The Future Facing European Citizens, is what MEP for the UK South West, Michael Holmes, will be discussing with local Europeans in Palma this evening. Holmes, who has owned a property in Majorca since 1981, will be addressing a gathering of Ciudadanos Europeos and the thrust of his speech will be to emphasise the need for Europeans to understand the structure of the European Union and what it means to their daily lives. Holmes has been an MEP since 1999 when elected one of seven MEPs to represent the South West electoral region of the UK, but he is not a Europhile. He said that one of the problems, “as James Goldsmith said, is that we sleep walked into Europe,” he said yesterday. Holmes said that the European Union and the grey, invisible men plucking the strings behind the scenes in Brussels are facing up to their biggest test yet and that Britain would be wise to put the Euro agenda back on the shelf for at least another five years. With illegal immigration topping the agenda at the summit in Seville next week, Holmes believes that the emphasis should be on legal immigration. “The population of Europe is getting older, people are living longer, there is a growing shortage of skilled young people and the EU should be addressing this issue and making sure that there is a steady flow of skilled legal immigrants into the Union bloc countries.” But he admits that the illegal immigration problem is putting the Union under serious short-term pressure and the prospect of EU enlargement, will add further weight to the problem. Holmes agreed that there are good reasons for enlargement to be postponed, “but try telling that to Prodi.” The European Union is far from stable at the moment, be it economically or socially and the new members will complicate the problem further. “But the EU is determined to push ahead and slowing Brussels down is like turning round a huge tanker once it is in motion,” he said. Holmes advocates that it would have been better for the Eastern states, “which have thrown off the shackles of communism” to have formed their own economic bloc and their own trading community, leading to an Eastern European Union in 20 to 30 years time. “Russia is still nervous as they don't like the idea of being controlled by a capitalist bloc, part of the EU and NATO,” he said. But all these states need funding, which they will receive at the cost of current European Union member states, in Portugal, Greece and Spain - the Balearics. “It is bad news for these countries, they are going to have to learn to stand on their own two feet and pay their own way,” Holmes said. He added however that despite all the fuss, countries like France have a resiliant economy, “depending how you look at the stats, France has the fourth or fifth largest economy in the world alternating with Britain, so they should be able to manage. But regions such as the Balearics, the new airport and the Palma to Inca motorway, for example, were built with EU money, should not be looking for greater powers in Brussels. “The Balearics should be developing better relationships with their proper representatives like central government. “The Balearics does not have a big enough economy to justify direct input in Brussels.” he said. “While the EU believes in a Europe of regions, it does not believe in diminishing the role of central governments. What's more if the Balearics gets a good response, then I guess the Basque country should get a fair hearing over independence, though that is not an issue I support. “The Balearics needs central administration representation in Brussels and it would be better off looking to Madrid,” Holmes said.

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