There are a number of central claims to the Remain campaign. They are easily dismantled with the right analysis and the proper arguments.
“3.5 million British jobs are directly linked to British membership of the European Union– 1 in 10 British jobs.”
It is dishonest to say jobs depend on the EU, they depend on the Single Market; the EU is not the single market, and access to the market does not require EU membership. We would continue to participate in the Single Market after leaving the EU, and there are several methods of doing so. It would be politically impossible for our own government to close our markets, and detrimental to EU Member States, it is simply not in anybody’s interests. The UK is already a contracting party of the EEA, thus all of the technical measures are in place. The EEA agreement does not state that leaving the European Union concomitantly means leaving the EEA, consequently this will be a matter of pragmatic political discussion, and it is un-feasible for the EU to attempt to exclude the UK.
“The EU negotiates trade agreements with the rest of the world. Outside the EU Britain would have to renegotiate trade deals alone. While the EU is the world’s largest market, a UK outside the EU would not be a high priority for other counties to negotiate a trade deal.”
This is, again, dishonest. Plenty of countries with smaller economies than the UK have trade deals and free trade agreements with major powers. Crucially, we would not have to negotiate trade deals alone, we can flexibly form alliances and coalitions at the WTO level to secure better terms. Leaving the EU means regaining control of our trade policy, which is now an “exclusive power of the EU”. We could sign our own bilateral free trade agreements or negotiate participation in multilateral agreements in the future. Leaving the EU means we can choose with whom we trade, and on what terms, it means we can take the initiative in matters of trade, rather than taking a back seat and waiting for the cumbersome EU to lead the process, or go the EU cap in hand to ask for them to pursue an agreement to our benefit.
Mexico is an interesting example of what can be achieved by a country with a relatively small economy (Mexico’s GDP is $1.295 Trillion) with the agility and independence to act in the globalised economy and take advantage of its strengths and flexibility. Through a policy of pursuing free trade agreements – including with major economies such as China, Japan and the EU – with 45 countries it has been able to lower tariffs for its car exports across the world and achieve favourable deals on the import of components. It has gained a competitive edge over the USA, the world’s largest economy, because the USA, like the EU, has protectionist trade barriers around its market. Mexico has achieved this by making simpler, separate agreement rather the kind of vast, all-encompassing deals the EU prefers. This is a better model for global trade, the EU does things in an old-fashioned and inefficient way.
Imagine what the UK (with a GDP of $2.989 Trillion) could achieve if it regained control over its trade policy. We have a flourishing automotive, aerospace and pharmaceutical industry and growing creative industries and a tradition of facilitating free trade by breaking down barriers. Now we are compelled to adopt a common EU position, and wait years while the EU lumbers through negotiations for vast, bundled “big bang” trade deals – with other Member States quibbling over issues related to their own interests and holding back, or even preventing agreement – and we have to go to the EU to ask them to pursue agreements beneficial to our industries. If we leave we’d be able to act independently, and have the agility and flexibility necessary to prosper in the modern era of globalisation, this freedom to act is a fundamental strength befitting of a major modern economy.
“British families enjoy lower mobile phone roaming charges, lower credit card fees, cheaper flights and proper compensation when flights are delayed or cancelled. These sorts of benefits could not be achieved by Britain alone.”
So much of what we assume to be – and are encouraged to believe – benefits of being in the EU are in-fact the result of agreements at a global level. It is not a coincidence that Africa and China have recently dropped their roaming charges. It originates from a convention agreed through the Organisation for Economic Cooperation (OECD). The OECD has for some time been making recommendations regarding the telecommunications industry seeking to curb roaming charges – this is an internationalissue best dealt with on a global level – if anything the EU had delayed the process. The EU often delays or dilutes global agreements; we should be involved directly at an international level rather than going through the EU middleman. In this case, like others, the EU is dishonestly taking credit for a global agreement.
“Through commonly agreed EU standards, national Governments have achieved improvements to the quality of air, rivers and beaches. Good for Britain and good for Britons holidaying or living abroad!”
The majority of these are international standards agreed at global level by global bodies such as the World Health Organisation, the United Nations Environment Programme and major British non-governmental organisations. They are then adopted by the EU vertabim. A vast array of global bodies exist to facilitate the creation and implementation of international standards. The EU often dilutes them, or delays them. Some of the measures the UK has to implement are counter-productive, or even inferior to our own standards. Outside the EU we would have an independent veto – or “right of reservation” – at the global level, as well as at the European level via the EEA agreement. We need a stronger voice at the “top table” to protect our national interests and get the right results for our unique island.
“The EU has taken on multinational giants like Microsoft, Samsung and Toshiba for unfair competition. The UK would not be able to do this alone.”
We could not, of course, do this alone, nor should we try. But neither should we be restricted by political constraints; we need to cooperate on an intergovernmental basis with other nations, and have the flexibility to form alliances to protect joint interests and promote our point of view.
As we shift into a whole new era of globalisation, with a global marketplace emerging, even the EU can no longer act alone. There is an ever increasing need for globalcooperation, as we have seen with roaming charges and many other issues. We need a stronger role at the WTO to clamp down on unfair trading practices and help promote free trade. Tax avoidance is discussed by our media as if it were an issue only relevant at the European level, it isn’t.
We will likely see an OECD convention on tax avoidance soon. This is something the EU can attempt to clamp down on within its own borders, but in a global marketplace, we have to deal with such issues on a global level, and to make our voices heard and deal with other nations in an equitable manner, we need intergovernmental cooperation, rather than being subordinate to a supranational government. Britain has a big part to play; we just need to leave the EU.
“Freedom to work and study abroad – and easy travel”
Although opinions vary on freedom of movement, it is generally a good thing in need of reform. Freedom to move across borders with relative ease is another beneficial effect of globalisation, and freedom of movement in Europe is – despite well known anxieties and concerns – a liberty that Britons would loath to lose. As participants in the Single Market we would retain freedom of movement with the EU, although we would gain an “emergency brake” safeguard measure if the levels are deemed too high, as set out in Articles 112-3 of the EEA Agreement.
The concerns about high levels of immigration are widespread and need addressing in the long term. However, the fact of the matter is that mass migration is a global issue that cannot simply be managed at a national level, it has complex and multi-layered causes, and the majority of immigration to the UK is from outside the EU. Leaving the EU will however give us the freedom to initiate reforms to the global asylum rules that tarnish the reputation of free movement. The best way forward is, again, intergovernmental cooperation.
“The EU has helped secure peace among previously warring western European nations. It helped to consolidate democracy in Spain, Portugal, Greece and former Soviet bloc countries and helped preserve peace in the Balkans since the end of the Balkans War. With the UN it now plays a leading role in conflict prevention, peacekeeping and democracy building.”
The end of the historic, and bitter, battle for dominance of the continent between France and Germany neutralised a centuries old sparking point for war in Europe, but the case of Yugoslavia and Ukraine are blights on the idea that Europe has enjoyed permanent peace since WWII. The peace is has enjoyed is almost entirely down to NATO.
As for the issue of democracy, this is a meaningless boast from an organisation that is itself not a democracy and in-fact has a record of undermining democracy and bypassing it. The EU is shifting Europe into a post-democratic age as it becomes unified under a supranational government.
On matters of foreign policy, when it tries to act as one, the pooling of sovereignty leads to procrastination and inertia. The EU seeks a common foreign policy and boasts a vast diplomatic machine but, for example, when it tried to act on intervention in Libya, it could not obtain consent from Germany, and failed to adopt a common policy. The EU diplomatic corps was acting without a mandate. When action was needed, it was taken, and it was the result of intergovernmental cooperation under NATO. The argument over whether bombing Libya was a good idea is another matter, but the point is that the EU acts in its delusional belief that is it a state itself, and attempts to act as such, leading to delays while people die. This isn’t security.
The UK is much more effective on the global stage working independently, cooperating on an intergovernmental basis and securing alliances through the United Nations.
“Equal pay for men and women is enshrined in EU law, as are bans on discrimination by age, race or sexual orientation. This benefits Britain and British people who live in other EU countries.”
More proof that the EU is a redundant middleman taking credit for the work of global organisations. The International Labour Organisation operates at the global level and has carried out much of the work to achieve better conditions for workers. Most of the EU regulations and human rights provisions mention ILO conventions and rules by name. In most instances, the EU is a law taker, not a law maker. The international process is concealed by this extra layer of complex governance and our media barely reports on it. Britain needs to be dealing direct and bringing more transparency to the process. The EU causes delays as it struggles to adopt a common position. The law we adopt is often weaker due compromise of the common position.
“As 28 democracies, and as the world’s biggest market, we are strong when we work together. Britain is represented in many international organisations in joint EU delegations – giving Britain more influence than it would have alone. The EU has played a major role in climate, world trade and development.”
The EU is the world’s biggest market, but it’s not going to stay that way. We need move past this parochialism; the world is our market! In the global marketplace, it is better for countries with common interests to meet at a time of their choosing and work to remove tariffs and technical barriers to trade.
The UK needs agility to take advantage of the emerging global market, but we are always stuck in the same bloc, bound by geography and politican union, and worst of all, we are subordinate and cannot act according to our prerogative. The EU seeks to dictate the terms and timescales and insists upon all-encompassing trade deals that push its social agenda, while the rest of the world progresses with smaller, less complex sector specific deals. Any emerging industry that isn’t at the top of the EU’s list loses out, an emerging industry that is particularly gathering strength in Britain but not across the EU is not going to get the boost it needs if we cannot take the initiative, we shouldn’t have to go to the EU with a begging bowl.
Britain is a major technological and intellectual innovator and needs to be taking a leading role on the global stage, convening meetings of nations and non-state actors who have an interest in nurturing industries and emerging economies as well as exploring new ideas. We cannot do that in the EU. The level of influence you exert on the regulatory process is proportionate to the level of technical expertise you can offer, this is an area in which Britain punches well above its weight in the world. We will have a big say in this process after we leave. We need an independent voice at the top table, and a veto, and the ability to choose our alliances according to the situation.
“Common rules for the common market make it unnecessary to have 28 sets of national regulations”.
The majority of the regulations are made by global bodies, a vast array exist for the creation of international standards, most notable include the International Labour Organisation, the International Maritime Organisation and the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe. The fact is that it isn’t just the 28 EU countries that are sharing a set of common rules; the EU has simply rubber stamped global standards that have also been implemented in countries across the world.
In an increasing number of sectors the global market is really coming together, with over a hundred countries adopting the same regulatory frameworks. As globalisation advances, it is the harmonisation of trading and commercial standards – facilitated by global bodies pushing for nations across the world to adopt international standards – that is breaking down trade barriers, this process will continue apace.
Britain should be a force for progress in this process, and be an independent actor at the top tables making it happen, using its considerable expertise, and increasing transparency and making the process properly accountable to our own parliament. When the EU signs accords and conventions on our behalf, it is making a decision for almost half a billion people, and has forced the adoption of a common position and denied us our ability to register a reservation and protect our specific interests.
The European Parliament cannot protect the interest of all EU Member States. The global regulatory process is incredibly complex, and not democratic enough, the EU is one of the main obstacles to improving the situation, adding a whole level of complexity and superfluous governance, and concealing a process already lacking in transparency.
“The UK is the second largest beneficiary of EU research funds, and the British Government expects future EU research funding to constitute a vital source of income for our world-leading universities and companies.”
It is ludicrous and downright dishonest to suggest that leaving the EU means the end of international cooperation. All I advocate is a return to the principles of intergovernmentalism, of the kind historically preferred in Britain, and deliberately undermined by the visionaries of the European project. Leaving the EU will be a new dawn in intergovernmentalism.
The EU’s research programmes are extensive and make a huge contribution. We will continue to involve ourselves in a wide range of EU programmes and non-EU programmes in a mutually beneficial relationship with our allies and neighbours.
However, these programmes are also regrettably used as a means of strong-arming Member States into surrendering certain controls over their own affairs. This prevents such cooperation from moving forward and expanding.
Increasingly we should again look for global cooperation, beyond the confines of the EU, there is no room for parochialism in a globalised world.
Also, let’s not forget that although the EU says it funds our universities, we are a net contributor… it is in-fact our own money!
Much of the Remain case is based on a lie that the EU is the Single Market, when in-fact you do not have to be an EU member to participate in the market, and the majority of the rules of the market are increasingly global standards.
Another pillar of the Remain case is that Britain is weak, insignificant, unable to pioneer meaningful reform or influence the world positively; they assert that we cannot survive in the world without surrendering democracy and giving up on our right to self-determination.
This is all underpinned by the need to conceal the globalisation dynamic that destroys their arguments on influencing regulation, highlights the need for control of our own trade policy and is clearly showing the resilience of the nation state. The post-WWII viewpoint, central to the EU, held that the democratic nation state was redundant but this has been proven wrong. The move to dissolve nation state democracy in Europe is based on an archaic 20th century idea based on an ideology born over a 100 years ago and made popular amidst post-war trauma. It has now been discredited.
Europhiles are inward looking on Europe and unaware or uninterested when it comes to globalisation. There’s is a redundant vision from yesteryear that ignores and hinders progress, a myopic ideology that ignores the last thirty years of technological progress.
Trade is global and so is regulation and we need new and more transparent institutions in light of that. Europhiles want their “European Community”. We want a global community and a community of equals that works on cooperation, not subjugation.
Presently, our voice is silenced by the EU. At best we have 1/28th of a voice and only 1.2 MEPs per million people. Europhiles would call that democracy – but any system where the voice of over sixty million people can be overruled cannot by definition be democracy. Voting rituals alone don’t make a democracy and when the voices of so many are drowned out, that peace the EU claims to keep will not last.
This referendum is a chance to correct a historical mistake and to retake our place in the world as a true democracy. One way or another we will eventually leave the EU. This is an opportunity to do it peacefully, amicably and without disastrous repercussions.
This post was originally published by the author 8 March 2016 and was primarily written by Peter and Richard North http://thescepticisle.com/2016/03/08/europhile-myths-debunked/