Oct 23 2012
British disillusionment with the European Union is the "deepest it has ever been", William Hague is set to warn.
The Foreign Secretary will tell a foreign policy forum that UK voters feel the EU is something that is "done to them" with Brussels sucking up powers from national governments.
Mr Hague will tell European leaders they must allow powers to "flow back" as well as letting states have different levels of membership.
In a speech at Berlin's Koerber Foundation, Mr Hague is expected to say: "This Coalition Government is committed to Britain playing a leading role in the EU but I must also be frank - public disillusionment with the EU in Britain is the deepest it has ever been. People feel that in too many ways the EU is something that is done to them, not something over which they have a say.
"The way in Britain Lisbon was ratified without any consultation of the voters has played a part in that. People feel that the EU is a one way process, a great machine that sucks up decision-making from national parliaments to the European level until everything is decided by the EU. That needs to change.
"If we cannot show that decision-making can flow back to national parliaments then the system will become democratically unsustainable. It is obviously in Britain's interests for the EU to succeed in the tasks I have described and for Britain to play a leading role in it.
"The Eurozone countries must do what they must to resolve the crisis, but the way forward for the EU as a whole is not more centralisation and uniformity but of flexibility and variable geometry, that allows differing degrees of integration in different areas, done in ways that do not disadvantage those that do not wish to participate in everything, and preserves the things we all value."
Earlier this year Mr Hague launched a "comprehensive audit" of EU powers scrutinising the impact of every law on the UK. He will tell the policy forum that any treaties EU members sign up to will be "irrelevant" if they fail to sort out their economic woes.
It comes after Prime Minister David Cameron insisted Britain will "stick to our guns" over the EU budget, as the scene was set for weeks of wrangling leading up to a crunch summit next month.
The European Commission is seeking a one trillion euro budget for 2014-20, equating to 1.1% of the 27-nation bloc's gross income but Mr Cameron insists that there must be no increase above inflation.