Author Topic: Britons 'too ignorant' for EU referendum  (Read 4301 times)

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Britons 'too ignorant' for EU referendum
« on: February 11, 2014, 10:02:40 AM »

Top official says debate on Europe is so distorted that people could not make an 'informed decision'

    Viviane Reding, vice-president of European Commission, made comments
    Speaking in London, she said British people must know 'the facts' on EU
    She boasted about how 70 per cent of UK's laws are now made in Brussels
    Her comments were attacked by critics for 'dangerous' assumptions

Britons are too ignorant about Europe to vote in a referendum on the subject, a top Brussels official claimed last night.

Viviane Reding, vice-president of the European Commission, said the British debate about Europe was so ‘distorted’ that people could not make an ‘informed decision’ about whether or not to stay in the EU.

Mrs Reding - who boasted that 70 per cent of the UK’s laws are now made in Brussels - also rubbished David Cameron’s bid to curb immigration from Europe, saying it was incompatible with membership of the EU.

'Dangerous': Viviane Reding was criticised for making assumptions about what qualifies Britons to cast a vote on EU membership

Speaking at an EU-sponsored ‘Citizen’s Dialogue’ event in London, Mrs Reding accused British politicians and media of so misrepresenting the EU that it is now impossible to hold a fair referendum on Britain’s membership of the EU.

‘You are on the verge of having (to take) maybe a national decision?’ she said.‘Do the people who are asked to vote know what they are going to vote about?’

‘The fact is that very often, I see a completely distorted truth being presented and then how do you want people to take an informed decision? They simply cannot.’

Europe Minister David Lidington criticised her comments, saying that pro-EU points of view received a wide airing in the UK, including on the BBC.
'Legitimate concerns': Mrs Reading was attacked for dismissing people's concerns, which could lead them to support anti-EU parties such as UKIP, led by Nigel Farage (pictured)

'Legitimate concerns': Mrs Reading was attacked for dismissing people's concerns, which could lead them to support anti-EU parties such as UKIP, led by Nigel Farage (pictured)

He added: ‘It is very dangerous to start making assumptions about what makes someone qualified to cast a vote.’

Pawel Sidlicki, of the think tank Open Europe, said: ‘Mrs Reding epitomises the EU elites’ approach to dealing with the public -superficially embracing debate with citizens while dismissing any substantive criticism.

'Having their legitimate concerns dismissed in such a high-handed manner only drives people towards populist, anti-EU parties. Sadly, EU politicians like Reding often do a better job at driving voters towards these parties than they do themselves.’

But Mrs Reding said the British public needed to be made more aware of the ‘facts’ about Europe.

She said the European Parliament was now ‘the most powerful parliament in Europe’, because of its role in signing off new EU laws proposed by the European Commission.

‘Seventy per cent of the laws in this country are co-decided by the European Parliament,’ she said. ‘So it’s not neutral who you sent to the European Parliament.’

Mrs Reding also suggested Britain would have to leave the EU if Mr Cameron pursues his bid to cap immigration from Europe.

She said it was ‘not possible’ to curb free movement of people while retaining free movement of goods, services and capital.