Johnathan R. Razorback
- Messages : 10150
Date d'inscription : 12/08/2013
Localisation : France
"What comes into your head when you hear the word "euroskeptic"? A red-faced Englishman warning against the perils of immigration? A golf-club bore in a blazer? A football hooligan?
That's what the other side would like you to think. So, when they find an example, they fall on him hungrily. One such example was U.K. Independence Party Member of the European Parliament Godfrey Bloom who, among other things, spoke of giving aid to "bongo bongo land." But it's only fair to give the full story: Mr. Bloom was expelled from his party, as a handful of other eccentrics have been.
The challenge for euroskeptics is to make sure that the debate is framed by the argument they are in fact making, not that which their opponents would like them to be making.
To understand what that argument is, consider that 10 months ago, the EU announced that it was suspending its trade talks with India, mainly because of differences over agricultural exports. Not every country in Europe followed its lead, though. The European Free Trade Association, or EFTA, comprising Norway, Iceland, Switzerland and Liechtenstein, promptly declared that it intended to sign a free-trade agreement with Delhi by 2015.
The four EFTA states are part of the European market, enjoying free circulation of goods, capital, labor and, with some exemptions, services with the 28 EU members. But, critically, they are outside the tariff wall, meaning that they can sign bilateral commercial deals with non-European countries.
In July, for example, China's free-trade deals with Iceland and Switzerland came into effect. When we bear in mind that China grew by 7.7% last year while the euro zone shrank by 0.5%, I'd say that gives the EFTA states quite an advantage. Small wonder per capita income across the EFTA bloc is 25% higher than in the EU.
Britain, a global trader by history, geography and inclination, is especially adversely impacted by EU protectionism. We are missing colossal opportunities in India, an English-speaking, common-law democracy, our fourth-largest overseas investor, and the ancestral home of no fewer than 1.4 million British citizens. Maddeningly, we can't sign a free-trade agreement with India as long as our trade policy is controlled by Brussels.
It's a similar story when it comes to the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, the proposed U.S.-EU trade agreement. Outside the EU, we'd have signed a comprehensive bilateral trade deal with Washington decades ago. Instead, we have to sit and watch while vested interests seek favors. France, for example, insisted at the outset that the film sector be excluded, which is a big deal when we remember that entertainment is America's third-largest export.
The case against the EU needn't be nostalgic or defensive, still less xenophobic. On the contrary: The euroskeptic vision is internationalist and optimistic. Any nostalgia comes from those on the other side who can't look beyond the 1950s model of a united Europe.
We no longer believe, as we did in the 1950s, that big conglomerates are the future, that the expansion of government is benign or that economies needed to be planned. But the EU remains a child of its time, wedded to its five-year plans, its unelected commissioners, its common workplace entitlements, its fixed prices.
The one thing it isn't wedded to is free competition. Barely a week passes without a harmless product running afoul of Brussels regulations, supposedly on consumer-protection or environmental grounds, but in reality because a cartel of producers who meet certain specifications see an opportunity to harm their rivals. The EU, for example, is outlawing high-energy vacuum cleaners, hair-dryers and other appliances—a measure which will have a negligible effect on carbon emissions, but which was strongly pushed by manufacturers that happened to produce low-wattage appliances.
If your objective were to promote free trade, you wouldn't forge a customs union out of a cluster of similar industrialized economies. The whole point of trade is to swap on the back of differences. Yet for more than 40 years, Britain's commerce has been artificially redirected from its natural hinterland—the mixture of agrarian, commodity-based, industrial and service economies that make up the Anglosphere—toward the less diverse European bloc.
In 2012, the Commonwealth's combined economy overtook the euro zone's. This wasn't simply a result of the euro crisis. That crisis simply speeded up a demographic decline that was already well under way in the EU.
A few months ago, I lightly observed in a blog post that every continent was growing except Antarctica and Europe. A Spanish friend crossly got in touch to correct me, sending me reams of statistics. I had to accept that he had been right and I wrong: Antarctica is in fact prospering as cruise ships return. The EU is the planet's only dwindling trade bloc.
That, ultimately, is why Britain would be better off out. Recovering our sovereignty, winning back the ability to hire and fire our lawmakers, no longer having to fund the fraud and waste in Brussels—these things are bonuses. The elemental case for secession is an economic one: The EU is taxing and regulating itself into irrelevance. When we joined in 1973, Western Europe accounted for 36% of global GDP. Today it's 23% and in 2020 it will be 15%.
Our American friends sometimes urge us to get stuck further in so as to correct the EU's protectionist tendencies and make it more outward looking. Honestly, cousins, what do you think we've been trying to do for the past 40 years? There comes a point when you should admit that you gave something your best shot.
There's a whole world out there—not least among the common-law English-speaking nations which, over the years, have been our truest friends. As Winston Churchill put it, "If Britain must choose between Europe and the open sea, she must always choose the open sea."
Mr. Hannan is a British Conservative Member of the European Parliament, and author of "Inventing Freedom: How the English-Speaking Peoples Made the Modern World" (Broadside, 2013)."
-Daniel Hannan, Britain's Free-Trade Case Against Europe, 18 septembre 2014: https://www.wsj.com/articles/britains-free-trade-case-against-europe-1411060727?mod=rss_Opinion?mod=hp_opinion
« La question n’est pas de constater que les gens vivent plus ou moins pauvrement, mais toujours d’une manière qui leur échappe. »
-Guy Debord, Critique de la séparation (1961).
« Rien de grand ne s’est jamais accompli dans le monde sans passion. »
-Hegel, La Raison dans l'Histoire.