Thinking For The Individual

Formerly known as 'Thinking For The People', this site offers some reflections on the state of British society and her people from the perspective of a libertarian Conservative with a passionate belief in the pillars of freedom and responsibility.

Monday, June 06, 2005

The European Union: A Tryst With Folly

The House of Commons has been debating the crisis with the European Constitution today. It has been interesting to watch how this has become a debate in which we can all merely shout out our complaints about the practices and the policies of the European Union. Bernard Jenkin (Conservative) has been rubbishing the idea of a European common defence and foreign policy. Jeremy Corbyn (old Labour) has complained about how the constitution may have, in its old state, been harmful to social welfare throughout the continent. The Liberal Democrats have been persistent today in calling for greater transparency over how the EU works and operates.

Debates over the constitution have always been and are always going to be about our biggest and heaviest gripes with the European Union. Considering that we know so little about how it works and who does what and why, it is unsurprising that the EU gets a bad press here in Britain. And let me say, the number of times I have heard people say the words 'when we go into Europe' in the last few weeks has been astounding.

But it's not as though I'd ever have it any other way. As an ardent and self-proclaimed Eurosceptic, I am delighted that the popular view of the EU is of a bloated bureaucracy doing nothing at all except shuffling papers and regulating the size of bananas. But if we really intend to debate our place in Europe, then we all need to have a much greater idea of where our place is now, and what it is that we want or don't want a place in.

However, if the European Union remains a club for the continental political elites to get what they want; if it serves for the French to get their farm subsidies, for the British to hang on to its last slice of power in world events; if its opponents pick and mix everything they don't like about it, whether that is its alleged attempts to bring about a common foreign policy or its failure to bring about a common foreign policy, or its leaning towards the free market or its failure to lean towards the free market enough; if Europe can not work together, then the Union deserves to perish.

Unless the continental elites secure that glued-together alliance they hunger for, then the Union will perish, and I shall be the first to celebrate the end of this tryst with folly.

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