The EU offers no benefits – reform or no reform

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                                There really is nothing in the Brussels cupboard

I recently wrote a piece for my newsletter (not yet published) noting that most people involved in the EU debate, including our Prime Minister, seem to make the implicit assumption that if only we could reform the EU, if only we could renegotiate our terms, there is some remaining bed-rock of benefit, some crumb of comfort, some kernel of competitiveness, that will make our EU membership worthwhile, and justify an “IN” vote.  I have argued to the contrary that I see no benefit at all beyond what could be achieved by a free trade deal, and that therefore we should be Better Off Out.

So I was struck by a remarkable essay by Roger Bootle in The Telegraph of Monday June 29th (the 160th anniversary edition, as it happens), in which he argues the case that far from offering benefits, the EU has exercised a damaging and malign influence on the economies of member-states.  Admittedly, he too uses the phrase “without reform, the EU will go on being a poor economic performer”.  But it is clear from his analysis that little or nothing would be left of the EU if the problems he points to were corrected.  It’s a superb piece, and I strongly recommend it – especially to anyone who will be campaigning on the “OUT” side in the referendum.  Indeed, I also commend it to those who plan to support the “IN” side – it may well change their minds.

He points out that “after an initial burst of success, the EU has done relatively badly economically”.  Not only against emerging markets, but also compared with mature economies like the USA, Canada and Australia, and with non-EU European countries like Norway and Switzerland.

He adduces three reasons for this.  First, a “general European malaise” – cultural senility, perhaps – not necessarily attributable to the EU as such.  Second, EU decisions which tend to inhibit economic performance.  And third, the €uro.

Rightly, he leaves the first issue as not directly caused by Brussels.  But the second and third certainly are.

In terms of bad economic decisions, he points first to the CAP, which is hugely wasteful and pushes up the costs of the family shopping basket, as well as (historically) generating huge surpluses, butter mountains and wine lakes.  And he cites over-regulation, which has had a dramatic and malign impact on labour markets, and a host of other areas.  I would add the disaster of the Common Fisheries Policy, and the EU’s energy policies which are (as former Commissioner Antonio Tajani has put it) “creating an industrial massacre in Europe”.

“The €uro is a deliberate exercise in economic self-harm”.

Then of course, his third point is the €uro.  With Greece in meltdown, I need hardly say more – except for one point.  We are inclined in the UK to congratulate ourselves (or to congratulate Gordon Brown) for staying out of the €uro.  Nothing to do with us, Guv.  But of course it affects us enormously.  It simply isn’t true (as the Europhiles love to tell us) that 50% of UK exports go to the EU, less still to the Eurozone.  But it is still (for the moment) our biggest single export market, and the single currency, this deliberate policy of economic self-harm, has certainly had a depressing effect on our economy too.

So the message is clear: it simply isn’t the case that the EU would be a good thing if only we could achieve a few reforms.  It simply isn’t true (as the government used to say) that “The benefits of EU membership are self-evident”.  It is a bad thing all the way through.  There’d be no residue of benefit when we reformed it – even if that were possible.  It is becoming clearer by the day – we shall be Better Off Out.

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8 Responses to The EU offers no benefits – reform or no reform

  1. Ian Terry says:

    Bang on the button Roger.

    It will take some doing especially if the old BBC are going to keep on turning out programmes similar to the Marr show yesterday.

    Apart from the old faithfuls in Westminster who have nailed their colours to the out mast nobody seems to be talking about our debt of £1.5 trillion and how we are going to get rid of it.

    We sure as hell will not get rid of it by allowing all these green clowns to stop us going for shale gas and oil.

    It is crazy in that we have far more to offer the world than we have to Europe where we always seem to be tied up with there rules and policies.

  2. Anne says:

    I see no point at all in having two full to the brim Houses in our Houses of Parliament when ALL in that Parliament have to obey ALL EU Treaties/EU Orders/EU Regulations and EU Directives. Our Common law Constitution forbids us obeying foreigners-that was why we went to war in 1939.
    If we remain in the EU the £1.5 Trillion debt, Ian Points out-will indeed grow and grow like Topsy.

  3. Thomas Fox says:

    It is a gigantic task to change the political thinking of the EU already in Preston Town Hall Lancashire ,the environentalists are rejoicing over a great victory by preventing shale gas extraction in the UK . This natural energy beneath the country is desperately needed for heat and power but worse the Greens say they have funds to counter any appeal to settle the matter for good .
    My question is who will finance such a case against the driller,s appeal, is it the IMF to which our tax money is donated , and also what will HMG,s direction be under pressure from this Green movement ?

    • Brin Jenkins says:

      An outfit called 38degrees was set up to collect funds by online donations. They have also have local pressure groups to act as one right across the UK on matters about to hit the press soon. Quite extraordinary how it has been set up and organised so efficiently! The publicity posters and info packs are well organised and seem to be freely available, one wonders who arranged this?
      38 Degrees

  4. Jane Davies says:

    Cameron is not listening to the people who want to be out of this clowns club, it doesn’t matter what he “renegotiates” because millions of taxpayers dosh will still go out EVERY day into the EU coffers, the unelected bureaucrats will still be ordering the elected politicians around and the unelected bureaucrats will still overrule the British courts of law decisions and the borders will still be open to all the dregs who fall over themselves to get to the UK. These are just some of the reasons that Joe Public is sick and tired of this monstrosity, which by the way they did not vote to join in the first place. We were asked to vote on joining the common market not this money sucking disaster which, by the way, has never given the people who pay for it one single account as to where the money is going, let alone annual accounts. How many other publicly funded organisations are there who are allowed to get away with no accountability to those who pay for their very existence?

  5. Ex-expat Colin says:

    “general European malaise”

    Which probably sums up the attitude to work and other things within whats now known as the EU southern states. A considerable number of current accusations about practices in Greece tell us all we need to know…and from wayback then. One size fits all…that would be the worst size by the looks of things. Pulling them up by the bootstraps won’t work.

    Donald Trump…LOL. But think about it!

  6. Pingback: “No benefits – reform or no reform” | UKIP Hillingdon

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