Nobody knows what will happen if the UK leaves the EU, with or without an agreement. Rather than add to the speculation it seems more useful for us to review the main issues and conclusions covered by this blog since the Referendum was announced three and a half years ago. This post summarises most of our reservations about the Union, with links to further detail.
Background The “Monnet Plan”, outlined after the Versailles Treaty following the first World War, was to create, quietly and without triggering disturbing opposition, a ‘United States of Europe’. Jean Monnet believed that the nations of Europe had to be persuaded to give up their national sovereignty to a federal power that could maintain peace and bring prosperity.
History shows that a strategy based on such foundations won’t work for long without the clear consent of the people. Forced or artificial unions generally fail, so can a strategy like this work for long without the clear consent of the people?
Unity and Unification The declared purpose of the European Union is to unify the continent economically, socially and politically. There is a presumption that if everyone behaves in the same way under the same rules there can be no basis for disputes and therefore conflict will be avoided by unification. 
If ‘unity’ is good, ‘uniformity’ is not, the latter does not serve the former and is likely to inspire rebellion in hard times. Hard times are here now in some EU countries. If EU laws and regulations had any purpose beyond promoting central governance then it would surely be to support economic growth and social development. There is no evidence that this has happened and it is obvious that the opposite has been true for several members at least since the start of the millennium: some EU countries are suffering more than America did in the 1930s.
‘Europeans’, as the EU perversely calls its citizens, are not consulted on further unification; they are not invited to express their desires, because few want more union—it’s safer not to ask their opinion. The core ideology of ever closer union at any price is simply not achievable because national priorities must take precedence if democratic governments are to get re-elected.
Risks & Crises The founders thought that resolving crises would advance the Project, despite any public reluctance. However, ambition has often outrun achievement, the clearest example being monetary union.
Only an ideology needs to make its progress irreversible: expanding EU powers may not be reversed, by treaty. The EU’s response to populism and separatism is to call for unity (by which they mean uniformity). They talk over the heads of objectors because wise rulers don’t need to listen to common folk, although their failure to listen is at the heart of the risks they are taking, politically and economically. 
Economics & EMU-Euro Economics is a bit like driving a car at night without lights, peering at the road ahead, hoping that nothing unexpected emerges from a side road, all the time checking the mirrors to see whether anything behind looks familiar. There’s plenty of room too for back-seat drivers asking if we’re nearly there yet.
The five EU presidents, in their 2015 report, proposed four strands to completing economic and monetary union (EMU): they declared that the EU must have economic, financial, fiscal and political union. These four unions remain key objectives for the EU (it’s worth reading the original report to find out what they mean). 
A single currency was seen from the very beginning as a key signifier of a single nation—it would help mould us into a common mindset, to identify as ‘Europeans’; it would promote convergence towards a single economy, bringing equality and prosperity to all its constituent communities. None of this has happened in practice.
The EU faces economic risks that threaten its future. The eurozone isn’t ready to handle the crises it faces; only by deploying Germany’s surpluses could it be rescued but no German government would survive that.
The practicality of EMU and the economic security of citizens is secondary to the overriding ideological goal. In tackling its crises the ECB prioritised institutions (especially banks) over citizens, who had to bear the costs. 
Democracy The EU is based on an unshakable belief that Europe’s nation states cannot govern themselves because they are dependent on electorates, who can replace their governments. Citizens have no say in appointments to EU institutions (other than to vote for a largely pointless Parliament, and that only through political ‘parties’ set up for them). Institutional leaders are neither selected nor deselected by any representative process, but the EU has managed to convince many uncritical commentators and voters that it is democratic. We can vote for members of the European Parliament but to what purpose, since we cannot vote to remove an EU government we don’t like?
The EU has decided against democracy; they believe that it doesn’t matter what citizens want, if the goal is to deliver what they need. Failure to replicate representative democracy at the federal level makes nonsense of democracy at the national level, since federal decisions overrule elected national decision-makers. 
Lies & Deceptions The visionaries recognised that the unenlightened, general populations of the disunited nations might not welcome a homogenised super-state, so the goal would be achieved through scarcely-noticeable but irreversible steps. Since it cannot achieve its dominion through persuasion it has to resort to propaganda and to outright deceit.
EU propagandists state, invariably without supporting theory or evidence, that divergence is the problem; convergence the solution, although they don’t explain why we should believe this, they simply repeat it, endlessly. They claim, for example, that law and justice are upheld by an independent judiciary but in practice the judiciary is not independent of the European Commission and other EU institutions.
Another example affects the UK directly; when Edward Heath explained to the public the implications for the UK of joining the Common Market he said there would be no loss of sovereignty. In fact the civil service had briefed the Cabinet differently – Heath lied. 
Disdain & Contempt Like Heath, the EU’s founders and current leaders hold the citizens of Europe in disdain and their elected, national governments in contempt for being elected, and therefore impermanent. They think what is needed is a unified, supra-national entity, a federal government, which has the powers to override the decisions of the governments of its member states.
There is not enough achievement to recommend the EU to its citizens; it follows that they must be persuaded to accept it by propaganda, threats or coercion. 
Breaking EU Rules We are expected to believe that the EU adopts practices that are consistent with its own principles and rules, but it doesn’t; when it feels it is necessary, the EU ignores its own rules.
For example, the principle of subsidiarity conflicts with the ideology of the EU, which requires authority to be centralised. In EU practice powers move only in one direction, ‘upwards’ as they see it, from member states; powers may go up but are not allowed to come down. 
Fear & Fragility The growth of populism is alarming EU’s mandarins, who see it as a threat to their project. Some populist national governments challenge the EU’s declared fundamental values. If the EU does not take action against governments that attack democratic rights and processes it will encourage other member states to go their own ways, putting further integration at risk. If it does take firm action against miscreants then it risks rebellion against the federal centre. This fragility arises because the EU is not itself democratic. 
Politics The true aim of the EU, to become a super-state governing its member states, is not one that many citizens would support. People are willing to believe in the declared goal, of economic growth benefiting all, and choose not to notice that the EU is not achieving this but is progressing fitfully towards its real goal. 
Draft Withdrawal Agreement What has been agreed, between the EU and the UK Government, and then dismissed by the UK Parliament, is known as the Draft Withdrawal Agreement (DWA).
By this DWA the previous UK government agreed that it will not introduce legislation that is incompatible with EU law but also that it will modify any existing rules that the EU deems to be “inconsistent or incompatible”. The Joint Committee will have to refer many issues to the ECJ for resolution. The ECJ is the legal instrument and protector of the ideology and the ambition; judgements are based on treaties not on precedent, unlike in the UK.
The EU refuses to discuss a future relationship between the parties until the ‘divorce’ agreement is settled. This WDA proposes neither a proper withdrawal from the EU nor a satisfactory legal basis for a transition to an unspecified future relationship between the UK and the EU. A major problem is the impositions this withdrawal agreement makes on any such future relationship; it indicates clearly the EU’s intentions.
If this Agreement, or a similar one, is ratified, the UK will remain a semi-detached, ex-member state with many responsibilities and few rights. In summary, under this DWA the United Kingdom will not exit the European Union but will move to a new, and inferior, status under the thumb of the Union. 
Is There a Future for This EU? The clearest outlines of its leaders’ expectations for the future of the European Union can be found in the report of the five presidents (June 2015) and, more speculatively, in their White Paper of March 2017.
So far their record on growth and prosperity is not good, and there is little reason to believe that the self-selected leaders of the EU will do much better in future. The gaps in the Project will become more evident, because the project won’t deliver the promised economic, democratic or social developments.
The White Paper offers five different ‘scenarios’ outlining possible futures for the EU. The tone in which each scenario was written emphasises the Commission’s wish to preserve the Union much as it is.
There is no reason to believe the EU’s malaise is temporary since the dangers are plain to see. Economic divergence among members of the monetary union is growing. Realistically, the divergence is unlikely to be narrowed—imagine the Greeks behaving like Germans, or vice-versa. With low or negative growth, imaginary money and enormous debts everyone is going be unhappy as citizens discover that their hard-earned saving are not protected. Political instability will quickly follow economic instability. 
Conclusion Three risky characteristics of the EU are: it’s central ambition (from the ideology underpinning the project); the determined efforts of its leading figures to dissemble and lie to hide this central ambition; and the deep conviction that permeates everything it does that the peoples of Europe and their elected governments are of no account. These three themes will clearly affect the continuing progress of the EU project itself.
The distance between its true objectives and its declared ones characterizes the EU, as does the distance between its peoples and its leaders. European hearts and minds are being lost despite the propaganda, specious claims and lies.
Each of the themes touched on in this Summary is covered in more detail in one or more of our ‘theme’ posts; each such post links to multiple individual posts that touch on the theme. Other posts expand on our themes.
Other Relevant Posts