Plenary Speech Jan 15th
Mr. President: It seems that Chancellor Faymann understands some of the problems that the EU is facing. But his solution is ‘More Europe”. This is the triumph of hope over experience, of ideological prejudice over everyday reality.
The fact is that the EU is in long-term relative decline. In 1990, it accounted for around 30% of global GDP. Today that figure is around 20%. By 2050, it could be down to 10% — or less if we stick with emissions targets that would hardly sustain a primitive agrarian economy.
The reasons for this decline are not hard to find.
First of all, the EU is a Customs Union. But Customs Unions are an old-fashioned, sub-optimal, 19th-Century trade model, which is why virtually no one else in the world has one.
Secondly, the EU’s Customs Union is overlaid by the deadweight of hugely expensive and onerous regulation, which is squeezing the lifeblood out of industry. European regulation is credibly estimated to cost £100 billion a year — and that’s just in the UK!
Thirdly, we have an energy policy which is giving Europe the most expensive energy in the world, and is undermining competitiveness. It is driving energy-intensive businesses off-shore, along with their jobs and investment. It is forcing households and pensioners into fuel poverty. Yet it is failing to cut emissions.
You are squandering money on wind farms (which by the way Chancellor are wholly unsustainable). You are mortgaging our grandchildren, yet achieving nothing at all.
Then fourthly, we have disaster of the Single Currency, described by former British Chancellor Lord Lawson as “the most irresponsible political adventure of the post-war era”.
Mr. Barroso says that the worst of the €uro crisis is over. Don’t you believe it! Nothing you have done will address the massive imbalance of competitiveness between the North and South. It will take more that a few ad-hoc bail-outs to solve the problem. You’d need massive, permanent fiscal transfers from North to South.
But German tax-payers won’t tolerate that, and Southern voters won’t tolerate the grinding poverty and austerity and unemployment you’re seeking to impose on them. The €uro is unsustainable in its present form.
The EU itself may break up. You already have a divisive policy for fiscal and banking consolidation in the €urozone, which is driving a wedge between the €urozone and the rest.
In my country, the UK, there is increasing opposition to EU membership. The Prime Minister seeks to appease this opposition by demanding repatriation of powers. But his demands will not be welcome in Brussels, and will not satisfy the people either.
The voters have understood that EU membership is making us poorer and less democratic and less free. The people want freedom, and independence, and democracy. They have concluded, rightly, that we shall be Better Off Out.