Local view for "http://purl.org/linkedpolitics/eu/plenary/2014-04-16-Speech-3-025-000"

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"Mr President, in his introduction President Barroso said that the First World War was an industrial war. Indeed, you have only got to drive two hours up the A4 motorway from here and visit the battlefield at Verdun to see exactly what he was talking about. For those who have not visited, I think it is probably the grimmest battlefield on the Western Front or indeed anywhere in the world, and certainly the grimmest I have visited. It was something that had such a huge psychological effect on France that it very much dominated the thinking of Monnet and Schuman post-1945 – that this awful thing must never happen again. Those of us in politics will all remember that famous photograph of a quite large German Chancellor Kohl and a rather small French President Mitterrand holding hands, standing in front of the ossuary at Douaumont. The whole European project comes from the disaster that was sparked by the First World War. It is entirely understandable that people should have sought ways to prevent such awfulness. The difficulty is that they chose the wrong target. Monnet and Schuman decided – and this view is shared today by Mr Barroso, Mr[nbsp ]Cohn-Bendit and others – that it was the existence of the nation state that led to war and therefore we had to abolish the nation state. Actually, what we should have focused on, post-1945, was not the abolition of states, but making sure that the European states were democratic, because democratic nation states do not go to war with each other. So I have to say that I believe the whole European project is based on a falsehood. It is potentially a dangerous falsehood, because if you try to impose a new flag, a new anthem, president, army, police force, foreign policy – and whatever else – without first seeking the consent of the people, you are in danger actually of creating the very nationalisms and resentments that you sought to snuff out in the first place. We have done all this before. We did it after the First World War in the Balkans. We said that we could not have all these little Balkan states going around fighting with each other. We said that we should bring them together and give them one flag, one anthem and one president and call it Yugoslavia. It led to horrific wars from 1990 and the deaths of tens of thousands of people, as they fought to get out of a false state. The European Union is making a very similar mistake, because there is no consent for this project. I have heard people this morning talking about the need for a United States of Europe on a federal model. You can only have that if people give consent for it, and nobody has done so. When the EU put the constitution to the peoples of Europe – the first time it really came clean with the electors – they rejected it. I am not against Europe, but I am against this Europe. I want a Europe of independent, sovereign nation states that trade together, work together and cooperate together. I believe the European elections this year will mark a turning point. The tide is turning. The EU is backing an outdated model that seeks to get rid of a problem that actually has not existed since 1945."@en1

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