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What should the UK do next?

By neilb@uk ·
Europe is heading towards federalism and a hyper-regulatory European socialist system that just won?t work for the UK. The apathy of the UK?s citizens will result in the wrecking of our economy if we sit back and let our government move us closer to the European model. I think we need a wake-up call to get out before we get sucked into the Euro and our exit becomes a lot more messy.

The creation of a federalist Europe can only succeed for those countries with an aptitude for it. Britain is certainly not one of them. Unlike Britain, none of the larger continental European countries has truly effective political institutions. Those of Germany date from 1949, France from 1958 and Spain from 1975. The Italians are still trying to reform their constitution. All have proportional representation voting systems and usually cumbersome coalition governments. It is obvious that these countries, unlike Britain, might feel that in moving toward federation they are not giving up much.

There are now 50,000 European regulations, filling over 230,000 pages, applicable to Britain. I accept that not all of these are detrimental to our way of life but a significant number of them fit into this category whereas a number of others can best be described as ?more trouble than they are worth?.

Monetary union would be soon followed by a common foreign and defense policy. This would reduce national sovereignty in the member countries virtually to the level of local government.

For an example of ?European Common Foreign Policy?, look no further than the events in the Middle East. The general EU Middle Eastern policy is to wait for the Americans to do something and then stake out positions more favorable to the Arab powers. I know that the Americans are not always right but surely the EU can manage to be a bit more honest than to go against them every time. The EU?s treatment of Turkey will destabilize that crucial country and the entire region. The Greeks need a serious slapping but, while the leading continental European powers hide behind the Greeks, we ? and more recently, Spain ? seem to be the only ones with a consistent policy to keep Turkey on-side.

Getting out wouldn?t be so bad, surely. We would still continue to trade with our ex-partners. Probably on better terms than before.

The World Trade Organisation has reduced the EU?s common external tariff from 5.7% to 3.6%. Not too much to pay with our lower production costs. Attempts by the EU to limit imports from non-members can only be sustained if unanimously upheld by multi-national trade panels, which is practically almost impossible. So, the scare story of being frozen out of Europe by vindictive Community bureaucrats is not tenable. Anyway, as we have a negative balance of payments with Europe, they need us more than we need them!

The annual direct cost of our membership of the European Union is made up as follows: we make ?10 billion in gross budgetary contributions. Almost half of this is returned in EU spending but we, the UK citizens, don?t get to choose what that ?5 billion is spent on! Higher food prices in the UK, because of the Common Agricultural Policy, cost us more than ?6 billion annually although about half of that is rebated directly to British farmers usually for things that, again, we don?t want or need anyway. So, the overall cost of the EU to Britain is between ?8 and ?12 billion, or around 1.5% of G.D.P. We also have that ?3 billion trade deficit with the EU.

There are also the indirect costs of regulation, and the heavy political costs of eroding sovereignty and the tacit encouragement of provincial separatism as Scottish and Welsh nationalists envision receiving the sort of direct grants that have benefited Ireland. The true federalization of Europe will lead to the break-up of the United Kingdom and there will be no way of putting it back together.

Westminster has served Britain reasonably satisfactorily for centuries. The institutions of Brussels and Strasbourg are both undemocratic and inefficient when viewed from the political standpoint of our democratic system. Almost all continental European governments, because of the proportional voting system, are multi-party coalitions incapable of decisive action. We?re not.

We have absolutely no chance of guiding the Europeans towards transparency, privatisation, deregulation, lower taxes and labour flexibility until it has got a lot worse and they have dragged us down with them. Do we really want to re-live the Thatcher years because that is what will be needed in Europe?

So, if we did leave. What could we do?

We could join the European Economic Area with Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein. This would maintain our full access to the Single Market and avoid further political integration. We would save most of the present financial cost of the EU. The Swiss option, the European Free Trade Association but not the European Economic Area, gives almost as good access to the EU market but only free movement of goods and not of people. Given the existence of our large current account deficit with the EU, we should be in a position to negotiate complete reciprocal access of goods and people but with complete withdrawal from the political and judicial institutions if we just had the cojones!

Hey, let?s join NAFTA! NAFTA is already negotiating with the EFTA and with Chile. We are currently the world?s fourth economy, after the U.S., Japan, and Germany so I can?t imagine there would be any great difficulty negotiating entry. Earlier EU initiatives to promote free trade between the EU and NAFTA have been typically vetoed by the French.

Hey you Yanks and Canadians. Would we be welcome in a renamed, expanded NAFTA if we kicked the EU into touch? I reckon we would.

Neil

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thanks dad

by jck In reply to The forms are in the post

I have my friends in Newcastle-upon-Tyne and Dublin brewing fresh pints for us right now.

Or if you have a favorite local brewery, I'll make friends there too.

Beermakers love me...I make stocks go up!!! :)

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