Wednesday, 17 November 2010

European Union has served its purpose. Time to scrap it.


What follows isn’t one of those ‘Little Englander’ rants about the iniquities of Johnny Foreigner and how Britain’s membership of the European Union is a bad thing – probably because there’s too many foreigners involved, don’t you know! Instead – as someone who once was a swivel-eyed Euro-fanatic – it is a simple and straightforward argument for the whole show to be shut down.

The European Union has done its job. Now it should pack its bags, shut up shop and shuffle onto the dusty shelves of history.

Whenever the leaders of Europe speak of the project they inevitably – as in some sub-clause to Godwin’s Law – refer to the need to prevent European nations tearing themselves asunder in an orgy of war and terror. This is why – as we heard most recently from Helmut Von Rumpuy – the Euro-enthusiast desires to link the sceptical view of the project to nationalism. By saying that scrapping the EU will lead to a renewed ‘nationalism’ (by which of course the speaker means brown or black shirts and jackboots), a further seed of doubt is sown into the mind of the undecided.

However, having presided over the reconstruction of Europe’s industry (behind tariff walls that, once removed, meant the terminal decline of those same industries), the rebuilding of good relations between the peoples of the continent and the collapse of centralist socialism as a national model, the EU now has no purpose. Indeed, it has become an anachronism, an historical nonsense. And an expensive one to boot!

European nations – for all our football fan bluster about the French or the Germans – are not going to war with each other. We’ve got pretty used to rubbing along with our neighbours and share an enormous amount with them. Continuing with supranational institutions achieves nothing – other than to create tensions where there need not be tensions.

So it is with Ireland. A little place. Smaller in population that London or Paris and stuck out on the fringes of Europe. A nation with a difficult relationship with its immediate neighbour and whose talent has, in the past, mostly left on boats and planes to create a noisy diaspora. This was the “Celtic Tiger” – explosive growth fuelled by an asset boom the like of which the place had never seen! And, as these things do, the economic train hit the wall.

But there’s a problem. Ireland – just as with Greece and soon, Portugal – is no longer master of its own destiny. The option of reducing the value of the currency has gone as has the ability to use a central bank to support actions in the market. Ireland can either default – with all the problems that entails – or cut spending.

The EU is in the way. Local economies in Europe are less able to respond to changes in the economic climate since the Governance of Europe will always be about German business and French government. For a while this mattered since the aim was to stop another war between these two countries. Today that's more likely with the EU than without. And, in the meantime, the economies of small countries are threatened by the controlling, economic dirigisme of the European system.
It is time for Europe to be set free again to grow, to create and to succeed. And for the Bonapartist myth of a single Europe to be returned again to the back shelves of history.

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