We Need To Talk About Lionel

The EU treaties include a commitment to cooperate with non-member countries; ex-members are not mentioned but clearly are excluded in practice.

Lionel ShriverLionel Shriver, the UK-based, American author and journalist, wrote an article in The Daily Telegraph (9th June) describing how US ‘liberals’ know everything about Brexit and won’t be told differently by someone who lives over here. In a Boston radio-station interview on the topic, whatever she said was answered with the same question, “But isn’t it important for nations to cooperate to solve global problems?” (In case you didn’t already know, Lionel Shriver is the female author of “We Need To Talk About Kevin”, now a successful Hollywood film.) The interviewer lumped together pro-Trump with pro-Brexit, certain that both spring from racist, xenophobic sentiments but, as Lionel said, few Americans would submit to the meddling rule of a foreign government, even those who expect Britons to do so for some supposed greater virtue.

Putting aside any economic reasons for now, we think this article captures a key aspect of Remainer attitudes that incline them towards a favourable opinion of the European Union. Our view is that global problems require global cooperation rather than enforced, regional control. Take global warming for example; if we buy most of our manufactured goods from overseas, using materials (such as steel) produced overseas, we will have lower carbon emissions but the world will not; we will simply have exported our share of filth production and maybe added to it with the extra transport. Outside the EU we could focus on clean-energy technologies and carbon capture or conversion rather than the anti-science prejudices of MEPs and governments that talk big and act little. (see Brexit and Climate Change (11/01/2018) or Questions and Some Answers (Q3-A3, 13/05/2019)) The EU has even denied UK industry its carbon credits during the Brexit ‘negotiations’, putting steel makers and other high-energy users at a disadvantage. This is non-cooperation, typically hypocritical EU behaviour.

CooperationThe EU is a big fan of cooperation, we know this from Article 8 of the Treaties of the European Union (TEU) which states that it will deal with other nations “in the spirit of cooperation”. Obviously that can’t apply to nations that want to leave the Union and stop cooperating with its integration plans; in such cases a spirit of non-cooperation is called for, as we see with Brexit.

Beyond EU borders (or ex-borders) Italy has promised China to cooperate in its Belt and Road initiative while Germany is cooperating with Russia to get more gas supplies; not that fellow members are on board with either plan. The EU’s fishing fleets, having jeopardised their own fish stocks, cooperate financially with African rulers to deplete their nations’ shoals [1] and [2].

The European Union has ended the Equivalence recognition of Swiss financial regulations and in retaliation brave little Switzerland has banned EU companies from trading on its stock exchange. The EU may claim that it is fed up with the hundreds of mini-deals which it has agreed with its tiny neighbour over many years and wants to pressure it into entering a single treaty, however the timing makes it obvious that this is actually a threat aimed at London. Switzerland is more dependent on EU trade than the UK but has the guts to resist imperialism because its citizens have voted in referendums to stand up to the bullies. What kind of project for peace and cooperation behaves like this?

It is not obvious that the EU has made great strides towards global cooperation. However there is an organisation in Europe that was set up specifically to encourage cooperation; it reaches out to others around the world that want to cooperate on whatever parts they choose without compelling them to accept everything or follow its political agenda. This is the Council of Europe, which has 47 member states so more truly does represent Europe (as the EU calls itself); and states with ‘observer status’ including Israel, USA, Canada, Mexico and Japan, so it truly can claim to offer global cooperation.

Advertising trick-1It amazes us that neither US nor UK Brexit critics recognise after three years of torture that the EU is nasty, arrogant, overbearing and economical with the truth—and extravagant with its self-praise. For all the cleverness of Michel Barnier he has achieved nothing except to further alienate a mainly Eurosceptic British public. If some dreadful compromise with the uncooperative Union does ‘get over the line’ the rancour in Britain won’t stop. Almost certainly the rancour in Italy will grow as cooperation between it and Germany continues to deteriorate.

Never mind the importance for nations to cooperate to solve global problems, the EU is clearly not capable of solving its own problems.

[1] Shorties (19/06/2016)

[2] https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2012/apr/02/eu-fishing-west-africa-mauritania


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