Letter: EU threat to our public services

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Sir: Warmest congratulations on your leading article about the European Community. At last a reasoned debate will be possible.

Perhaps the greatest obstacle in the way of such debate has been a combination of misinformation and lack of accurate information. Britain has been in the EC for over 20 years, yet very few people, even among the highly educated and politically minded, could tell you accurately about how it works and what it has done.

Discussions happen in other member states and within the EC institutions, for example, on how to make the EC more democratic. This has been a continuing concern from the beginning. Just because of concern for democracy, it would have been impossible to do as you suggest and set out plans for a federal union in detail right at the start. Instead there has been a step-by-step approach, requiring public agreement at each stage, attempting an "ever-closer union between the peoples of Europe" and not just between their governments. The purposes have been frank and the processes open from the outset, and if some of our politicians have not grasped them the blame is not the Community's. I often wonder how many of the parliamentarians who speak about the EC have actually read the Treaties, visited the European Commission or listened to the European Parliament.