Tag Archives: summit

The EU and the Big Hate

Yeah, the EU and Britain. This small island, which thinks it is off the coast of North America is vehemently anti-European, and will do almost everything in its power to leave the grand idea of Europe. The Conservatives, two thirds of the current ruling coalition love to fight themselves into a tizzy about the EU idea. While the other political parties are smart enough to keep shtum about their differences over Europe (and other bits of infighting), the Conservatives have not learned from the 1990’s that while the EU is unpopular in the UK, it really does not matter with regards to my daily life.

So this week, Cameron, yet again, went to an EU summit looking like a spoilt child swinging his mummy’s handbag all over the shop. Embarrassing, even though I really agree with what the PM actually had to say. But he does come across really badly whenever it comes to the EU. And the French, who are really just snivelling self serving imbeciles always come across as slick. Damn those cunning French!

Believe it or not, after all that, I am fairly Pro-European. ‘Fairly’ is the good term to use. To be honest, it does not makes a difference to me whether Brussels, London or Washington is making laws, my taxes are not dropping anytime soon. As a floating voter (and we are dangerous bastards) it is the money in my pocket, not the hue of a flag that swings my vote, if I bother to vote at all. And while I have an opinion on Europe, it will not make my mind up when I go to the polls in 2015. In 2010, I am glad we got a coalition, and despite the cock and bull in the press, I think most of the people who voted then believe it was the right choice for that election. Going into a recession meant that no political party came out with any good ideas to get the UK moving. And it is still the case two years later…

Back to the EU. So, I like it? Yes, but…that is it, the ‘but’ bit. I do appreciate and take advantage of the free trade, travel and movement of people part of the EU. In fact, it is one of the best ideals implemented in modern politics over the past two generations. A lot of Brits (except retirees to Spain) really have not taken advantage of this. Lazy language skills can be blamed for this. But I have. In terms of my personal life, cultural activities and business projects, I take advantage of the EU’s free movement of goods, services and people like crazy. You may have noticed all those visits to Poland over the past couple of years, tak?

That part of me would not have been possible if the EU did not exist. It opened my life in so many ways, probably not envisioned by the grandees who thought up the project in the first place. For that, I am eternally grateful, and if Britain was to withdraw from Europe, it would peeve me off. While my personal life would remain intact (although become more tricky), my working side would become an absolute nightmare, well, I will be blunt, impossible.

And I love my films, get it! (Don’t ask about the rewrite…)

But yes, there are things I do not like about the EU. It is undemocratic, there are a lot of institutions and conventions that the UK never voted to join but were shoehorned into and the corruption levels make duck houses seem like…well, mere duck houses…

The EU will probably never face a proper reformation of its financial order as long as the nations resort to petty squabbling. It is sad, because the big EU contributors are probably more aligned then it seems when it comes to reigning in corruption and budgets. But David Cameron’s wibbly wobbly attitude does not help . The last shameful embarrassment in the EU last year looked like a small man playing to some Middle Englanders rather than a Prime Minister actually leading.

From my own opinion I think it is good for Britain to be a net contributor to the EU. The fact that we have peaceful borders and benign neighbours who are unlikely to attack Britain in the near future is something that cannot be measured by the financial contribution we make (in addition to the extremely successful NATO). So, I would rather see a stable Greece sorting out its tax collection system rather than see a Greece mired in strikes and uncertainty.

In the end, Britain is not going to leave the EU anytime soon. And good. But I do worry about the long term political relationship that the UK is building for itself. I do not want to leave the EU, I want to see a strong, democratic institution that does allow for good business and trade and that keeps the peace on the continent. Both from a personal and professional point of view, I have taken advantage of Europe, and it is something that personally benefits me. I believe if more people in the UK had the attachment via people to the continent that I have, the tide of euroscepticism would be a lot less.

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under britain, europe, news, political

Europe vs UK

So I have seen the news yesterday and today that Britain (or our glorious Prime Minister), for the first time wielded the UK’s veto during a European negotiation. Some have cast Britain and the PM as a pariah amongst the nation’s largest trading partner, and some have decided to break out the warm beer and wave the Union Jack that we have stuck two fingers to the dirty continentals.

Now before I go in, let me state that I am a great believer in the EU, but I think that the whole institution is rotten to the core and really needs to be gutted out. Great ideals, horrible implementation of the practicalities. While some fantastic ideals such as free markets, the free movements of people, free trade, the interlinking of culture and exchange of culture has all been huge positives of the EU. A bloated bureaucracy, an ineffective Parliament and a wasteful sense of spending. The fact that the EU has not signed off its own books in over a decade, it does beggar belief that the EU is now going to sign off the books of its member states. And seemingly, without a whiff of democracy – a dangerous maneuver. I think a strong, Confederate Europe, with democracy and free trade at its heart would do wonders for the continent. Instead, an institution, encumbered by the baggage of World War II and the corruption of the 21st Century, holds many people with disgust in the UK, and increasingly, across the rest of the continent. It is more a meeting of the elites rather than a project for peace.

But David Cameron is no diplomat, and he played right into the hand of the Franco-German axis that has for so long dominated the Union. It is quite clear that removing Britain from the negotiating table made a lot of European leaders happy. And that it left Britain open to blame if there was a failure in the Euro. He could have played his hand far smarter.

What Uncle Dave, our glorious PM did, was play to his own political party. He wanted to avoid a showdown with his domestic politics. So while he returns to backslapping, and good show Dave, the guy took the easy route out.

The Germans, the French and the rest do not care about the Conservative Party (think of them as a nice version of today’s Republican Party in the US or a less cuddly version of the current incarnation of India’s Congress Party) to which David Cameron belongs to. Few people in the UK care about it too. But the EU do care about an electorate of 60 million people. Dave could have played his hand far more deftly. He could have said that he would be happy to have a new treaty, and then put it to referendum if it did not protect Britain’s Interests (read that as the banker’s interests, but that is another story). He would have also solved his domestic political problem in one fell swoop.

That would have really knocked heads in the EU together, as everyone knows how Eurosceptic this country is. The EU leaders would have tailored a deal to ensure that David Cameron would not call a referendum. It would have also brought Britain far deeper into the negotiations, and some real progress would have been made.

Instead, David swung his handbag, and lost. Poorly.

The ego of a few pigs at the top trough have left the world’s largest (and arguably its most successful) trading bloc split. 26 nations against its 2nd/3rd biggest member (depending on where you stop counting). Dave may have won this round, but it is not in Britain’s or Europe’s interests to be divided by the English Channel.

From what I have read about the proposals in the press, it seems there is no real plan to Save the Euro. No fundamental addressing of Europe’s real problem. Bloated, spendthrift governments that ran out of money and a population boom/immigration supply to support this. Europe is stagnant, trying to hold onto its past glories instead of using its heritage and history to be creative and dynamic in the 21st Century. It is a problem that all countries in the EU face (including Britain) and it will not be addressed by a few pen strokes in closed rooms, but a fundamental shift in the attitudes of Europe’s people. What is happening in Greece now, is going to repeat itself across Europe, as populations fall, tax incomes drop and populations age. This is an old continent, that despite its history, of looking beyond its borders is becoming increasingly inward looking and incestuous. There is a brave new world out there, and fundamentally, the EU is far better than a bunch of competing nations. But Europe is lazy. Too much resting on its old money. If Europe want s to thrive in this century, its governments and citizens have got to be prepared to work harder, and smarter…

2 Comments

Filed under britain, europe, money, news, political

Waving a Flag or Isolated

Well, big news in the UK is Britain’s Veto in the EU discussions. It will be interesting to see where this one goes…

Keep waving that flag Dave!

Leave a comment

Filed under britain, europe, news, political