The biggest political group in the European Parliament has run into embarrassment after releasing a video which appears to claim that Zurich, Switzerland, and the city-state of Monaco are inside the European Union.
The European People’s Party — which brings together hundreds of MEPs from parties including Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union, Jean-Claude Juncker’s Christian Social People’s Party, and Michel Barnier’s Republicans Party — shared the video on Twitter as part of its #DiscoverEU campaign.
“It’s more what brings us together than what sets us apart. #DiscoverEU and find out!” the promotional tweet declares, slightly erratically.
The embedded video below a slideshow of various European locales — Ibiza, Valencia, Barcelona, Marseilles, Cannes, Nice, Monaco, Zurich — before finishing on the #DiscoverEU slogan.
— EPP Group (@EPPGroup) September 8, 2017
The trouble is, Monaco and Zurich are not in the EU. They are not even in the European Economic Area (EEA).
While Switzerland does subject itself to something very close to Free Movement of People and more or less dismantled its border controls with the EU by joining the Schengen Area — denounced as “effectively an international passport-free zone for terrorists to execute attacks on the Continent and make their escape” by former Interpol chief Robert Noble following the mass-casualty terror attacks in Paris, France, in 2015 — it is not and never has been an EU member-state.
The Swiss public rejected EEA membership in a 1992 referendum, and rejected a motion to begin negotiating entry into the bloc itself in 2001 by an impressive 74.1 per cent.
It formally withdrew its long-resting formal application to the bloc shortly before Britain’s referendum in June 2016, with one legislator commenting that “only a few lunatics” still had any designs on joining.
— LEAVE.EU (@LeaveEUOfficial) March 2, 2016
The Principality of Monaco, meanwhile, is not even a member of the Schengen Area — although its borders are effectively open due to its unique relationship with neighbouring France — and it does not appear to be in any rush to join the EU and unleash an avalanche of Brussels regulation on its low-tax economy.
Social media users were highly critical of the EPP video, with one commenting that the group “can’t even get [its] propaganda straight, or factual”.
“Are you incompetent fools planning to invade Switzerland and Monaco?” quipped one.
“Maybe you need to ‘Discover the EU’ yourself,” suggested another.
The European People's Party – biggest group in European Parliament – thinks Monaco and Zurich are in the EU.
We're paying these people. https://t.co/KCew7luj0W
— Jack Montgomery ن (@JackBMontgomery) September 8, 2017
The EPP was from its inception intended to be “the group of the European federalists . . . the most enthusiastic supporters of the European Union”.
Britain’s Conservative Party was signed up to the group until 2009, and many of its more europhile representatives complained about the decision to leave it.