Britain entered the transition period on 31 January and left the EU formally, but until 31 December is in a situation where all the rules and payments still apply but with no vote. The next round of ‘negotiations’ began but was then caught by the corona virus pandemic and suspended, except for some online meetings. Discussions, now restored face-to-face, have not been a successful endeavour to bring the greatest benefits to all citizens. Instead both sides are sticking firmly to their mutually incompatible positions, each blaming the other for inflexibility. As before, the EU, through its chief ‘negotiator’ M. Barnier, gets the best of the negative publicity. Also as usual his arguments are not what he tries to persuade us to believe, which is that the UK is not taking the negotiations seriously enough. What he means but does not want to say out loud is that a ‘flexible’ UK would simply accept the EU’s demands, which would leave things much as they are now, in the transition phase. That is his mandate from the EU.
This expectation remains unacceptable to the UK government, which knows that what the EU is demanding would see the UK remain as an uncompetitive, vassal state, not an independent nation making its own way in the world.
We continue to provide evidence that this European Union cannot be made to work in the long term (see From the Horse’s Mouth and linked posts, for example).
For a full list of articles click the monthly archive drop-down menu on the right. For a quick introduction, see Why This EU Won’t Work: A Summary, written in August 2019.
We invite (moderated) reader comments – please keep the debate polite.
Summary – revised August 2020
The European Union is failing to meet its stated goals. Inspired and claimed to be “a project for peace” it was always, in practice, a quest for ever more centralised power, regardless of the wishes of its citizens. As its failures become increasingly obvious, dissatisfaction grows, and has to be ignored or suppressed.
The recently agreed budget for 2001-2007 has been packaged with a massive (but probably insufficient) pandemic Recovery Plan, which requires the EU to break its own rules (for some responses see Reactions to the EU’s Recovery Plan).
Our blog provides evidence to show that the EU is on the wrong path. The Project is run in the interests of an elite network of politicians, administrators, bosses and lobbyists – who are determined to continue on the current path despite the wreckage already created and in prospect. Their greatest success has been to convince many people that it has a high moral purpose and beneficial outcomes. We show that neither is true. In practice the EU’s most significant achievement has been to impose a massive legislative burden on its citizens.
The core beliefs of most EU supporters are most likely driven by idealism—that working together across nations is a virtue that will ultimately lead to good outcomes, and that freedom, for some, from their own autocracies is in their best interests. We deny that any form of autocracy, including the EU’s, is preferable to real democracy and we argue that good outcomes are not generally forthcoming; where they do exist, they could have been achieved without the EU’s federalist ideology.
Latest Updates – revised August 2020
The EU proposed a series of discussions on the future of the Union or, as they call it, a Conference on the Future of Europe, now postponed because of the pandemic. The European Parliament has put forward detailed proposals for the event but the European Commission watered these down (see We Need to Talk About EU).
The EU will not deviate from its self-imposed raison d’etre. One reason is that while bureaucrats have the ability to impose policies and regulations on their members and more widely, they do not have the ability, or the power, to produce beneficial economic outcomes they promise (see The Jewel in Whose Crown?).
The EU struggles to take all interests into account fairly: large and small, North and South, East and West, corporate and social, etc. The ambition is to level the field everywhere so that everyone has an equal chance. This ideology neglects that variety provides the spices that stimulate innovation (see Somewhere Over The Rainbow).
If a free trade agreement cannot be completed and signed before 31 December 2020 then the UK will leave the EU without a deal. Of course there is every chance that things will not remain as they are, so in practice there may be some sort of compromise, though it’s hard to see how that could be achieved without a submission. The economic and political consequences of the pandemic will surely make a difference. The evident lack of solidarity between member states has highlighted the gap between propaganda and reality (see Dutch Disengagement).