Europe: the Locomotive without brakes

There is nothing wrong with the idea of Europe.

I love Europe - especially Italy

Right. I’ve said it.
I don’t object to Europe, and in fact since it’s been a project on the go since I was a boy in shorts, I’m quite used to it – sort of.
However, I’m not quite sure what it is I’m supposed to be used to.
At first, Britain joined a small group of nations called the European Economic Community (we tried to years before, but that base ingrate de Gaulle blocked our membership).
At the time we were promised that this wouldn’t mean a huge federal state, but only a free trading area. We wouldn’t see laws made elsewhere that would cover Britain, we wouldn’t see any diminution of sovereignty. It was just a trading group.
That was a good thing.
At some time, the name sort of changed. The letters merged and swam before our eyes, and suddenly it wasn’t the EEC anymore. Instead, we learned that we were part of the European Community. This was a good thing too. The EC meant that while in the past the French had taken to barbecuing British imported Lamb without bothering to remove the meat from its wrappings – things like lorries – for the future British exporters would be safe. They’d be able to take matters to European courts to ensure that they were compensated. Apparently, the compensation would come from the British government, but hey, that’s OK. That was what the British farmers and exporters paid their taxes for, to take it back later.
Hold on, though, then the name changed again – now, after the swimming before our eyes, it became the European Union.
Our politicians promised that this too wouldn’t upset the apple cart. No, of course not. We wouldn’t, for example, see new laws made in Brussels which would overrule UK laws. Oh, apart from laws on our being able to use pounds and ounces in shops, or the laws on signs we’re allowed to use, or the colours of electrical wires, or the way that employment laws work. Nothing major.
The Euro was a good idea, too, of course. It was great. It was planned carefully, so that all nations would have to show that they had come so close together financially that they would easily make the transition from Franc, Mark, Schilling, Lira or anything, to become members of one larger Europe. There were to be rules to control how countries spent their money. Oh, I know, the Greeks were a basket case, and so were the Irish and various Mediterranean nations, but that was OK. They’d soon come into line.
And as the politicians kept telling us, it wouldn’t matter because nothing could stop the European Project. Nothing.
Except now it rather looks like while the brakes aren’t slowing the locomotive, the wheels are loosening. Some are coming off.

It feels like the sun is going down on Europe.

Southern European states, as we all knew, and as has been stunningly effectively demonstrated in recent years, had not converged with the rest of the northern European states. Their finances were shot. In Greece, apparently, the underworked government servants earned more than their German counterparts, and retired younger. In suburbs of Athens there were areas where households earned, according to tax receipts, next to nothing. Yet they owned Mercedes and Audis. Top level dentists paid hundreds of pounds in taxes, living in splendid houses with swimming pools. I wish I could fail like that.
Over the years there have been extraordinary examples of the disaster that is (now) the European Union.
Agricultural policies that led to massive storage of food. Fishing policies that have led to millions of tons of healthy, good food, being killed and thrown away for no reason, other than to fulfil arbitrary capture quotas. The destruction of British apple orchards in order to support less efficient French farming, with British farmers paid to destroy their orchards while subsidies were paid to French farms to plant apple trees. British fishing fleets paid off, their ships broken up, while subsidies were paid to Spanish and French and other fleets to build their own new fleets.
Europe is a failed system. It was created after the Second World War by a ravaged France determined to clutch Germany to her closely so that Paris would not be invaded for a fourth time in a century, and by a contrite Germany desperate to atone.
Never again, they said, never again would Europe be devastated by war.

Over the centuries we have given a lot to Europe.

But Britain is not a part of Europe. We are different. We use the Common Law, not Napoleonic systems. We don’t use the same accountancy practises. We depend upon exports and our knowledge industries and finance. In Europe, however, they want to take more control of the British industries. Banking, we hear, would be better served if it were based more in Frankfurt. Well, it would no doubt be better for Germany.
For many years now, the British have wanted to have a say in their future. We have been promised for several years that we would have a referendum on any further integration or new treaties.
The Labour party swore blind we’d be allowed a referendum. And Gordon Brown changed his mind because the Lisbon Treaty wasn’t, ahem, a “treaty” as such. According to him.
The Liberals last year promised that they would allow a referendum on “in or out” of the European Union. But now they say it’s not what the people want.
The Conservatives swore we would have a referendum on any further reforms of the treaties with the EU. But now we are looking at a new, sweeping series of treaties, apparently it’s not the right time. It’s more important that quick, cobbled together fixes to the problems created by thirty years of ever-increasing centralisation of power should be forced on to a very reluctant populace.
Our Prime Minister now thinks that he shouldn’t give us a referendum.
Except that in the last weeks we have seen the EU removing the Prime Ministers of Greece and Italy. In the place of these democratically elected leaders ( I make no comment on their competence!) there are now EU placemen. An ex-head of the European Bank, and an ex-Commissioner of the EU are running those countries. That is a sign of the democratic deficit which we suffer from in Europe.
If we don’t get a referendum on a new treaty, we will be likely to see an election in which the Liberals will be crucified, Labour will see its support leaching away, and the Conservatives will see their own votes going to the UK Independence Party. Because that is the one party that appears to be promising to ask the people what they want.
And we are, supposedly, living in a democratic country, after all.

6 Responses to “Europe: the Locomotive without brakes”
  1. Jack Eason says:

    Like any ‘locomotive’ the EU is only as good as those who control, and maintain it Michael. :)


  2. RichieP says:

    Supposedly. The Greeks and Irish and Italians assumed that too but it slipped away in the night, not even a goodbye. The same will probably happen here, especially when we see how politically supine and ignorant so many British people are.


  3. Carole Schultz says:

    I utterly agree with all you say; it’s a shame to sit here and watch what is happening. I go back to the UK every year, and every year I see marked changes. I hate seeing what is happening to the Britain I knew.


  4. Mike says:

    Trouble is, the population is nicely housetrained now. The public don’t believe they can change anything while the politicians keep lying, so we’re all growing more and more reluctant to stick our hands in the air and demand things. Not enough teaching about British citizenship and history in our schools.


  5. Mike says:

    By the way, click on the tombstones. All the names of the men are clear, I think. All SAS, apart from a medical fellow. Brave men.


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