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Happy Birthday To EU? 24 March 2007

Posted by David in Comment, EU, Europe, European Union.

Today millions are being spent to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Treaty of Rome, which founded the European Coal & Steel Community, which became the EEC, which became the EU. It feels like one of those children’s stories – “the cat that ate the mouse, who scared the maid, who milked the cow, who ate the grass, that stained the clothes, that irritated the parents, who remortgaged the house that Jack built”.

Regular readers will know that I do not like the EU, and the Telegraph lists some of the recent news stories that give reason for such a dislike.

March 1: The head of the European Commission says it would be illegal for any country to opt out of the Social Chapter. March 6: A report by Eurochambers shows that EU productivity is 20 years behind that of America. March 7: A Brussels magazine analyses the EU’s policy towards business in the light of the fact that 100,000 of the 170,000 pages of EU regulations and directives have been produced in the past 10 years. March 12: Publicans complain because the Commission wants the crown stamp removed from British pint glasses. It is revealed that the EU pays for free massages for the unemployed. The European Commission wants to set up a bigger embassy, a “House of Europe”, in London, costing £1 million a year. EU foreign ministers refuse to agree sanctions against Khartoum for massacre and expropriation in Darfur. March 13: A row about the EU attempt to ban incandescent lightbulbs. March 15: The Monetary Affairs Commissioner admits that trade within the EU has not grown since the creation of the single currency. March 16: Plans for a centralised European database of fingerprints, biometric information and criminal records are set out. A BBC investigation reports that the EU now has a “standing army”. March 19: 44 per cent of all Europeans and 52 per cent of the British tell an FT poll that their life has got worse since joining the EU. Fifty-three per cent of Europeans think that Britain has the biggest say in international affairs of any member state. Only nine per cent think this is true of Germany, six per cent of France. Disabled people won’t be able to go on holiday because the Working Time Directive forbids their carers to work more than 11 hours at a stretch. Foreign Secretary Margaret Beckett says that Britain will “rise above” demands for a referendum on the expected new European Treaty, which will try to push forward the defeated constitution by other means. The European Parliament considers a proposal to regulate all football in the EU. March 20: A commission spokesman blames the previous day’s poll on “nostalgia and insecurity”. A British farmer is forced to destroy his £500,000 herd of cattle under EU rules because of irregularities between their passports and their ear-tags.

But my dislike of the EU is not based on news stories, but principle. I oppose the European Union on the grounds that I am a believer in liberal nationalism, rather than the EU’s crazy euro-nationalism. Let me explain.

I believe the “state” and thus the government should be freely formed around the naturally occuring and organic “nation” – a nation being defined as a group viewing themselves as a nation, distinct from other nations. Naturally this could lead to ever constant disintegration, so some limit must be placed on it, generally geographic sense, language and history.

This is the reverse of what the EU is attempting, which is to create a state/government (Romano Prodi said “for the powers I have [as European Commission President] there is no other word than government”) and then form a European identity around it, hence efforts to create Europe Day, flags, anthems etc. It’s also why the USSR had so many Stalin statues, Rome had the Emperor on coins everywhere, and why China is transforming Tibet.

You can see the difference. Liberal views build the state around the people, the other view builds the people around the new state.

But such a project is not only illiberal, but dangerous. When people live within a state but do not see each other as the same, the result will never gain legitimacy in their eyes. Then you see the rise of a violent form of nationalism, the nationalism of a people denied self-determination within a supra-national state – precisely such a state as the EU is becoming. Just look at Yugoslavia or Iraq to see that supra-national states cause trouble. And with the EU’s obsession with removing differences, and to standardisation (called “harmonisation – to soothe British feelings” as Schroeder put it), tensions will be a problem.

I am not anti-Europe, Europe is a continent, but I am anti-EU. I want independence not just for Britain, but for France, Spain, Germany, Italy, Poland, Belgium… Europe’s greatness lies in the fact it is many, instead of just one. Vive la difference, vive la independence.



1. hydralisk - 24 March 2007

The federation of the USA worked in the end, but not before we had a big bloody civil war over our differences. And that was with essentially only two cultures among us and only one language.

The examples of federation experiments failing (Yugoslavia, Soviet Union, etc) do seem to be numerous.

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