Printer Friendly

Redesign Britain on the Benelux model - Price.

Byline: MARTIN SHIPTON Chief reporter

PLAID Cymru leader Adam Price has proposed creating a new version of Britain inspired by the Benelux countries of Belgium, Netherlands and Luxembourg.

In a major constitutional speech delivered last night at Edinburgh University, Mr Price said a new Britain could be built in which three independent nations - England, Scotland and Wales - lived alongside one another in equality and greater harmony. He described how the Benelux Economic Union was established in 1949, with the complete liberalisation of trade, free movement and the co-ordination of commercial and monetary policies.

Mr Price said: "The development of Benelux received a strong impetus with the creation of the European Economic Community, which prompted it to strengthen its own integration through the Benelux Treaty of Economic Union in 1958.

"This expired after 50 years, but was replaced in 2008 by a stronger Benelux Union focusing on three main areas: the internal market and economic union, sustainability, justice and internal affairs.

"The institutional infrastructure of the renewed treaty identifies five Benelux institutions: a Parliament, a Committee of Ministers, an Economic Council, a Court of Justice, and a Secretariat General. "The Benelux Parliament, created in 1955, comprises 21 members from the Belgian national and regional parliaments, 21 from the Dutch parliament, and seven from the Luxembourg parliament.

"Benelux operates as a sophisticated supranational structure. It has an overarching range of political, administrative and legal institutions that, taken together, constitute a relatively cohesive confederal system, operating inside the looser framework of the EU.

"None the less, who would deny that Belgium, the Netherlands, and even tiny Luxembourg are distinctive countries with a strong presence on the international stage?" The Plaid leader went on to propose a similar structure for a new Britain: "There could be political co-operation with a British-wide assembly or parliament, made up of representatives from the Scottish Parliament, the Welsh Senedd, and what would, by then, be an English House of Commons. This might meet in Cardiff.

"There could be a Council of Ministers, which would be an evolution of the present-day Joint Ministerial Committee of Ministers in the Cabinet Office, but reconstituted on the basis of equality between the confederal partners. This might be located in London. "And there could be a reconstituted court structure, with the present Supreme Court acting as a higher, confederal court, above the High Courts of Wales, Scotland and England, but below the European court system. This could be located in Edinburgh.

"All this would be entirely compatible with Britain remaining a member of the European Union, but I would argue, it will be made much more pressing if Britain were to leave."

Describing the kind of Britain he envisaged, Mr Price said: "It will be a Britain where economic wealth is distributed more equally. This will benefit much of England, especially northern England, as much as Wales or Scotland.

"A wealth of statistics reveal how much wealth, investment, and research and development are concentrated in just one tiny corner of Britain, in London and the English south east. This is the explanation why this is the only part of Britain that produces an economic surplus. The rest is in deficit.

"This systemic imbalance is the source of much of the social injustice in Britain - indeed, it was the source of the Leave vote in the 2016 referendum. And it is the result of political choice over successive generations. It is in stark contrast, too, with the European principles of cohesion and solidarity.

"Only a different kind of political choice can change it. As I have argued, that choice entails recasting the constitutional structure of this island, so that we move to a more decentralised and equal partnership of nations."


<B Plaid Cymru leader Adam Price wants to see a new version of Britain Rob Browne
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2019 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Jun 27, 2019
Previous Article:Plans to put old chapel at heart of capital store.
Next Article:Ex-teacher accused of sex abuse found dead.

Terms of use | Privacy policy | Copyright © 2021 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters |