Britain has now left the EU formally. The final round of negotiations was completed successfully, resulting in an Agreement about the future relationship between the EU and the UK. What the EU appeared to expect but did not say out loud was that a ‘flexible’ UK would simply accept the EU’s demands; they did not achieve this and the Agreement is generally regarded as satisfactory to the UK, though not everyone agrees.
Within a few weeks the EU exposed its true intentions with a vicious attack on the UK’s main vaccine supplier. Widespread objections to this forced a U-turn and the EU had to return to its slightly more subtle hostile actions.
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Summary – revised February 2021
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 by-passed.
The proposed budget for 2001-2007 was 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, though recent antics have raised doubts even among supporters. In practice the EU’s most significant achievement has been to impose a massive legislative burden on its citizens, with the consequence of slow economic growth. EU citizens remain unable to change the way they are governed from the federal level.
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 historical autocracies is in their best interests. We doubt that any form of autocracy, including the EU’s, is preferable to real democracy and we argue that good outcomes are not forthcoming; where they do exist, they could have been achieved without the EU’s federalist ideology.
Latest Updates – revised February 2021
The European Commission and the European Parliament engaged in separate but parallel discussions on the proposed recovery plan and the budget (the multiannual financial framework, or MFF). Sticking points were the Commission’s deductions from programmes favoured by the Parliament and ‘rule of law’ conditions for the use by member states of the so-called recovery funds.
The EU will not deviate from its self-imposed ideology. 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 the 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 the spice that variety provides to stimulate innovation (see Somewhere Over The Rainbow).