Once more when the Assembly debated EU issues yesterday TUV leader and European candidate, Jim Allister, was the only MLA to make the Eurosceptic case.
In the course of the debate on the Executive’s engagement with Brussels, Jim Allister said:-
“It is indisputable that the EU dictates a large part of our lives. Indeed, “dictate” is the operative term because we have to remember that the only body in the EU that is even permitted to make a regulatory proposal is the unelected — many would say unelectable — European Commission. The elected European Parliament cannot initiate legislation. Oh no, only the unelected Commission can initiate directives and regulations. Little wonder, then, although directives and regulations pass through something of a filter in what passes for democratic accountability, more often than not, some are totally hare-brained ideas such as the recent happily now-defeated proposition that farmers’ trailers should be subject to MOT tests. Think of that. Someone on a huge salary sits in Brussels and thinks up the latest crackpot idea, and that is but one of them.
“On top of that, the EU dictates vital aspects of our life. It tells our fishermen where they can fish, when they can fish and what they can fish. It tells each nation with whom it can trade because, under EU law, a single member state cannot make a trade agreement with another country. Only the EU itself can make the trade agreements, hence the situation in which, for decades, the EU did not even have a trade agreement — nor were we in the United Kingdom allowed a trade agreement — with our greatest partner, the United States of America. That is totally controlled by the EU.
“We then come to the fact that states just might want to able to help a particular sector in need in its locality. Oh no, Brussels says, “You shall not do that. There shall be no state aid.” That is apart from a de minimis level that amounts to very little. Brussels will decide whether a business that needs assistance should get it. It will decide whether a sector that is about to be squeezed out can be helped by its own Government. It is not the local Administration or even the national Government who decide; Brussels will decide whether it will deign to give you authority for such a thing. That amounts to a stranglehold on a nation.
“I heard Ms Lo referring to the energy restraints. My oh my. The EU has set such unrealistic and largely unattainable objectives on renewable energy that we now have put upon us the blight of wind farms and are forced to use the most expensive form of energy there is through huge subsidies. Therefore, no matter the aspect, it seems to me that we have little to be grateful to the European Union for. You would think, listening to some in the House, that we could not live without the European Union. I think that countries such as Norway and Switzerland have found that you can live very well without the European Union.
“Norway is in the glorious position of being able to run its own economy as it wishes.
“It is able to control its own fishing policy, which I have seen in operation. Whereas our cod sector is in terminal decline, Norway’s is flourishing remarkably. It is able to exploit its own oil reserves and bank the money without any interference from the EU. There is hardly a country in Europe that would not gladly exchange its position economically with Norway.
“I want to deal very briefly with CAP reform, because it is a vital issue and one on which the Executive will have to take critical decisions. We have a proposition from the Agriculture Minister that Northern Ireland should be treated as a single entity in regard to that. We have got until 1 August to make our mind up about that. That is a vital decision, because CAP support, such as it is, must go on keeping agriculture productive and making it more productive. That means that you cannot therefore just treat the non-productive areas the same as the productive areas. I trust that that issue will be addressed.”