LETTER: Our interests are best served in the EU

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I’d like to comment on a few of the points made in Alan Latham’s letter (May 20) on the referendum debate.

He states that voters have to decide ‘whether they wish to be ruled by unelected bureaucrats in Brussels’.

This is an oft-repeated claim by ‘outers’ that should not pass unchallenged.

I’m sure that Mr Latham is well aware that one of the roles of the bureaucrats in the Commission is to propose new legislation and that the actual decisions are made in the Council of Ministers and the European Parliament (each of which contain representatives elected through the UK’s parliamentary system).

It is also worth noting that the Commission itself has many British officials working on the development of its proposals, so that our influence is always being applied.

Unfortunately, our influence is less significant than it used to be, since David Cameron shifted the allegiance of Tory MEPs from the main centre/right grouping in the European Parliament to a smaller grouping of more extreme parties.

It was also interesting to hear during a recent debate on Newsnight that of the rules and regulations emanating from Brussels, our representatives vote in favour of 85 per cent of them, so it is only in a relatively small proportion of decisions that our views do not hold sway. This statement was accepted by Douglas Carswell (Mr Latham’s party’s only representative in parliament) on the programme, so I think it can be accepted as fact.

This also counters the impression often given by ‘outers’ that the other 27 nations of the EU are somehow always ‘imposing’ new regulations on us against our will. Not so.

Mr Latham’s claim that the UK is ‘ruled by Brussels’ is a gross distortion of the reality.

Mr Latham goes on to claim that ‘the EU is systematically destroying the individuality of (European) countries... as a consequence of their being in the EU’. I disagree.

Looking at our own country over recent centuries, does Mr Latham by similar reasoning argue that Scotland is less Scottish or Wales less Welsh by being members of the United Kingdom? I doubt it, but perhaps he could let us know.

There is one other matter which is relevant to the referendum debate, but on which I have seen nothing so far in any of the media. This is the fact that in the two years or so before the last general election the Conservative Party carried out an extensive review of the impact of Brussels’ legislation/regulation to establish which areas of UK activity were unduly burdened by it.

The outcome was announced with very little fanfare, and if my memory serves me correctly, the conclusion was that there were no areas that were so affected.

I’ve attempted to give proper consideration to the claims made by both sides in the debate, wildly hyperbolic as many of them are, and my conclusion is that the UK’s best interests will be served by remaining in the EU and continuing to work to improve its effectiveness and accountability.

Tony Sims

Western Road

Lewes