Thursday, September 09, 2004

EU ponderances...

Until the EU starts making policies on the basis of the weight of the opinion of its inhabitants rather than on the basis of the weight of opinions of a few bureaucrats in Brussels - Joe public isn't going to feel that it represents him or her adequately.

I'm a Brit, and the reason for Euroscepticism here is because Europe does such an appalling job of demonstrating its value to its citizens. It does some good stuff - but seems crap at advertising it.

The recent constitution attempt shows this clearly, the idea was good, but the document is far too long to be comprehensible. By contrast the US constitution is an infinitely superior document mostly because of its comparative brevity. I'm not saying that it would work for the EU, because it says things about Christianity which secular EU countries would be uncomfortable with - but the length is better!

The EU document should be rejected and sent back for a complete re-write with a requirement that the 'essence' of the EU be captured on one side of A4. A constitution for the EU does not have to be a summarised version of every bit of European legislation which is pretty much what the first draft has delivered. Of course the main reason the document as it stands is disliked is that it highlights legislation that was already in place, that most EU citizens weren't even aware of.

Crazy policies such as paying vast sums of money into a central pot to subsidise farmers in the EU to produce food that isn't needed and then gets dumped on third world countries, should be scrapped.
Not in the least because they result in countries like the Netherlands, Germany and the UK subsidising other developed world economies in the EU? I can't think of a good reason why I should be paying tax so that a farmer not even in my country can grow a vegetable noone wants to eat, when that tax could instead be spent on building irrigation networks in countries that have genuine problems.

Don't get me wrong, I am not against having an EU budget. There are good reasons for collecting some money centrally, for example to fund joint European defence initiatives, manage donations to global good causes in an effective way. But there should not be ANY economic cross-subsidy between member nations - which is what is so wrong with the Common Agricultural Policy. (Disaster relief would be ok.. but not pure economic redistribution - the EU isn't supposed to be communist.)

I would be much happier if the EU stuck more to its original purpose - that of a free trade area, and tried to stay well clear of becoming some kind of federal superstate. Joining the Euro zone for me seems like a good idea. I have no issues with losing the pound. though I do think UK notes look prettier than the oh so dull 'politically correct' pictures of bridges on the Euro notes. But ultimately trade flows within the EU would be improved by the UK joining the single currency - which would be a good thing IMO.

The EU also needs to enforce its policies equally. It can't continue to let big countries get away with stuff that the small ones can't. If the UK, Germany or France break a rule they've agreed to - they should be made to comply - or the rule should be dropped for all.

I could write an EU constitution in one paragraph.

"The EU exists to ensure that there are no barriers to the free flow of trade and labour between its member states. Where appropriate, and where a consensus is able to be reached internally, the EU may act as a single entity on behalf of its member states in international trade negotiations with non member states or trade blocks. The EU may act as a talking shop for member states in terms of legislation, foreign policy and defence policy - but any member state should have the right to ignore its views in these areas should they see fit."

There ya go. Unfortunately its a bit late for this kind of constitution - the EU juggernaut has already amassed far more power than its citizens suspect!

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