The European Union is in the news a great deal these days, so it is time to bring some order to proceedings. Overall my views are very ambiguous. My wife is European, my parents lived in Europe for 30 years. I have traveled very extensively throughout Europe for decades and have very much enjoyed the culture and the people. It is a big part of the rich tapestry of my life. Very many people feel the same. I wrote an article on here in 2011 about it and things haven’t changed much since then.
Let us first look at what is wrong with the EU:
- The EU is supposed to be a single trading area and this is known from economic history to bring huge benefits in growth. But the reality is that the EU has massively underperformed economically when compared to the rest of the world. The EU has substantially disadvantaged the life quality of those within it. This is a huge conundrum, why is an economic institution that should do so much good actually doing so much harm.
- The basis of how the EU works is that Germany and Great Britain pay huge amounts of money for the EU bureaucracy to spend on itself and waste on underperforming countries. In return Germany gets a huge market for its manufacturing based economy. In theory the UK should benefit from having a single market for our services based economy. But for some reason we don’t have a single market for services. Try insuring your car with a company in Barcelona, investing your PEP in a provider in Frankfurt, or getting a company in Milan to manage your SIP pension. So the whole mechanic of the EU is fundamentally skewed against the UK.
- A core purpose of the EU is “equalisation”. Enabling poor countries to join the EU and for them to then become rich countries. This has worked spectacularly well in, say, Spain and Ireland and is a very good thing, creating a huge and vibrant market. This equalisation could be achieved by the market alone. In reality it mostly is. But the EU thinks that tax and spend is the answer. Take the money off the rich countries and spend it on the poor countries. The result is that most of the money disappears in vanity projects and corruption. The EU solution is socialism. And we know that socialism never works.
- The Euro currency is an utter disaster. John Major’s finest hour was when he opted the UK out at Maastricht in 1992. Many nations have used the cheap money provided by the Euro to be fiscally incontinent, to have a party on other people’s money. With the properly managed countries of the North paying for it. And thus it will never be a viable concept. The Euro is so badly flawed in so many ways that it would be easy to write a book about it. I am sure that some people have.
- The EU civil servants are supposed to help create a single market. Part of the way they achieve this is forcing uniformity on us. So now we buy meat in kilos and milk in litres. But they abuse this power to micromanage and to interfere in the business of sovereign states. We don’t need a standard height for toilet seats or a maximum power for hairdryers. Common sense should suffice. This is much worse for the UK because our civil servants gold plate every EU command, adding their own wish list, so we get bogged down with massive bureaucracy. Whilst countries such as Holland pay minimum attention. And Greece says yes to everything and then just forgets to apply it.
- The EU is incredibly, amazingly wasteful of our money. Brussels is full of expensive restaurants where our taxes are spent feeding legions of functionaries with the very best food and wine. The EUs accounts never pass audit because there is so much endemic corruption. It has made socialists like Kinnock and Mandelson into very rich men. The whole organisation is utterly incontinent with other people’s money.
- There are very many free trade areas in the world. The EU is the only one with a parliament. This isn’t needed for free trade, it is needed because we have creeping federalism with the goal of becoming a super state. This is not going to work so we should just stop it now. The EU parliament and all the other instruments of federalism need removing immediately.
- The EU continues to utterly mismanage fisheries and to distort our agriculture so that food costs far more than it should.
Now lets look at the EU within the context of current events:
- We have a single issue anti EU party who are currently prospering, mainly due to weak leadership elsewhere. This party is nasty, bigoted and xenophobic, its populist “policies” are aimed at the hard of thinking and the uneducated. They tell a lot of lies, which some people are stupid enough to believe.
- The EU commission have just hit the UK for a £1.7 billion cheque. In context the UK government spends £2 billion a day, so this will just mean less money for benefits, less for hip operations and less for buying toys for the RAF. We once had a huge EU rebate, which made its cost more acceptable. Yet Tony Blair gave half of this back to them with no explicable reason.
- British public opinion is pro EU. 56% of adults want to stay in. It’s most popular since 1991. After the Conservatives win next year’s general election we are going to have an in/out referendum. Which will be very interesting.
- The EU can’t do without us. Their economy is in tatters. The UK is creating more jobs than the whole of the rest of the EU put together. We are a huge market for their goods. So they would be forced to have a free trade area with us whether we were in or out. The institutions of the EU would be in deep merde without our money. We bring democracy and the rule of law to the EU. Compare and contrast with the undemocratic fascism in Hungary today.
- The EU is holding our trade back with the rest of the world. And the rest of the world is economically a lot more successful than the EU.
- It is indisputable that the non EU countries in Europe are doing a lot better than the EU countries in Europe. Switzerland, Iceland, Norway. Where the EU should be conferring an economic advantage it is actually conferring an economic disadvantage.
- There has been a huge influx of EU migrants to the UK. This has mostly been very good and has boosted our economy and made London a rich and vibrant world capital. Research shows that these migrants do not cost British people their jobs. And there are a very similar number of British people who choose to live in Europe. So it is a 2 way street and one that everyone benefits from. Our problem is mass non EU immigration of badly educated people who our economy doesn’t need.
So where does this leave my thinking? Where will I vote in the 2017 referendum? The answer is to leave, unless we can get enormous changes that remove the creeping federalism and trappings of a superstate. And the reason I want out has nothing to do with the bigotry and xenophobia of the ridiculous UKIP. My problem with the EU is that it is fundamentally socialist. And we know how evil socialism is and the harm that it causes. In theory the EU should make us all more prosperous but because of its socialism it makes us all poorer.