On Britain considering leaving Europe
Posted on February 27th, 2016
As a Briton living in France, this issue strikes me as being vital for my future. I am a direct result of the European Union because I am one of those people who has benefited from European mobility having studied in France and now living and working here for nearly 20 years.
But above and beyond that I can barely countenance the idea that Britain leaves the European Union. I feel as if Britain is abandoning me on a personal level having left the country and yet feeling more than ever British and wanting to maintain links with Britain. I don't live in Europe because I'm fleeing Britain it's just the way my life has panned out, and I now have children in France. As a translator, I benefit directly from my Britishness.
The arguments about sovereignty and governance and that Brussels governs Britain is false since we are involved in the process. It's not about other countries governing the UK; it is about being involved in a partnership which originated as a post-war desire for peace.
It then became a strategy for trade in Europe and economies of scale. Companies have undoubtedly grown through these economies of scale over time. So there is substantial economic background.
Common Agricultural Policy
People complain about the Common Agricultural Policy. I'm pretty sure that this needs review despite complaints by the agricultural community in France.
We produce too much and no longer need many aspects of the CAP which guarantee income for farmers. We need to reduce our overall production in Europe, and this would naturally increase prices for farmers. There would be a downside for distributors, but I believe that changing food consumption and requirements towards quality rather than quantity could justify a shake-up. But this is the specific issue of agriculture.
The other issue that has blown out of all proportion is of migrants. Today we confuse economic migration in Europe with the "migration crisis" resulting in refugees from the war in Syria. Its connection with Europe is only that the free movement of people allows migrants to move around Europe with very little control when they should be both allowed to do so for housing and humanitarian reasons.
Let's not forget what the European dream is. It is primarily about people and not about politics. Look what has happened over the period since Europe has been in place. People move around much more easily. They can go to areas of economic strength to find work. That is the point of Europe. If Britain now wants to close its borders, it is reneging on a social and humanitarian project that is good for humanity that enables peoples to meet to exchange and to live together. This notion of hordes of crazy starved Europeans coming to Britain to rape the social system is entirely false in my view or at least highly marginal. Most people are like you and me, they have families and children and have been brought up in a system where they must work.
People may go to other countries to find work, but in general, they want to work in their own country. The best way to do that is to work for companies who export across Europe and therefore create jobs locally.
Anyone else is (I'm thinking of the extreme right of course in Britain and France) is just stirring the political pot which causes mainly antagonism aggression and violence. Have we learned nothing from the war period?
Europe is a strategic social project.
Europe is primarily a strategic social project. Political integration means nothing apart from creating a level playing field for standards and norms so that we can exchange goods for money. It's not about being dominated by the Germans this is just an all too convenient soundbite. Do Britons in the Brexit campaign believe that we can survive outside Europe? It's inconceivable. Our role has been traditionally to be a go-between because of language and culture between Europe and America. Where do we see ourselves in that equation in the future?
What relationship could we have with our European neighbours when no longer partners? Do we think that things would be a question of merely renegotiating contracts? Two fingers to Europe means two fingers to Europeans. What do you think that would do far business relationships? Just renegotiating contracts or destroying a generation of relationship building. I hope that is the case and that Britons could see that if they vote against Europe, they vote against people, good holiday relationships in the Algarve, the Costa del Sol and Chardonnay.
Regulations and administration
I guess that there are people who think that all these regulations are just more administration. And to an extent they are right, there are significant effort and cost put into the administration of rules. But it is for food safety for instance. The famous British sausage has remained a British anecdote which somehow has stayed embedded in the British psyche as a reason to leave Europe because of the mad French.
I'm sure there are differences between us, but how anyone considers this to be a reason to leave Europe would be no more feasible than the islands themselves floating off into the Atlantic. We have to learn to get on with our neighbours, and the European Union is the only viable way to do it. No matter what, we would have to renegotiate and re-contract everything that has been done up to date and for what benefit? To do it unilaterally we would bear the costs of legislation ourselves where today they are shared. Leaving Europe would cost us everything that it cost us initially multiplied by 12. Good plan.
Cameron going to Europe
I don't doubt there is a lot of political bluster involved in Cameron's trip to Europe. He wants to be Thatcher2 and come back with some great British dividend. Pretty unilateral. He's lucky that the Europeans want Britain in Europe otherwise I think there would be many more people who would stick two fingers up at Britain. The consequence of which any new deals post Europe would cost us far more.
Where are the Americans I wonder in this debate? They seem to have been significantly silent. They should be out there supporting Britain heavily in Europe. Perhaps it's bad timing for "Britain in" campaign that the stupid long-winded lengthy costly and distracting USA presidential campaigns are taking so much internal attention. The Britain in Europe debate might pass them by, and they might wake up finding that their relationship with Europe has significantly changed for the worse.
What have China and the rest of them said? Is it significant that the stock markets are dropping on the prospect of Britain being out? Does that mean anything or is it just speculation and profiteering?