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Eurosceptic Bloggers

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

Iceland - Much better off out

Britain, we are forever being told, is a small offshore island, far too puny to survive except as part of a larger European entity. Daniel Hannan in The Spectator, using Iceland as an example pulls this particular argument to shreds.

Iceland has few natural advantages: it is cold, treeless and, for much of the year, sunless. It has a population of 285,000 , roughly that of Croydon. Yet this sparse, chilly speck of tundra has just overtaken Norway to become the wealthiest place in Europe.
Funny how the wealthiest places in Europe seem to generally be independent.
When I first visited the island, it had just joined the European Economic Area. Eurocrats expected that this would simply be a transitional phase on the way to full EU membership, but Icelanders saw it differently. As far as they were concerned, the EEA gave them all the benefits of the single market with few of the associated costs.
Now doesn t that sound like something worth having, free trade without the Neo-Socialist trimmings.
Eurofanatics dismiss Iceland s prosperity as being based wholly on fisheries, and it is true that an ingenious quota system has turned Icelandic fish stocks into a massive renewable resource. But there is far more to it than that. Being outside the EU, Iceland has been able to cut taxes and regulation, and to open up its economy.
Funnily enough, ownership (sovereignty if you like) has allowed them to manage their fish stocks properly.
British federalists, of course, deny any connection. You can t compare us to Iceland, they say. Iceland has fish. Yes, and so would we but for the wretched Common Fisheries Policy. We are not like Norway, they continue. Norway has oil. What do they suppose all that black stuff coming out of our North Sea pipelines is? Then comes my particular favourite: Switzerland is a special case: look at all their banks. Look at the City of London, for heavens sake, which Brussels is doing its best to asphyxiate with its financial regulations.
So Britain which has Fish (or would have had were it not for the CFP) Oil (although the constitution wants to change that) and a banking & financial sector that makes Switzerland s look positively puny cannot be compared to countries which only have one of these sectors.
Most of the richest places in the world are bonsai states: Singapore, Brunei, Monaco, the Channel Islands. The EU s tragedy, of course, is that it is going in the opposite direction, accumulating more and more power at the centre.
And that in a nutshell is what lovers of liberty are against. Big government whether from Brussels or London, is inherently bad and as Big Government is the driving principle behind the EU, exit is the only option.

1 comment:

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