Monday, April 17, 2006

The EU In or Out?

About a week ago I met someone, who I suppose could best be described as a small businessman, who made me stop and think; at one point the conversation turned to the EU, and this man made the statement that he thought that Britain would be better out of the EU altogether. For several reasons I find it quite astounding that someone in his position could even begin to think in this way; his reasons are that the EU 'rules and regulations' make it that much harder for him to run his business, when in fact the particular problems he was moaning about do not stem from EU 'rules and regulations' at all in that the legislation his making life difficult for him is purely home grown legislation. How can any intelligent person think that by pulling Britain out of the EU will make the 'rules and regulations' go away; whether within or without any business wishing to trade in Europe will still have to abide by them, either that or they will have to find new trading partners.

For a very long time I also thought that the whole Europe thing was a complete waste of time, and I am still not totally convinced by it; however, I am enough of a pragmatist to realise that it is better to inside fighting and making a contribution to the said 'rules and regulations' rather than to be sitting outside looking in and having absolutely no influence whatsoever in the decision making that would affect me. As I say, I am still not totally convinced that the EU is a good thing, but I do think that it is very much the lesser of the available evils, as to be outside of it would mean a degree of ostracisation from Europe driving us towards closer ties with the U.S. and all that this would entail, and that thought scares the hell out of me.


Blogger The Pedant-General in Ordinary said...

Go for the Norway/Switzerland type options: EEA or EFTA.

The difference is that we are bankrolling the show, but not actually using the leverage that this gives us: even before we consider the appalling trajectory upon which the EU sails, its current set up is sufficiently ghastly to merit leaving now.

the EU should only be a free trade area no more. Everything that is does more than this is superfluous and wrong.

To take up the substantive point of your small businessman, leaving the EU would also remove the cover our homegrown bureaucrats have to enact appalling legislation. It might focus the mind on the Westminster machinery a little more...


Monday, April 17, 2006  
Blogger roadrunner said...

Just to get the facts straight, Norway pays a massive sum to the EU in return for which it accesses both the EU internal market and benefits from some EU spending policies. Accordingly Norway is not a member but (a) has to abide by a raft of internal market laws over which it has had no influence, and (b) pays to the EU budget. But let's not have the facts stand in the way of a good rant...

Monday, April 17, 2006  
Blogger Serf said...

How can any intelligent person think that by pulling Britain out of the EU will make the 'rules and regulations' go away; whether within or without any business wishing to trade in Europe will still have to abide by them, either that or they will have to find new trading partners.

If you trade with Japan, you have to abide by their rules, with the US likewise and with the EU it is the same.

So What.

The vast majority of all business transactions that involve British Businesses have absolutely nothing to do with the EU. First the majority of business is domestic and secondly the EU accounts for a minority of our foriegn trade (I am not arguing that they are not important her).

Under the current arangement all of these transaction are subject to stupid European regulations.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006  
Blogger roadrunner said...

Oh dear eu-serf. You are quite correct right to assert that most UK business transactions are accounted for by 'internal' (i.e. intra-UK) trade. This is the same for all industrialised countries. Even as an 'open' economy, UK exports only account for something around 25-30% of GDP. But on trade - sorry, you are spectacularly wrong as the data shows. Taking 2004 (although you could take virtually any year since the mid-1970s), the Balance of Payments Pink Book records that 58.7% of UK exports of goods go to the 25 EU member states, and 40% of exports of services. And, for that same year, 56% of UK imports of goods came from the EU25, and 53% of our total imports of services originated within the EU.

There is absolutely no doubt whatsoever that the EU25 overwhelmingly constitutes the UK's main trading partner.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006  
Blogger voice-of-reason said...

RR is right on this occasion. As an ex-economics student and current student of politics I can say it is a well known fact that the EU counts for the majority of our trade. Geography dictates that it must be so.

I am personally a keen advocate of free markets and no fan of 'rules and regulations' so I can empathise with those who think that excessive EU interference is unhealthy. The Working Time Directive and the Social Chapter to name just two examples of EU inspired proto-socialism.

However as well as being a free market liberal I am also a pragmatist. In the 1979 Britain's GDP was smaller than Italy's and half that of France's. It is now larger than both and growing yet faster. It is no coincidence that this revival coincides with membership (and dare I admit it MT). The best way to combat any threat to our new found prosperity is by setting a good example from within that others would follow.

Thursday, April 20, 2006  

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