2017-12-07 10:01:15 UTC
"The European Union is best understood as an imperial construction, if not exactly an empire. Once you see it in this light, the moral pretences are unmasked."
"“Life in Europe in 2017 is resembling more and more what it was like under colonial administration. We are subjected to an invisible administration that shapes our destiny down to the tiniest details. Should we really be surprised that it is leading to revolts,” said Mr Van Reybrouck"
"The late colonial regimes had "councils of the people" just as there is a European Parliament today, but substantive power resided in the imperial executive, acting “far away from us, without us, on our behalf”, like Brussels today. Rising prosperity was beside the point. Every nation lives in “permanent anger” when not master of its own house, wrote Indonesia’s nationalist leader Sukarno in 1930.
Mr Van Reybrouck says the colonial reflex was to portray rebel leaders as deviants. He quotes a Dutch minister dismissing Indonesia’s resistance movement as a hopeless endeavour that drew on the lowest, least-educated castes. Sound familiar? “It is the routine: always reduce the problem to a few rotten apples contaminating the rest,” he said.
Defenders of the Project will retort that the EU is a voluntary treaty club of sovereign states, and each has a seat at the table. This is what Plato would have called a "Lie in the Soul". The grim ordeals of Ireland in 2010 or Greece in 2015 exposed the emptiness of that shibboleth, and Britain’s tortured efforts this year to extract itself shows that the EU is unlike any other treaty organisation of modern times. You have to fight your way out."
"We do not wish to live under a higher supranational regime, run by a European Council that Britons do not elect directly and can never remove – even when it persists in error – and guided by a Commission priesthood with quasi-executive powers. Nor do we want to live under an EU supreme court that acquired sweeping supremacy under the Lisbon Treaty, with no right of appeal.
We are retrieving lost prerogatives, much as the American colonies in the 1770s aimed to retrieve legislative powers whittled away by George III. Even if you do not accept this description, it is clear that the monetary union must lead ineluctably to fiscal and political union over time or fail, and that leaves Britain in an impossible position. The Project veered away from us. It has become a “Utopia without nation states”, as EU president Donald Tusk called it in a moment of candid despair.
Let us not lose sight of this constitutional struggle as talks reach a crunch point in Brussels. As I feared, the Government has fallen into the Greek Syriza trap: it tried to bluff the EU, with the same outcome of concessions and retreat. It is now so determined to secure a Phase 1 deal that it is grasping at delusional formulae such as EU "regulatory alignment" for Ulster.
What are we to make of the latest twist by David Davis, who now talks of such alignment for the whole UK? A straitjacket of this kind would prevent Britain striking trade and service deals with the US, China, Japan, or India. If it means anything, it means staying within the EU Customs Union. It would leave the UK trapped in limbo, an EU member without a vote, unable to break free step by step in the future.
Such a concession might unlock a transition but this solves nothing. It defers the cliff-edge, and is in any case a fast depreciating asset. As Lloyd’s of London chairman Bruce Carnegie-Brown said at the Milken summit this week, financial services are being forced by regulators to act as if there were a no deal scenario. “A hard Brexit is being baked into the plans already,” he said.
A mere FTA deal for goods does not need ratification but it is also worthless. It preserves the EU’s unfettered access to our goods market and safeguards their £80bn trade surplus, but offers no reciprocal access on services that make up four fifths of the British economy and where we have a large surplus. It hangs the City out to dry.
If this is all the EU has to offer, we should not waste any further time and credibility asking for it. We should opt for a WTO framework with today’s very low tariffs, and make the £50bn divorce settlement contingent upon the EU displaying common sense on airline landing rights, Euratom, sensitive food trade, and other cliff-edge matters. If the EU wishes to offer a better deal later, the door should remain open."
[Time to bite the bullet and walk]