UK vs. the EU

Okay, i'll admit, fully 80% of my reason for posting this article is the fantastic accompanying graphic:

IMAGE(http://media.economist.com/sites/default/files/imagecache/full-width/images/print-edition/20130126_LDP001_0.jpg)

Anyway, here's the lowdown.

DAVID CAMERON’S vision for Europe is compelling. The prime minister wants a European Union dedicated to free trade and competitiveness, which helps business rather than tying it in red tape. It should be a “leaner, less bureaucratic union”, he says. There should be intense co-operation on things like tackling terrorism, but, as far as possible, decisions affecting the people of a country should be made by the government of that country. The club must include Britain. All this he laid out in a long-delayed and epochal speech in London on January 23rd.

But Mr Cameron’s plan to realise his vision is risky. He intends to renegotiate Britain’s relationship with the EU and then to hold a referendum on whether Britain should stay or leave. The vote will be held in the first half of the next parliament—by the end of 2017, in other words.

Full Article

That is an amazing graphic.

Cameron seems to have a solid point. The EEC was established an an open trade zone, yet the EU since the merger of the various pillars seems to have become a centralised mess, and members are highly protective.

Hopefully some people closer to the coalface can weigh in.

It's the "I Love Maggie" that makes it extra special

The SNP wants a Scotland separate from England dedicated to free trade and competitiveness, which helps business rather than tying it in red tape. It should be a “leaner, less bureaucratic Scotland”, he says. There should be intense co-operation on things like tackling terrorism, but, as far as possible, decisions affecting the people of Scotland should be made by Scotland.

The man's a hypocritical idiot... Is my particular take on the subject. "Better Together" my arse.

Ultimately though this is just a gamble he used to avoid getting stabbed in the back by his own party, and to woo back anyone insane enough to consider voting for UKIP.

MrDeVil909 wrote:

That is an amazing graphic.

Cameron seems to have a solid point. The EEC was established an an open trade zone, yet the EU since the merger of the various pillars seems to have become a centralised mess, and members are highly protective.

Hopefully some people closer to the coalface can weigh in.

Even on the ground level the differences are stark. The craziest thing to me is when you travel between Euro and non-Euro countries and you realize how different they are. And I'm speaking simply from my perspective as a tourist. Little things like cleanliness of buildings, restrooms, restaurants, etc. A country like Croatia has to scrap because they're coming from a place of relative weakness compared to, say, Belgium. So you can see the anti-Euro sentiment there. They voted for entry into the EU, but I'm not sure they'll ever fully integrate. I'm not sure the people want to. Just anecdotally it seems like the advantages of being part of the EU and especially the Euro zone are far outweighed by the lack of flexibility in governing their country in a way that allows them to continue to climb out of being a poor country.

Are you saying Croatia is their Mississippi?

How does Cameron propose to overcome the German problem?

Why are you comparing Croatia to Belgium?

Why not compare Slovakia, EU country, to Poland, non-EU country. I bet they have more similarities than differences.

goman wrote:

Why are you comparing Croatia to Belgium?

Arbitrary, honestly. Two countries I've been to in a span of days on multiple trips? My point was nothing to do with Croatia specifically. It's just the little things you notice. When we're talking about red tape one of the things that immediately springs to mind are small business and superficially how hygienic things are or seeing open air markets with obvious knock-off products (knock-off Beats by Dre hanging on hooks in an open-air stand in Split comes to mind).

It's not hard to imagine the restaurants in Split being forced to do more to come up to code. Or the government being forced to crack down more on illegal goods. And, once again, that's just a superficial observation. I've been to Croatia and other countries in the Balkans the last two years. My wife and I are going to the Balkans again this year. We really love it there. But I think it would change dramatically if it were part of the eurozone.

Two EU threads Prederick? I've got about an hour day of free time as is. /shakes fist

On the OP itself, I agree with stevenmack, this is entirely about protecting the Torys right flank.

As for the points that DS raises, hygiene on the level you highlight is a national issue not a European one and you can find cheap knock offs here on Moore Street so I think your concerns are misplaced. If there are areas where Croatia have to "come up to code" they are usually covered by EU structural funds, which are paid for by the richer (called creditor over here) countries, like say Belgium. Due to this stimulus and other factors, I cannot think of a single country that on joining the EU didn't see average living standards raise, often significantly. Even the most die hard Tory eurosceptic now admits that access to the Common Market is of benefit.

On the issue of integration, well it depends what you mean by integration. Are people looking for a federal Europe? I'd say no and even europhiles like me don't want it either. On the other hand, are people looking for a centralised banking authority, for example? Seeing as the creation of one is occurring with little friction, clearly, yes. So when you talk of integration you really have to define the parameters of that integration as its different from person to person.

In the heel of the hunt however, more than likely the most dramatic change in the short term you'll notice from Croatia accession this July is the upgraded airport and roads you use to get to your hotel. Probably an increase in office blocks in certain commercial locations. Perhaps more tourists. Eurozone membership, on the other hand, is at least a decade off for Croatia for both external and internal reasons.

MrDeVil, about Cameron having a point, well he doesn't really. He only does if you assume that before the EEC/EC/EU came along Europe was a free trade paradise with nations respecting each others economic interests. I won't bore you with the details but it just wasn't. Is the situation as it exists perfect? Not by a long shot. But what went before was so complex that it made it almost impossible for any entity bar large multinationals from trading across borders never mind travel and movement of labour.

And as for the "this wasn't what we joined in '73" line, its entirely bogus. TREVI was created in '72 (ratified in '75) and the EPC (European Political Cooperation) was created in 1970 both the forerunners to the now common security and foreign policies. To claim that they didn't know about them in '73 is just not believable. Did nobody think to ask what "Ever closer Union" actually mean? What I actually believe is the Torys want all the benefits of being Europeans but none of the responsibilities and this is just special pleading.

Goman, I'm sure you meant "eurozone" and not "EU". Perhaps a better comparison is Latvia/Lithuania with Estonia? We must converge on the old EU debt thread soon as I want to tackle you over the Baltic Tigers current situation not to mention all other water that has flowed under the bridge since the start of the year. Need to find the time

Thanks for the insight, Axon. Hopefully my many qualifiers about this being my perspective as a tourist came through in my post. I just know what I see with my eyeballs and what I hear talking to vendors in countries like Croatia. (They were voting on EU membership when I was there last). If issues of code and red tape aren't as pervasive then what's Cameron talking about? Does he mean red tape at a higher level?

KingGorilla wrote:

How does Cameron propose to overcome the German problem?

If it were an intelligent leader of an mainstream political party we were talking about, then I'd suggest negotiation.

But it's the Tories and their Daily Mail reading blue-rinse voters. So I'm guessing that if you asked any of them, this is how they would envisage dealing with Germany.

IMAGE(http://cdn5.warhistoryonline.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/2453833-lancaster-bomber.jpg)

Axon wrote:

MrDeVil, about Cameron having a point, well he doesn't really. He only does if you assume that before the EEC/EC/EU came along Europe was a free trade paradise with nations respecting each others economic interests. I won't bore you with the details but it just wasn't. Is the situation as it exists perfect? Not by a long shot. But what went before was so complex that it made it almost impossible for any entity bar large multinationals from trading across borders never mind travel and movement of labour.

NPR's Planet Money did a show about the complexities and the changes just this past year.

DSGamer wrote:

Thanks for the insight, Axon. Hopefully my many qualifiers about this being my perspective as a tourist came through in my post. I just know what I see with my eyeballs and what I hear talking to vendors in countries like Croatia. (They were voting on EU membership when I was there last).

All part of a discussion and any view is interesting. Just remember that what the EU does and doesn't do is often poorly understood or even deliberately misrepresented for political reasons. Which leads us to...

DSGamer wrote:

If issues of code and red tape aren't as pervasive then what's Cameron talking about? Does he mean red tape at a higher level?

Well, we are dealing with a whole host of issues here. Torys are light-touch regulation believers so there is a degree where they see any red tape as something to be avoided and let the market control matters. There is also the issue around the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) which many seem to believe that is somehow tied to EU membership. Rulings such as the issue over prisoner's voting rights incensed many in Britain but the ECHR isn't a body of the EU, its an entirely different organisation and therefore another issue.

There are areas the need reform (Fisheries one clear example) but they are generally due to fudged decisions due to vested interests lobbying their national representative and not really due to excessive form filling. There are EU directives that have added to the overhead of day-to-day business, for example the Data Protection Directive, but you'd be hard pressed to see how if Britain left the EU that they would drop many of these directives regulations or wouldn't have to apply them anyway to gain access to the Common Market.

The tragedy here is the Germans and the British actually see eye to eye on most EU regulatory issues but the British have succeeded in isolating themselves so badly that Germany can't ally with them effectively. In fact it has only strengthened the Franco-German relationship which is a pity as a trilateral centre would serve the EU better.

Unfortunately a major issue in Britain is the media and especially the papers who are unrelentingly negative towards the EU. Any half-baked story about the EU gets printed such as banning things from double decker buses to barmaids breasts. This has resulted in very poor public opinion in the EU and to a large degree this is the "over regulation" that Cameron is responding to as well. This little clip from the British show QI sums it up quite well and even hits on a few of the threads issues.

The long and short of it is its very hard to tell what Cameron actually means unless he spells it out clearly and currently he has left it deliberately vague. Perhaps that is part of his plan but unless he is willing to actually state what is it that is worth arguing membership over I'm going to have to answer with a "I don't know".