate groups.

So, to those who say we should not mix politics and religion, we have to reply that the EU has already done so.  It wants its client Churches to provide “a soul for Europe”.  Many Church members may not be aware of the political espousal of the EU by their Church’s leaders.

Unless those Church members campaigning for national independence are content to leave the EU in control of collaborationist Church leaderships (supported by their own donations and Sunday collections), they have to start speaking up and asking questions.

Dr Coughlan’s comments give a very good point from which to start.

Dear Edward,

Thank you very much for sending me those interesting documents on the Christian Churches and particularly on the Church of England.  I have printed these out and they contain some illuminating stuff.

I remember Jens-Peter Bonde introducing me to an EU critical Lutheran Clergyman in Denmark some time in the early 1990s, who described how the EU Commission and the European Movement at that time were making a particular effort to co-opt the Christian Churches into supporting the EU project.

They seemingly set this objective as a key political goal following the Danish and Irish Maastricht Treaty referendums in the early 1990s when the Lutheran clergy in Denmark, for instance, tended to be on the No side.

Traditionally, it seems, the Lutheran Churches of Scandinavia, which are all State Churches as you know, tended to be EU critical, as they stood by the sovereignty of their respective Crowns/Monarchs, representing the national State sovereignty.

As regards the Church of England, you have heard the old wisecrack, I am sure, that the Church of England is the Tory party at a prayer! So I expect that the evolution of opinion in the C of E over the years has mirrored that within Conservative circles as a whole.

I don’t know how successful the EU’s co-option exercise has proved with the Lutheran Churches, but it certainly been hugely successful as regards to the Roman Catholic Church, which is my own background, especially in the 1990s/early 2000s…I expect that the post 2008 financial crisis has brought new issues into play – the growth of poverty, unemployment etc. – which perhaps reduces the Europhilia of various Church hierarchies, as they have to pay attention to such developments and deplore them from a Christian prospective.

The Catholic Church in Ireland, influential through it was, did not involve itself officially in any way in the 1987 Single European Act, 1992 Maastricht and 1998 Amsterdam Treaty referendums.

However in the 2001 Nice Treaty referendum, the newly formed European and International Affairs Committee of the Irish Catholic hierarchy caused consternation among the many Catholic traditionalists on the No-side by coming out with a statement shortly before the referendum which implicitly pointed towards the desirability of Catholics voting Yes.  Frantic efforts by some of the Catholic No-side people persuaded two of the bishops to say or imply that they supported the No side, but a lot of damage was done.

Similar interventions occurred in subsequent Irish referendums – in the aborted one on the proposed EU Constitution in 2005 and the 2008 and 2009 Lisbon Treaty referendums.

Sometime in the 1990s the Committee of the Catholic Hierarchies of the European Community/Union was established – known by its French initials and COMICE.  It had a full-time office in Brussels, whose full time secretary was for years Monsignor Noel Traynor, who was promoted to the Bishopric of Down and Connor – i.e. Belfast – a few year ago.  The current Catholic Archbishop of Dublin, Diarmuid Martin, is also a strong Europhile. You can “google” COMICE on the internet and find various further items of information there.

Traditionally in the RC Church each Bishop was, as the old saying put it, Pope in his own diocese.  Each one did his own thing, so to speak.  But in recent decades Bishops speak on political issues through the committees of their respective national hierarchies.  So that when it comes to an EU issue, they ask themselves: what does our European or International Affairs Committee or sub-committee think.  These subcommittees of half a dozen or so people are usually strongly Europhile, having been wined and dined for years in Brussels and gone symposiums on such matters as “Christian Ethics and the EU” etc. in castles in Germany and so on.

These committees sometimes include lay people who are Euro fanatics.  For example the European Affairs sub-committee which advised the Irish Catholic Hierarchy on its 2001 statement on the Nice Treaty included amongst its members a former Irish EU Commissioner (Richard Burke), plus a woman (by name Kahn-Carroll) who worked full time in the EU office in Dublin.

A relevant consideration for the Catholic Church may be that the German Hierarchy, where citizens as you know pay annual Church tax, is one of the principal funders of the Vatican and through the Vatican of the RC Church as a whole.

The last but one Pope, John Paul ( the Pole Karol Wojytala), was very anti communist and had some kind of vision of the EU replicating the Europe of the Middle Ages, when the Roman Catholic has such influence, which made him strongly Europhile.

The last pope, Benedict, was a German, which may also be relevant. The Roman Catholic Church, being a world-wide body with over a thousand million members, does not have a uniform view on many non-religious matters of course.  Even Catholic religious orders will have different traditions.  My own impression is  that  the Jesuits, for instance – an order of which the present Pope is a member – is traditionally very Europhile, whereas Opus Dei, another influential religious order, is said to be EU-critical… But within each order there will of course be diverse views held by individual members.

The CIB conference is clearly important and I hope it goes well. It reminds us EU – critics here in the Republic of Ireland that we should pay more attention to the current state of play regarding the Catholic Church and the EUI am not going to the TEAM meeting either, but it was nice to meet you again at the TEAM meeting in Riga last September. I trust that your political work and that of your colleagues goes well in the months ahead.

All the best for now, as ever

TONY

C of E – Church of England or Church of Europe?

Edward Spalton

Edward Spalton on the ruination of a national institution by socialist and Europhile folly

The English church pre-existed the unified kingdom of England and throughout history has been closely bound with it as an Estate of the Realm and as the educator of many of its most eminent administrators.  The first article of Magna Carta specifies “The English Church shall be free”.

Long before the Reformation, English kings wrestled with the problem of a church which, as a massive landowner, was exempt from the usual taxes on succession to estates because, unlike barons, the church never died.  Barons likewise found ingenious ways of giving parts of their estates to the church in trust for the benefit of their heirs.  The church took its cut as an on-shore tax haven, also offering prayers for the souls of benefactors, thus extending the benefits of wealth preservation of the hereafter – an attractive investment package.  Tax accountancy is not a new profession!

These massively wealthy corporate landowners, the monastic orders and dioceses, were part of an interlocking supranational cartel with their own internal system of law, answerable to Rome and not to royal courts.  Many acts of Parliament testify to this clash of interests.  The best known are the increasingly severe acts of Praemunire (1353,1365 and 1393) which penalised the offence of appealing to or obeying a foreign court.  Praemunire was replaced in 1967 in the run up to joining the European Economic Community.

The Lords Spiritual

The high officers of the church were important people who had to be consulted in Parliament.  Today every Act of Parliament begins “Be it enacted by the Queen’s Most Excellent Majesty by and with the advice and consent of the Lords Spiritual”, who rank in precedence ahead of the Lords Temporal – lay the peers – and the Commons.

Today there are twenty six Lords Spiritual.  The Archbishops of Canterbury and York, the Bishops of London, Durham and Winchester serve ex officio.  The remaining twenty one are drawn from the bishops with the longest service.  On leaving office, they cease to be Lords Spiritual but some have become life peers and continue to serve in the Lords. At least one Lord Spiritual attends each sitting of the House to begin proceedings with prayer.

They sit together on their own bench without overt party affiliation or whip and have the same rights to debate and vote as any other peer.  They can take different views on the same subject but mostly follow the general line of the leftish liberal “social gospel” ascendancy which has dominated the Church of England for the last forty years.  One long-serving independent peer reports that they are “Europhiles to a man”.

This seems a little odd, as the whole foundation of the reformed Church of England was based on the assertion of national independence from foreign jurisdiction.  Henry VIII assembled a powerful think tank to justify this claim.  Unsurprisingly, by consulting “divers sundry old histories and chronicles” they found the answers he wanted.  Henry stopped the church from sending money to Rome (1532) and in 1533 passed the Act in Restraint of Appeals to Rome. 

This was repealed for Northern Ireland in 1950 and for the rest of the UK in 1969 – again in the approach to EEC membership.

The act of Supremacy of 1534 stuck to the theory that Parliament was merely endorsing what had always been true – that the king was supreme over all subjects and inhabitants of his kingdom.  For the church this is summed up in the Article now numbered XXXVII in the Articles of religion, to which beneficed clergy of the Church of England subscribe today.

“The King’s Majesty hath the chief power in this Realm of England, and other his Dominions, unto whom the chief Government of all Estates of this Realm, whether they be Ecclesiastical or Civil, in all causes doth appertain and is not, nor ought to be, subject to any foreign jurisdiction….”

It is the English Declaration of Independence and was accustomably included in the Book of Common Prayer to be found in each Parish.  This largely established “one use for the whole Realm” in the forms of Anglican worship until the liturgical fidgets which afflicted the Church of England from the Sixties onwards.  Very similar wording appears in the Bill of Rights of 1688 and in the oath taken by Privy Counsellors, including today’s Archbishops, to uphold the sovereignty of the Crown against all foreign powers.

Those of us who experienced the frantic liturgical innovations between the 1970s and 1990s wondered what it was all about.  Leading churchmen told us very forcefully that newer, modern wording was needed to be “meaningful and relevant in this day and age and moment in time” and to reach out to younger people.

The Anglo-Catholic party saw an opportunity to move the communion service nearer to the vernacular Roman mass.  Dom Gregory Dix’s book “The Shape of the Liturgy” was very influential.  Others were influenced by Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s idea of “religion less Christianity” for the common man.  Bonhoeffer was an admirable man and a martyr.  He himself drew strength from the traditional forms, which, he felt, were beyond the understanding on the average person.  There was a touch of arrogance in this which extended to the Anglican modernisers.  They seemed to believe that a dumbed down liturgy was needed for dumbed down people.

Older members of the congregation asked me to approach the vicar to ask for a Prayer Book Evensong occasionally.  He brushed it aside “They won’t understand it,” he said – referring to people who had know the service all their lives! “We must look forwards and outwards, not backwards and inwards”.  Immediately afterwards, he threw out all the Books of Common Prayer.

There was a very successful traditional parish not too far away, frequently attracting over two hundred morning services and a hundred to evensong.  So the Book of Common Prayer was certainly not repelling people there.  A new vicar was who arrogantly quipped that, as a first step, he intended “to bring the church into the nineteenth centaury”. Of course attendance plummeted. He has long since moved on to senior appointments.  I am told that when recently asked about this episode, he replied that the then Bishop had instructed him to “Get rid of the Prayer Book within three months”.

Without decrying the successful ministries of those using the modernised services, what was the point of suppressing what was working very well?

In ignorance of that episcopal directive, members of the Prayer Book Society went to see the Bishop’s successor who assured us of his concern and intention to maintain the Prayer Book ministry.  He insisted no minute should be kept.  Having seen no improvement in the situation, we wrote suggesting that clergy might be reminded to use the service appointed for the anniversary of the Queen’s accession.  The response was volcanic.  We had touched a raw nerve.  Some of the clergy still using the Prayed Book said that they were pressured to omit the prayer for the Queen’s Majesty “because she isn’t important anymore”.

 La Trahison Des Clercs

In the preface of the now discarded Alternative Service Book of 1980 the intellectuals of the Liturgical Commission said that they were “the mind of the Church”.  The book did not include the usual state prayers and Articles.  Neither does its successor, the pick-and-mix Common Worship.  In hindsight, it is plain that it was not just the sovereign who was being slighted but sovereignty itself. The pastoral was mixed with the political.

From the same era, the General Synod paper “Britain in Europe – the Social Responsibility of the Church” (Ref GS 95) is one of the most rabidly Europhile documents imaginable.  It lauds the European projects to the skies, containing phrases like “The European Economic Community was conceived by its brilliant and innovating creators…” – and looks forward to the Church of England’s role in dissolving the nation into the European polity.

As a solid, spiritually sustaining, much loved bulwark of personal faith and the constitutional settlement of Church and state, the Book of Common Prayer had to go because the Church’s leadership had decided that the nation itself had to go.  So had her Majesty’s Government.

 Edward Spalton is vice-chairman of Campaign for an Independent Britain

The EU and Your Child, a concerned parent’s guide

One of the hallmarks of civil society is an insistence that citizens, and in particular schoolchildren, should be encouraged to make up their own minds on important social and political issues. While most responsible parents would agree that children should be taught about the rival political or economic theories of our time, virtually all would also agree that controversial issues must be presented in an even handed way – as indeed the law of the land requires. Neither side should be presented as ‘right’ and the other ‘wrong’ – nor should only one side of the argument be presented to the exclusion of other points of view.

It is, in fact, the absence of this balance which is a defining characteristic of totalitarian states. Adolf Hitler famously observed that it did not matter if the Nazis faced opposition from adults, because their children would be bound into the system forever. The result was the creation of the Hitler Youth and an all-pervasive indoctrination of children from birth. The Soviet Union and other Communist states adopted practically identical systems.

Today, in Britain, the European Union (EU) is engaged in educational programmes aimed specifically at children which are blatantly in breach both the law and the principles of even-handedness.

In this pamphlet we will cite examples of deliberate distortions and outright lies contained in EU educational literature. More common even than these, we will demonstrate areas where the European Union simply refuses to accept that alternative views exist, while failing to substantiate its own assertions. Finally, we will suggest what concerned parents can do about this situation.

It is not our purpose to debate whether propaganda aimed at children actually works. Fortunately, children are naturally robust in their views (as every parent knows!) and this may provide some level of protection against indoctrination. It is, nevertheless, important that a level playing field in the presentation of ideas is maintained.

Although inevitably there are lapses of judgement on the part of individual teachers and education authorities, Britain has for the most part an enviable record in this area. True, fierce debates take place over the role of, for example, sex education, or issues of ‘political correctness’, but the fact that such discussions take place at all indicates the rightful sensitivity of parents to the suggestion that their children are not being given both sides of the story.

Lest we ourselves be accused of bias, let us state our own position. The authors of this paper are supporters of the Campaign for an Independent Britain – assisted by contributors to the Eurofaq internet discussion group. Campaign for an Independent Britain believes that a negotiated British withdrawal from the European Union is both feasible and desirable. We should also state that we have no objection to the European Union seeking to promote its policies and activities. Indeed, we welcome such a debate. But what cannot be tolerated is one-sided misinformation presented as fact, without the fair possibility of correction or challenge. It is at this point that ‘information’ becomes ‘propaganda’. We believe that point has been reached in much of the material now being distributed by the European Union in our children’s schools.

Why target our children?

The European Union traces its history to the creation, in 1957, of a Common Market comprising six original members – Germany, France, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Belgium and Italy. Britain joined at the beginning of 1973. The original defining
treaty is the Treaty of Rome. Subsequent treaties – most notably the Maastricht Treaty and the recent Amsterdam Treaty – have vastly extended the scope of the European Union’s fields of involvement in our national life.

Britain’s membership of the European Union has always been highly controversial. Currently, a sizeable minority (44% of voters) favours outright withdrawal from the EU. A majority of Britons are hostile to further moves towards a centralized European state. Equally, upwards of 60% of the UK population is opposed to the next major step towards European integration, Economic and Monetary Union (EMU), which would result in the scrapping of the pound sterling and its replacement with the European single currency, the ‘euro’.

Although ‘Euroscepticism’ is often portrayed as a purely British phenomenom, the fact is that groups opposing the current direction of European integration exist in every EU member nation. A majority of the citizens of Europe are opposed to further moves towards integration.

At one level, it is therefore quite clear why the European Union should seek to alter public opinion in the UK (and elsewhere). The European Union’s institutions and policies are deeply unpopular. Naturally, the EU wishes to change that perception. And let us state again that they have every right to do so. What they must not do is present their case as though it is impartial fact, rather than part of a fierce and ongoing political debate.

It should also be noted that the British Government is unfortunately not neutral in this respect. In 1997, the Government launched, without any apparent consultation with parents and teachers, the ‘Partner in Europe Package’. This was backed by an EU grant of up to £2,000,000. The cost to the taxpayer was estimated as between £224,000 to £309,000. Amongst its proposals are the solving of mathematical problems in euros and the introduction of French folk dancing into PE classes. The package includes a section for teachers and administrators entitled ‘Managing the European Dimension’. This includes the statement that “a European dimension in education is not an explicit part of the inspection framework [but how] European policy and plans contribute [are to be] reported on in inspection.” In other words, schools will be judged on their willingness to include the ‘European dimension’ even though it is not a legal requirement of the national curriculum.

The current government also favours entry into Economic and Monetary Union as ‘soon as the time is right.’ This is a barely coded euphemism for ‘as soon as we can win a referendum.’ Since today’s 15-16 year olds would probably be old enough to vote in such a referendum, they can be regarded as a valid target for influence.

There is a broader context. The European Union has become increasing paternalistic in its view of Europe’s youth and open in its belief that indoctrination of the young is a permissible activity. In the weird and somewhat sinister language of official European Union documents “it is strategically judicious to act where resistance is weakest… Mother Europe must protect her children.”

In 1988, EU Education Ministers called upon member states to “strengthen in young people a sense of European identity; prepare young people to take part in the economic and social aspects of the Community; make them aware of the advantages of the EU; improve knowledge of the Community.” These objectives clearly go far beyond merely providing neutral ‘information’ about the EU. They seek positively promoting the alleged ‘advantages’ of EU membership and actively inculcate ‘a sense of European identity’ (as defined by the EU). As such they fall outside the requirement of the Education Act 1996 requiring impartiality in political education.

 The legal position

The Education Act 1996, Article 406, says that:

“The local education authority, governing body and head teacher shall forbid:
(a) the pursuit of partisan political activities by those registered pupils at a maintained school who are junior pupils, and
(b) the promotion of partisan political views in the teaching of any subject in the school”

Article 407 states that head teachers must ensure that “where political issues are brought to the attention of pupils they are offered a balanced presentation of opposing views.”

The legal position is thus quite clear. Not only are school teachers required to refrain from partisan political activities in the classroom, they are under an active obligation to prevent other individuals and groups (including schoolchildren themselves) from engaging in such pursuits. The direct responsibility lies with the governing body and the head teacher.

Governing bodies and head teachers have two alternatives, therefore, if they wish to remain within the law. Either they must prevent the introduction of European Union literature into schools, or, where it is allowed, permit the circulation of reasonable alternative material, provided the latter is non party-political in nature.

It is not a defence to claim, as is sometimes done, that EU material is simply ‘information.’ By its repeated inclusion of unsubstantiated and controversial assertions, European Union literature quite clearly falls short of such a definition. Indeed, by no stretch of the imagination can Britain’s relationship with the European Union – one of the most hotly debated questions of our time – not be considered a ‘political issue’.

How the EU targets schools

Culture, education and the arts are not mentioned in the Treaty of Rome which set up the original Common Market. Nevertheless, this is a field which Brussels has added to its agenda in recent years.

According to the European Union, “forty years of working together has made Europeans increasingly aware of their common culture, the importance of their cultural diversity and the immense riches of their cultural heritage” – in itself a highly contentious observation. This made it “almost inevitable” that the Treaty on European Union (Maastricht), which came into force in November 1993, should contain passages on cultural and educational policy.

The European Commission’s main educational initiative is called ‘Socretes – The European Union Education Programme’, the aim of which is to ‘help schools and colleges to enhance the European dimension in the curriculum’. Cultural exchanges and foreign languages are among its core activities. Some aspects of the EU’s cultural and educational programme are indeed relatively innocuous, such as its support for the European Union Youth Orchestra and the European Union Baroque Orchestra. Many others are considerably less benign.

A Guide for Students and Teachers issued by the European Commission, sets the standard for accuracy and impartiality which we will encounter throughout our analysis of the EU’s educational material. The document states that: “As a European Citizen you should enjoy higher living standards, improved opportunities for career development, better health and safety conditions.” Leaving aside the careful use here of the word ‘should’, this is an entirely open ended statement. Do teachers enjoy higher standards of living as a consequence of being a ‘European Citizen’? How are these measured? If so do they unequivocally arise from Britain’s membership of the EU? These questions are left entirely unanswered.

The 1997 Classroom Guide to the European Union, aimed at 11-14 year olds, claimed that “The EU is like a club. Our Ministers decide; the EU does not tell each country what they should produce and how.” Compare this quotation with the conclusions of the 1996 House of Commons Select Committee on European Law, which stated that Westminster no longer possessed an effective scrutinizing ability in matters of EU law. The Committee said: “European law accounts for a large and increasing proportion of the law of each member state, yet it increasingly seems to be made in a private club.”

 Specific EU publications and programmes

A number of EU projects are aimed primarily or exclusively at schoolchildren, and it is these which mainly concern us here, particularly as in most cases any semblance of political impartiality is discarded. In addition to numerous pamphlets, CDs, and booklets of general application, examples of EU educational programmes include:

Let’s Draw Europe Together This is a colouring-in book aimed at primary schoolchildren and produced by the EU’s Information Directorate in Brussels. The supporting documentation for teachers describes it as “a call to schoolchildren as well as to all of us to commit ourselves to achieving European unity” – a manifestly political objective.

This book includes colouring games for children but with a heavily ‘loaded’ text covering such weighty topics as ‘Toys and the Single Market’ – hardly the stuff of playground conversations! It is also riddled with inaccuracies. It states, for example, that from 2002 “your savings will have to be in euros.” In Britain’s case this is, quite simply, untrue – it ignores the fact that Britain (and Sweden and Denmark) are not currently joining the euro zone. It almost certainly is not true either that “in five years time, if you are working, you’ll be paid in euros”. Both these comments seek to present the euro as a good thing and as inevitable. This ignores not only the controversy surrounding the euro in Britain, but also the near certainty that a referendum would have to be held prior to its introduction in this country.

The Raspberry Ice Cream War Subtitled “A comic for young people on a peaceful Europe without frontiers”, this is a glossy 29 page comic book in full colour. It is produced in every official EU language.

The booklet includes such claims as “border controls … went out ages ago” and “we’re even going to have the same currency soon as well. It’s called the euro.” Neither statement is true in respect of Britain. The peaceloving European Union is contrasted with a Europe living in the dark ages. One figure, Paul, observes: “Frontiers and barriers everywhere and people fighting wars for the stupidest reasons … Kind of weird.” Presumably ‘Paul’ would regard, for example, the defeat of Nazi tyranny as at worst ‘stupid’ and at best a ‘kind of weird’ motive for fighting a war.

The inaccuracy and political bias in The Raspberry Ice Cream War may have proved too much even for the London offices of the European Commission. Despite being provided with 75,000 copies from Brussels only a handful have been distributed.

What Exactly is Europe? Produced by the European Commission, this book is described as “a classroom guide to the European Union”. It is aimed at 11-14 year olds and has been distributed to 30,000 schools. Like Let’s Draw Europe Together it is littered with unsubstantiated assertions presented as fact, without any attempt at qualification. It also seeks to present the view that everything good to have emerged from ‘Europe’ throughout history is somehow the work of the European Union. There is also an openly party political endorsement of New Labour: “thanks to the new Labour Government the UK will participate in all those actions [ie the single currency and further European integration].”

Euroquest This booklet is aimed at primary school children. It includes quizzes and question and answer exercises about various aspects of ‘Europe’ – which the authors clearly see as synomymous with the European Union. The whole thrust of this book blandly glosses over the fact that the European Union is simply one political institution within Europe (albeit the most most powerful) and that EU policies, far from being neutral and automatically desirable, are highly contentious political issues.

A common theme throughout these books is an attempt to make the concept of the European Union entirely interchangable with a positive view of ‘Europe’ – we shall be returning to this theme later.

Captain Euro This is a web-site and a cartoon strip featuring a ‘super hero’ – Captain Euro – and his assistants. Their opponents are a group of villians led by ‘Dr D. Vider’ who, for no discernible reason, engage in random acts of terrorism across Europe. The whole effort is unsophisticated – it is essentially a pastiche of American comic book characters such as Spiderman or the Power Rangers. However, as the ‘good guys’ are transparently agents for the European Union and their opponents are patently ‘Eurosceptics’ – and terrorists as well! – Captain Euro amounts to political bias of the worst order.

Captain Euro has been widely condemned by anti-racist organizations for its clichéd presentation of the ‘super heroes’ who are blond and blue-eyed, while their enemies have swarthy Jewish or East European features.

The comic strip was launched at a press conference chaired by a European Civil Servant and endorsed by the President of the European Parliament, who also contributed a ‘star interview’ to the Captain Euro website. Following public condemnation of the project as propaganda and, potentially, racist, European Union spokesmen have asserted that Captain Euro is merely a commercial franchising opportunity. The creators of Captain Euro are, in fact, an organization called Twelve Star Communications – a name that surely reveals their own political orientation. Twelve Star Communications lists the pro-Brussels European Movement and the European Parliament amongst their clients.

The Mobile Information Centre (MIC)

The MIC is, in the EU’s own words, “a high profile exhibition vehicle that carries a broad range of information about the European Union, its policies and programmes to the education sector, business people and the general public, both in the United Kingdom and other European Union states.” In fact, it is deployed virtually exclusively in schools.

The EU also asserts that “after six years of operation it has become a prominent feature in ongoing regional campaigns that aim to raise awareness of European Union policy and development.” Note that its aim is to promote policy: again this clearly goes beyond merely an information role.

The MIC carries general information on the European Union in varying formats aimed at pupils of all ages. It is staffed by two Information Assistants who can “offer talks on the European Union, answer general questions and guide students to relevant information both on board the MIC and in their local area.”

Following widespread protests by anxious parents the Mobile Information Centre appears to have been withdrawn.

 The EU’s methods – information or propaganda?

“All elephants are pink”

An important characteristic of European Union literature is its use of subjective assertions presented as impartial facts. Time and again the reader is assured that “the European Union creates jobs;” ‘the European Union promotes youth activities;” ‘the single currency will support economic growth.” These statements are then used to substantiate further contentions. All European Union literature, without exception, falls well short of the academic rigour which we would demand of, say, a school history textbook.

This failure by the authors of European Union literature to include any meaningful analysis is so consistent that it is difficult to believe that this is not a deliberate policy. Certainly, the authors are extremely reluctant to provide proper, authoritative references. This might either be because no such sources can be found to support their position, or, more probably, because subjective statements are almost inevitably open to alternative interpretations.

This amounts to what is called a ‘closed value system’. How this works can be demonstrated by considering the statement: “All elephants are pink. Nellie is an elephant, therefore Nellie is pink.” Taken in isolation, this statement is both logical and internally consistent. It collapses, of course, the moment the author is challenged to provide any independent proof that elephants are pink, and, worse, is confronted with evidence that they are, in reality, grey. European Union literature operates in exactly this fashion, and is barely more sophisticated.

History rewritten?

One assertion is worth examining in more detail, simply because it occurs with monotonous regularity in EU literature. This is the claim that the European Union has ‘kept the peace in Europe.’

This claim is, of course, entirely subjective. There is no way of telling whether the risk of war in Europe would have been greater, or less, had the EU never existed. Furthermore, the EU’s claims to European peacekeeping are invariably made without any reference to NATO, to the massive American military commitment to western Europe, or to the ‘balance of terror’ and the Cold War division of Europe which prevailed until the collapse of the Berlin Wall in 1989. All of these factors have more genuine historical claim to have contributed to the peace of Europe than the EU, which has no military or defence dimension.

The European Union’s purposeful ignorance of NATO and its deliberate – some would say insulting – omission of reference to the US involvement in Europe’s defence (or  that another key NATO member, Britain, did not even join the EU until 1973) betrays a lack of any historical objectivity. Indeed, it borders on historical revisionism.

“Europe is ours!”

It is also perhaps worth noting that many Europeans in, say, Bosnia or Kosovo, would disagree with the EU’s assertion that war has been prevented in Europe. This brings us to a related issue: the tendency of EU literature to deliberately confuse the European Union and its institutions with ‘Europe’ as a geographical, cultural and historical whole – despite the fact that a majority of Europe’s nations are not part of the EU.

In some cases the result is absurd as when, for example, the European Union tries to co-opts long dead Europeans, such as da Vinci and Beethoven (whose views on the EU, were they alive today, can only be guessed at) and seeks to present any positive social, scientific and cultural progress in Europe as being part of an historical process of which the EU itself is a culminating part. Even fictional characters, such as Tintin and the fairytale characters of Hans Christian Andersen have been pressganged for the cause of European integration. (Although this is patently a dishonest technique the EU can perhaps be forgiven for delving into the realms of fiction to establish its authority since actual historical advocates of European unity – such as Hitler, Napoleon, Himmler and Stalin – are uniformly unattractive!)

Any positive cultural or social pan-European endeavour is readily enlisted. In a document aimed at youth some years ago the EU cited the Eurovision Song Contest (sic) as a positive example of a pan-European cultural event, conveniently ignoring the fact that many Eurovision members – Israel, for example – are not remotely part of the EU. More recently the EU has sought to suggest that successful football teams are somehow part of a common ‘European’ effort on the sporting field. Yet neither Eurovision nor UEFA (the governing body of European football) has any institutional connection whatsoever with the European Union.

In its attempts to bathe itself in the reflected glory of European achievements to which it has not contributed, the European Union consistently seeks to imply that it, and it alone, is the repository of the European political and cultural tradition. The reader will struggle to find reference to other pan-European bodies such as the European Free Trade Area, the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, or the Council of Europe. Europe, it seems, belongs exclusively to the European Union.

Meanwhile, the world outside Europe might as well not exist: EU ‘educational’ material routinely excludes any substantive mention of world organizations such as the United Nations or the World Trade Organization.

It is not the role of this pamphlet to examine the debate regarding ‘multicultural’ schooling, and the claims that our education system undervalues the culture and traditions of pupils from Asian, Caribbean, or other backgrounds. Suffice to say here that, if education can be accused of being ‘Eurocentric’, the literature produced by the European Union is amongst the worst offenders. A newly arrived reader from Mars would be left in no doubt that human habitation of this planet, or at least civilization, ends with the borders of ‘Europe’. This is utterly inappropriate in a country such as Britain, where innumerable children have global family ties to America, India, Canada, Pakistan, Australia, New Zealand and elsewhere.

What you can do

Many parents have expressed alarm at the activities of the European Union in schools. Your approach can be made on several levels:

  • to your child’s class teacher
  • to the head teacher
  • at PTA meetings
  • to your school’s Board of Governors
  • to the Director of Education for your area.

In all cases it is worth emphasising the legal position as set out in the 1996 Education Act (see above). If the school in insistent about using EU provided materials, you in turn should require that material presenting alternative views on European development should also be available.

Some schools maintain that EU literature is ‘just information’ and is provided by the Government. Many teachers will simply be unaware of the issues raised. The examples quoted in this document – particularly the instances where the European Union literature itself makes clear its political agenda – refute this suggestion.