EUROPE: have we moved too far towards our neighbours?

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Indy Lifestyle Online
The question is not so much "Do we need Europe?" as "Does Europe need us?" The epicentre of an enlarged Europe will be in Germany. Industry and institutions will come to realise the advantages of trading from the epicentre for ease and economy of transport, travel and communication. London's airports will become secondary to Frankfurt; London will cease to be the financial hub of Europe. Whether we need Europe or not will be irrelevant. Britain, in relation to Europe, will be in the position of a spent satellite.

A E Beale, Hailsham

Tragically, the UK is beset by an large number of small-minded, over- nostalgic, bigoted, thoughtless, deluded nationalists, hankering for a golden age that never was and threatening the opportunities and hopes of the younger generation, whose internationalist credentials are beyond doubt. Generation X looks forward to living in a democratic and united Europe in which, untroubled by prejudice, we can enjoy peace and prosperity. We do not intend to see this endangered by puerile arguments about straight bananas.

Mark J Littlewood, president, Young European Movement, London SW1

Do we need Europe? Yes, yes, yes. Yes for 1870; yes for 1914; yes for 1939. The bread-and-butter arguments in favour of our belonging to a powerful economic grouping are strong. But sometimes we need to stand back from the intricacies of agriculture and fisheries to remind ourselves of the EU's fundamental political and human benefits. A structure has been created that makes war unthinkable between West Europeans, an achievement outstanding in history. We should be concentrating on the inspiring task of extending this framework for peaceful change to all Europe.

Sir Harold Walker, Woking

Do we need:

1. Unelected Commissioners to make our laws?

2. To pay into a fund and get less out of it?

3. To have parliamentary proceedings shrouded in secrecy, and staff immune from prosecution for their wrongdoings?

4. To contribute to fraud on a massive scale?

5. To suffer a cost of living that is kept artificially high?

6. To keep inefficient and greedy farmers in a cosy lifestyle?

7. To sell produce such as butter at a cut-price rate to a nation and at the same time have nuclear missiles targeted on them, instead of benefiting ourselves?

8. To be partners with a nation of chauvinists?

D Graham, Ryton, Tyne & Wear

Yes, because environmental issues do not recognise national borders. Yes, because like it or not, its economy is linked to ours. Yes, because any threat of war in Europe is a threat to Britain. Yes, because it is the largest single market in the world. Yes, because we need a say in how the rest of Europe develops.

Most importantly, we need Europe because shutting our eyes and hoping the rest of the world will go away isn't an option. Managing closer links with other countries through the EU is Britain's vital national interest.

Jeremy Hargreaves, Oxford

"Social protection", mentioned by John Lichfield, can only be achieved if we are in Europe. Competition with low-wage economies has justified low wages in the UK, together with long hours and poor safeguards. On our own there is no way of combating this, but collectively Europe has the economic muscle to prevent its employment being destroyed by countries willing to exploit their workforce. Europe could safely introduce the Social Chapter and more. Economic protectionism is something one would wish to avoid, but if the alternative is American-style differences between rich and poor, then it is amply justified.

G W Alderton, Helsby, Cheshire

We need Europe to help us expose Euro-sceptic myths about federalism. Contrary to claims of it leading to a centralised Euro-monster stamping out national character, individuality and self-government, it is the opposite. Federalism in Germany, Austria, Belgium, Spain and Switzerland is a way of allocating democratic self-government as close to citizens as possible, at local, regional and national levels. This is the meaning of subsidiarity, embodied in the Maastricht treaty. It is the best guarantee for preserving separate identities, autonomy and independence.

Ernest Wistrich, London NW3

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