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[10/04/2006] Review: The most important book ever on the EU

Christopher Booker and Richard North, "THE GREAT DECEPTION: CAN THE
EUROPEAN UNION SURVIVE?"; revised paperback edition, 2005; Continuum
Publishers, London and New York;ISBN 0-8264-8014-4; Euros 14.60 or £10
sterling Web-site: www.continuumbooks.com; E-Mail:<info@continuumbooks.com>

Reviewed by Anthony Coughlan

This is the most important book ever to be written on the European  Union.
It is a detailed 600-page account of the European integration project from
the first mooting of the idea in the 1920s to the rejection of the proposed
EU Constitution by the voters of France and the Netherlands in summer 2005.
This paperback edition contains substantial revisions of the widely
acclaimed hardback, which sold 10,000 copies when it was first published
three years ago, as well as much new material on the EU Constitution debate.

Europhiles as well as EU-critics will find the book illuminating. Its
production by leading British political analyst Christopher Booker and
economist Richard North is likely to be seen in time as itself a
significant event in the history of the integration project, for no one who
reads it will ever be able to look in the same way at the European Union
again. The book is relevant to  the people of every European country.

Meticulously researched and packed with revealing quotations, "The Great
Deception" not only gives new insights into EC/EU history, but it analyses
the EU's administrative structures and such key policies as the monetary
union, the farm and fisheries policy and the EU's foreign and military
ambitions. It gives fact and instance on the corruption and scams of

The authors show that it was the US Government's insistence on German
rearmament in 1950 to meet the needs of the Cold War that precipitated the
European Coal and Steel Community, the foundation of European integration.
The pooling of coal and steel under a supranational High Authority, the
precursor of the Brussels Commission, was crucial in overcoming French
hostility to this step.  Jean Monnet, America's man in the affair, saw it
as a way of pursuing the project for a supranational Europe that he had
been nurturing since World War 1.

There followed the  scheme for a European Army and  Defence Community in
1952.  At the time Monnet and Belgian Foreign Minister Paul-Henri Spaak
wanted the Coal and Steel Community and the proposed Defence Community to
be over-arched by a European Political Community and a European
Constitution. The rejection of the Defence Community scheme by France's
National Assembly in 1954 forced Monnet and the European Movement, still
well funded by CIA money, to change their tactics. Thereafter they dropped
their open espousal of federalism and an EU Government and concentrated on
economic integration by a series of gradual steps during the following
decades. Now that that has been achieved, the European Constitution has
been produced again as the political dome to top the economic edifice.

The "Great Deception" of the book's title has been the pretence to the
citizens of the European countries concerned that successive treaties
embodying economic integration were needed to give more jobs and economic
growth, when the real agenda throughout has remained political integration,
the construction of a Federal European Superstate under the joint hegemony
of France and Germany.  The promised extra jobs have proved a chimera also
for the larger EU countries.

The book shows that the fundamental reason why France's President De Gaulle
kept Britain out of the EEC during the 1960s was his concern to have the
financial arrangement for the Common Agricultural Policy established first,
whereby the EEC as a  whole  underwrote high subsidies for French farmers,
who in 1961 still accounted for a quarter of France's employment as against
only four percent in Britain.  Britain would never have agreed to the CAP
if she were already an EEC member. Once the CAP funding was settled,
British membership of the EEC became a matter of French interest, and De
Gaulle's veto was abandoned.  As a condition of her membership Britain cut
her imports of cheap food from around the world and replaced them with more
expensive French and continental products. At the same time the levies she
paid on what foodstuffs she imported from outside the EEC were
automatically transferred to Brussels to subsidise French and other EEC
farmers. The recent agreement on the EU budget up to 2013 shows that
continued subsidies by other countries for her farmers remain central to
France's EU policy.

Britain took on  this burden in the hope of preventing France and Germany
dominating the EC/EU together, or hopeful that they would co-opt Britain to
run it as a triumvirate. The book shows how these hopes turned to ashes.
The authors  describe sardonically  how successive British  governments and
the supposedly "Rolls Royce minds" of Britain's Foreign Office continually
deceived the British people, in the process often deceiving themselves, as
to what the  EU was really all about.

This reviewer would have liked more coverage of the role of the European
Round-table of Industrialists and UNICE,the EU Employers Confederation, in
being the first advocates of all new EU treaties since 1986; but even 600
pages cannot cover all aspects of this long and complex story. Hugo Young's
book, "This Blessed Plot", has been the best-known general history of the
EU/EC up to now. Booker and North expose some significant historical errors
in that work, which their own book undoubtedly supersedes.

The authors write: "Behind the lofty ideals of supranationalism in short,
evoking an image of Commissoners sitting like Plato's Guardians, guiding
the affairs of Europe on some rarefied plane far above the petty egotisms
and rivalries of mere nation states, the project Monnet had set on its way
was a vast, ramshackle, self-deluding monster:  partly suffocating in its
own bureaucracy; partly a corrupt racket, providing endless opportunities
for individuals and collectives to outwit and exploit their fellow men;
partly a mighty engine for promoting the national interests of those
countries who knew how to "work the system", among whom the Irish and the
Spanish had done better than most, but of whom France was the unrivalled
master.  The one thing above all the project could never be, because by
definition it had never been intended to be, was in the remotest sense

The EU's fatal lack of democracy is why the project is historically doomed,
and why it will in time, the authors write, "leave a terrible devastation
behind it, a wasteland from which it would take many years for the peoples
of  Europe to emerge."

If ever there was an organisation that is trapped in its own history,it is
the EU. In order to understand it one must know its origins and
development. "The Great Deception" enables one to do this.

This is a powerful new weapon in the struggle for national democracy and
independence. Everyone who cherishes these democratic values and who is
opposed to the institutional monster that has grown up in Brussels should
spread news about this book, ask for it in their bookshops, write to
editors suggesting they review it, and try to get it translated into their
own languages if these are other than English.


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