Home Scottish News Biz Tech WHAT THIS EURO-FUSS IS REALLY ALL ABOUT

WHAT THIS EURO-FUSS IS REALLY ALL ABOUT

It is astonishing how much of a brouhaha Europe causes in British politics. I suppose, as the Prime Minister says, it’s because we are an island nation – or more correctly, a union of island nations. But really, there is no need to panic. When you think about it for more than five minutes, the European Union is just an arrangement for dealing with the modern, globalised, world.

It seems, though, that the right wing of the Conservative Party just does not “get” this modern world. They want to return to a time when governments were small and countries undercut each other in trade and tax, allowed their doctors and lorry drivers to work crazy 80 hour weeks, let the banks do what they like, gave tax-avoiders and international criminals an open-season, let our Victorian sewers rot beneath the ground and cheered on the fishermen as they hoovered up all the fish in the sea.

In their old-world wisdom, they have forced David Cameron into promising a referendum which no one can win. And forced him into a re-negotiation which can change very little. Given all the nice things he said about Europe, and Britain’s place in it, I suppose his tactic is to hold the right wing dogs at bay until after the next election. Then, if he wins, he can stage some sort of minor re-negotiation – something which is always going on anyway – and dare the county to vote us out of Europe, knowing full well that we are not a nation of suicidal fools.

It was interesting to note how little detail he gave on what powers he wants returned to the nation states. He mentioned doctors hours but is he really suggesting that patients should be treated by junior doctors who are doing 12 hour shifts six days a week?

He talked of repatriating the so-called “social charter” which regulates employment conditions, sets up works councils and encourages training. These are things which we would be doing anyway and by having a common European charter, we prevent any one country stealing a march on the others by forcing down the conditions of their workers.

The same could be said of European environmental legislation. I would have hoped that Scotland would have cleaned up its water supply and stopped polluting the sea anyway, but the European directives have been a spur to action.

The Home Secretary Teresa May wants to see the whole “criminal charter” repatriated – so doing away with the European arrest warrant, the co-operation agreement between court systems, the common fight against drug trafficking and organised crime. But then Mrs May wants to re-negotiate her way back into some of these useful arrangements. You have to wonder about the need for the whole exercise when you realise that most of the other 130 “ powers” she wants brought back from Brussels are simply enabling measures to allow the main arrangements to happen.

Financial controls is another area where Mr Cameron says we need an exemption. The fear here is that Europe will bring in a tax on financial transactions, or, heaven forbid, proper controls on the operation of investment banks. Here, he reveals that the Conservatives have not really learnt very much from the Great Recession. The same applies to the Conservatives’ objection to a spending and growth policy for Europe.

Instead, they want Europe to be as austere as Britain. Behind this is the idea that the boundaries of the state should be rolled back. Ultra-conservatives believe this as an article of ideology. Mr Cameron and the Chancellor believe it as an article of faith… faith in the private sector producing growth and jobs. So far, unfortunately, it has not worked.

Then there is the fear of the Euro. Yes, it is still in crisis because of the misbehaviour of the banks and the Greek, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese and Irish governments. But, gradually, it is beginning to dawn on the EU as a whole that closer financial co-ordination and discipline is needed to ensure that the whole of Europe gets back into growth and stability. And that, after all, is the goal that everyone wants, wherever they live on this continent.

In a way, as the Prime Minster says, Britain should be leading this process since we are the oldest and most stable democracy in Europe and have a fairly good record of empire building. We are also, at the moment, ahead of the game, in that we have an economy that is doing less badly than the rest of Europe and a currency that is stable. But I am old enough to remember the Sterling crises of 1967, 1976 and 1988 when we were forced into huge devaluations. The day may come when we are targeted by the international money markets and we shall be glad to join the Euro.

There is too in the anti-European camp an islander’s distrust of foreigners. The European Union is seen as an inefficient bureaucracy, overpaid and over there, shuttling expensively between two parliament buildings, allowing loose-living Latin nations to disregard the rules. These are undoubtedly faults and it may be that in Britain’s “renegotiation” we shall find allies who also want to clamp down on these inefficiencies. Ordinary citizens everywhere would welcome that.

In the coming days, as we debate the Prime Minister’s referendum, I would like to see the Euro-sceptics answer the following questions.

Without the EU, how else are we to carry out half our trade? Where else will we find a market of 500m people? How else are we to avoid a rush to the bottom over corporation tax, or VAT, or working conditions, or safe and ethical products and production methods? How else are we to tax financial transactions or airline fuel? How else are we to protect our farmers from cheap imports? How else are we to gain access to big and difficult markets like China, India, the USA, Brazil? How else are we to tackle over-fishing, or international crime or tax avoidance, or environmental pollution or climate change?

Re-negotiations and referendums will not alter answer any of these questions, or provide the answers.

  • http://www.facebook.com/ettore.greco2 Ettore Greco

    “….. while
    in Europe and in the US, the financial resources “like magic” will disappear through bailouts, tax cuts and elaborated emergency maneuvers which will be ruled only to appear beneficial for those Countries but instead appositely designed for their collapse
    (except for England that will push Europe over the precipice).

    It is closer than you think

    The old economy will get to the last stop.
    The internet instead will have its plug pulled

    Massive poverty will bring chaos and anarchy while the lack of effective governments will set the stage for one World Tyranny

    It will be just from chaos that one voice will rise with the promise to fix all and everyone. That will be the forked tongue of the New World Order.

    Without the need of a crystal ball and without a doubt, there is one Plan for the largest robbery of all times attempted by these criminals masked as bankers or politicians.“

    There is only one Solution.

    http://www.wavevolution.org/en/index.html

  • A Scot

    You can always tell those in favour of the EU’s continued mission to create a unified Europe by stealth and ignoring the people’s wishes (ever heard of democracy) – they are running scared of giving people a choice. If the EU is that good you’ve nothing to worry about, but then you’ll whinge about a biased media and we all know what the EU does to people who return votes they don’t agree with …
    Alex Salmond and the SNP don’t even seem to understand this, a vote for independence means we throw our lot in with the EU? No thanks, I want independence and that isn’t independence.

  • Haye Nonymous

    Alex Salmond has in all probability blown the independence vote through his agenda to replace one parcel of rogues with another. -The man’s a traitor! Cameron won’t BE in No. 10 after the next election… So, short of a landslide victory for UKIP in England we’re probably stuck with the Fourth Reich!

    Let me answer some of those really stupid questions John Knox tries to scare the bairns wi’ though…

    Q. Without the EU, how else are we to carry out half our trade?

    A. Quite openly and without interference!

    Q. Where else will we find a market of 500m people?

    A. There are a few such markets around… And there is no reason to stop trading with EU countries; other nations manage it!

    Q. How else are we to avoid a rush to the bottom over corporation tax, or VAT, or working conditions, or safe and ethical products and production methods? How else are we to tax financial transactions or airline fuel?

    A. Sensible self regulation and sound fiscal policy. – The EU is entirely counter-productive in all these respects!

    Q How else are we to protect our farmers from cheap imports? How else are we to gain access to big and difficult markets like China, India, the USA, Brazil? How else are we to
    tackle over-fishing, or international crime or tax avoidance, or
    environmental pollution or climate change?

    A . Are you wired to the moon Mr Knox? IF anything the EU has worked entirely to the detriment of British agriculture and crippled the British fishing industry through its wanton failure to ensure fishing restrictions are applied by all members… Besides which many of the looney EU restrictions do more damage to stocks that over-fishing ever did!

    How are we to gain access to big and difficult markets? Again; quite easily without our hands tied behind our backs!

    - As for climate change! Yeesh! A tax-raising scam to maintain revenues and dependancy on oil whilst reducing its consumption! Thus prolonging the life of that revenue stream! No more no less… Dodgy so-called scientists held to ransom over research grants. Pauchled statistics…

    Climate change has ocurred since the Earth first cooled! Salter’s Duck anyone? When I was a bairn back in the 60′s ‘climate change’ was going to cause another Ice Age! Funny how EU regulations have Biofuel producers in the UK tied in knots! Same with energy recovery plants…

    As an aside..

    A week or two back on the radio I heard one of these pro-EU eijits banging about how wonderfull it was skilled people from the EU could work freely in Scotland! Making up for our skills shortages!!

    Well we would not BE short of skilled people if the F.E. and H.E. sector hadn’t been RAVAGED as it has been; particularly in the years since that Quisling Salmond got in! – Skilled people with real-life business and trade experience are leaving education in droves – often driven out by injelitant managers – leaving only ‘those who can’t’ to teach! – What are the EU doing about that? Not a lot!

    Likewise they’re not doing much for our unemployment figures – Without he EU we could be building our OWN wind Turbines, trains and other heavy enginering projects… Without the EU we would be traning our own tradesmen again instead of having them import themselves from Eastern Europe!

    As for the sewers – Great swathes of England and Wales (parts of Scotland too) are now subjected to regular flooding and drought… Why – Something to do with the sewers and drains rotting beneath people’s feet… Same with the water delivery systems. Neglect you see – Given who now owns the infrastructure!