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Last Updated: Wednesday, 20 April 2005, 13:26 GMT 14:26 UK
UK voters' panel: Paul Holdsworth

MEET THE PANEL
Paul Holdsworth
Name: Paul Holdsworth
Age: 19
Lives: Aberystwyth, Wales
Works: Student
Current voting intention: Undecided
In 10 words or less:
"Politics student with appalling fashion sense"

I am strongly pro-European.

At the moment the US is able to get away with a lot of actions that I find appalling, simply because there is no political block powerful enough to challenge it.

I see Europe as a vital structure representing people who share a more common sense and ethical view of the world.

For pro-Europeans like myself, it can only be a good thing that parties like Veritas and UKIP are standing.

It means the Tories are unlikely to play the euro-scaremongering tactics of the 2001 campaign for fear of giving votes away to anti-euro splinter parties.

The European Union can do a lot for its citizens but only if it is handed more power.

VOTERS' PANEL: EUROPE
I, like many, am appalled by the ridiculous agricultural subsidies in place which seem to be a result of the EU flexing its muscles in the only way it can.

These are important issues and they should be discussed in an electoral campaign.

The problem I have is when the right wing parties make the irrational jump from disliking a European policy to disliking the entire European Union system.


Your comments:

The whole European project is a miserable undemocratic mess
Dave, Swindon, UK
I speak as someone who used to support the concept of the common market - an entity which has changed without any real consultation with the British electorate. The whole European project is a miserable undemocratic mess. It is a government looking for a country to govern. It takes more power and tax from the people and simply feeds the bureaucracy with massive pay rises, guaranteed pensions and ridiculous expenses. I want Britain to be free and independent of any power block - economic considerations come only a close second after liberty.
Dave, Swindon, UK

I have just one question for Paul Holdsworth: If and when Britain rejects the EU constitution, will you go and live in a European country? Believe me, as someone who has, the grass is not greener on the other side.
Michael Mciver, Hastings, England

I don't think that handing more power to unelected officials is the answer to any problem. Until all of the bureaucrats and politicians in the EU are elected in a democratic way, I am against giving up any of the powers we have left.
Anon, Southampton

You mentioned that you are appalled by the agricultural subsidies in place, which "seem to be a result of the EU flexing its muscles in the only way it can". If this is true, I would be wary about allowing the EU to have more power, and thus more opportunities to "flex its muscles". No European government will (in the foreseeable future) consent to a fully federal system under the EU, so Brussels' efforts will always be dependent on national governments. And there will always be power struggles between the central European authorities and governments (like when France and Germany broke the growth and stability pact). I fear that these struggles will simply lead to more CAP-like policies.
Steve, Frankfurt, Germany

The EU works well in the world using soft economic power not hard military power. The democratic moves of Turkey and the orange revolution of the Ukraine are directly linked to each country's EU aspirations. What has the US achieved down the barrel of a gun? Undemocratic elections in Iraq and thousands of Iraqi dead. Now that is immoral. Yes the CAP desperately needs sorting out and yes there are trade issues with China but we can only affect these things in the heart of Europe. Believing in these values isn't anti-American. It is just very European. That is after all what we are!
Chris G, Cambridge, UK

A European super state is a long standing utopian dream for socialists. Fine. Go there. Leave the free world to us.
John Edwards, Braintree, England

John Edwards: check your facts. The most enthusiastically pro-European bloc in the European Parliament is the centre-right Christian Democratic grouping, which (stupidly) our own Conservatives belong to. Ask your Tory candidates about that. The European socialist grouping is generally more eurosceptic, and the French 'no' campaign is being led by the socialist party. In everywhere but Britain the EU is generally accepted to be a capitalist project.
Mark Cobley, London,

It's fascinating how the EU supporters have managed to spin the inefficient, corrupt, undemocratic edifice of the EU as trendy and forward looking to the idealistic young. By claiming it maintained peace in Europe and that it would balance the USA, they seem to think they've placed themselves on the side of the angels.
Roger, UK

Paul would not have to go far to establish that the EU is a club run entirely for the benefit of France and Germany. The CAP is an absolute disgrace and should have been cleared away years ago. It wasn't because the French would have objected to it. The other great stumbling block with the giving the EU more power is its inefficiency, corruption and total unaccountability. The European Parliament has been given numerous opportunities in the past to address these problems and on every occasion they have looked the other way.
Bill Woodcock, Stavanger, Norway

The US government is doing nothing that it has not already been doing for decades. Just because it has a large and potentially powerful rival doesn't necessarily mean that it will act any differently. China and Russia are both large and powerful, even possessing large nuclear arsenals to back up their influence, but neither seems to make an ounce of difference to US foreign policy. If anybody thinks that an EU super state will make things better then they need to wake up and smell the coffee.
Mike, Norwich, England

The EU is the future and we can't be left behind
Adam Drummond, Rutland, UK
I, like many pro-Europeans, think that legitimate criticisms of problems in the EU would disappear or be solved if we became more committed. Because it's no use whining from the sidelines like the right wing elements are suggesting. I despise the CAP but the only way to fix that is by being in the EU because like it or not, the EU is the future and we can't be left behind.
Adam Drummond, Rutland, UK

The hint of anti-Americanism in Paul's comments is shared by many in the EU, but European foreign policy can be just as cynical on trade and other issues. The EU as it was created now looks rather old fashioned and a free trade zone is all that we need.
Ian Lynch, Caldicot, Wales

The idea the EU promotes an ethical view of the world does not stand up to scrutiny. There are two good examples of its self-interested behaviour in the news at the moment. Firstly, the EU plans to lift its arms embargo against China. It is claimed that this is only a symbolic measure, but a French minister gave the game away by arguing, bizarrely, that China would be less of a threat to peace if we sold it sophisticated weapons. Secondly, there is the running sore that is the CAP. The EU pays its farmers large subsidies, and has been known to export its excess production to the Third World, undercutting local producers. This all does real harm to people in the Third World.

The American notion that democracy can be spread around the world is beginning to look plausible - witness the recent advances in Lebanon, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Ukraine and Kyrgyzstan. It is debatable how real these advances are, and how far they are related to American foreign policy, but they are certainly not the work of the EU. At the same time, French "ethical" objections are beginning to look as if they have more to do with national pride than morality.
John, London, UK





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