Predicting the future is difficult and often impossible.
When Britain joined the then Economic Community a majority of present member states were under fascist or communist domination. Sweden and Finland, while not dominated by Russia, were under strong economic pressures. The situation had not changed much by the time of the first direct elections to the European Parliament.
Political union has brought with it economic growth. The best example is the comparison between Poland and Ukraine, the latter still not free from Russian pressures. Since accession Poland’s economy has grown three times faster than that of Ukraine.
The European Union has a fine record, not only in supporting weaker members, but also building relations with neighbours. I think of the Balkan countries and North Africa.
It also is an important catalyst and financial provider for projects.
An outstanding example is the building of the marina at Amble, a small town that has been transformed by this project.
Europe’s future prosperity depends hugely on scientific research and the developments that flow from it. Our universities have benefitted greatly from the research programmes.
I want to see Britain build on these foundations.
My mind turns to words of John Donne, an early 17th century philosopher, who is best known for “for whom the bell tolls”.
I hope that it is not tolling for the European Union, but that other words of his will prevail: “no one is an island; everyone is part of the continent”.
North East MEP 1979-2004