Saturday, June 06, 2015

Europhiles: The lies they tell

Pro-Europa has published its list of twelve reasons to stay in the EU. They're making it easy for us. Let's have a look...

1. Jobs
Around 3.5 million British jobs are directly linked to British membership of the European Union’s single market – 1 in 10 British jobs.

We're not sure this is quite right. We think it's closer to five million jobs that depend on free trade as part of the single market, and may be substantially more. But Pro-Europa is being dishonest in that the EU is not the single market. That would be the EEA which we would have full access to as part of Efta.

2. Exports & investment
The EU buys over 50 per cent of UK exports (54 per cent of goods, 40 per cent of services).
Over 300,000 British companies and 74 per cent of British exporters operate in other EU markets.
American and Asian EU firms build factories in Britain because it is in the single market.

Again we see the same lie put a different way. They will persistently conflate the single market with the EU. Our illustration above shows that isn't the case. It's looking more and more like we can boost trade by exploiting more favourable deals outside the EU. Our car industry may depend on it.

3. Trade
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 dishonesty on stilts. Plenty of countries have free trade deals with powers like China and replicating the same memorandum of understanding is no major undertaking, assuming we would need to, but having EU affiliate status as an EEA member means our existing trade deals don't change. If anything it means we can negotiate new trade deals a lot faster as Iceland and Norway do.

We have seen in recent years a departure of the US automotive industry to Mexico which trumps the US on free trade. It has agreements with 45 countries, meaning low tariffs for exporting those cars globally and favourable deals on the import of components, for which both the US and the EU have protectionist barriers on. We can do better.

4. Consumer clout
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.

For me this is something of a moot point since my Three mobile never works when I leave the country but this is all mainly fluff. Certainly nothing worth surrendering our democracy for. That said, in reality, these benefits are the result of global agreements. It's a little dishonest for the EU to take credit for them.

5. Clean environment
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!

Most of these standards are agreed at the global level by the WHO, UNEF and major British NGOs. They are then adopted by the EU verbatim. All the EU does is either water them down or delays them. Some of these measures are actually counter productive or inferior to our own standards. Outside the EU we would have a veto at the global level but we usually end up voting for the common EU position. We need a stronger voice at the top table to make sure we get the right results for our unique island.

6. Power to curb the multinationals
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.

I'm not entirely sure that a sovereign nation could not take on the multinationals alone. Iceland does. We have a large enough market to make our voice heard, but supposing Pro-Europa is right, nobody is talking about making the EU our enemy. It is inconceivable that we would cease to co-operate with the EU on mutually beneficial matters as indeed Norway, Turkey and Israel do.

7. Freedom to work and study abroad – and easy travel
1.4 million British people live abroad in the EU. More than 14,500 UK students took part in the European Union’s Erasmus student exchange scheme in 2012-13. Driving licences issued in the UK are valid throughout the EU.

Again this is playing on the assumption that the EU is the single market. It isn't. Free movement would still be a reality outside of the EU, only we would have a great deal more control about who we let stay and what benefits they are entitled to. It should also be noted that Efta members and Turkey are full members of Erasmus.

8. Peace and democracy
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.

This is an assertion that will make some of our readers choke on their cornflakes. Ukippers believe the EU was directly responsible for the chaos in Ukraine. One could argue a strong case, but a more moderate individual would still say Ukraine was badly mishandled by the EU in its rush to get an association agreement, and it can be said that such cowboy diplomacy was indeed a provocation to a wounded Russia. Similarly the EU's ill thought out intervention in Libya has consequences. The EU also weakens African governments adding more instability to the region.

We think NATO can take more credit for keeping the peace. As for "consolidating democracy", it's a meaningless expression from an institution that is itself not a democracy. The notion that the EU helped secure the peace is mildly offensive given how dependent Europe was on the USA for its military security during the cold war - and still is.

9. Equal pay and non-discrimination
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.

If anything the EU has always lagged behind Britain in such ventures, but this is one of those areas where the noble stated intent has very different results in practice. Unintended consequences can be more damaging than discrimination. In modern Britain the people themselves would be successful in fighting for and securing such rights and would find they were kicking at an open door given the diversity of MPs in Westminster. It is preferred that such rights are fought for and won from the grassroots level rather than imposed by a supranational authority. Rights so easily gifted can be just as easily be revoked. We need control over our own employment and discrimination laws.

10. Influence in the world
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.

This assertion is risible. The repeated europhile meme is that Norway has no influence outside the EU. This is a lie. The dishonesty of this received argument preys on the ignorance of the public in where EU law comes from.

The vast majority of EU law is not EU in origin. The EU institutions themselves employ fewer than the BBC collectively thus cold not possibly author the masses of regulation churned out all the time. They come from international bodies such as WP.29, WTO, UNECE, Codex, NAFO and a dozen other bodies you have probably never heard of - on which the EU effectively takes out seat and negotiates on our behalf.

While Ukip and others say we don't have a seat at the WTO and other such institutions, we do. However, trade is an exclusive competence of the EU so we're forced to adopt the common EU position derived from its advanced observer status. What this means is we have no independent power of veto.

Norway on the other hand is a member of Efta but still has its own independent vote because Efta is not a supranational organisation. Thus Norway gets a veto on single market rules and regulation before they even get down to the EU level. Such regulations do not get as far as the European Parliament without a global agreement. So when it comes to things like automotive industry regulations, Norway has more say than we do, and it doesn't even have a car industry. Many of the employment regulations, so called "workers rights" come from bodies as diverse as the ILO and WHO. Norway has a strong influence there too.

Norway used its veto when it came to the 3rd Postal Directive, a Directive the UK had no option but to implement. That's British "influence" for you.

11. Cutting red tape
Common rules for the common market make it unnecessary to have 28 sets of national regulations.

Red tape gets a bad name. The EU is accused of adding red tape but not all of it is bad. Different regulatory regimes create technical barriers to trade. Regulatory harmonisation facilitates trade. Consequently, there is a global effort to harmonise regulations, and most regulations are now made at the global level. Presently we have no power of veto at the top table as an EU member. That stops us preventing bad laws or new laws weaker than our own.

As it happens, securing a global agreement with Japan's automotive industry to join the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) would eliminate much of the regulatory divergence in the automotive industry. A comprehensive "trade deal" between the EU and Japan then becomes largely redundant. If we can work toward a similar agreement in electronics then again the EU is totally irrelevant.

Similarly the The International Air Transport Association (IATA) and UNECE has signed a Memorandum of Understanding to strengthen their support to developing countries seeking to implement the World Trade Organisation (WTO) Trade Facilitation Agreement. All the bluster about the EU negotiating with other blocs is a mentality belonging to the last century, with global trade bodies now securing their own interoperability frameworks, leaving the EU far behind.

12. Fighting crime
The European Arrest Warrant replaced long extradition procedures and enables the UK to extradite criminals wanted in other EU countries, and bring to justice criminals wanted in the UK who are hiding in other EU countries. Eurojust helps UK authorities work with other EU countries’ to tackle international organised crime such as drug smuggling, people trafficking and money laundering.

As crime is moving off the streets and onto the internet, it's never been more important to have intergovernmental co-operation. On the whole, we would argue that the EAW is a good thing in principle and we could very easily opt into it without being members of the EU - and we might even secure certain essential opt-outs. It certainly wouldn't be in the EU's interests to refuse if that was our choice. Pro-Europa seems to think Brexit marks the end of all international co-operation. That is, frankly, silly.

13. Research funding
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

This is what is known as a bare faced lie. Israel and Switzerland are global leaders in scientific innovation. They are not in the EU.

In conclusion we can see that the europhile case is built on the lie that the EU is the single market, that Britain is weak and can't survive without surrendering it right to self-govern, and seem predominantly inward looking on little Europe, seemingly unaware of globalisation or keep to distract you from it. It is a myopic vision locked in the ideology of yesteryear and seems to ignore the last thirty years of technological progress. Trade is global and so is regulation. They want a "European Community". We want a global community.

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 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.