Isn’t it time for a referendum on Europe?


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8:50 am - May 25th 2011

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contribution by Mark Seddon

The mere mention of the words ‘Europe’ or ‘European Union’ is almost bound to make eyes glaze over. The last time that people were actually asked to register an opinion as to whether Britain was better off in or out of this political, social and economic union was back in 1975.

They would like us all to believe that any new referendum that gave this generation a chance to pass judgement on the European project would be an exercise in vulgar, dangerous populism.

The People’s Pledge launched just two months ago believes that it is high time people are able to give their verdict on an institution that has more and more power over their lives.

If as a result of voting ‘yes’ to continued membership of the EU in a any future referendum, a centralised, harmonised State of Europe emerges finally fully fledged, then fine.

They will for instance be able to examine exactly what warm words such as ‘harmonisation’ really mean in practice. The chances are that very many of them won’t be very happy to find out.

Many have argued that Brussels has for long wanted to create a harmonised criminal justice system and that the EU’s increasing law-making powers may have serious implications for civil liberties within the member states. You don’t have to be one of those whose eyes glaze over at the mention of the European Union to know that various directives and initiatives have caused serious concern to civil liberties’ campaigners in organisations such as Statewatch, Fair Trial Abroad and Liberty.

Sweden’s recent attempt to have the Wikileaks director, Julian Assange extradited has helped to highlight the rather sinister nature of the European Arrest Warrant. This came into force in 2004 following a directive which cannot now be amended by the member states as EU law is supreme.

The EAW allows for citizens to be extradited between member state countries without any evidence having to be presented by the prosecuting authorities. Habeas Corpus does not therefore apply. It obliges countries to surrender citizens even if the crimes they are accused of having committed are not considered an offence within their own jurisdictions.

Of course, national governments including our own, have in recent years imposed a whole raft of authoritarian measures, including massively increasing the number of days the terror suspects can be held without trial.

But the difference between civil liberties violating legislation passed by member states, on the one hand, and the EU, on the other, is that the former can be repealed or modified by succeeding elected governments.

Laws initiated by Brussels are set in stone once passed. They become part of the inherited EU body of law known as the acquis communautaire. And only the unelected Commission can initiate new legislation.

Isn’t it about time that the people were allowed to decide who rules them?


Mark Seddon is Director of The People’s Pledge

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Reader comments


A few things:

A referendum would be brilliant, seeing the Tories having to campaign for a yes vote would cheer me up no end.

EU law is supreme, but that doesn’t mean it is unamendable/flexible. Take for example the Stability and Growth Pact for Eurozone members, which had to be relaxed following pressure from France and Germany, or if you want to go even further back you could simply refuse to turn up to meetings as de Gaulle did, until he got his way. The EU relies on cohesion and tends to bend over backwards if you kick up enough of a fuss.

I think it is easy to blame Brussels for the lack of will on the part of national governments to represent their citizens well in negotiations. For instance, the EU Affairs committee of the Folketing in Denmark, has to mandate every decision taken by Ministers in the Council or in the European Council, on behalf of the Danish people.

If you have a problem with the EU, start with those who construct it, national governments/Parliaments.

P.S. will the People’s Pledge be doing any Citizens’ initiatives? http://ec.europa.eu/dgs/secretariat_general/citizens_initiative/index_en.htm

2. David Boothroyd

There have been two nationwide referendums in the UK and both of them have resulted in a 67% vote to keep things as they are.

3. Richard W

” Take for example the Stability and Growth Pact for Eurozone members, which had to be relaxed following pressure from France and Germany ”

Does pressure mean generally ignored ? Pretty much what every member has done with the Stability and Growth Pact. In fact, Germany was in breach of the pact at the foundation of the euro so by rights should not have been allowed to join..

Yeah, let’s have a referendum on Europe. Can’t see why I should be bound by the preferences of voters in the 1970s, most of whom will now probably be dead.

‘Isn’t it time that people were allowed to decide who rules them’?
Sounds a reasonable question but is the average person able to understand and predict the complexities of withdrawing from Europe. I doubt if most politicians could do this.
We now live in a global economy where the actions and events of other nations serve to determine our policy, viewing our withdrawal from the EU as somehow allowing us to do as we wish, in a vacuum, is naive.

5. Workman Fred

I used to think the EU was trying to be a friendly leftwing idea but as time has gone by it seems to be more a sinister right wing idea.
Can’t help but remember reading that Germany may have lost the war but they intend to rule with money instead & it is happening already.

I would vote no to the EU, our system may not be perfect here but it’s better than being ruled from over there.

David Boothroyd @3:

Correct – and succinctly put – but what say we buck the trend in these unprecedented times when our economy is at rock bottom, the lunatic, threadbare idea of the Big Society is being touted as a quasi-New Deal social panacea and the United er Kingdom is showing democratic signs of fragmentation?

Let us hold an emergency referendum on this coalition government – as no-one actually voted for the beast. Would the country still vote for the status quo do you suppose? Third time lucky then.

@2 The difference with a referendum on the EU is that there is a consistent majority of around 2/3rds that would like to leave. I wouldn’t make any bets against them voting to leave if given the chance and I believe the politicians know this, otherwise we would have had a, (more recent), referendum on the EU already.

I could copy and paste, but I set it out in a blog a while ago. I sympathise with you in principle, but it’s a terrible idea in practice. Here’s why: http://s.coop/eureferendum

9. Shatterface

‘The mere mention of the words ‘Europe’ or ‘European Union’ is almost bound to make eyes glaze over.’

I feel the same about the word ‘referendum.’

Could sombody tell me why it says 16 replies but I only see 9! Thankyou.

11. Shatterface

‘Many have argued that Brussels has for long wanted to create a harmonised criminal justice system and that the EU’s increasing law-making powers may have serious implications for civil liberties within the member states. You don’t have to be one of those whose eyes glaze over at the mention of the European Union to know that various directives and initiatives have caused serious concern to civil liberties’ campaigners in organisations such as Statewatch, Fair Trial Abroad and Liberty.’

On the contrary, the EU is one of the few resources available for curbing the excesses of the nation state.

They were a partially effective brake on the draconian instincts of Blair & co.

But what would the question be? A simple yes or no to continued membership of the EU? How about simply being a member of EFTA which seems to be working pretty well for Switzerland and Norway? I don’t think the empire builders and time serving paper shufflers who actually run the EU would be keen to let Britain leave as it its a net contributor to the huge budget, so attempting to become a member of EFTA and keep the things we like about the EU would face obstacles. Remember, the French kept Britain out until its farmers were sending the entire thing bankrupt

I think if the recent referendum has shown anything, it’s the fact that we shouldn’t be calling referendums. We elect politicians to make these decisions, and the one advantage of that is that they are less likely to make decisions based on the frontpage of The Sun. Even the Tories aren’t suicidally stupid enough to pull out of Europe – but the average Tory voter probably is.

I have no beef with the EU whatsoever. The most valid criticism I can think of is the fact that the commission is not appointed fairly – but then since commission members are appointed by our own national leaders, we get pretty much the same thing anyway. Because of Europe, we have proper human rights laws (something we never had before), a social charter that pushes governments towards the priorities they SHOULD be setting and an enormous amount of trade and jobs we wouldn’t have otherwise.

All the arguments against EU membership tend to be based on (a) not understanding how democracy actually works (b) jingoistic/racist mistrust of foreigners and (c) objection to Polish people coming to Britain.

The EAW is, frankly, a minor concern when you consider the amount of financial misery that would be created in pulling out of Europe.

Shatterface,

On the contrary, the EU is one of the few resources available for curbing the excesses of the nation state.

They were a partially effective brake on the draconian instincts of Blair & co.

No, that was the European Court of Human Rights, which is from the Council of Europe (if I correctly understand your point).

On the contrary, the EU is sometimes used for policy laundering. An example of this is the European Data Directive, which resulted in the Intercept Modernisation Programme proposed by the Labour government, recording the details of our phone calls, emails and internet access. The advantage of this method should be clear: people against such policies are likely to blame evil Europe and those Johnny Foreigners trying to run our country, rather than the people who actually pushed this through Europe via the Council of Ministers, such as our old friend Charles Clarke, then Home Secretary, when the UK was President of the Council (a number of machinations here).

(likewise ACPO is used to launder illiberal national policing policies.)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Policy_laundering
https://www.privacyinternational.org/article/background-policy-laundering

15. Mr S. Pill

If we hadn’t been drip-fed a sewer of thinly-veiled xenophobia and jingostic prejudice from a right-wing and racist press for the past 30-odd years in regards to the EU then maybe, maybe we should have a referendum on membership. As it stands, the answer to the OP is a flat-out no. A true referendum should be based on facts and facts alone – something that is impossible with regards to the EU if you care to pick up a copy of any of the tabloids.

16. Planeshift

Completely agree. UKIP’s performance in euro elections demonstrates significant support for leaving the EU. Enough that its time to settle the matter by referenda.

“The EAW … obliges countries to surrender citizens even if the crimes they are accused of having committed are not considered an offence within their own jurisdictions.”

Of course, in Assange’s case the judge ruling on the extradition hearing wrote:

“The position with offence 4 is different. This is an allegation of rape. The framework list is ticked for rape. The defence accepts that normally the ticking of a framework list offence box on an EAW would require very little analysis by the court. However they then developed a sophisticated argument that the conduct alleged here would not amount to rape in most European countries. However, what is alleged here is that Mr Assange “deliberately consummated sexual intercourse with her by improperly exploiting that she, due to sleep, was in a helpless state”. In this country that would amount to rape.”

As for the central point, only those who genuinely don’t think they know what the will of the people should feel justified in calling for referendums. Since that includes anyone even remotely interested in politics, as well as most other adults who have had at least one drink, I really don’t think they should be used at all. Certainly not in this case.

Because of Europe, we have proper human rights laws (something we never had before)

Because of the Council of Europe, which was founded in 1949 – the European Convention on Human Rights came into force in 1953. The EEC, which eventually turned into the EU, was founded in 1958.

And to say we never before had “proper human rights laws” is arguable! We had a prohibition of torture, a prohibition of slavery, a right to a writ of habeas corpus, a right to fair trial, ex post facto law was frowned upon… I’m struggling to think of what we didn’t already have in English law. Indeed English lawyers were instrumental in drafting the Convention, by accounts.

As much as the European Arrest Warrant has all kinds of very serious problems (including, as you note, the potential to be arrested in a country where the offence isn’t a crime), “Habeas Corpus does not therefore apply”? Really? So people arrested under the EAW don’t get a trial?

Also, “Laws initiated by Brussels are set in stone once passed” is simply rubbish, or else they wouldn’t constantly be getting amended and repealed, and the European Court of Justice wouldn’t exist. “Laws initiated by Brussels” are also usually among the vaguest you’ll find anywhere in the world, allowing for plenty of wriggle room.

Also rubbish – in anything other than a strict technical sense – is the nonsense about “only the unelected Commission can initiate new legislation”. On paper, yes. In reality, the Commission can only initiate new legislation once the elected governements of the EU member states have all already pretty much agreed that they want that legislation to be enacted.

You’re boiling the EU down to civil liberties. Fine. How about the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union?

How about comparing that (albeit flawed) document to the UK’s continuing opt-out from the Charter, and the continued failure of the British constitution to provide any checks and balances on a despotic government?

How about the introduction of the Four Freedoms – that’s of goods, capital, services and people, all of which are essential for any attempt at gaining anything approaching individual liberty – and the threat posed to the free movement of people by the current attacks on Schengen?

How about Britain’s continuing opt-out from Schengen and imposition of border controls to keep out nasty foreigners (which remains the case despite what the tabloids, UKIP and the BNP may have us believe)?

The EU has done more for civil liberties in both the UK and across the continent than pretty much any other organisation. Is it perfect? No – in most cases due to the intervention of the governments of the member states, rather than any malevolence or incompetence on the part of “the EU”, which is a meaningless term in any case, being as it is an entity made up of multiple, often conflicting parts.

You’re right to highlight some of the iniquities of the European Arrest Warrant. But to use this single aspect of a single aspect of vast, incredibly complex organisation as justification to opposing the whole? It’s like deciding to euthenise someone because they’ve got a thorn in their little toe.

You see, I’ve got nothing particular against referenda – except for the fact that the people most enthusiastic for them tend to be people who don’t really know what it is they’re demanding to have a vote on.

20. Dick the Prick

Little people don’t get to choose – what country are you living in? Never ever give the people a real choice.

@15 Heh, that probably means that we really shouldn’t be having any referendums on any subject for the forseeable future.

@ 15 Nice to see the old ‘no true Scotsman’ argument trotted out for an airing. There are plenty of arguments for and against using referenda but the fact that the people don’t happen to agree with Mr. S. Pill is not a valid one.

Yes why not, because the bickering in the Tory party about this issue is holding this country back a great deal. At some point the issue has to be laid to rest.

@ 13:

“All the arguments against EU membership tend to be based on (a) not understanding how democracy actually works (b) jingoistic/racist mistrust of foreigners and (c) objection to Polish people coming to Britain.”

And, of course, you have plenty of evidence to back this us, I presume…?

25. Mr S. Pill

@22

So you think that the majority of the media have given us impartial and fact-based reporting when it comes to the EU over the years do you? What a funny world you live in.

If we’re on this subject: can we have a referendum on us leaving NATO please?

26. Chaise Guevara

@ 10 Why?

“Could sombody tell me why it says 16 replies but I only see 9! Thankyou.”

The tally of replies includes re-tweets, for some annoying reason.

Nosemonkey,

How about the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union?

How about comparing that (albeit flawed) document to the UK’s continuing opt-out from the Charter,…

Why would we want to opt-in to something flawed? It’s hardly a persuasive criticism.

… and the continued failure of the British constitution to provide any checks and balances on a despotic government?

If we have a despotic government it seems rather moot what documents we’ve signed.

How about the introduction of the Four Freedoms – that’s of goods, capital, services and people, all of which are essential for any attempt at gaining anything approaching individual liberty – and the threat posed to the free movement of people by the current attacks on Schengen?

How about Britain’s continuing opt-out from Schengen and imposition of border controls to keep out nasty foreigners (which remains the case despite what the tabloids, UKIP and the BNP may have us believe)?

Should a nation not have a say in who enters its territory? (I confess I am a fence-sitter, here).

I’m inclined to agree with you about referendums, though.

Whu have a referendum? UKIP stood in 570+ seats at the last GE, they got 3% of the vote.
If the British people were really consumed with an all consuming passion to leave the EU – or even thought it was worth discussing, they would have voted UKIP.

The SNP have managed it in Scotland, they have worked hard and put independence on the agenda. If there was the same ground swell and real disquiet with the EU then UKIP could do the same.

OK the EU is not popular but I think a majority see it as a necessary evil.

Sheesh!

Typical spoiled British whinge about the EU.

If we don’t like what it’s doing we want to take our ball away and sulk!

Why not refreshing adult ideas for a change?

You know, something along the lines of influencing decision making and advancing debate INSIDE the club?

ukliberty @27

Why would we want to opt-in to something flawed?

Because it’s better than nothing. And in any case, the flaws are relatively minor.

If we have a despotic government it seems rather moot what documents we’ve signed.

Yes and no (see, for example, a lengthy recent piece of mine on the EU and the nature of sovereignty: http://www.jcm.org.uk/blog/2011/01/the-european-union-and-british-sovereignty/)

The important point is that there are are shades of despotism. The British government has, for years, been detaining and deporting people without trial (to name but one of many suspect actions). It can get away with this because it retains the right to set its own laws. But were we to be bound by the Charter of Fundamental Rights there would, at least, be an obligation on other EU member states to express their disapproval, even if enforcement remains difficult (cf. the treatment of Roma populations in France and Italy). This might – just- be enough to dissuade a government from heading down the path to worse despotism.

Should a nation not have a say in who enters its territory?

By all means (though I’d use “state” rather than “nation”, personally). But if a state professes to be interested in fostering a free market, restricting the free movement of labour strikes me as a perfect way of fundamentally undermining this aim. (In my books, there should also be a certain level of fairness and consistency in how the rules are applied, but that risks getting into a whole other sidetrack about immigration idiocy…)

31. Chaise Guevara

@ 28 Redfish

“If the British people were really consumed with an all consuming passion to leave the EU – or even thought it was worth discussing, they would have voted UKIP [...] OK the EU is not popular but I think a majority see it as a necessary evil.”

Every poll I’ve ever seen shows most people want out of the EU. You’re missing two vital points here:

1) Elections aren’t single-issue. People who are anti-EU might still vote for a pro-EU party based on issues they consider more vital.
2) The electoral system is heavily biased against small parties like UKIP.

If we want the UK to stay in the EU, we have to show people why it’s a good idea instead of just claiming that UKIP’s low vote share proves that it’s popular.

Yes.

I’m surprised that Ed Milliband can’t see what a vote-winner this would be.

33. Planeshift

“2) The electoral system is heavily biased against small parties like UKIP.”

Added to that, they do rather well in euro elections where the system doesn’t hinder them and the issue is their home turf.

Nosemonkey, you make good points and I will read your article with interest.

On the support for pulling out debate, also worth noting – if you ask someone if they want a referendum on something, they will tend to say “yes”. People like to express their opinions. That doesn’t however, mean it’s a major priority.

Please note, for example, this recent poll: http://today.yougov.co.uk/sites/today.yougov.co.uk/files/YG-Archives-Pol-Sun-results-070910.pdf

Only 4% think the EU is an important issue – more or less in line with the amount UKIP gets in general elections. It’s not an important issue for most voters – so why push for a referendum?

Also worth checking out: http://eurogoblin.eu/are-brits-ignorant-of-the-eus-true-and-evil-powers/ – a very nice breakdown of how and where the EU overlaps with the issues that people *really* care about.

36. Shatterface

I’d take the European Arrest Warrant over the. agreement we have with the USA to hand over anyone who looks at them funny.

37. Watchman

I’m not sure why no-one seems to have addressed the minor point that EU law is not democratically accountable yet. Must be an oversight on the part of those who think EU membership is a good thing (or perhaps they do truly think the law should be above democracy?).

From my point of view this is pretty much the dividing line between democracy and some form of corporate meritocracy (where merit is as much training and belief as actual merit). Perhaps we could compromise – elected EU commisioners would perhaps work.

Christ – just checked the People’s Pledge site in my lunch break. Their 5 key reasons for a referendum:

1) No one under 54 has had the chance to vote on our relationship with Brussels.

- And no one – full-stop – has had the chance to vote on the role of the House of Commons, House of Lords, Cabinet, Prime Minister, Civil Service, etc. etc. etc. On pretty much any aspect of the British constitution, in fact, since the Acts of Union 300+ years ago.

2) The European Union now makes a majority of the laws we must obey

- This is simply bollocks. See, for example, the recent House of Commons Library paper on the issue: http://www.parliament.uk/briefingpapers/commons/lib/research/rp2010/RP10-062.pdf

3) The UK has less than 10% of the votes in the Council of Ministers and the European Parliament

- Our representation is (approximately) in line with our population size – with population taken into account on many votes in the Council, giving the UK a very strong position. Would anything other than that be fair on the other member states with whom we are cooperating? And how much relative say do we have in the WTO, NATO or the UN?

4) The EU is costing Britain more and more money

- This is justified by the classic £48m a day claim (it used to be £40m, but the exchange rate’s got worse), which is abject nonsense, based on gross rather than net, and rounded up: http://www.jcm.org.uk/blog/2009/05/ukips-britain-paying-the-eu-40-million-a-day-claim-vs-the-real-costs-of-uk-eu-membership/ – and is backed up by some nonsense about the cost of the Greek bailout (ignoring the British investment money that would be lost if Greece/Ireland/Portugal had been allowed to go bankrupt), and in any case ignores the wider impact of EU membership on the economy as a whole. Simplistic tosh.

5) The EU wants to give itself new powers of “economic governance”

- Erm… For the Eurozone. Of which Britain is not a member. Britain would only benefit by her neighbours (and major trading partners) being economically more stable and prosperous.

Utter rubbish, all five of them.

Other commentors have expressed this but if we want a referendum (and i am very sceptical as to if we do need it or that is possible to have a sound referendum) it is worth repeating several points.

What would we be voting for?
A referendum would almost certainly have to be Yes or No and what those are would have to be worked out.
This is something the People’s Pledge website does absolutely nothing to address as far as i can tell. The website just says in/out whereas in/out of what?
How does the referendum idea address the very complicated matter that is what we belong to in europe then how does it stop the debate being a distorted mess that is completely unrepresentative of the public will?
Love this diagram http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Supranational_European_Bodies.png

Is there public demand for it or much concern over the EU?
I would say not really apart from a few niche groups and shouty tabloid rags it really isnt that important to the majority of people compared to more important issues that take up political time.
I think it is quite telling that all the figures the People’s Pledge use on their website only describe thoughts on the EU relative to something else not in a wider political context (hence why they fail to quote the 4% consider Europe an important issue poll).

How would the referendum be administered?
Partially about referndums in general. The AV referendum was a mess and both (although the no campaign in particular) were allowed to get away with essentially telling lies and it really was thoroughly awful.

To quote John Oliver (from the daily show/The Bugle) on the AV referendum after having briefly come back to the UK from the US
‘i only dipped my toes into it’s fetid swamp for a few days last week and already i feel like my soul has come out in a rash… correct me if i’m wrong Andy but the campaign around AV has been scummier than an ill-attended pond’

How would this be sorted out? The AV mess was a for a relatively minor change to the voting system. Imagine how bad it would be for a EU referendum? Imagine just how low and full of shit it would go.

40. Merrymaker

I did vote in 1975, I voted NO. It was evident then, and not really hidden by the founding fathers of the European project, that the objective was ‘ever closer union’. We were lied to by the politicians of the day, and scared also – remember the times were difficult, the three-day week a fresh memory, there were even mumbles about establishing by imposition some form of government of technocrats. But I voted against because the European project was not, and never has been, democratic in nature. It is government by a self-perpetuating elite. There are some trapping of pseudo democracy thats all. We should have a referendum on ‘in or out’. I would vote to leave. I would probably still be in the minority – but I will have had a vote on where we are and whether we want to continue on the path that is set for us. In many ways the constitutional problem at the heart of the European project is similar to the constitutional crisis that the USA faced prior to the Civil War. The issue in both cases is states rights. Unless there is a referendum to further endorse the project and its continual removal of states rights, then, sooner or later, it will end in tears. And I would not rule out a violent end either.

41. Robin Levett

@Watchman #37:

“I’m not sure why no-one seems to have addressed the minor point that EU law is not democratically accountable yet. Must be an oversight on the part of those who think EU membership is a good thing (or perhaps they do truly think the law should be above democracy?).”

Oddly, it’s the anti-EU people who tend to refuse to contemplate democratic ideas like the European parliament being given more say, or qualified majority voting within the Council of Ministers.

Be specific, though; what do you mean by the claim that EU law “is not democratically accountable”, and what remedy would you propose (within the EU).

42. Robin Levett

@Merrymaker #40:

“In many ways the constitutional problem at the heart of the European project is similar to the constitutional crisis that the USA faced prior to the Civil War. The issue in both cases is states rights.”

OK, I’ll follow you part way down this rabbit-hole; I take it that the states rights issue to which you refer was the South’s overriding of them by the Fugitive Slave Acts? While they were clearly relevant to the crisis, slavery itself was surely by far the greater issue?

Watchman @37 – this old Economist piece on the supposed democratic deficit and lack of accountability is well worth a read: http://www.economist.com/blogs/charlemagne/2009/05/cameron_on_the_eu_unaccountabl

This discussion at my place may also help explain why the concept is somewhat unfair, at best: http://www.jcm.org.uk/blog/2008/04/on-the-eus-democratic-deficit/

As might this old post – the title speaks for itself: http://www.jcm.org.uk/blog/2005/01/the-european-commission-more-democratic-than-the-us-presidency/

44. Merrymaker

@ 42
Yes of course the basic issue was slavery, but it had many ramification on the powers of the states which manifested themselves in the constitutional issue of states rights. This issue came to a head over secession. Was the Union indissoluble or could states secede? When South Carolina seceded, Lincoln and the Unionists went to war over that one issue – not the issue of slavery. The slaves were not emancipated till 1863, and Lincoln was opposed on that even within his own cabinet. If the EU was a confederal rather than federal project, then the states rights issue would not arise.

45. Kevin Turner

NoseMonkey, it’s a bit ironic that you cite a House of Commons Library paper that is NOT the most recent publication on % of EU-derived UK laws…selective memory no doubt….if you were so thorough in your research, you would surely know that the latest derived calculation is put at around 50% by THIS Government, and that’s only their estimation of EU laws which have an economic impact on the UK, not the rest. Which would make it a majority. And we all know Govts. – even a Conservative one- will always choose to underestimate rather than anything else when it comes to not giving Eurosceptic backbenchers too much material to kick off over. Published in October 2010.

http://www.parliament.uk/briefingpapers/commons/lib/research/rp2010/RP10-062.pdf

Kevin Turner @45 That’s, erm… the same research paper that I linked to, old boy.

Have you read it? I have. I’m even cited in it (page 17).

The 50% figure comes from the percentage for *one* department. Not the government as a whole.

47. Robin Levett

@Merrymaker #44:

“When South Carolina seceded, Lincoln and the Unionists went to war over that one issue – not the issue of slavery.”

I beg to differ. Firstly, the secession was expressly to preserve slavery, making it difficult to untangle the issues. The issue, to the extent it was about the right to secede, was whether states had the right to secede to preserve the institution of slavery. Secondly, and perhaps more importantly in practical terms, it was South Carolina, not the Union, that went to war.

We are however down a rabbit-hole – my concern was that you might subscribe to the claim that tariffs were the issue, and that appears not to be the case.

Back to the main issue:

“If the EU was a confederal rather than federal project, then the states rights issue would not arise.”

Perhaps you could make it clear what you mean by the terms “federal” and “confederal”?

48. Merrymaker

@ 47
In a federal system, a ‘supra’ state exists above the individual nation states. It will be constituted by a ‘constitution’. The classic example at present is the USA. The nation states delegate certain competencies (eg Foreign Affairs) to the Federal Government, and cannot abrogate any responsibility for how the Federal Government exercises those competencies, nor can it retrieve the competencies once delegated unless through a route, usually difficult, laid down by the constitution. In a confederal system, individual nation states agree, usually by treaty, that certain competencies can be exercised by a supra national executive – and lay down rules for controlling when those competencies can be exercised. Each state having the right to withdraw from the obligation of a particular competence in a particular circumstance, or from the Confederation entirely. At present, the EU has some characteristics of a confederation and some of a federation. However, it is clear that sooner or later, a full federation is the objective. The UK is an interesting example. At present it is one unified state. However, with the pressure for scottish indepence, and the related pressure over the West Lothian Question, there is agood chance that it will move to a federal system.

49. Workman Fred

Found these after searching EU quotes. amazing how quick people change their mind.

“If there are further steps to European integration, the people should have their say at a general election or in a referendum.”
Tony Blair, British Labour Prime Minister. In 1997,

“I see no case for having a referendum on the new EU Constitution. We don’t govern this country by referendum.”
Tony Blair, British Prime Minister. May 2003,

Joseph Goebbels.. Goebbels gave the quote in 1943. He said that, “the aim of our struggle must be to create a unified Europe. The Germans alone can really organise Europe”.

These were interesting.

The secret report that shows how the Nazis planned a Fourth Reich …in the EU
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1179902/Revealed-The-secret-report-shows-Nazis-planned-Fourth-Reich–EU.html

EU moves right. Fascists plan The 4th Reich
http://www.zimbio.com/The+Netherlands/articles/67/EU+moves+right+Fascists+plan+4th+Reich

@49
What point are you making?

And here comes Godwin’s Law.

Workman Fred @49 – anyone can play the quotes game:

“We must build a kind of United States of Europe” – Winston Churchill, 1946: http://www.churchill-society-london.org.uk/astonish.html

52. Workman Fred

@50

I suppose, who can you trust over the EU and is it going left or right, because I’m left,centre & right depending on what the issue is and the EU seems more mixed up than me!

53. Workman Fred

@51

Not playing silly games, this thread is about having a vote on the EU, how do people choice to vote if they don’t know what something stands for & what the long term goal is, we never seem to get the truth when it comes to the EU and where it’s really heading, do we?

dIdn;T you KNOW the EU is been rUN from Argenteena?!!! THAT;S whERE all the NAZis went!! Mark my werds, Hidler;s clONE will be teH prezedent of EU and yo;ull B SORRY!!!!!!! Keep an EYE on the blondes – I’LL look OUT For the DanISH wUNZ?!!!

55. Workman Fred

@54

0H woW +H@NKyoU pH0r J00 IN$19h+, N0W 1 KNOW, y0u’RE 4 5+4r.

56. Workman Fred

Bottom line for me is that the EU isn’t about freedom to trade and move about, it is about controlling our how we trade & move about!

57. Robin Levett

@Merrymaker #48:

“In a federal system, a ‘supra’ state exists above the individual nation states. It will be constituted by a ‘constitution’.”

Sorry, this is a pet peeve of mine. By that criterion, the astronomy society of which I am an occasional member, and the fencing club of which I used to be a member – are ‘supra’ states above nation states. *All* organisations, from stamp collecting clubs upwards and downwards, have constitutions. The idea that a “constitution” is some kind of conspiracy against democracy, or defines the character of an organisation (beyond the fact that it is clearly properly organised) is ludicrous.

@56

The reason there are still restrictions on moving about is because Britain hasn’t signed up to the Schengen Agreement, which would allow us free movement throughout the Schengen Zone.

The reason there are restrictions on trade is to enable harmonization of diverse systems for the benefit of all participants in the Common Market, by clamping down on dubious practices. Free Trade – even as envisaged by Adam Smith – sometimes needs a helping hand as well as an invisible hand.

Why do we need one?
We had a national election where the overwelming majority of the electorate voted for parties that have been broadly pro-EU for the last 2 decades.
If people are so hung up about the EU they should vote UKIP.
Another referendum so soon whould just be a waste of money.

60. Brian Waddle

NoseMonkey, I used to work in Parliament and can tell you that a lot of us don’t or didn’t rely on Commons Library research papers such as the one you mention b/c they were often proved slightly hesistant on figures, particularly in regard to the EU. I even noticed in a research paper that accompanied the Loans to Ireland Bill, talking about how much we contribute to the temporary bailout mechanism, was based on a completely skewered underestimate of how much the UK’s share of the budget is. They put it at 8.6%…I sent an email of inquiry, and it turned out that they firstly couldn’t explain why they’d used such a low figure when even the Treasury has put our share for the last year or two at a minimum of 13%, and secondly admitted even taking into account our rebate wouldn’t get such a ridiculously low number. I was stupefied at the miscalculation in a Commons library publication. So no one should take as fact at all the numbers estimated from this source.

If the AV vote taught us anything surely it was that referendums are finished in this country, they are a silly exercise in people answering questions they weren’t asked, heavily influenced by the popularity of specific parties and easily bought.

Brian @60

I also worked in Parliament, and am aware of the potential limitations of *some* the House of Commons Library’s output.

What can’t be denied, though, is that that document contains several dozen pages of fully referenced research produced by a politically independent body.

Don’t trust its figures? Fine – track down their original sources, do your own research to find more of your own, and report back. I did – in some detail, and before that report came out – and my conclusions tallied more or less with those of the HoC Library: http://www.jcm.org.uk/blog/2009/06/what-percentage-of-laws-come-from-the-eu/

In any case, if you bothered to read the report rather than dismiss it out of hand you’d see that *every* conclusion it draws is *heavily* qualified – the only firm argument that it makes is that it’s effectively impossible to work out the precise figure: all it *is* possible to do is dismiss any estimates that are higher than a certain level.

The paper also, quite rightly, points out that this obsession with percentages and numbers of laws are utterly irrelevant – it’s the impact that matters, not the quantity. (And on that, the EU has very little role in most of the most important areas, as handily illustrated in this post: http://eurogoblin.eu/are-brits-ignorant-of-the-eus-true-and-evil-powers/)

63. LibertarianIntel

I’m as sceptical as the next man about these sorts of politician-inspired campaigns, but NoseMonkey’s your purported ‘debunking’ and ‘rubbishing’ of the facts and arguments set out by the People’s Pledge are much more qualifying and saying ‘well these organisations do it too’ than actually doing any disproving of their facts.

64. Brian Waddle

Nosemonkey, if you think there is an over-obsession with percentages and numbers such as the ones mentioned, you wouldn’t be continuing the debate by pointing to a comparative set of figures then to try and back up your disproving argument then…similarly, pointing out that the Commons library publication admittedly ‘qualifies’ its numbers quite simply undermines any of your attempts to hold it as any kind of ultimate authority.

@63 Sorry – I genuinely have no idea what you’re trying to say. Any specifics?

Brian @64

All I’m doing is pointing out that the People’s Pledge campaign’s assertion that “a majority” of laws are from the EU is bollocks. Attacking me for raising the percentage issue when I was responding to their claim is just stupid.

The reason their claim is bollocks? Because no one knows what the true figure is, but most sensible, non-partisan studies have shown it to be far, far less than 50%.

I’m not going to go into the details of those studies in this thread to justify this any further, because I’ve provided links to the studies I’m.

If you can’t be bothered to click on those links and read the reports for yourself, that says more about you than it does about me, dearest.

67. LibertarianIntel

#1 and #3 (and possibly #4, I haven’t made up my mind completely yet) of your ‘rubbishing of their facts’ do not disprove what the People’s Pledge are stating, you are merely justifying them and drawing comparisons with what you perceive to be similar insititutions and occurrences.

60
The cost of bailing-out European countries is far less than having to address the damage caused by allowing them to struggle with an impossible economic situation. With the fear of being Godwined, we need to understand the original concept of a European economic community and what can happen within countries where the basic needs of the people cannot be met. He who ignores history is doomed to repeat it.
63
As far as the People’s Pledge are concerned, the notion that we can, within the boundaries of the nation-state, do what we wish, is nonsense. And why aren’t they calling for a withdrawal from NATO if they are concerned about the inability of parliament to determine policy.

@67 It was only a brief comment, so I didn’t go into much detail on each of their points – but all have been debunked in detail many, many times before. And not just by me. Some of the links I’ve already posted point to some of these if you’re interested.

It is a fact that all of their points – which they represent as objective truth – are questionable. So for them to represent those points as fact demonstrates either ignorance or dishonesty on their part.

@ 68 “The cost of bailing-out European countries is far less than having to address the damage caused by allowing them to struggle with an impossible economic situation.”

This might be true if the bail-outs showed any sign of fixing rather than merely delaying the problem. What we appear to be doing is increasing our exposure to a delayed but certain disaster.

With the fear of being Godwined, we need to understand the original concept of a European economic community and what can happen within countries where the basic needs of the people cannot be met. He who ignores history is doomed to repeat it.

You’re worried that if the UK leaves the EU, Germany will invade France again? Seems a little drastic.

Shouldn’t we give the people a referendum on whether to nuke France?
Or on whether to give everyone in the country £1000?

Britain doesn’t work on referendums. We elect politicians who reflect our views. You don’t like the EU then vote UKIP. A referendum on the EU would be ridiculous.

There appears to be some significant correlation here. Want to leave the EU? Chances are you think referenda are the best thing since sliced bread even if you wouldn’t support the use of referenda in other areas. Don’t want to leave the EU? Chances are that you claim referenda are down right, foolish, dangerous or impossible to use properly even if you would support their use in other areas.

I think there is a good argument for using referenda when major constitutional changes are considered, to allow an issue to be decided just on that basis rather than as part of a basket of other issues. Of course, I want to leave, so I’m biased, (though simply being biased doesn’t mean that I’m wrong). What should be recognised is that it is very difficult to come to this with an open mind.

74. Watchman

Tyr,

Britain doesn’t work on referendums. We elect politicians who reflect our views. You don’t like the EU then vote UKIP. A referendum on the EU would be ridiculous.

I only had a choice of seven candidates at the election – none of whom represented all my views (or in the case of the Labour candidate, who never sent me any material, any of them, since I knew nothing about what he stood for). So that is hardly accurate – we elect politicians whose views and platforms are the most popular (not reflective) in the area in which they are elected.

For major constitutional issues, is that really sufficient?

75. paul ilc

Left or right, socialist or conservative, free-market or partly constrained market, the people of Britain need to be able to decide their own future — outside of the EU but in the EEA.

I have little time for UKIP obsessives; but the EU is remote, expensive, over-regulatory, democratically deficient, and bent on creating a Euro-superstate (or, possibly, a Franco-German Empire?). A Euro-superstate is not what ‘we’ signed up to. And the regulation is often onerous, expensive and (above all) undemocratic. If these regulations are so wonderful, let our Parliament accept or reject them as a member of the EEA — like Switzerland or Norway.

Of course, we want to cooperate with our European neighbour states: we simply don’t wish to give up so much sovereignty as they do…

For example…While being generally in favour of markets, I believe (perhaps wrongly!) that the UK could only re-build its manufacturing base (though we are still the 6th/7th largest manufacturing nation in the world) behind a temporary and very, very selective tariff wall — balanced by opening the economy further in other sectors.

The unions might not like it; but productivity would have to be remarkably increased. And wages, as in Germany recently, would have to fall to preserve jobs and remain internationally competitive.

Alternatively, free of the EU, we could democratically decide to go down the path of complete socialism ..?

But, surely, that’s for the people of the UK to decide…not the Brussels bureaucracy?

Paul Ilc

Left or right, socialist or conservative, free-market or partly constrained market, the people of Britain need to be able to decide their own future — outside of the EU but in the EEA.

Nonsense.

Fundamental flaw with this is that the EEA abides by EU law.

So, we’d lose all our say on the rules and regulations we’d have to abide by, but have to implement them all the same.

I have little time for UKIP obsessives; but the EU is remote, expensive, over-regulatory, democratically deficient, and bent on creating a Euro-superstate (or, possibly, a Franco-German Empire?)

So you have “little time” for UKIP EU obsessives but share their paranoia?

77. Richard W

The not obviously impoverished Switzerland are members of the EFTA, not the EEA. Moreover, EEA members are not obliged to comply with all EU legislation, agriculture and fisheries are exempt. Maybe a list of examples where our membership of the club resulted in us influencing the decision-making process to our advantage would not go amiss? Our advantage to other members disadvantage would be a fascinating example of influence. Negotiated opt-outs do not count as influence as they almost by definition imply a lack of influence.

78. Planeshift

“Don’t want to leave the EU? Chances are that you claim referenda are down right, foolish”

I don’t want to leave the EU, but do want a referendum on it. Largely because those wanting to leave have demonstrated repeatedly significant support for leaving, and thus a democratic country should put it to the test. Secondly, one way or the other, as an issue it then gets settled and everyone knows where they stand. Without a referendum other states in europe continue to question our commitment, and our dithering holds the EU back from moving forward. Either we are in – and with a public mandate we can carry significantly more influence – or we are out and everyone adjusts accordingly.

Oh Christ – it’s the EEA “Norway and Switzerland are doing fine!” thing. Again.

Norway has oil. Switzerland’s a tax haven. Both have far, far smaller populations than the UK. They are not comparable.

Even if they were – both also have to pay in to the EU budget, proportionate to their economies. Both also have to abide by 80-90% of EU rules and regulations in order to be part of the Common Market.

Because you know what you need for a Common Market to function? Common rules and regulations.

That’s the whole reason *why* the EEC has been shifting down the path towards elements of political union over the last five decades – you need a certain amount of political harmonisation to enable functional, stable economic harmonisation. The lack of greater political cohesion (especially the lack of a common fiscal policy) is one of the major contributing factors to the current eurozone crisis, FFS.

Also worth remembering – these “we’d be better off in EFTA/the EEA” arguments used to have a third “look how well so-and-so’s doing” country included: Iceland.

We don’t hear much about how well Iceland’s doing in the EEA any more, do we?

@Nosemonkey Times like this I wish there was a “like” function on Libcon. Well said.

81. douglas clark

I’d wager that the coming together of the colonies in America had a similar rocky ride.

82. Richard W

Not sure the relevance of size of population between the UK and Switzerland. Is it the case that smaller political blocks are more prosperous? Why then is there a case for a bigger political union with a common fiscal policy. It seems to be that you are implying that Switzerland are prosperous by being small and everyone else should become big to be prosperous.

” Because you know what you need for a Common Market to function? Common rules and regulations. ”

One can only marvel that the so many in the rest of the world, in fact, the majority of countries survive without the EEC to guide them.

” The lack of greater political cohesion (especially the lack of a common fiscal policy) is one of the major contributing factors to the current eurozone crisis, ”

The lack of a common fiscal policy is a contributing factor to the EZ crisis, just as those who said a monetary union without a common fiscal agency and without a common debt issuer predicted that it would end in tears. The great harmonisers knew best. Moreover, even with a fiscal facility they would run into political resistance from northern euro-core taxpayers having their tax receipts spent on the periphery.

” Also worth remembering – these “we’d be better off in EFTA/the EEA” arguments used to have a third “look how well so-and-so’s doing” country included: Iceland.

We don’t hear much about how well Iceland’s doing in the EEA any more, do we? ”

Compared to Ireland, Greece and Portugal plenty of people do actually make that point about Iceland. How is the necessary devaluation going in the periphery?

Although, I do not find the arguments as compelling as I did in the past, I would probably vote to stay in if there was a referendum, However, it is healthy for there to be a debate as both sides exaggerate the case for leaving and remaining.

Richard W @82

What’s relevant is that Switzerland is a wealthy tax haven, Norway a wealthy oil-producing nation. Their small populations mean a greater GDP per capita, which is why they seem more prosperous than the UK, hence mentioning population size.

As for the rest of the world – do you really think there aren’t common rules and regulations outside the EU? Never heard of the WTO? NAFTA? The African Union? ASEAN? CARICOM? SICA? CCASG? EAEC? SAARC? UNASUR?

As for devaluation – always held up as the reason we shouldn’t join a single currency – it was always a cowardly, dishonest last resort, and now is an anachronistic one to boot. Because the world is now globalized. Most debts are held in dollars or euros. Devalue when your debts are in another currency, you end up at best no better off. As a panacea to boost internal trade and exports? Fine – as long as your economy is self-sufficient and you don’t need to buy in any raw materials from overseas. This isn’t the case with pretty much any country in the world these days.

I don’t particularly want a referendum on the EU. I want the country to leave the EU, and a referendum seems to be the only way to get there, as long as the political establishment supports EU membership.

It is true that those who viscerally oppose our membership (such as myself) are a small minority – as are card-carrying Brussophiles like Nose Monkey, with the vast majority busying themselves with their daily lives. The difference is that I’m not afraid to let the people decide. Nose Monkey is.

Moreover, EEA members are not obliged to comply with all EU legislation, agriculture and fisheries are exempt.

Two industries that are of, erm, no relevance at all to the UK economy. WINNING.

Yes, this is why Iceland and Norway are EEA and not EU – because fishing *does* represent a sizeable part of their economies. In the UK, you could discontinue *all* farming and fishing tomorrow, and the net impact on GDP would be lower than that of the 2009 recession.

Nosemonkey@83 – while you’re generally excellent on this thread, you’re wrong about debt-denomination. The vast majority of the UK’s debt is in sterling, which (combined with its long maturity) is why we don’t need to worry about it all that much.

Most international debt is denominated in USD and EUR, and there’s a good chance that an Ireland that had not adopted the EUR would have had to borrow in USD, EUR or GBP rather than punts, but the UK economy is a big enough part of the world financial system that borrowing in squids ain’t no problem.

87. Mr S. Pill

@85

Really, though? I find it hard to believe that if farming & fishing magically just stopped tomorrow it wouldn’t have a dramatic impact on coastal towns and rural areas wider economies… maybe the GDP drop wouldn’t be as large but the human cost would be immeasurable.

@83 ” Their small populations mean a greater GDP per capita, which is why they seem more prosperous than the UK, hence mentioning population size.”

On the face of it that doesn’t seem to make any sense. If small populations really mean greater GDP per capita then we should just fracture into ever smaller countries. I assume I’m missing something here?

@87 yes, of course – it’d ruin hundreds of communities and tens of thousands of lives. It would also be a really stupid idea. But the point is that the vast majority of the population that lives in urban and suburban communities would see virtually no difference. We’ve got an excellent case study for what would happen in the coal mining industry.

@88 – you’re missing the difference between GDP and GDP per capita, by the look of things.

Norway GDP per capita = c.$79,000
UK GDP per capita = c.$35,000

Norway GDP = $382 billion
UK GDP = $2,170 billion

The reason for Norway’s high GDP per capita is North Sea Oil. Unless the UK discovers some more oil reserves, or similar, breaking into smaller units will do nothing for our GDP per capita or effective wealth.

91. Mr S. Pill

@89

Oh, ok. Gotcha.

92. Richard W

@ 83. Nosemonkey

” As for devaluation – always held up as the reason we shouldn’t join a single currency ”

The argument against monetary union is that a one-size-fits-all monetary policy self-evidently does not work. With the ECB tightening policy in the midst of economic dysfunction in the periphery we now have one-size-fits-one monetary policy.

The external exchange value of ones currency acts as a shock absorber for the economy. If the exchange rate can’t depreciate to an economic shock something else must adjust. The euro is acting as a fixed exchange rate for the periphery with the performing well economy of Germany as the anchor for the external value of the euro. So, the something else must adjust is still a devaluation, however, it is an internal devaluation. Manifest in grinding deflation over many years as all prices must fall- nominal and real wages must fall and public services will be slashed because the country is fixed to a currency around 30% too high for the macro state of their economy. No democratic government has ever survived such a deflation.

Yes, nearly all sovereign debt crisis are because debts are denominated in foreign currency. Foreign currency debts are exactly what the sovereign debt of the periphery are like because they do not have an independent monetary policy. The periphery nations could always if they left the EZ re-denominate their external sovereign debts to local currency. They would be locked out of capital markets for a few years but they are already effectively locked out.

Richard W @92

“a one-size-fits-all monetary policy self-evidently does not work”

Does that depend on the size? If so, how big are we talking?

The US is 3.8 million square miles with a population of 300 million. The dollar seems to work fine, despite vast regional economic differences.

India is 1.2 million square miles with a population of 1.2 billion. The rupee seems to work fine, despite even vaster regional economic differences.

The EU is c.1.6 million square miles with a population of 500 million. Is there *really* any reason why it wouldn’t function as a single currency zone, just like the US and India?

Or does it depend on the monetary policy?

Just because the Eurozone as it currently stands wasn’t set up properly doesn’t mean that a single European currency area can’t work.

92/93: you’re both right. The EZ doesn’t have a fiscal transfer mechanism in the way that the US (or indeed the UK) do as a single currency area, which allows the government to tax bits that are doing well to relieve the pressure on bits which are doing less well.

It would be excellent if the Eurozone were to establish a fiscal transfer mechanism – however, I think it’d be a struggle to sell that to the German and French public.

95. Luis Enrique

Nosemonkey @93

it depends on whether the proposed union is an Optimal Currency Area

here is short Krugman blog post on question with ref to EU

@95 Yep – always an interesting one. I wrote a post on the concept a couple of years back, before I knew the term: http://www.jcm.org.uk/blog/2009/10/first-europe-then-the-world/ (I’m an historian, not an economist by training…)

Personally, I’ve always thought that the EU/Europe *could* become an optimal currency area, but that EMU was pushed too far too fast. The euro launched too quickly, with too many countries and too few rules and procedures. It’s not too late for this to be fixed – probably – but still…

97. Richard W

This is what economist Paul De Grauwe was saying in 2003, which is pretty much what happened.

” With up to twenty-seven members instead of the present twelve, the challenge for ensuring a smooth functioning of the enlarged Eurozone will be daunting. The reason is that in such a large group the probability of what economists call ‘asymmetric shocks’ will increase significantly. This means that some countries may experience a boom and inflationary pressures while others experience deflationary forces. If too many asymmetric shocks occur, the ECB will be paralyzed, not knowing whether to increase or to reduce the interest rates. As a result, member countries will often feel frustrated with the ECB policies that do not (and cannot) take into account the different economic conditions of the individual member countries. This leads us to the question whether the enlarged EMU will, in fact, be an optimal currency area. ”

A successful optimal currency area requires.

(a) symmetry of shocks across countries
(b) Trade and investment integration
(c) labour mobility and wage flexibility

Cultural and language barriers are certainly not insurmountable problems. However, there really is very little labour mobility in the EU vis-a-vis an OCA such as the US. Different areas of the US have a wide variety of development and were impacted with varying degrees of severity in the recession. However, as John B alluded to a fiscal transfer mechanism is key and none exists in the EZ. Mundell who was the father of the euro predicted that each members borrowing costs would converge. Converge they did and that was the trouble because the periphery were able to borrow at unheard of low rates compared to the rates that prevailed in the past. Until Mr Market woke up and realised that they were not all Germany so why should they borrow at the same rate as Germany. Unless of course, some intra-European body was going to guarantee the debts. Without a guarantee investors dumped the periphery debt and the blow out in yields is just saying you can only get more at penal rates until a European Treasury guarantees payment.

Just saying let’s set up a fiscal transfer mechanism is far from straightforward. The euro-core nations can already borrow at low rates. Therefore, there is not much incentive for them to move to a common euro bond, which is what would be required to finance a fiscal body. Although, Germany are very much against a common euro bond as they see it would be them very much on the hook for the liability. Even if they were in favour of a euro bond, they and the rest of the euro-core would not agree unless the federal European fiscal body exercised control over national budgets. That would mean the EZ periphery would be effectively ceding the last vestiges of their sovereignty.

The problems of the EZ can be fixed and an OCA of sorts can be created. However, it can’t be fixed within the existing framework of the EZ. The euro architects always knew the EZ was inadequate and a crisis would eventually occur, and a crisis would lead to a deepening of European integration. However, they did not foresee the severity and they are like startled rabbits trying to deal with the fall out. Who knows what choices individual countries will eventually make. However, the EZ will not survive in its present form.

98. Richard W

Here are a couple of links for you Nosemonkey comparing the experience of the EU member the Czech Republic which has a floating exchange rate and Latvia pegged to the euro. And the floating exchange rates of Poland and the Czech Republic with the pegged Latvia and fixed euro periphery nations.

http://dolanecon.blogspot.com/2010/05/why-exchange-rates-matter-in-crisis.html

http://www.economonitor.com/dolanecon/2011/05/26/failure-of-austerity-in-europe-what-does-the-latvian-exception-prove/


Reactions: Twitter, blogs
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