The crucial EU concern is politics
Financial Times, June 19th, 2014.
It is unfortunate that Martin Wolf, in his article today (No shelter for Britain in European halfway houses) focuses exclusively on the economic arguments for continued UK membership of the EU. This was no doubt the remit of the committee of which he was a member and his reasoning is cogent but his long experience and well-deserved status as the FT’s senior economics commentator will reinforce the widespread belief that the decision turns entirely on economics. This is badly misguided.
The key concerns of the citizens of the UK regarding EU membership are not economic but political. The problem may be simply put: do we wish to live in a democracy or in a bureaucratic tyranny (the term fairly used by Larry Siedentop, then a Reader in Politics at Oxford to describe the political structure of the EU in his book ‘Democracy in Europe’) ? Since the inception of the EU and its predecessor institutions, democratic accountability has been systematically and vigorously suppressed. It should be no surprise that this authoritarian bullying has led, finally, to the large protest votes (dishonestly characterized by the EU bureaucratic elite as extremist) in many member countries in the recent European elections. Politically the EU is therefore in a state of unresolved, increasingly anti-democratic confusion but economically too the consequences of ‘ever greater union’ have been disastrous.
The ill-conceived adoption of the single currency has had a catastrophic economic result, with the growing impoverishment of Italy, Spain, Greece, and Portugal (and before long France) at the hands of German efficiency and, it must be said, selfishness. The sooner the political contradictions of the EU are recognized and addressed the better, not just for the UK but for all the members.