Former EC Vice President Lord Leon Brittan passes / News / The Foreigner

Former EC Vice President Lord Leon Brittan passes. The ex-MP and British Home Secretary under Margaret Thatcher died aged 75 last night at his home in London following a long battle with cancer. Lord Brittan, who is thought to have passed away in his sleep, was also Vice President of the European Commission for six months in 1999. Other Offices he held included a period as the European Commissioner for Competition (6th January 1989 to 6th January 1993), European Commissioner for Trade (6th January 1993 to 15th September 1999), and European Commission for External Relations between 23rd January 1995 and 15th September 1999.

eu, eea, efta, norway



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Former EC Vice President Lord Leon Brittan passes

Published on Thursday, 22nd January, 2015 at 20:21 under the news category, by Michael Sandelson   .
Last Updated on 23rd January 2015 at 12:56.

The ex-MP and British Home Secretary under Margaret Thatcher died aged 75 last night at his home in London following a long battle with cancer.

Lord Leon Brittan (1939-2015
Lord Brittan, the Prime Minister’s Representative for Trade speaking at a media briefing on the launch of a Trade and Investment White Paper, 9 February 2011.Lord Leon Brittan (1939-2015
Photo: Foreign and Commonwealth Office/OGL


Lord Brittan, who is thought to have passed away in his sleep, was also Vice President of the European Commission for six months in 1999.

Other Offices he held included a period as the European Commissioner for Competition (6th January 1989 to 6th January 1993), European Commissioner for Trade (6th January 1993 to 15th September 1999), and European Commission for External Relations between 23rd January 1995 and 15th September 1999.

Lord Brittan, knighted in 1989 then created Baron Brittan of Yorkshire County’s Spennithorne in 2000, also gave a speech in Oslo on 9th May 1994 at the Schuman Lecture. 9th May 1994 also marked 54 years since Hitler ordered the invasion of Holland, Belgium and France.

Nazi Germany had invaded Norway on 9th April 1940 under Operation Weserübung. This saw the First Battle of Narvik. The Red Army liberated Kirkenes in October 1944. Both Narvik and Kirkenes are located in Northern Norway.

“Europe is not Frankenstein's monster”

Under his 9th May 1994 speech in Oslo, the then Sir Leon Brittan said that he wanted to speak to those gathered about his hopes for the new Europe.

But more particularly, I want to persuade you that Norway should join in this creative process. Norwegians have, however, already rejected membership of the European Community once (in 1972), and surprisingly, for such a pragmatic people, almost tore themselves apart in the process. […] Membership of the European Union today is by no means the same as membership of the European Community of 1972.”

Sir Leon also stated that Norway should join from three main reasons. According to him, the first is trade-related. Becoming members would give Norway “access to the kitchen, where you too can play a part in adjusting the European recipe to your taste.”

“If Norway joins the EU it will no longer be on the receiving end of other people's rules. It will no longer have to wait in the lobby with the other trading small fry while the big boys thrash out a fait accompli,” said Sir Leon.

Citing the second reason against a changing world at the time, he declared that “politically too, splendid isolation is no longer an option in a shrinking world. […] There is therefore no other international organisation through which Norway can more effectively or usefully channel its energies than the European Union.”

“Finally, Norway should join because Europe is useful and usable: big enough to count in the world, but cohesive enough for each country's individual voice to be heard, whatever its size.”

“Europe is not Frankenstein's monster which the Member States have created and lost control of - it is an instrument which you can and should use to shape a common future that reflects Norway's ideals and interests.  For decades, Norway has led the world in development and environmental issues - now you have the opportunity, if you want, to spread those ideals more widely,” stated Sir Leon.

Strategy

He gave three reasons as to why Europe also needed Norway, in his opinion. Norway’s possible membership was negotiated in a period of 18 months, indicating “the strong desire in the rest of the European Union to bring Norway into the European family.”

The first reason for this was strategic at a time of potential instability on Europe’s Eastern flank following the breakup of the former Soviet Union.

Sir Leon particularly mentioned the Balkans, Ukraine, the Baltic States – with Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania hopes of joining “the European mainstream” perhaps not exactly coinciding “with Russia's future aspirations for them.”

“Europe must therefore work to bind the Baltic States more closely to the West and do so without antagonising Russia. We have already started negotiations for free trade agreements with the Baltics which will bring the treatment they receive from the EU into line with their treatment from EFTA,” he said.

According to him, Norway’s “relations with these countries and your understanding of the region will be invaluable to us.”

“Moreover the understanding and insight which all of Europe's new members have of Eastern Europe and the clear appreciation which you have of the historic task now facing us makes it more likely that we will take the right approach to the East if you are members of our Union.”

Norway and Switzerland were among the founding Member States of EFTA (European Free Trade Association) in 1960. Iceland and Liechtenstein joined in 1970 and 1991, respectively.

Nordic Countries Norway and Iceland are members of the EEA (European Economic Area) Agreement with the EU.

“A better community”

Sir Leon went on to list Norwegian values as the second reason why Europe should celebrate Norway’s EU membership.  He listed democracy, respect for human rights, high social security standards, gender equality, and concern for the environment.

“And Norway has long looked out beyond its own borders: through trade links, by seeking a better deal for the third world, and in contributing to the peaceful settlement of international conflicts. These values are the sort of values which will make Europe a better community: a community which is more cohesive, more conscious of its international responsibilities and more responsive to the individual.”

Referring to how Norway organised and hosted the 1994 Winter Olympics in Lillehammer, Sir Leon concluded this part of his speech by saying that the Scandinavian country could help the EU become less centralised and more efficient.

“Discussions about how the Union should adapt to these new demands in the light of further Eastward expansion of the Union are likely to begin in 1996 at the next Inter-Governmental Conference. Norway has shown the world this year that it is possible to be efficient without losing the human touch,” he said.

Norway subsequently said ‘no’ to EU membership for the second time some six months later after holding the 27th-28th November National Referendum.

Opposition to EU membership is currently at an all-time high. At the same time, Vidar Helgesen, Norway’s Minister of EU and EEA Affairs for the Conservative Party (H), has told The Foreigner that “Norway is fully integrated in Europe.”

“We are actually more integrated with the EU than the average EU member state: for example in terms of trade and labour immigration,” he said.

Tributes

Some of the issues themes the Late Lord Brittan talked about in 1994 are still relevant today. Incumbent Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg stressed the importance of togetherness and the EEA Agreement during her meetings with several top EU officials in Brussels, Wednesday.

Lord Leon Brittan, Baron Brittan of Spennithorne QC, PC, DL, was born on 25th September 1939 in North London to parents of Lithuanian Jewish descent.

He is survived by his wife Lady Diana Brittan (née Clemetson, b. 1940) of Spennithorn – whom he married in 1940 – and two stepdaughters, her children from a previous marriage.

“'It is with great regret that we announce the death of Leon Brittan,” a family spokesperson said.

“As a family, we should like to pay tribute to him as a beloved husband to Diana and brother to Samuel, and a supportive and loving stepfather to Katharine and Victoria, and step-grandfather to their children.”

"Lord Brittan's long and illustrious career in the law, politics and business reflected his acclaimed intellect and dedication to everything he believed in. His many friends in this House, some of whom date back to his university days, will remember his generosity and kindness. My thoughts are with his family, especially his wife, Diana," said the Conservative Leader of the House of Lords, Baroness Tina Stowell.

“Leon Brittan was a true Conservative European who understood the UK’s important role in Europe. He increased the importance of Britain’s role by working for both British and European interests within the EU,” Vidar Helgesen, Norway’s Minister of EU and EEA Affairs commented to The Foreigner by email.




Published on Thursday, 22nd January, 2015 at 20:21 under the news category, by Michael Sandelson   .
Last updated on 23rd January 2015 at 12:56.

This post has the following tags: eu, eea, efta, norway.





  
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