A space divided. A future together?

Un espace partagé, un avenir concerté.  That’s the slogan of the EU’s new Arc Manche region — which takes in most of southern England, plus northern France and the Pas de Calais.  Find it at www.arcmanche.com.

I picked this story up from the excellent front-page piece on Monday in the Daily Express, under Macer Hall’s by-line.

The scale of their ambition (and our sense of outrage), is almost Biblical.  They actually want to carve up part of England and part of France and create a single region, with a Council, a President and a flag.  And their plans for common activity?  Cross-Channel cycle tracks (Peter Simple’s underwater motor-cycling springs to mind), and a touring street-theatre-circus company.  With clowns.  You may feel that the real clowns are in the Berlaymont building.

So I felt moved to put a Written Question to the Commission as follows:

1  What is the current status of the Arc Manche region project?  How much EU money has been spent on it, and how much is it planned to spend?

2  What is the purpose of the project?

3  Does the Commission agree with me that political structures and divisions should be consistent with the identity and aspirations of citizens?  Does the Commission consider that this Arc Manche project meets that criterion?

4  What evidence is there that any significant body of public opinion has called for such an initiative?  Indeed, does it have any democratic legitimacy at all?

5  Is the Commission aware of the widespread anger and derision amongst British citizens following media coverage of the project?

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16 Responses to A space divided. A future together?

  1. Sue says:

    I am stunned that some MP’s and MEP’s did not know this. I started blogging some three years ago and I have known about it all this time. Unfortunately back then the official websites didn’t exist and this was slated as a conspiracy theory.

    The carving up of the UK into regions has been known for years. If you look at Cameron’s plans for the UK and decentralisation, they fit in very nicely with the EU’s dictatorial plans for us.

    I really hope UKIP use this to their advantage in the local elections. It’s enough to make any Briton’s blood boil with anger.

    • Andrew Shakespeare says:

      Of course they knew all about it. But revealing it would fuel anti-EU sentiment, and the government (of whatever party) will always attempt to keep Europe off the agenda.

    • Indeed I had come across it before — but the Express piece seemed to be a good time to make an issue of it. And frankly some ideas are so preposterous that it’s difficult initially to take them seriously.

  2. Andrew Shakespeare says:

    Having read some of the website, it says the region’s purpose is to aid cooperation between administrative authorities, and to make them more effective in drawing down EU funding.

    Some may actually believe this hogwash, that in time will metamorphosize into “This is a de facto local government and there’s nothing we can do about it now”, that enhances Brussels’ power and destroys the member states’ political integrity. But surely, if unitary authorities wish to cooperate with each other, that is something for them to organise themselves?

  3. Peter Adams says:

    Roger, you and the other British MEP’s should have been asking these questions years ago when we in UKIP first highlighted this proposal, but unfortunately most British politicians used the opportunity to try and sneer at UKIP’s “fantasy”. Now like so many other EU related issues we highlighted years in advance it is coming to fruition and like many MEP’s and MP’s who should have known better you express “surprise”. You know it’s time to get out but none of the present parties in Westminster, including your CONservatives, will give the people the referendum they want.

  4. steve says:

    Only acceptable it it means restoring these territories to Her Majesty. And can we have the rest of the Angevin Empire back as well?

  5. Malcolm Edward says:

    Such a cross-border scheme is not likely to succeed in practical terms (cf the failure of the Humberside region), although that won’t stop the EU wasting huge sums of our money in its desire to reduce national identity. However I’m sure it will ultimately have the opposite effect.
    On past form I hold no hope that our government will do anything, but it is time for Cameron and our government to stand firm and to reduce our payments to the EU by the amount of money that the EU wastes and to force the EU to stop these uncalled-for schemes. How about holding a plebiscite on this issue – which is a sovereignty issue – to see what the nation really thinks.

  6. Wilson Boardman says:

    Oh come on… published in the Express… In April??

    Any sane or educated non-Sun-reader would quite naturally assume it was a complete wind-up and move on to something sensible.

    Are we expected to take this seriously???
    If it is serious then it needs as much publicity as it takes to kill it stone dead as quickly as possible… If not, then I’m backing Steve May’s idea….

  7. Jonathan says:

    I truly despair when I read total drivel such as this!

    How many times are the Express, Mail, Sun et al going to come up with this total load of rubbish about ‘Brussels’ splitting up England and destroying nations?!

    Let’s be clear what ‘Channel-Arc-Manche’ actually is – it’s an association of local authorities and stakeholders that exist around the Channel that have freely chosen to join up to cooperate on transnational issues and to help get European funding. The Channel-Arc-Manche is not a European Union / Commission project, it has no supra-national legal status, no powers and is in no way a governing authority. Each local authority, including all Tory-led English authorities, have the choice to participate and are in no way forced to do so! The local authorities obviously see a benefit in working together and pooling their expertise. Channel-Arc-Manche receives no direct money from the EU – any money from the EU budget would be given to specific projects and specific local partners that have been approved through a bid process e.g. Kent County Council or Nord-Pas-de-Calais.

    One thing I would say is this, the European Commission (in agreement with all EU governments – including UK) established a series of Interreg (Inter-regional) funding streams that can be accessed by local authorities working on transnational and trans-regional projects. The benefit of being involved in the Channel-Arc-Manche cooperation is that it provides a strong base for cooperation and the preparation and deployment of European projects that benefit the citizens living in the local authorities. Trust me, a local authority would only get involved if it made financial sense for them, and it obviously does.

    And finally, what is wrong with regional and local authorities coming together and working together of their own free will? I would argue that the Channel-Arc-Manche is a natural geographic and environmental area that would benefit from more cooperation – EU assisted or not. I support cooperation in the North Sea, Baltic Sea, Danube Delta, Atlantic Arc etc – it makes sense and benefits the citizens.

    • Sean O'Hare says:

      I would be interested in knowing what transnational issues, relevant to local authorities, you think have arisen or are likely to arrise that make such co-operation worthwhile? I can see why Kent County Council and Nord Pas de Calais might co-operate re channel tunnel and ferry crossings etc., and would hazard a guess that they have probably done so for donkeys years. Similarly for other English/French local authorities linked by ferry. In any case the level of co-operation required would in no way necessitate anything of the magnitude and cost to taxpayers suggested by this project.

      What is remotely sensible about trying to forge together English counties and French Regions that are separated by 20 miles or more of deep water and a language barrier? The answer is it isn’t sensible, but to the Eurofederalists it is a necessary incremental step in their superstate dream.

      I’m afraid I don’t believe you when you say local authorities would only get involved if it made financial sense. I fear most local authorities are as profligate with other peoples money as central government, if not more so.

      It is interesting to note that both Dorset and Cornwall authorities are not taking part in this. I do hope they remain outside as is will save council tax payers a lot of dosh. I am now seriously considering moving to Dorset.

      Finallyy, having scanned the Channel Arc Manche website I couldn’t find one mention of England or “the country that I know best” as it has been referred to in the EP. Why is that do you think?

      • Jonathan says:

        Sean, you do realise we are talking about an informal cooperation group, not some transnational organisation seeking to destroy nation states?

        Many English and French (and also Belgian and Dutch) local authorities are cooperating on innovation and business clusters, health policy, transport links, renewable energy.

        National boundaries and local authority boundaries are meaningless. We should look at functional economic areas, not just artifical boundaries.

    • “Freely joined to help get European funding” = “were bribed”. And they need a logo/flag? If you can’t recognise this for what it is — a deliberate attempt to undermine the nation-state, and to bribe local politicians with promises of travel, networking, conferences, entertainment, bench-marking, sharing best practice and all the usual mumbo-jumbo — then you aren’t qualified to comment on politics.

  8. Sean O'Hare says:

    @Jonathan

    “Informal co-operation group” my arse! Before any council official either side of the channel can engage in co-operation they would need to learn each others language, or spend even more on translation services. I wonder how many official jollies across the channel each of them are enjoying at council tax payers expense!

    Excuse me, but the stink of the EU Commission permeates this project even from where I’m standing. I prefer to believe what Roger reads into this “project”. One day you will wake up at appreciate how badly you have been deceived (one small increment at a time).

  9. Krystina says:

    It certainly makes my blood boil, attempting to carve up Great Britain like that! It is rather audacious too, but then, such projects are not entirely foreign to those in the EU.

  10. Pingback: Arc Manche: The thin end of the wedge « Roger Helmer MEP

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