Sovereignty and the European Communities is an explosive document that was written in 1972 during the final stages of the negotiations for Britain’s entry into what was then termed the ‘Common Market’, but it was never published. It has been kept secret from the British public until it came to light under the 30- year rule.
At that time, the ‘anti-marketeers’, as they were then called, had made some impact with the claim that membership would involve an unacceptable loss of sovereignty.
This claim clearly had a significant impact on the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, sufficient at least for anonymous civil servants to write a detailed briefing on the sovereignty issue. This confidential document was never published and, for the last thirty years has lain in an FCO file, guarded by official secrecy. Only recently was its contents laid bare.
The document is massively important for many reasons, not least because it demonstrates that the FCO had a very clear idea of the repercussions of joining the ‘Community’, as it put it. It knew that it would involve a major loss of sovereignty and, in due course, an end to parliamentary democracy. Despite knowing this, it offered the advice that HMG and “all political parties” should not “exacerbate public concern by attributing unpopular measures or unfavourable economic developments to the remote and unmanageable workings of the Community”.
Had this document been published during the debate which led up to Britain joining the EEC, it is hard to believe that public opinion would have been unaffected. In fact, so great would probably have been the outrage that it is hardly likely that any political party could have sanctioned our entry. It is a measure of the deceit perpetrated by the then government, therefore, that its findings were kept confidential.
If the magnitude of the concepts explored by this document are even now fully understood, it is hard to see how any rational person could wish for the United Kingdom to remain a member of what has now become the European Union. For that reason, the paper has been reproduced here, together with a running commentary which brings home the stunning duplicity of the FCO and the terrible deceit that has been perpetrated on the British peoples.
The object of the paper was, according to the FCO author(s), “to examine the implications of entry into the European Communities for British Sovereignty”. This was a subject, it was felt, that aroused “widespread if somewhat vague public concern and which could become the central political issue in the national debate on entry to the Community”.
Nevertheless, the paper did not seek to provide a comprehensive philosophical analysis of sovereignty but set out to clarify the various ways in which the term was then commonly used. The authors also sought to “identify the relevant changes which will be involved in joining the European Communities” and suggested “a number of conclusions and implications for policy”.
The paper acknowledges three things: (i) that the EEC is an inherently bureaucratic organisation and, by implication, is not democratic; (ii) that it is not “an association for negotiation” and therefore is not a “cooperative venture of independent equal sovereign units”; and (iii) involves a loss of sovereignty, which will intensify as attempts are made to make democratise the “Community”.
The paper confirms that although the then Common Market is a trading bloc, its eventual aims are: “An effectively harmonised economic, fiscal and monetary system and a fairly closely coordinated and consistent foreign and defence policy,” and adds that sovereignty “…would indeed be transferred to the Community”.
Following our entry into the then EEC, the authors insist that ‘public concern’ must not be exacerbated by ‘attributing unpopular measures or unfavourable economic developments to the remote and unmanageable workings of the Community’ – in other words, an active, deliberate encouragement to conceal the bad news. The authors are aware that some of the Community activities may be unpopular, but they are to be “spun” in a Community context to make them more acceptable.
It is recognised that ‘the transfer of major executive responsibilities to the bureaucratic Commission in Brussels will exacerbate popular feeling of alienation from government’ and calls for ‘strengthened local and regional democratic processes within the member states’ to counter such populist feelings.
The paper recognises “that the more the Community considered is developed as an effective wide-ranging and democratically controlled organisation the more Parliamentary sovereignty will be eroded and the less important external state sovereignty will become”.
The conclusion of this paper is ‘the blurring of distinctions between domestic political and foreign affairs, to the relatively greater political responsibility of the bureaucracy of the Community and the lack of effective democratic control’.
And to think we were told by the Heath government that entry to the “Common Market” would involve “no essential loss of sovereignty”. Liars they are all.