There's only one kind of EU on offer
If after four decades we have been unable to reform-from-within, perhaps it is time to consider reform-from -without
The Telegraph's Jeremy Warner wrote today, "Stay and fight for a better Europe: that has to be the rational approach."
If only the EU, he suggests, became more liberal. If only, it would rein in its "sillierdirigiste forces". If only the Brussels elite did not "routinely ignore the referendum votes of its member states". If only, if only ...
For once I must disagree with my favourite business correspondent.
Jeremy's "rational approach" ignores the fact that this is precisely what we have tried to do for the past 40 years. And failed. How is it rational to keep trying the same thing over and over again and expecting different results?
Staying in and fighting for a more liberal, less rule-bound Europe is precisely what Britain has done for a generation. We have remarkably little to show for it.
Far from being the free market we were promised, the single market has come to resemble a system of economic-activity-under-license. Far from "coming our way", the EU has seen ever more centralised rule making. Back in 2000, Tony Blair assured us that the Lisbon Process meant the EU would be "the most competitive economy in the world" by 2010. Such claims are ridiculous.
Jeremy talks about curbing the EU's "wilder flights of fancy". But isn't the EU project itself a flight of fancy, built as it is upon the idea that the social and economic affairs of millions of Europeans can best be arranged by grand design? Look at some of the appalling consequences.
"Reform" writes Jeremy "is generally better achieved from within than by storming out in disgust." That might sound sensible, but where do we see evidence for it?
In recent years, many nation states outside the EU – Switzerland, Turkey, New Zealand, Canada - have implemented far reaching reforms, leaving them stronger and better able to compete in the world economy. Again and again, it has been EU member states who, having delegated decision-making to an inept elite in Brussels, have failed to adapt.
If after four decades we have been unable to reform-from-within, perhaps it is time to consider reform-from-without.
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