The name of this blogsite is not ‘Pro-Europe’, the rather silly media term to categorise someone who would vote for continuing UK membership of the European Union. It is because I am European and work abroad, (an immigrant in France so an exit from the EU would adversely affect me), and thus the name is simply geographical. Bizarrely I have over the years received, in comments and via twitter, abuse for being ‘European’! A clear illustration of just how polarised the British have become, mainly as a result of the really very poor journalism and general media as a whole that pervades in my home country. But maybe it is time to come clean.
The very important British voice in the EU has been sadly far too quiet for far too long, easily allowing the British, particularly English general media to misconstrue and often blatantly lie about the realities of the EU. It is sad that British children and most adults also just don’t know the basics of what happens, let alone why. The difference between the European Parliament, Council of Europe and European Commission, (all different organisations), is blurred beyond confusion and thus now easily ignored in favour of celebrity news from America.
But what of all European trees and what affects all European trees? Has the EU been a good or a bad thing for trees?
Trees are not featured much, hardly at all in fact, within the considerable amount of bumf that has been generated by the EU since conception. It is true that a considerable sum of money has been allocated towards research into trees, particularly in regards their benefits to agriculture, but this is mostly peripheral research.
Most member states have been allowed to draw up their own guidance and / or legislation in regards trees and even forests, which varies dramatically. Illustrating the diversity of trees and forests and their importance or relevance to the many cultures of the European continent.
Whilst ‘Ancient Woodland’ is explicitly mentioned within the habitats directive, this does not appear to alleviate the concerns of NGOs in both the UK and across Europe, fighting to save such habitat from development or industry. So clearly there is need to tighten this up.
The Soils Directive, had it ever been introduced rather than blocked by many member states including the UK, would have certainly turned more attention to trees within particular member states whilst attempting to introduce into the directive into their own particular legislative process, due to cost savings that trees would provide in safeguarding soil.
One issue that was initially poorly handled and which has certainly led to many avoidable tree deaths has been the free market itself; inadvertently allowing the transfer of trees and plants affected with disease across the whole of the continent and onto islands, such as the British Isles, which had an effective natural barrier. I have heard this used as a ‘pro’ argument for leaving the EU, but I find this a little fatuous as the UK arb, forest and landscaping industries have suffered greatly from this, particularly nurseries, and fought hard, without success, towards gaining media attention – which continues to publicise, hypocritically, the cost benefits of cheap plants for all, meanwhile the EU have helped to fund guidance to avoid this situation, widely ignored in the UK, but which has led to centralised checkpoints for all plant imports in some member states to a great deal of success.
What should be the crowning achievement for European forestry and arboriculture was the EUTR. A phenomenal amount of work went into this, which was ultimately more popular in non-European press than within its boundaries. It is been an uphill struggle and certainly the UK is as guilty as other countries in not enforcing the law as well as it could be. But the EUTR should be recognised for what it is – ‘the most progressive legislation to curb deforestation internationally’.
As the threats to trees in Europe are common threats, it is vital that research and developments are shared between all countries irrespective of EU membership or not and this will surely continue no matter what the outcome of the referendum is.
And one has to wonder what does it matter when, as seen in Sheffield recently, any and all EU, Council of Europe and other international guidance, directives or convention can be blatantly ignored, despite ratification. This is something seen in other countries too. The French all too often simply ignore the rights of other EU citizens, leading myself and other immigrants to carry EU legislation French text in order to gain any progress when meeting a Fonctionnaire.
The EU does need reform, it does need people to question it and continual monitoring. I was at an EU funded meeting as a ‘partner’ not long ago, when trying to question what ‘partner’ actually meant in terms of the contract, I made the joke “So basically some partners are more equal than others”, the response to this was, “Yes, exactly”, without any sense of irony! To me this sums up much of what is happening in Brussels and what has to stop.
And to this end I would state to any and all considering voting to leave the EU, that you are weak! The EU needs we Brits to question it – not to threaten it. We do not need Pro or Anti Europe MEPS, but those actually fighting for their constituents, with the simple basic platform at all times of ensuring peace throughout Europe.
As a parent I want to ensure the very best spread of possibilities for my son. To leave Europe is to limit this considerably and given that a significant proportion of those voting are past middle aged and shaped into armchair fascists by a media who think it is perfectly ok to publish the scrawlings of Katie Hopkins, it is not just the vote itself that is important but how or why it ever came to be.