The EU is based on a redundant ideology from which its leaders are unable, indeed unwilling, to free themselves. And the troubles and crises that result may well be terminal (see our EU Future topic area for more detailed discussions).
Brexit is simply a symptom of the troubles and crises that the EU has brought on itself by the unwillingness of its leaders to replace the founding ideology with a pragmatic core of principles that could provide the basis of successful – and desirable – common practice across the continent.
The risks of disintegration, which arise from the blinkered, unshakeable ideology of integration, make Britain’s decision to leave the Union necessary and the efforts that will be involved worthwhile. To be inside while it disintegrates would be more traumatic and expensive than the difficulties to be faced during the extended leaving period, and after.
We do not argue that nothing good has come from membership of the EU. Some good things have been achieved and more good things have been adopted, without acknowledgement, from other organisations. For example, it is often claimed that the EU and its precursors have brought peace to Europe since the second World War but there is no evidence to support this claim and it could be better made by the Council of Europe, which was formed in 1949 and now has 47 European states as members. Also, much EU regulation is adopted directly from the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE), based in Geneva, and then imposed on Britain and all other EU member states.
The EU is represented in the discussions and the UK is not, but could apply to be at the top table if an independent nation again. Not one of the good things claimed by the EU required the ideology of ‘complete and full integration’ on which the EU is founded. Nor do they need a federal government to oversee the process. And this remains the ambition: full integration under a federal government (see EU – Still Converging in this series).
This EU Project is an obstacle to the progressive development of a collaborative economic community that implements what can best be achieved internationally and leaves what need not or cannot be achieved internationally at national level. The ambition to overrule, negate and eventually dissolve nation states, to which their citizens are fiercely wedded, is not necessary and will surely fail.
It is distressing that so few of the key supporters of Britain’s continued membership of the EU choose to justify, or even to acknowledge, the redundant ideology that is the cause of so many failures. Nor do they offer any analysis of the risks of remaining while there is so much going wrong. The overreach of the Project is at its maximum stretch with the Euro, which alone may bring the whole thing to a messy end (see The Euro – Decline and Fall)
The EU will fail because it is founded on ideals that have curdled into ideology. Issues including globalisation and immigration may have affected the Brexit vote and generated opposition to the EU and EMU, as recorded in many European countries. However, more important is that people have noticed the devaluation of the one thing that keeps them believing that they matter in the larger world above them; their right to remove a government they don’t like. The threat of removal, and other inconveniences of democracy, have focused the minds of those who are OK with the way things are – that is, the beneficiaries – on reducing opportunities for those who are not-OK to spoil things.
The EU has taken this focus to a logical conclusion by legislating out any meaningful democracy. Voters are not so stupid that they cannot see that this entitlement has been taken from them and that with it has gone any likelihood that they can participate in making things OK for themselves.