Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Reforming Europe

Mr Brown is still resisting calls for a referendum on the latest EU Constitution - oops I meant minor reform treaty!

I really thought when he came to power he was refusing so he could eventually make a U-turn and call the referundum telling everyone he had listened to them and subsequently improving his popularity. We were promised a referendum, and his case against one is extremely thin. I can't see any harm by calling one. And by the electorate saying no.

I feel a couple of everyday analogies will best illustrate my opinion about the governance of the EU.

First I will use Object Oriented Programming. The programmer is given a complete set of standard libraries to perform operations such as creating windows and making them function. Say for example in one application you need to change the appearance of your window by putting the popup menu on the bottom instead of the top. You can then write your own routines for displaying the popup menu. There are now two procedures for the same operation - the one that came with the computer by Microsoft and the custom one you wrote for your own application. It is my application and I am responsible for writing it so my own version will override the Microsoft one. But the parts of the default Window library that I am happy with and have not overridden will still apply. I only have to re-write the parts I wish to customise.

As a second example I refer to the structure of any company. The top boss and the board of directors will determine general company policy - for example the normal working day is 9AM to 5PM. However the IT department may have 24 hour operators so the standard working day for this team is different from the rest of the company. There is a specific policy for one department because the standard policy would not be suitable. That department manager has authority to deviate from the company standard when appropriate, and I don't know of many CEOs that would object to this scenario.

What our government is going to do within Europe is the opposite of the above. I approve of the single market so our companies can easily trade with customers in Europe. The argument for Europe having a single larger voice in international affairs is great. Having a united front is fine if it is united. Unfortunately discussions at every European summit come across as anything but united. What benefit to us is a larger voice if it doesn't say what our electorate thinks it should? But common sense has gone out the window in allowing Brussels the last say on British policies and laws.

What I strongly disagree with is our country being governed in the same way as all the other countries in Europe. The UK is one of the most technologically advanced countries in the world. The majority of members in Europe are developing countries. France is a socialist state. Governing a third world country or a socialist country is very different to governing an advanced capitalist country. One size fits all never works. Did we not learn anything from the collapse of the ERM in 1992? I also note even with Maggie's rebate that financially we gain nothing as we are one of the main net contributors to EU finances. It is daft that 40% of the EU money is wasted subsidising French farmers.

Lastly the government in Brussels is not elected by or accountable to the UK electorate in any way. They know very little about the operation of our country. Some European figureheads have even specifically been rejected (Neil Kinnock, Peter Mandelson, William Hague). The UK government that is elected and that understands the operation of the UK will become completely powerless. This is dangerous.

At present we have plenty of EU laws imposed on us. I question the benefit of many of these. After this treaty things will be much worse.

As this current treaty stands we would be better staying away and forming similar agreements with the Europe that is created as benefits us. I would rather be a United State of America with whom we have far more in common. There have been too many times over the last few years where Tony Blair has taken a different stance internationally to Europe and I have agreed with him on most of them.

I have written to my MP for an explanation exactly what the benefits are of being in Europe and adding my voice to the calling for the referendum. Will post here when/if I get a comprehensive reply.


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