December 11, 2005

EU, why?

One of the best arguments for the EU that I have heard is from Nosemonkey at Europhobia
I reckon that although we may be able to hack it on our own for the time being, maybe even for another century or two, long term (VERY long term) we'll be better off having a bit of backup.
It's strength comes from acknowledging the current state of the EU and so not even attempting to say that it is a Good Thing in it's current unreformed state. The argument bases itself on the fact that all polities end eventually (which is true) and that if you know something is going to end eventually it is prudent to have a backup (which is a logical extension). That this is one of the best arguments does not mean that I think it without flaws.

First the EU is not sitting inert and unnoticed, like a spare tire, until the wheels fall of the United Kingdom and it is finally needed. It is an active political entity in it's own right and the product of it's processes create a significant regulatory burden.
40 per cent of new regulation comes from Europe
according to Gordon Brown. Not all of this is drafted in Brussels (Strasbourg one week in four), some of it is "Gold Plated" on by bureaucrats in Whitehall ("lead plated" would be a better description, this is anything but golden). Whether it is drafted in Brussels of Whitehall it is the structures of the EU that allows it all to be enacted without proper democratic oversight. A path that Tony Blair is using to bypass parliament to enact some more of his authoritarian agenda.

Second for this argument to work when the wheels fall off the United Kingdom there still has to be plenty of miles left in the EU. It is possible to form a new nation state out of several smaller ones. England was formed this way, as was Germany, China and the United States of America. But it takes time.

The Saxon kingdoms that merged to form England did so over centuries and all shared a common language and culture. Likewise the United States took a long time to coalesce from the States that form it. Even after 85 years of the United States existance, and his own service in it's army, General Robert E Lee felt a greater loyalty to his home state than the United States. Germany started out as a Customs Union, like the EU, then converted itself into a single state under the effective rule of Prussia thanks to the statesmanship of Otto von Bismark. But in all of these cases the formation of a single country took a long time and required that the countries that it was formed from shared a common language, culture, heritage. Some anchor points where needed to hold everything together. China acts as a slightly different example being formed in a 'big bang' through the conquest of Qin Shi Huang who overcame this by the expedient of autocratic rule and simply smashing any opposition through force of arms.

Looking at countries without a single language, culture, or heritage assembled quickly through political treaty (and so are a better model for the EU) things look a lot less rosy. Yugoslavia, Czechoslovakia, the USSR, Indonesia, Congo, and the Austro-Hungarian Empire all act as better models for the way the EU is being constructed. None are, or where, particularly stable (see my earlier post of the EU Demos). None of these has lasted more than 100 years, let alone the 300 years that the UK has lasted, or over 1000 years that England has lasted. So there is absolutely no evidence that the EU will prove to have a particularly long life when compared to the current UK polity.

Third why the EU? Why choose this institution to form the back up polity from? Nosemonkey says that the EU will need considerable reform before it can be used, which is true (we are not talking cosmetic changes here, more like a ground up rebuild), and so it is best that we are in it so that we can actually make the needed changes, which is logical since the only way to make sure that any reforms that eventually happen are the correct ones for us is to actually direct them.

Reforming the EU to the stage where it is as good as the current polity, in terms of the democracy deficit, will take a lot of work. But since the EU does need so much work doing to it why use that as a base anyway, there are plenty of other possibles if we are willing to change them enough. Perhaps the Muslim Brotherhood's Caliphate? The old favourite Europhile scare of having to become the 51st State of the Union? Or perhaps you could try and find enough surviving communists to put together a bit of an Internationale? What about the Anglosphere? Or even go for broke and try to implement the US conspiracy theorist favourite of turning the UN into a kind of world government? Why does the back up have to be big anyway. What about a free trade area, not a customs union, of England, Scotland, Wales, and whoever else cares to join? Or even return to the pre-England kingdoms, again as part of wider free trade network? What is so special about the EU that makes it the best base to work from? Given the glacial pace of reform in the EU, especially the indefensible CAP, tends to indicate that it is not a good base to start from being so broken, and so entrenched in it's broken state.

So even the best argument that I have yet found leaves me still unconvinced. The quest to find a reason for being in the EU continues ...


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