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Eurosceptic Bloggers

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Why the EU is Unreformable

Recently I have read articles by Conservative bloggers in favour of reform of the EU. (One good Example) In as much as there is any kind of official Conservative view on Europe, it is that we should try to reform it into something much more to our liking. Many others share a similar view, Open Europe, for example is a think tank devoted to this idea.

The argument generally goes something like this:

Since 2004, and the redrawing of the EU map, the UK has been joined by new potential partners, whose view of what the EU should be is dramatically different to that of Old Europe. By combining forces with these nations, we can push for a completely different type of EU, more free trade and less politics.

In 2005, for the first time ever, a major EU integration project was derailed by voters. As France and The Netherlands said no to the constitution, many commentators claimed that we had reached an inflexion point, that the EU would never be the same again. We now had a glorious opportunity for change.

With the selection of Barroso as the President of the European Commission, we have at the helm a man who many believe to be far more trade oriented than previous incumbents. In fact few would argue that he is a massive improvement on previous leaders such as Prodi, Santer and most of all Delors.

So faced with all these positive developments, the Better Off Out brigade are looking to leave just as the party is about to get going.

This approach is very beguiling, but it is nevertheless an extremely dangerous one, because it fails to recognise the fundamental realities of the EU. It is for the following reasons that we can never hope to reform the Brussels Behemoth.

1) The EU’s reason for existence is political.

Whether we like it or not, the EU’s founders deliberately set up a political project, of which financial and economic issues were just a part of the overall whole. Those working at the heart of the project are driven by this vision. Take it away and the very reason for the EU’s existence ceases to exist. As it is political aspects that most Brits dislike (hence the constant lies from our politicians about it being all about economics) we are faced with an immovable object. Why should the other side ever give up their reason to start the club in the first place?

2) An entrenched Bureaucracy Will Defend its Position

The sight of Conservative MEPs going native is a particularly painful one for Eurosceptic Conservatives. However, with vast amounts of our cash available to buy the loyalties of those involved in the whole project, the prospects for MEPs not going native are poor. As this group is in the best position to keep us informed, this is a serious impediment to reform.

Our new allies to the East are subject to a similar monetary pressure. Using our hard earned cash, the EU is bribing them to stay on side. After all what Polish politician would really wish to put billions of Euros of free cash at risk. The fact that like all free money, this cash is not really that beneficial to the recipient, is not a factor that would sway a politician who has the chance to spend it.

3) Resistance to the EU is often from the Left

Whilst allying with Stalin to defeat Hitler was a pragmatic necessity, the aftermath was half a century of tyranny across half of Europe. So whilst we can vote, campaign and generally work together with other sceptics, those found in much of Europe are actually protectionists. Their vision for the EU is in many cases even worse than the current reality. They would in many cases reject our vision for a free trading EU more fiercely than they do the current setup.

Therefore creating a coherent front against EU encroachment is next to impossible. It enables the other side to divide and rule.

4) Justifying Their Positions

The many people who work for the EU, from the commissioners down (and don’t forget that we have far too many commissioners) need to constantly justify their positions. This involves inevitably the production of more rules and regulations.

If the whole juggernaut were to stop, there would be thousands of people, both in Brussels and in the member states whose meaning of life would be taken away. This includes all the lobbyists and hangers on, as well as the eurocrats themselves.

5) Unstoppable Momentum

When the French and the Dutch made rude noises at their betters over the EU constitution, we enemies of Brussels got a little thrill at the thought of the juggernaut coming to a halt. The reality has been however that as much as Mr Blair likes to pretend that the treaty is dead, much of it is being introduced piece meal

As much as the reformist claim otherwise, every day, the creation of the new legislation takes us ever further away from the stated goal of reform.

6) Irreconcilable Differences

Viewed from the prism of free market oriented Anglo Saxon philosophy, the EU is little short of ridiculous. Rules have to be made which describe in detail every little thing that we are allowed to buy, every transaction is subject to the permission of our rulers. The metric martyrs were a tragic example of rules overrides common sense.

Unfortunately whilst we delight (or at least used to) in a legal system that allows everything that is not banned, our friends across the channel for the most part are disallowed that which is not specifically permitted. This simple fact lies at the heart of everything that is pathetic and useless about the EU. Our system, had we preserved it needs far less rules than Napoleon’s alternative. To us, the idea that in order to trade, we need to harmonise everything is a self evident stupidity. To the French, its just self evident.

So like a Protestant living in a Catholic monastery, we are completely incompatible with the culture and rules around us, and more importantly, our chance of changing anything is zero.


Captain USpace said...

absurd thought -
God of the Universe thinks
communism is SUPER

even though it never works
because we are not robots

absurd thought -
God of the Universe feels
communism is fair

fools can't or won't think it through
idiots just keep scheming

Anonymous said...

Very good summary, Serf. Sometimes it is hard to cut one's way through the outlying forest of trivialities to get to the essence of the matter (like the prince in 'The Sleeping Beauty'), but you have managed it here.
Unfortunately, some of the reasons the EU is unreformable are also - equally - reasons why no-one in the main political parties in the UK will ever do anything about it.

Serf said...

France Sucks,

You make my point for me. There is much to be gained from a free trade zone, but the EU must be destroyed in order to create such a thing.

The Leadership Blogger said...

Chillingly, the Germans are muttering about "Ways of making you vote yes!"

And I heard a French Euro type the other day saying, without irony, that when the Irish voted the wrong way, they were given the chance to reconsider........

BritBloke said...

If you believe in democracy and I mean real democracy, then the reform of the EU is impossible.

Democracy simply doesn't work well, the more people, cultures etc that are involved.

The utopian dream of a democratic federal EU is a pipe dream, doomed to fail. The only question is how much pain we will all have to suffer.

The longer it goes on, the more pain I believe. Ending it now will be relatively painless, especially for the UK. Then we can have a true alliance of democracy around the planet, all free to look after their own peoples wishes, but working together where possible.

EU Nationalism (as in EUSSR), built on anti-democratic principles and a socialist ideology is the most dangerous thing to the planet in a long time.

Anonymous said...

More free trade is advocated. We already have as much free trade as it is possible. The basic premise is that the EU its an economic bloc, as far politics is concerned it is non-descript, emasculated of any decision making power and a placid observer of world events. The EU its a foreign military base, wherever you go there are are Nato and American bases ( foreign invaders). The EU as it is no is unworkable, it does function in the same way as Brazil functions. An economic compact with atheistic philosophies, rampant anarchism, qualified lawlessness. It keeps on expanding, not satisfied with any targets or limits as to where it is heading toward.

Anonymous said...

I don't think this is a fair summary to be honest. I hear the argument regularly that because Jean Monnet wanted a European Federation that's all the EU is or ever can be. This is a decidedly convenient piece of logic.

The integration process is driven by national governments - they are the only people who can draft treaties to transfer powers to the European level - so arguments about what the EU can or will be should concentrate on the preferences of governments, not long dead European federalists, or Commissioners, or academics or any of the other people who have no power whatsoever over what is transferred to Brussels.

Now do we seriously doubt that national governments do not want to create a "Eurostate"?

1. Why would a rational government want to transfer all of its powers to unelected bureaucrats? If you accept the basic rational choice logic a government only acts to increase its own power. Why would it give all of its power away?

2. Why would a government transfer things such as the right to raise taxes, health policy, education policy, foreign policy and all the rest to the European Union? How could it even do this? This is a prerequisite for a European state so without answers to these questions any talk about one is meaningless.

Secondly, the idea that the EU is unreformable either ignores or isn't aware of the drastic reforms which have already happened in the EU - precisely because of public criticism. Two of the most important ones have been the clear move away from total harmonisation to mutual recognition and minimum standards which has occurred since the 1980's. Virtually every new power given to the EU since Maastricht has been done without reference to harmonisation.

Secondly there has been the reforms in the powers of the Commission. In every treaty since Maastricht the Commission has lost power relative to the other institutions - particularly the European Parliament. The extent to which this has happened is clearly shown in the (at one time unthinkable) development of the Parliament causing the Santer Commission to resign.

These are two major reforms driven by the treaties against two of the foremost problems with the EU - "one size fits all" regulation and the huge power given to the Executives of member states at the expense of parliament.

Anonymous said...

With the benefit of hindsight, a decade later, your comment was both right and wrong:

"So like a Protestant living in a Catholic monastery, we are completely incompatible with the culture and rules around us, and more importantly, our chance of changing anything is zero."

Under Juncker, zero chance of changing the EU, so you were right there. However, with Brexit, we Protestants are now leaving the Catholic monastery, so on "chance of changing" was not zero. Let's hope that Brexit proves to be the first crack in the fall of the EU empire.