The EU, Pros and Cons

#1
And no, I don't mean that they're all pros at conning the public. :) This is an outgrowth of the Did Blair Cave In? thread started by W.Anchor earlier today. I've seen at least a couple people speaking up for the EU so hopefully we should get some balanced feedback, byt the question I wanted to ask is what do you personally think the pros and cons of the UK having membership of the EU are?

Now I have to state out front that whilst I think the original idea had a lot of merit, the current piss poor state its grown into has made it more of a drag on the UK than a boon. I honestly think we should withdraw from the place and simply rejoin the European Free Trade Association and the European Economic Area instead. This article by a rather disgruntled Conservative MEP I find to be highly convincing - all the the trade benefits, none of the craptastic Brussels parts. Thoughts, comments?

What We Can Learn From the Norwegians
By Daniel Hannan
(Filed: 27/10/2005)

Today, Norway's king will take his leave of Britain's queen. Both are monarchs, but only one is sovereign. The word "sovereignty" is often used nowadays as a loose synonym for power, but it has an exact meaning. In Norway, the 1814 constitution vests supreme authority in the Crown. In Britain, the 1972 European Communities Act shares sovereignty with the EU, which now accounts - depending on how you measure it - for between 50 and 80 per cent of our laws.

Sovereignty evidently suits the Norwegians. They are the richest people in Europe, with a GDP per head of £31,200, as against an EU average of £12,600. According to the UN, which measures infant mortality, literacy rates and so on, they are the healthiest and happiest people in the world.

We are forever being told that Britain is too small to survive on its own: a post-imperial state, a speck of land on Europe's fringe, blah blah. This is bilge, of course: we are the world's fourth largest economy and fourth military power. But it is instructive to consider the situation of a country that really is small, and really is on Europe's fringe.

There are four-and-a-half million Norwegians, clinging to an icy strip of tundra on the uttermost edge of the continent. Yet, on every measure, they are outperforming their continental neighbours. At a time when France and Germany are struggling to comply with the Stability Pact, Norway is running an annual surplus of seven per cent. Its unemployment is less than half the EU's. Its real interest rates are comfortably below those in the euro-zone. Its inflation is low, its trade booming, its stock exchange soaring.

A people two generations away from subsistence farming have become Europe's new elite. Like blue-eyed sheiks, they buy vast houses in Chelsea which lie empty between their occasional visits to London (Norwegians, in the main, being tremendous Anglophiles).

How have they done it? Much of the answer has to do with the deal they struck with Brussels. Norway is a member, not of the EU, but of its penumbra, the European Free Trade Association (Efta). It participates fully in the so-called Four Freedoms of the European single market-free movement, that is, of goods, services, people and capital. But it is outside the Common Agricultural Policy; it controls its own territorial resources, including energy and fisheries; it decides its own human rights questions; it determines who may settle on its territory; it can negotiate free trade accords with third countries, and it makes only a token contribution to the EU budget.

At this stage, my Euro-phile friends protest that we are nothing like Norway. "Look at all the fish they have," they say. Indeed. Look at all the fish we would have, but for the Common Fisheries Policy. "Look at their oil," my friends go on. Well, Britain is the EU's only net exporter of oil. In any case, Norway's extraordinary economic statistics are unrelated to its oil wealth: for the past 14 years, Norwegians have been stashing away their oil surpluses in the "Petroleum Fund", which now contains nearly £100 billion, just in case a future government should face unexpected liabilities.

"But what about trade?" protest the Euro-sophists. "If we weren't part of the EU, we'd have no clout." In fact, Norway benefits from all the preferential trade deals that the EU has signed with third countries. The difference is that, where it feels the EU is being unduly protectionist, it can go further. It has, for example, signed a free trade accord with Singapore, and is negotiating others with South Africa, Taiwan and South Korea.

"All right, then, what about our trade with the EU?" comes the rejoinder. "Surely that depends on our membership." Brace yourself for an astonishing fact. Every Efta country exports more, proportionately, to the EU than we do. Norway sells twice as much per head to the EU from outside as does Britain from inside. The EU accounts for 73 per cent of their exports, 52 per cent of ours. Oh, and their trade is in surplus, whereas we have run a trade deficit with the EU, over 33 years of membership, of some £30 million a day.

Norwegians must meet EU standards when they sell to the EU - as exporters the world over must do. But they are spared the expense of having to apply most of these regulations to their domestic commerce. You will sometimes hear that Norway has to assimilate thousands of EU laws, but these laws are generally of a technical and trivial nature. The 3,000 EU legal acts adopted in Norway since 1992 have required only 50 statutes in the Storting. And the people who make such a fuss of these 3,000 regulations neglect to mention the 24,000 that Britain has had to incorporate over the same period.

Then comes the last-ditch argument. "Norway may be content to be a tiny country, but we could never abandon our global role." At the risk of stating the obvious, nations are generally more influential if they have a foreign policy in the first place. Norwegian diplomats are playing the key role in, among other places, Sudan, Israel, Sri Lanka and south-east Asia. Being outside the EU, Norway can use trade and aid as instruments of diplomacy. Britain contracted out the whole shebang to Brussels in 1972.

Would the EU offer Britain as favourable a deal as Norway? No: our terms would be better. This is partly because we are an existing member, with commensurate leverage, but mainly because of the trade balance. Since we joined, we have been in surplus with every continent in the world except Europe. Is it not normal, in any transaction, for the salesman to have the upper hand over the customer?

It is just conceivable, of course, that our ex-partners would so resent us that they would seek to limit this commerce, cutting off their noses to spite their faces. I don't believe this: our neighbours are, for the most part, long- standing allies of Britain whose interests in any negotiations would be the same as ours, namely to maximise prosperity. But if I am wrong, and they really are that vindictive, what on earth are we doing with them?
 
#2
Ever tried buying a bottle of Scotch in Norway? The shock of the price will kill you a lot quicker than renal failure will.

Some interesting ideas there, nonetheless.
 
#4
i would be inclined to withdraw from the EU and bin the French in their own stew pot of their making , we make a significant contribution to the EU, in return we get scorned and insulted especialy by the French.
see Bliar give away of our rebate while the French keeps their generous farm subsidies. our withdrawel will be sorely felt in a drop in revenue.

i would vote for the First mainstream party leader that will promise to withdraw from the EU , failingthat , UKIP will get it.
 
#5
crabtastic said:
Ever tried buying a bottle of Scotch in Norway? The shock of the price will kill you a lot quicker than renal failure will.

Some interesting ideas there, nonetheless.
The only reason that you can buy a bottle of Scotch, relatively, cheaper in the UK, is that this government needs to keep us in a state of inebriation so that we will not see the bloody great sheepskin that is being pulled over our p1ssed, bloodshot eyes.
 
#6
The folks behind the EU want to recreate the USSR but with the capital in Brussels instead of Moscow.

If you can install a powerful central government covering a large area, it's easier to practice tyranny there than in a small state because you've thereby also made it more expensive to leave.

The fact that P.M. Blair is keen on this project tells you almost all you need to know.
 
#7
Sorry to pop a few bubbles, but there is no chance we're leaving the EU. We might not like it, but our sensible political masters know what is best for us when you consider that we have billions of pounds (lets leave the currency discussion for a second) with Mainland Germany and France. And its not just booze! Mostly its trade in financial services (insurance, investment, borrowing etc), that requires not only the lack of protection that membership gives us, but also greater financial stability. The stability allows greater investment to be made, ultimately creating jobs.

We could join the EFTA, but with no guarantee that it will maintain its current close links to the EU (negotiated unilaterally). So we could be left with a trade relationship with Iceland, Norway, Switzerland and Liechenstein - with whom we mostly... nothing.

Yes, we occasionally get shafted by culturally curious legislation. But just by being outside of the EU do we think we have complete sovereign right to do what we want? We are subject to dozens of multilateral agreements and judgements (from the Geneva convention to the Warsaw convention on flights). We lost the ability to act alone hundreds of years ago.

There is another point of view, and a sensible, fact-based argument for leaving, so lets have it - and avoid the tired British bulldog stereotypes...
 
#9
nodandawink said:
There is another point of view, and a sensible, fact-based argument for leaving, so lets have it - and avoid the tired British bulldog stereotypes...
Brussels Corruption ? expensive French Farm subsidies that the French refuse to renegotiate ? Spanish Bad attitude regarding Gibraltar ? Common Fisheries policies ?
 
#11
Those would be a good start!

Brussels corruption:
The existence of the travelling horrorshow of the EU commission shifting shambolically across Central Europe is pretty disgusting. The stories of expense bills, non-attendance and its own audit commission stating that, basically, its not value for money just serves to reinforce the point. Then again, if you can find me any group of elected representatives that don't delve deep into the pork barrel wherever possible (Neil Hamilton, anyone? No? Didn't think so....) I'll be amazed. We can leave, or we can give it proper scrutiny and fix it - starting with demolishing Strasbourg and getting rid of the retired politician show that is the commission.

Farm subsidies:
Get rid of them. All of them. Now.
Not an easy argument to win with the French. Angela Merkel looks like she might be a little more like someone we can do business with. We have political momentum and right on our side. This is a matter of time...

Spanish bad attitude to Gib.
Like thats going to get any better if we leave!

CFP
Again, at least where we are now we are inside the tent, pissing in. (and thus have a voice that gets listened to, however occasionally!). Better that than isolated and ignored.

The right to reply is yours, sir! What about the economic implications of leaving? The threat of tariffs, the fact that goods, services and people wouldn't be able to move and work freely? What about the cessation of all the lovely Latvian barmaids?
 
#14
Until a full audited set of accounts can be produced we should not pay another penny, in any other organisation failure to produce the audited accounts is a criminal offence.
 
#15
regarding immigration, the Dutch and the Danes are getting their act together and controlling who settles in their country as well as restricting benefits, automatic detention in a immigration hostel, any hint of crime committed by any is automatic deportation inlcuding compulsory language class. ie Dutch or Danish language.

why can't we do any of that ? it not that bloody hard. im we can tell the illegal immigrants with no paperwork to turn around and claim in France after all the French allowed them on the boats , just like we fine airlines if they allow anybody to board without correct documentations, the French should take responsibilty.

we need people with skills that will contribute to thsi country and support its ideals and aims , instead of dole scrouging, imams that pee on our country in thanks by running us down in public.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/europe/2057726.stm dutch immigration

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/europe/4276963.stm denmark immigration
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/europe/2017545.stm

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/europe/3498961.stm retricting radical imam entering Denmark



im not happy about this , privatising our border controls
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/4379882.stm
 
#16
CQMS said:
Until a full audited set of accounts can be produced we should not pay another penny, in any other organisation failure to produce the audited accounts is a criminal offence.
i agree 110 % with you ! i dont know how they get away with it , this the corruption i am talking about.
 
#17
Not sure that there is any trade benefit from being in the EU (that accrues from membership). Were we not to be in, Johnny European would still be very keen to trade as much as possible and we would not be paying vast amounts for an army of bureaucrats (except in Scotland) producing fcuk all except huge costs.

English and then British security policy for the last 500 years has centred with not letting one power block take over control in Europe. If we're in we can influence things if we're not in we can't. It is just a shame that the people we have looking after our interests are made of the same metal as the scarecrow in Yellow Brick Road.
 
#18
Bollox to that, if we've got to be in the darn E.U Soviet, I want the farm subsidies kept, nay increased and given to our farmers.

I'd like to think that my kids will grow up somewhere that can actually make an attempt at feeding itself rather than being a nation entirely composed of burger flippers and "consultants".
 
#19
semper said:
uncontrolled immigration is an issue
not quite sure what your point is there, as far as I know that's got nothing to do with the EU. Other EU countries with far more open borders than the UK manage ok. As you point out in your next post.
 
#20
Norway is a very bad or very good example of an "outside the EU" depending on which side of the argument you support European land

From the original post:

Sovereignty evidently suits the Norwegians. They are the richest people in Europe, with a GDP per head of £31,200, as against an EU average of £12,600. According to the UN, which measures infant mortality, literacy rates and so on, they are the healthiest and happiest people in the world.
Easy thing here is to compare the populations, Norway makes a hell of a lot of money through oil, hydroelectricity and to a shrinking degree fisheries and that is shared by a population of
four-and-a-half million
We are forever being told that Britain is too small to survive on its own: a post-imperial state, a speck of land on Europe's fringe, blah blah. This is bilge, of course: we are the world's fourth largest economy and fourth military power. But it is instructive to consider the situation of a country that really is small, and really is on Europe's fringe.
Without the overflow of natural resources that Norway enjoys I think the UK would have problems on it's own, I'm not saying it would be impossible and I am also not saying that the EU is perfect, far from it, but I believe that to leave at this point in time would be a mistake.

edit: addition
 

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