The Uk as a late entrant to the EEC had to accept many of the rules and schemes that were already in existence when it joined. Subsequent enlargements ,and four major Treaties strengthening Brussels powers and competence later, and the EU is even less to the UK’s liking than at the outset.
France wanted a comprehensive centralised agricultural policy to subsidise many small and inefficient farms. The aim is to keep agricultural prices high,impose barriers against non EU farmers, and send substantial subsidies to the domestic farmers. Germany has gone along with this as well. The UK has under successive governments claimed it wants a more open market based system, with freer entry for products from poorer countries, less subsidy to inefficient farms, and lower prices for consumers. France has never been willing to concede these changes. Mr Blair needlessly sacrificed an important chunk of the Thatcher rebate for promised reform of the CAP which never materialised.
France believes that the purpose of a single market is to regulate everything that goes on in an otherwise free market. The regulations are usually based on the preferences of the largest companies with a presence in the EU, especially those French and German companies that are good at lobbying the legislators. France sees single market measures as ways to keep out unruly competition. They often damage smaller entrants or make innovation difficult. France seems to be able to use these rules to her own advantage, whilst the UK often finds these rules put British interests at a disadvantage.
In 1972 the UK began the break-up of the sterling area. Various justificiations were offered at the time, but the imminence of EEC membership and the development of the snake, an early forerunner of the ERM and the Euro, probably influenced UK Treasury thinking. The French and others felt that running a large sterling area for non EU countries was not compatible with taking membership of the EEC seriously. It is curious to note that the same logic was not applied to the French franc zone. The West African and the Central African franc currency areas have survived the Snake, the ERM and Euro membership for France.
The UK makes a bigger net contribution to the EU than France, yet France persists in making the UK rebate the cause of special disagreement. The rebate was invented to deal with the grossly unfair financial deal that applied to the UK, mainly because the farming policy was so skewed against UK interests. The UK pays far too much in for the alleged benefits of membership. If it’s free trade and friendship you want, it should not cost anything like the UK’s subscription.
Soon the EU increases the levies on art transactions made in the London market, likely to switch more business to New York.
The UK thought it was joining a cricket club, that would play by the rules. It turns out it has joined a multi sports club, and has to pay for the rugby, football, swimming and ice hockey, even though it still only wants to play cricket. Meanwhile, it appears that the Uk takes the rules more seriously than other club members.