Britain entered the transition period on 31 January and left the EU formally, but not irrevocably. The next battle (aka ‘negotiation’) began but was then caught by the corona virus pandemic and suspended indefinitely. Discussions should, when they resume, be a mutual endeavour to bring or preserve the greatest benefits to all citizens but as usual with the EU the gap between promise and delivery is wide—and well veiled—so ‘negotiation’ versus ‘battle’ are appropriate images. We will continue our commentary, which we began when the Referendum campaign started more than four years ago.
‘Guidelines/directives/mandate’ for the EU’s negotiators have been published; we will have to wait to see how far the strongly mandated UK Government will go along with the EU’s expectations or demands.
We continue to argue that this European Union cannot be made to work in the long term (see From the Horse’s Mouth for example).
For a full list of articles click the monthly archive drop-down menu. Many are linked from our menu list of Themes, which summarise the main issues, as we saw them last year. For a quick introduction, see Why This EU Won’t Work: A Summary, written in August 2019.For a full list of articles click the monthly archive drop-down menu. Many are linked from our menu list of Themes, which summarise the main issues, as we see them. For a quick introduction, see our Why This EU Won’t Work: A Summary, written in August 2019.
We invite (moderated) reader comments – please keep the debate polite.
Summary – revised April 2020
The European Union is failing to meet its stated goals. Inspired and claimed as “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. We doubt that the EU can survive in its present form for long.
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.
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 autocracy is in their best interests. We deny that any form of autocracy, including the EU’s oligarchy, is preferable to real democracy and we argue that good outcomes are not generally forthcoming and, where they exist, could have been achieved without the EU’s federalist ideology.
The ideology is that a ‘United States of Europe’ is intrinsically beneficial but that progress must be made by the ‘Monnet Method’ to achieve the planned goal without raising the suspicions of the majority of citizens, who would oppose it. The ‘progress’ towards the planned goal has been substantial, the benefits are not so clear.
Latest Updates – revised April 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. 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 (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).
Eurozone Council ministers have agreed a covid-19 bailout fund. Once again the richer countries have agreed to a minimum acceptable compromise to keep the ‘project’ alive—for now. Those in trouble can dip into the fund without all the usual strings required by the Treaties, but only while the pandemic lasts. The crisis demonstrates that under severe pressure the EU still cannot pull together effectively, after six decades of trying.
The UK Parliament voted to take leaving without a deal ‘off the table’. They have accepted a new draft Withdrawal Agreement and dates for completing the withdrawal. However, 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 they haven’t taken it off the table after all. The economic and political consequences of the pandemic will surely make a difference. The lack of solidarity between member states has highlighted the gap between propaganda and reality.