The problem I have doing so is that normally, when addressing the anti-EU brigade, you're normally dealing with a small minded nationalist island stater, frequently with little England tendencies, who really hasn't thought through their position beyond that of disliking johnny foreigner. DK isn't an island stater, his position, shared with "I've got a book out me" Worstall, isn't that Britain should leave the EU. It's that the EU is a bad idea, that it should cease to exist at all, that all nations within it should break it up themselves. That's a position I fundamentally disagree with, but it's at least a position I can respect and understand; it's not based on bigotry, nationalism or narrow self interest, it's an economic perspective with a libertarian market driven bent.
So, I'm not going to be able to defeat it in one post, and I doubt I've any chance of changing their minds. But that's not the point, the point is to persuade you, dear reader, that they're wrong, and I'm not. Besides, Nosemonkey and commentators say that we need a decent argument. So, to begin...
Nation states exist. They have governments who must try to do the best for their people or else they will lose their power. This competition between nations is healthy, and helps to stimulate growth through innovation. The EU stifles this.Yes, states do. But, they're a relatively recent invention, are in many cases (Belgium anyone) reasonably contrived affairs, and aren't proven to be the best method of organisation known. In fact, they are a significant cause of conflict. Healthy competition on a market model can become unhealthy competition on a warlike model. Besides, the spread of best practice can also be said to be a good thing amongst states, the EU fosters this.
The EU tries—or tries to appear—to serve many masters which means, in fact, that it can serve none. Even were we to dissolve all of the states in the EU, there would still be problems of regionalisation. We have this problem in a country as small as Britain; over a much larger area, the scale of the problem becomes multiplied many times.Yes, but that's true of any large entity, including succesful ones such as the US. The problem can be solved by decentralisation, the much vaunted but not properly initiated subsidiarity and a clearly defined set of responsibilities for the centre.
Governments can be voted out, and their policies changed. The only body in the EU that can initiate laws is unelected; they cannot be removed. Even when the Commission resigned en masse under Santer, many of the people involved retained their jobs, even the egregious Kinnock. Even when some did not, the substantial aim and functioning of the Commission remained unchanged.Anyone thing the current method of selecting the Commission is a good one? Anyone? Not me, anyway. The problem is that EU democrats like me are regularly dismissed as "federalists", but those dismissing us as such seem to show no understanding of the meaning of that term. I want a democratically selected Commission (or whatever it ends up called), preferably on the Parliamentary model that most EU states show works so well. If we had that, this criticism would be answered; it's not an argument about the existence of the institution, merely it's current structure; no one likes it, but our solutions differ.
Few enough people voted for Labour this time around; no British person has ever been given a vote on the existence, personnel or direction of the Commission, the signing of Treaties or our membership of the EU (note: not the EEC). This means that it has no legitimacy for the Brittish people."Brittish"? I'm sure your favourite pedant will pick that one up Chris, but in the meantime, I, um, agree. That's why I'm in favour of referenda on EU treaties, and believe Major really messed up when he didn't hold one on the Treaty of Union. If the case isn't made, people resent it. Blair's running scared over the constitution didn't help either. I'd support a referendum on continued membership, but we need to get the current govt out first, it'd need to be held early in a new parliament with a new govt.
The EU costs a large amount of our money, which we have no say in the spending of. Money which could be better spent in this country by our elected officials or, even better, returned to the people from who it was taken, who will make best use of it.Figures, details? Britain is a net contributor, yes, but some areas of the country do benefit from EU spending, and a lot of it (discounting the CAP, which, well, we try to pretend isn't there and would like to get rid of) is investment in emerging markets, investment that will benefit us medium to long term, think of it a bit like the US Marshall plan post-war, it's mostly for our benefit.
Competancies, i.e., powers, handed to the EU at one point, by nation states, can never be regained, without leaving the EU. These powers are controlled by the (unelected) Commission.Untrue; treaties and powers can be renegotiated, the much maligned constitution was actually an attempt, in part, to return some powers. The EU, as currently structured, is deeply flawed. But that doesn't mean the basic ideal should be abandoned.
I am, roughly, a free-market libertarian: the EU's policy of economic micromanagement runs directly contrary to these views. And yet I have no say in its direction.You do, it's just that our Westminster govts, which sit on the decision making Council of Ministers, have a long tradition of ignoring the opinions of the electorate. Democratising the mess would give you a better say than leaving.
The EU is unnnecessary. Countries can, and have in the past, make their own treaties, with each other, for the mutual gain of both.Many things are unnecessary, doesn't make them a bad thing though. By agreeing a commonly held framework, I, as an EU citizen, have the freedom to move to and work in any EU country. My employers are owned by a German parent company, and have offices in many EU countries, staff can move freely between them without applying for permits, etc. Compare this to the US, where non-US citizens can have significant problems entering to take up jobs offered them, even Brits, etc.
True, bilateral treaties could acheive it, but they're harder to negotiate and can create differing, and confusing, regulations. Free movement of goods, services and peoples, basic free market principles confirmed by right under Maastricht. Necessary? No, I can simply work here, but it's good to know if I do need to go to Munich, I can just get on a plane.
The EU's micromanagement of economies, and vast swathes of red tape, stifle trade and business and thus makes us all poorer. This translates to real tragedies on a personal level.It can do, yes. But in addition, some of that 'red tape' prevents tragedies. Standards on, for example, toy manufacture and safety, mean that companies know what is required of them to produce a product they can then sell all across Europe withot any problems. Other times, the red tape is silver plated at Whitehall, it's not the EU legislation that's the issue, it's the implementation into UK law that makes it overtly restrictive. Othertimes, it's just wrong. But that's what politicians and bureacracies do. When Whitehall does it, we blame the government of the day, when it happens in Brussels, we blame the insitution itself? Democratise it, open up decision making, stop the Council from meeting in camera (as proposed in the Constitution) and then blame those who made the decisions, and vote 'em out.
The EU also tries to micromanage on a social level. This makes it as fascist as the current Labour government. However, we can change our government: we cannot change the EU, its structure or its (meaningful) personnel.We can change the structure, there's a perpetually ongoing attempt to do so. As for personnel? See earlier comments about electing the Commission.
I'll say it again: the Commission, the only body in the EU that can initiate laws, is unelected.Yes, but that's not a reason to leave the EU, it's a reason to reform it. Blair wasn't really elected this time around, and most certainly doesn't have majority support. Bush wasn't elected fairly by many, many accounts.
The EU is a mess. No argument there. But leaving it, or destroying it, isn't the answer.
A free market libertarian has a strong argument against any kind of regulatory framework, but I look to an increasingly globalised world and see it slowly, but surely, being consumed by large corporations. Markets have a tendency to die when consolidation leads to lack of competition. Murdoch's News International is rabidly anti-EU. Why? Because the supra-national regulatory structure it represents may actually be a tool to which his attempts at monopoly control over media may actually be blocked. Obviously not going to happen with Berlusconi around, but it's at least a help. As the internet trading and electronic payment generally takes over, the currency we use is increasingly irrelevent, we are likely, over the next 50 years, to see one or two global currencies accepted everywhere. Do you want those currencies to be under the control of elected governments and their officials, or under the control of corporations looking out solely for their own interests?
Markets needs regulations in order to break up monopolies and prevent cartels. If we're trading internationally, we need international regulators. Eventually, the EU will itself be part of an even greater, global whole. It's a start; a flawed, and at times frustrating start, but it's better than nothing.
The case for Europe must be made. The cowardice of government after government over the last twenty plus years is allowing the anti- case to win by default. This cannot be allowed to continue. It's 2am, I have to work tomorrow. More rhetoric on another day.
*The title for this post comes from a comment DK made here. Yes, I'm being silly. Why not?