The plan by the European Union to destroy the historical borders — both internal and external — of its separate countries is speeding up. It has been inching forward with little publicity in Britain since our ancient counties vanished from the EU election of 1999 and were replaced by twelve ‘regions’, one each for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland and nine for England.
But recently there has been mention in the British media that the EU has set aside millions of pounds in funds to ensure that certain areas in northern France will be merged with others in southern England to form a territory called “Arc Manche” with its own flag, designed to give the zone an “identitity”, ostensibly for cultural purposes.
But this is just part of the EU NUTS — Nomenclature of Territorial Units for Statistics (nomenclature d’unites territoriales statistiques), or the division of all EU countries into areas, again ostensibly, for statistical purposes. The basic countries have a two letter code — UK, for instance — and each Region is a NUTS1 and has an additional letter for its regions, such as ‘J’ for the South East Region while Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland are UKL, UKM and UKN respectively.
Then comes the first subdivision of the Regions, or NUTS2. While Northern Ireland remains one NUTS2, Wales now has two and Scotland, which still believes it could be an independent country within the European Union, now consists of four NUTS2 subdivisions. The nine regions of what was England now consist of 30 NUTS2.
There is yet one more sub-division: NUTS3. These consist of five groups of districts in Northern Ireland, 23 Groups of unitary authorities or LECs in Scotland, 12 groups of Unitary Authorities or groups of districts in the nine regions of England.
Of course the United Kingdom is not the only country to be divided in this way.
There are now 97 EU regions at NUTS1, 270 at NUTS2 and 1294 at NUTS3, and in addition , there are approximately 110 organisations known as Euroregions, which cross national borders. These are said to be for cross-border co-operation in various fields including the promotion of trade links, cultural ties, transport policies, tourism, education and spatial development.
The first Euroregion, which took in parts of Germany and the Netherlands, was created by Germany in 1958 to ensure, it stated, that national borders should not be a barrier to the integration of Europe. Although several of these date back to the 1960s, it was the 1990s which saw the largest increase in cross-border regions all over Europe. In fact today there are virtually no local or regional authorities in border areas which are not somehow involved in inter-regional co-operation initiatives.
Nor do these inter-regions stop at the borders of the current European Union.
Turkey, which has yet to be formally accepted as a member of the EU, nevertheless has extensive inter-regional programmes linking it with Greece. Switzerland with its substantial banking sector and Norway with its huge resources of oil, are both particular targets in spite of the fact that they, too, are currently outside the EU. For instance, the Nordic Council, which comprises Norway, Sweden, Finland and Denmark, gets EU grants for all of its eight Euroregions and the EU says that it is necessary to include Switzerland so as to integrate it into European regional planning. According to the August 2009 Current Concerns, the English edition of the Swiss magazine Zeit-Fragen, largely unknown to the Swiss population (and certainly not voted for by them), this most democratic of countries is being split into three huge Metropolitan Areas — Zurich, Geneva and Basel — ready to act as ‘European Motors’ and to play leading roles in Europe in a number of respects such as economic performance, decision-making, etc.
But of particular interest to us here in Britain is the fact that three of these Euroregions cross our borders: the Arc Manche, the Atlantic Region and the North Sea Region.
The Arc Manche was originally set up in 1966. It currently includes the French areas of Brittany, Nord-pas de Calais, Lower Normandy, Upper Normandy and Picardy together with the English counties of Dorset, Hampshire, the Isle of Wight, Kent, and West and East Sussex. It has created its own forums for conferences, etc. and on 12th October 2005, members of Arc Manche first met in Brighton to create the Channel Arc Manche Assembly. Inter-regional Assemblies, where they exist, usually consist of regional heads of governments, commissions of executive officers, general secretariats and standing commissions on a wide range of issues. These officials, as is often with the EU, are not elected by the general public.
The North Sea Region was created in 2007 and links areas of six countries bordering the North Sea: Norway (which is outside of the EU), Sweden, Denmark, Germany, Belgium, and the Netherlands and the whole eastern side of the UK.
The Atlantic Region, which was possibly created in 2008, takes in the west of Scotland, Wales, Cornwall and Devon, Northern Ireland and Eire, plus parts of south-western France, Spain and Portugal.
In addition, three other Arcs” or Commissions — the Islands, the Intermediterranean and that of the Baltic Sea — were set up between 1979 and 2003.
In other words, the EU is busy knitting the various nations so tightly together, destroying both local and national loyalty, that it will be difficult to unpick them and retrieve our countries should we ever wish to leave the European Union.
And that’s the idea.
Although I have done my best to make sure that the above is correct, the information about EU organizations can be very confusing — there are frequent changes of names, areas, competences, etc. — which I take to be a deliberate ploy on the part of the EU in to prevent the general public from gaining information about it. I apologise to the EU if this is not so.