Archive for the ‘EU’ Category

Keep calm and Brexit on: History suggests leaving Europe is great for Britain

Thursday, July 14th, 2016

The exit of Great Britain from the European Union is a clear demonstration that history is not linear. Countries may go in one direction and then in another. Many people also believe Brexit shows that countries can retrogress after having reached the pinnacle of civilization. This is certainly true. It happened with Rome, for instance. But I argue that this is not the case of Britain with Brexit. In fact, it might be the best thing for Great Britain in the long run.

Certainly, what the British voted for goes against the grain of conventional wisdom. For many centuries, we have believed that countries get better as they become bigger, or part of a bigger political entity. In this way, many people think that modernization in Europe began in the 17th century with the integration of the many feuds of France into a unified kingdom under Louis XIV.

The unification of the United States created a country that was not just big, but great. Germany became a power to reckon with only after its unification, carried out in the Palace of Versailles in 1871. And Europe had seemed to be reestablishing the grandeur it lost during the course of two world wars by coming together in the European Union. Now Britain spoiled the inexorable march of progress by voting itself out of the European Union. Or, at least, that is what the overwhelming majority of people in the world seem to be thinking.

Is the majority right?

What did Britain vote for?

The almost universal disdain for what Britain did on June 23 is based on four mistaken perceptions. First, most people seem to believe that the country voted against free trade and globalization. This voters did not do. They voted against being members of the European Union (EU), an institution bent on creating something like the United States of Europe, establishing a common European sovereignty over all its members. Voters have not said that they want to isolate Britain. On the contrary,they have said that they want to remain a globalized country and very close to Europe.

Just spoke in the European Parliament, they were pleased to see me as you can tell.

Tuesday, June 28th, 2016

https://www.facebook.com/nigelfarageofficial/videos/1056952377685698/

I told them that the EU referendum result was about ordinary, decent British people saying we want our country back!

Nigel Farage FROZEN out of Brexit negotiations in plot described as ‘lunacy’

Tuesday, June 28th, 2016

A FURIOUS Nigel Farage has been frozen out of cross-party talks which will negotiate Britain leaving the European Union.

Nigel Farage has been frozen out of cross-party Brexit talks

The Ukip leader was expected to be central to negotiations in both his role as an MEP and as a prominent Brexit campaigner.

But the official Vote Leave campaign headed by Boris Johnson and Michael Gove was quick to distance itself from Mr Farage.

A senior Vote Leave source said: “Nigel Farage’s involvement has come to an end.”

 

representatives in Brussels, including leader Nigel Farage, should be central to the negotiations.

He said: “It would be lunacy for Nigel Farage not to be involved in our renegotiation.

Ukip leader Nigel Farage was expected to be central to negotiationsGETTY

Ukip leader Nigel Farage was expected to be central to negotiations

Nigel Farage hit back saying he had tried to work with the campaign for a yearPA

Nigel Farage hit back saying he had tried to work with the campaign for a year

“Throughout this campaign, despite vicious attacks from all sides including some stupid ‘blue-on-blue’ attacks from Vote Leave administrators, he showed that he was the man in touch with the majority of voters.

“And he is the elected politician with the most experience and knowledge of Brussels and of the Brussels process, having sat on the European Parliament’s Conference of Presidents since 2004.”

He added: “Yes we have achieved our Brexit aims of an independent United Kingdom, but the mandate we were given as MEPs by the voters is to stay there until the day we leave to ensure the best interests of the country.

“That means staying on committees to vote on legislation that will affect the UK whilst we are still members and most importantly, taking a significant role in the renegotiation process which would not be taking place if it wasn’t for Ukip and Nigel Farage.”

It’s unclear when Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty- the two-year formal process by which the UK will leave the EU- will be triggered.

But a cross-party committee is to be created to lead the negotiations as the Prime Minister faces pressure to speed up the divorce talks.

MEP Jane Collins said Ukip will get the best deal for BritainGETTY

MEP Jane Collins said Ukip will get the best deal for Britain

Vote Leave campaigner Boris Johnson leaves his Oxfordshire home this morning

Jane Collins MEP, who has been campaigning for Brexit for 18 years, said she and Mr Hookem “will be breathing down the necks of the people negotiating to make sure they get the best deal for Britain and for our constituents in Yorkshire and North Lincolnshire”.

Mr Cameron, who announced his resignation on Friday, said he hopes a new leader will take over in October to deal with negotiations.

The Prime Minister said: “I will do everything I can as Prime Minister to steady the ship over the coming weeks and months but I do not think it would be right for me to try to be the captain that steers our country to its next destination.”

But European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker said the proposed delay “doesn’t make sense”, and he was backed by foreign ministers of the EU’s six founding members, meeting in Berlin for emergency talks on Britain’s seismic vote.

Backing free movement of labour would be a betrayal of the Brexit vote

Tuesday, June 28th, 2016
People have had enough of struggling to get their kids into the local school or of feeling the pressures of uncontrolled migration at their local GP surgery. They want a Britain where their kids are able to get on the housing ladder in their lifetime. It would be nothing short of a betrayal if the result of Brexit was anything other than a border policy that brought down migration numbers significantly to alleviate these pressures on our infrastructure.

In my view a net migration range of 30,000 – 50,000 net per year would be an ambitious and sensible level to aim for. It would mean that companies in this country would need to invest more in training British youngsters rather than relying on cheap foreign labour. Yes, in some cases, this means paying British workers higher wages. It would also mean that where there are genuine skills shortages we would retain the ability to plug those gaps effectively.

10 Myths about leaving the EU

Wednesday, June 22nd, 2016

FIRST MYTH: BRITAIN WOULD LOSE THREE MILLION JOBS IF WE LEFT THE EU

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If Britain withdrew from the EU it would preserve the benefits of trade with the EU by imposing a UK/EU Free Trade Agreement.

The EU sells a lot more to us than we sell to them. In 2014 there was a trade deficit of over £50bn, with a current account deficit of nearly £100 billion. It seems unlikely that the EU would seek to disrupt a trade which is so beneficial to itself.

– Moreover, the Lisbon Treaty stipulates that the EU must make a trade agreement with a country which leaves the EU.

– World Trade Organization (WTO) rules lay down basic rules for international trade by which both the EU and UK are obliged to abide. These alone would guarantee the trade upon which most of those 3 million jobs rely.
SECond myth: BRITAIN WILL BE EXCLUDED FROM TRADE WITH THE EU BY TARIFF BARRIERS

-The EU has free trade agreements with over 50 countries to overcome such tariffs, and is currently negotiating a number of other agreements.

-EU now exempts services and many goods from duties anyway. In 2009 UK charged customs duty of just 1.76% on non-EU imports. This is so low that the EU Common Market is basically redundant as a customs union with tariff walls.

Third MYTH: BRITAIN CANNOT SURVIVE ECONOMICALLY OUTSIDE THE EU IN A WORLD OF TRADING BLOCS

-The EU is not the place where most economic growth is occurring. The EU’s share of world GDP is forecast to decline to 22% in 2025, down from 37% in 1973.

-Norway and Switzerland are not in the EU, yet they export far more per capita to the EU than the UK does; this suggests that EU membership is not a prerequisite for a healthy trading relationship.

-Furthermore, Britain’s best trading relationships are generally not within the EU, but outside, i.e. with countries such as the USA and Switzerland.

-The largest investor in the UK is not even an EU country, but the US.

fourth myth: THE EU IS MOVING TOWARDS THE UK’S POSITION ON CUTTING REGULATION AND BUREAUCRACY

-EU directives are subject to a ‘rachet’ effect – i.e. once in place they are highly unlikely to be reformed or repealed.

-Less than 15% of Britain’s GDP represents trade with the EU yet Brussels regulations afflict 100% of our economy (the 5th largest in the world)

-Over 70% of the UK’s GDP is generated within the UK, but still subject to EU law.

-In 2006 it was estimated that EU over-regulation costs 600bn Euros across the EU each year.

-In 2010, Open Europe estimated EU regulation had cost Britain £124 billion since 1998.

-Whilst red tape savings are not direct cash savings, deregulation would result in a true ‘bonfire of regulations’ that could fund either sizeable tax cuts or additional public spending.

fifth myth: IF WE LEAVE, BRITAIN WILL HAVE TO PAY BILLIONS TO THE EU AND IMPLEMENT ALL ITS REGULATIONS WITHOUT HAVING A SAY

-We have very little say within the EU, and would have far more leverage outside EU as an independent sovereign nation and the world’s 5th largest economy.

-The UK currently has only 8.4% of voting power ‘say’ in the EU, and the Lisbon Treaty ensured the loss of Britain’s veto in many more policy areas.

-Britain’s 73 MEPs are a minority within the 751 in the European Parliament.

-With further enlargement (Croatia, Turkey’s 79 million citizens), British influence would be further watered down.

-As for continuing contributions by an independent Britain, Swiss and Norwegian examples show that the UK would achieve substantial net savings.

swiss-flag-300x201

SWISS CASE STUDY:

Official Swiss government figures conclude that through their trade agreements with the EU, the Swiss pay the EU under 600 million Swiss Francs a year, but enjoy virtually free access to the EU market. The Swiss have estimated that full EU membership would cost Switzerland net payments of 3.4 billion Swiss francs a year.

norway-flag-300x218

NORWAY CASE STUDY:

Norway only had to make relatively few changes to its laws to make its products eligible for the EU marketplace. In 2009, the Norwegian Mission to the EU estimated that Norway’s total financial contribution linked to their EEA (European Economic Area) agreement is some 340 mn Euros a years, of which some 110mn Euros are contributions related to the participation in various EU programmes. However, this is a fraction of the gross annual cost that Britain must pay for EU membership which is now £18.4bn, or £51mn a day.

sixth myth: THE EU HAVE BROUGHT PEACE TO THE EUROPEAN CONTINENT

The Reality:

-Even now, the EU is only 28 nations of the 47 European nations listed as national members of the Council of Europe.

-The forerunner to the EU, the Common Market, didn’t come into existence until 1958, and then only with 6 nations, and yet there was no war between European countries from 1945 to 1956 (except the Hungarian revolution). Whilst peaceful international cooperation is welcomed at all levels, to say the EU is the sole guarantor of peace is an extreme exaggeration that is dishonest in its application.

-It is NATO, founded in 1949 and dominated by the USA, and not the EU, that has actually kept the peace in Europe, together with parliamentary democracy. Both of which are being undermined by the EU.

-The former German President Herzog wrote a few years ago that ‘the question has to be raised of whether Germany can still unreservedly be called a parliamentary democracy’. This was owing to the number of German laws emanating from the EU- which he assessed at some 84%.

-The break up of Yugoslavia was a major test of the EU’s ability to keep the peace. It was EU interference that helped trigger a major civil war and its dithering contributed to deaths of some 100,000 people. It was only decisive action by the US/NATO forces that stopped the violence. Peace was established by the US-brokered Dayton Agreement.

seventh myth: THE EU HAS A POSITIVE IMPACT ON THE BRITISH ECONOMY

-British industries such as fishing, farming, postal services and manufacturing have already been devastated by Britain’s membership of the EU.

-EU membership costs UK billions of pounds and large numbers of lost jobs thanks to unnecessary and excessive red tape, substantial membership and aid contributions, inflated consumer prices and other associated costs.

– The Common Fisheries Policy has cost British coastal communities 115,000 jobs (Lee Rotherham, 10 years on)

eighth myth: BRITAIN WILL LOSE VITAL FOREIGN INVESTMENT AS A CONSEQUENCE OF LEAVING THE EU

-In a 2010 survey on UK’s attractiveness to foreign investors, Ernst and Young found Britain remained the number one Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) destination in Europe owing largely to the City of London and the UK’s close corporate relationship with the US. EU membership was not mentioned at all in their table of key investment factors, which were (in order of importance): UK culture and values and the English language; telecommunications infrastructure; quality of life; stable social environment, and transport and logistics infrastructure.

-In any case, open access to the EU market would continue through a Free Trade Agreement in the manner of Switzerland and Norway whilst the UK would gain from higher growth, less regulation, more public spending and/or lower taxes and more suitable trade deals.

ninth myth: BRITAIN WILL LOSE ALL INFLUENCE IN THE WORLD BY BEING OUTSIDE THE EU

-Britain has a substantial ‘portfolio of power’ in its own right, which includes membership of the G20 and G8 Nations, a permanent seat on the UN Security Council (one of only 5 members) and seats on the International Monetary Fund Board of Governors and World Trade Organisation.

-The UK also lies at heart of the Commonwealth of 53 nations. Moreover, London is the financial capital of the world and Britain has the sixth largest economy. The UK is also in the top ten manufacturing nations in the world.

-Far from increasing British influence in the world, the EU is undermining UK influence. The EU is demanding there is a single voice for the EU in the UN and in the IMF. The EU has also made the British economy and City of London less competitive through overregulation, and negotiates more protectionist and less effective trade deals on behalf of the UK.

-The European External Action Service (EEAS) and its EU ‘Foreign Minister’ Federica Mogherini are undermining national diplomatic representation and the furtherance of British political and commercial interests through British embassies, which are being closed or downsized around the world.

-The Commonwealth is increasingly discriminated against by the EU policy on visas, so that non-EU Commonwealth citizens face having to obtain visas whilst citizens of even new EU entrants have automatic entry. Historic Commonwealth bonds with Britain are being lost.

tenth myth: LEGALLY, BRITAIN CANNOT LEAVE THE EU

-Technically, Britain could leave the EU in a single day. Legislatively, this would be achieved simply by repealing the European Communities Act 1972 and its attendant Amendment Acts through a single clause Bill passing through Westminster.

-If the British people voted to leave in an In/Out referendum or by voting in a party with EU withdrawal on its manifesto, Parliament would have to respect the will of the British people and there would be no justification for delay or obstruction in either House.

-However, the process of setting up a replacement UK/EU Free Trade Agreement will take longer, though there would be no need for time-consuming negotiation of tariff reductions if the UK/EU Free Trade Agreement merely replicated existing EU trade arrangements.

-In addition, even the Lisbon Treaty’s Article 50 enshrines the right of member states to leave the Union, albeit in an unattractive manner. The same article requires the EU to seek a free trade deal with a member which leaves. Greenland established a precedent for a sovereign nation by leaving the EEC in 1985, and is prospering well outside of it. With Westminster still sovereign (for the moment), it is the British Parliament who will decide how and when Britain leaves the EU.

 

 

 

 

Vote Leave

Wednesday, June 22nd, 2016

A sense of denial permeates the corridors of power in Brussels as the June 23 referendum on British membership of the European Union (EU) nears. Communications staff are rumored to have been banned from using the word “Brexit” – the common neologism for a ‘leave’ vote. Ask any official about contingency plans for such an outcome, and the answer is unequivocal: there is no Plan B.

While it is understandable that officials in the E.U’s de-facto capital do not want to consider the political and economic ramifications of a difficult divorce, the reality is that Brexit would at the very least open up a long and difficult negotiating period and years of uncertainty.

Here is what we do know: in the event of a ‘leave’ vote, Britain must promptly notify the E.U. Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty – the equivalent of the E.U’s constitution – allows for a two-year period in which the terms of the leaver’s exit are negotiated. During this time Britain would no longer be able to take part in any E.U. decision-making, and any exit agreements must be approved by all 27 remaining E.U. nations and the European Parliament. Then after Britain’s formal exit, fresh negotiations could begin on any new trade deals.

And here is what we don’t know: how any of this will actually work in practice.

“It has never happened before so nobody would be able to rely on any precedent,” says Chris Bickerton, a lecturer at Britain’s Cambridge University and author of The European Union: A Citizen’s Guide. “The Treaty of Lisbon was drafted with the idea that [Article 50] would not be used, and to make it pretty hard to exit in a smooth way… it simply has not been done before so things will be made up as they go along.”

In the days after a ‘leave’ vote, the European Parliament and ministers from other major E.U. powers would probably meet to formulate their response to the biggest blow yet to the union. A summit of E.U. leaders is already scheduled for June 28/29, five days after the vote, and they would be looking to minimize the impact on financial markets and the risk of contagion to other Euroskeptic countries.

A divided British government meanwhile would need to somehow unite on a negotiating position, and decide what sort of relationship they wanted with the E.U. in the future. Would they still want access to the single market? What status would they want for the two million E.U. citizens currently employed in Britain, and the equivalent number of Britons working elsewhere in Europe? What sort of trade deals would they wish to pursue? These proposals would then be put to the other 27 E.U. members — who may not be inclined to play ball.

“I don’t think they will be disposed to go out of their way to do Britain any favors,” says Richard Corbett, a Member of the European Parliament for the British Labour Party and a ‘Remain’ campaigner. “Why would you go out of your way to help a member who has just walked out slamming the door?”

Donald Tusk, President of the European Council and one of the most senior E.U. officials, warned this week that after a Brexit it would take at least seven years to try and forge a new relationship between Britain and the E.U. “without any guarantee of success.”

Beyond the practicalities, European leaders are terrified that a ‘leave’ vote will embolden Euroskeptics and prompt similar moves elsewhere within the bloc. Increasingly popular Euroskeptic parties in The Netherlands, Sweden, Denmark and France have called for either a referendum on leaving the E.U. or a renegotiation of their relationship.

“If the U.K. leaves everyone will be asking who is next,” says Bickerton. “This referendum is not some uniquely and quixotic British affair – it is the tip of an iceberg and the iceberg is growing sentiment that the E.U. is not doing its job and people are unhappy with it.”

This is where some countries are formulating their Plan B. European diplomats have ruled out a last-minute deal to keep Britain inside the E.U. if its citizens vote to leave. But France and Germany– who along with Britain are considered key powers in the union – are in talks to try and come up with a unified response to stop the bloc disintegrating.

The problem is they themselves are not unified. France traditionally favors greater integration among the E.U. nations, and especially the 19 members of the euro single currency, and bristles against the austerity regime pushed by Germany.

Germany, however, would not be eager to bring its neighbors closer together in the aftermath of a departure. Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble made clear in an interview with Der Spiegel magazine that a push for further integration would run counter to the message sent by any vote. “This would be crude,” he said. “Many would be right in asking whether we politicians have still not understood.”

So the resulting Franco-German plan is likely to be a watered-down pledge on greater cooperation on security and defense which will be unlikely to please the more ardent Euroskeptics, Bickerton says.

And while a ‘leave’ vote would be a disaster for the EU, a ‘remain’ vote would not be painless. The British Prime Minister David Cameron in February agreed with E.U. leaders on a package of reform, but that still needs to be approved by the European Parliament.

And the debate about the future of the E.U. and dwindling public trust will not simply disappear, no matter what the stubborn eurocrats in Brussels want to believe. Whatever the result on June 23, sticking with Plan A may no longer be an option.