Mad Map to Leave Britain in
London Conference, The Queen, the Realms and Europe, 28 October
In September The Sun newspaper ran a sensational article under
the headline, ‘Mad Map to Leave Britain in Bits’ (4th September
The article began ‘Germany is plotting to wipe Britain off the
map in their revived bid to create a EU superstate. They want
the 25 member states to scrap their national boundaries so
England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland cease to exist.
They would be split up and merged with other countries to form
new “trans-national” EU regions.’
The article ended with ‘The master
plan will be put into action when Germany takes over the EU
presidency in January and tries to revive the rejected EU
constitution. German minister Wolfgang Tiefensee said: “There is
the great hope underlying the goal of a United Europe that we
can overcome old borders.” ‘
The article had a surprising source: the Conservative Shadow
Minister for Local Government and MP for Brentwood and Ongar,
Eric Pickles. He is campaigning against it. It was Mr Pickles
who issued a press release, which the Sun picked up as did every
other newspaper, on this different way of breaking up – or
regionalising - the UK.
One reason I am enthusiastic about what Mr Pickles is doing is
that he has read my book Disappearing Britain, The EU and the
Death of Local Government on this very subject. So please
forgive me if I talk my own book.
This afternoon I will talk about two types of regions that are
being imposed on us and then finally an attempted territorial
takeover by stealth.
We all know about the twelve regions of the UK created because
we are European Union members but these regions are different:
they all cross national borders.
The first type is what is called a Working Community. Mr Pickles
issued another press release a few days ago about a
trans-national regional assembly, Arc Manche, which had just met
at Fontwell Park courtesy of the taxpayers of West Sussex – who
weren’t asked of course and didn’t know anything about it.
Arc Manche is what is called a EU Working Community and it is
the only one to include parts of the United Kingdom. There are
thirteen of these big regions across Europe. Usually they
surround a major geographical block to integration like the
English Channel in our case or the Baltic Sea or the Alps. The
most ambitious take in five or six countries. They have
assemblies of regional heads of governments, commissions of
executive officers, general secretariats, and standing
commissions on a wide range of issues.
Arc Manche was founded ten years ago. It includes the French
Regions of Brittany, Nord-Pas de Calais, Lower Normandy, Upper
Normandy, Picardy and from this side of the Channel the counties
of Dorset, Hampshire, Kent, West Sussex, East Sussex and the
Isle of Wight. Essex, Cornwall and Devon are observers.
The Elected members of this Arc Manche Assembly first met a year
ago in Brighton. Of course they are not actually elected to the
Assembly, there have been no elections - but they are people who
are elected to other councils or regions.
Its President Le Vern is also the president of the
Upper-Normandy Region and its Vice-President is Brad Watson. Mr
Watson is a Conservative elected to West Sussex County Council
and is in the cabinet in charge of external affairs so he goes
on all the EU jollies.
So that is one type of regions – the Working Community – which
is deliberately challenging the integrity of the nation state.
But Mr Pickles has not just taken on Arc Manche. He’s
campaigning against what I think and I have certainly put that
in my book – may become the administrative units of the new
European state - the Euroregions or Border Regions. So far two
exist in this country - Transmanche Région and Rives-Manche.
French names again but including British land.
Both regions, like Arc Manche, span the English Channel as
though it were a stream.
Every Euroregion crosses national borders. That’s based on the
slim premise that areas around national borders are severely
economically deprived they need special treatment. People living
in counties along the south coast of England would not recognise
that they are a Border Region, or severely economically deprived
or united with France.
Across Europe there more than 70 Border Regions taking in over
200 regions or UK counties. They include about half the EU land
mass and a third of its population.
Transmanche includes Kent, and one French region the Nord-Pas-De-Calais
and all three Belgian regions. It started in 1987 and added
Belgium four years later. The second region, Région Rives-Manche,
combines East Sussex with the Seine-Maritime and Somme.
Both of them are administered from Rouen in France.
According to the Transmanche web site the building of the
Channel Tunnel spurred the development of the first cross
Channel region. Here's the EU view:
‘The Channel simultaneously divides and joins two parts of
Western Europe, which for centuries have shared common events to
create a joint History. A thousand year period, beginning with
the Norman invasion of England, now nears its end as that same
island becomes physically linked to the continent of Europe.’
All this is funded by the European Union’s Interregional
programme – our money again. According to the EU Commission,
this programme prepares border areas for a Community without
internal frontiers. Border Regions are funded to ‘ensure that
national borders are not a barrier to…the integration of
Not surprisingly both East Sussex and Kent County Councils see
Border Regions or Euroregions more as sources of grants for
voters. Since 1992 those grants have been worth over £26 million
to Kent alone.
Setting up a legal entity to destroy national sovereignty has
not been straightforward. The first agreements between
neighbouring regions were effectively twinnings, relying largely
on goodwill. Then Associations were set up within each country
and legally binding agreements were made between them across the
border. Later, the 1980 Madrid Convention created a legal
framework to develop the Border Regions.
As yet, any decisions made by the Border Region authorities are
binding only on the public authorities and not on the
individuals living within the regions. They are not yet a form
of local government, they are still a hybrid.
From 1988 onwards when more EU money was available there was a
sharp rise in the creation of Border Regions. After Austria
joined the EU in 1995 five new Border Regions were started. As
countries in Eastern Europe applied to join the EU, so they too
were divided into Border Regions.
Our money goes not just to EU member counties but to the whole
of Europe, and as far afield as Russia, the Black Sea and North
Africa. That money is a sweetener to entice non-members to join
the EU and extend the influence of the EU.
Switzerland with its substantial banking sector, and Norway with
huge resources of oil, are both particular targets for EU’s
Border Region programme. But both countries are of course still
outside the EU.
The Nordic Council of Norway, Sweden, Finland and Denmark gets
EU grants for its eight Euroregions.
All Switzerland’s borders are part of Euroregions. The EU says
that this is necessary to ‘integrate Switzerland in European
regional planning’. We can all work out why.
So where do Euroregions come from? The Euroregion was invented
in Germany. Germany created the first one in 1958, a year after
the Treaty of Rome was signed. It embraces part of Germany and
the Netherlands and over 3 million people. Called EUREGIO, it is
described on its website as ‘a life without borders’.
Prince Klaus of the Netherlands endorsed a cross border
parliament - set up in 1979. It members are elected by all the
city councils within that Euroregion.
Its headquarters of German and Dutch staff is in the German town
of Gronau, exactly where the customs checkpoint once stood.
That first German – Dutch region passed a resolution 25 years
ago: ‘border and cross-border regions are …components and brides
in the European unification process.’ Today all Germany’s
borders are within Euroregions and they are far more integrated
than our own two ‘emerging’ Euroregions.
Germany, which invented and spread these border regions in order
to break up nation states including the United Kingdom, will
take over the presidency of the EU this January for 6 months.
One of the issues the German govt has said it will promote is
the INSPIRE directive. This takes the idea of border regions a
whole lot further. INSPIRE establishes an infrastructure for
spatial information. That is mapping everything to do with the
land in every country for the benefit of Brussels or should we
now say Berlin? The directive says all this information which
has to be sent to Brussels is to protect the environment – how
could we object? - but it also says it could be extended ‘to
other sectors such as agriculture, transport and energy’.
Well why not defence or policing or taxation – of course it
doesn’t say so but there will be nothing to stop that happening.
Among its many articles is number 18: every member state has to
provide access to their data through a portal operated by the EU
Commission. And there can be no barriers (all to protect the
environment you understand) - so all local authorities must open
everything up. Data banks, which are presently ring fenced
within this country, may not be ring fenced from the European
There is a caveat that a country may limit access for reasons of
national defence or commercial secrecy but we should note that
this is derogation from the directive. We all know what happens
to derogations. Sooner or later the EU challenges them and they
In the annex to the directive is a long list of things the EU
must have information about. Apart from every nook and cranny of
the geography of the UK it will include identifiers of property
- people’s homes - including aerial and satellite photographs;
and all property and landholdings with data kept for tax
purposes including who legally owns what – information held in
the Land Registry.
The EU could even seize the vast amount of data held by the
Valuation Office Agency, which is used to levy council tax and
inheritance tax. Will this lead to a EU wide property tax?
So all of that the German government wants to bring into force.
Lastly, I would like to mention a meeting in Amsterdam last June
to which the German Minister of Transport Building and Urban
Affairs made a report. The report was called A Territorial
Agenda for Europe – Looking Ahead to the German Presidency.
Wolfgang Tiefensee, the German Minister, said that ‘we
Germans…see it as our duty to work …to promote regional and
social cohesion in Germany and in Europe - we view this as an
integrated approach aimed at achieving prosperity and enhancing
the quality of life at all levels.’
He went on ‘even if scepticism about Europe is sometimes
widespread and the work on a Constitution for Europe needs to
regain momentum, there is great hope underlying the goal of a
United Europe so that we can permanently overcome old borders
So the German government wants the EU Constitution (despite the
no votes from France and the Netherlands); a United States of
Europe and the end of all national borders.
At last what or who is really behind the European Union is
beginning to come out into the open and what we are now seeing
is both unpalatable and extremely worrying.
© Lindsay Jenkins, London, 2006