The German British Forum and the single market

 

On 6th June I attended the 18th annual conference of the German British forum.  I seemed to be the one Eurosceptic invited to put a different point of view. Most of the participants expressed views which were very positive about the EU in general and the single market in particular. Most wanted to get over the message that they would like the UK to stay in, and regard staying in as crucial for our economic well being and for the trade between the UK and Germany.

There were a few Eurosceptic noises from some of the Germans. They did not necessarily like the idea of a transfer union. Some seemed to side with those in Central banking circles in Germany who do not favour monetary looseness and adventurism. All seemed to think the single market was good for them and necessary for us.

I sought to explain to them why so many people in the UK are no longer happy with our membership of the EU on current terms. I explained the strong feeling that we need a new relationship with the EU without all the rules, regulations and qualified majority votes. I had to accept some of the usual unfriendly comments from a couple of  UK participants.

I stressed that  we do not see the single market as crucial to our trade with Germany. Indeed, I am sure they would want to keep selling us their BMWs and their Mercedes, so a way will be found to facilitate trade between us, even if the UK voters vote to leave the EU. The UK has no wish to impose tariffs or barriers against German cars or other products. Indeed, it would be against international trade rules anyway, even if the UK were outside the EU. We assume Germany would not wish to block our exports to them.

I take an optimistic view about modern democratic Germany and assume they would have no such wish. I asked them at the meeting  to tell me if  they would want to block our trade. None signified they would. There is the added security from the UK point of view that they sell us more than we sell them. Eurosceptics should unite to explain to voters that there is no threat to our trade with Germany if we seek to renegotiate, or if the decision is taken to leave.

I went on to explain why  many of us no longer believe the single market is the guarantor of our trade or prosperity. The idea of free trade around the continent was never fully implemented. Instead the single market brand was used to introduce a very wide range of  new laws and regulations. It means that UK companies have to accept all these requirements, even for good solds in the UK or to non EU countries. Sometimes these EU rules make us less competitive or get in the way of selling elsewhere. The dear energy the EU is imposing is especially worrying, at a time when the US and Asia is benefitting from much cheaper energy supplies.

The single market has also been stretched to give the EU control over our borders, immigration policy and even over parts of our welfare and benefits policy. This is making the single market the problem, not the prize. UK people do not want the EU interfering in these matters, and do not see the benefit from the interference.

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70 Comments

  1. Peter van Leeuwen
    Posted June 11, 2013 at 5:31 am | Permalink

    Good that such meeting of minds take place, even if you had to be the minority in this meeting. That said, if it were merely about free trade, why did EFTA membership go down from 10 to 4 and EU membership keeps going up (from 6 to 28 next month and more in future)? Do other countries not agree with you? I get the impression that major differences are for a large part psychological. Behind all these arguments about trade, regulations, self determination etc. there is a feeling of not belonging to the rest of Europe in some segments of British society. That is fine with me. I just believe (gamble) that it will prove to be a minority come 2017.

    • Mike Stallard
      Posted June 11, 2013 at 8:22 am | Permalink

      Ever since Henry VIII and ever since Queen Elizabeth I, we English, like the Dutch, have been a protestant nation. Europe has been predominantly Catholic. When the enlightenment came, we were just too successful to be part of the continent and the French Revolution cemented that with Napoleon and the British Empire.
      We really are as different from Europe as the Japanese are from the Chinese, or the New Zealanders from the Australians, or the Singaporeans from the Malays. And we are still a world trading nation who won’t be restricted to trading, being judged by Roman Law and being ruled by unelected Europeans.

      • Jerry
        Posted June 11, 2013 at 2:30 pm | Permalink

        @Mike Stallard: Henry VIII based his religion on the church of Rome whilst much of our early and middle national history, never mind our culture, is based on that of either the northern or southern Europeans, the UK is most defiantly not still Pagan…

        • Little White Squibba
          Posted June 12, 2013 at 2:58 pm | Permalink

          …the UK is most defiantly not still Pagan.
          He never said it was.

      • Peter van Leeuwen
        Posted June 11, 2013 at 3:53 pm | Permalink

        @Mike Stallard: Your perception of being really different from the continent may be true or not. I would suggest that it is mainly a perception, difficult to prove.
        If it is in British minds (heads) that the British are too different, I see that as confirming my point. Will it be the perception of most of the British people come 2017?

      • uanime5
        Posted June 12, 2013 at 1:00 pm | Permalink

        Given that northern Germany and the Scandinavian countries were also protestant, while much of Eastern Europe was under Muslim rule, it’s inaccurate to describe Europe as mostly Catholic.

        While the Japanese are different from the Chinese they are more like each other than they are like the Australians. So your whole UK is different from the EU argument is undermined by how similar the UK to other EU countries when compared to different cultures.

        What Roman laws are you referring to? Did you mean the Napoleonic code?

        • Little White Squibba
          Posted June 12, 2013 at 3:01 pm | Permalink

          Presumably he means the non-Common-Law, lock-up-the-suspects-while-you-take-your-time-looking-for-evidence tradition, which some people would love to introduce here.

    • Brian Tomkinson
      Posted June 11, 2013 at 8:24 am | Permalink

      Peter,
      You may call it psychological if you like but I don’t want to be governed by the EU.

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted June 11, 2013 at 9:30 am | Permalink

      EFTA never had more than 8 full members:

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/European_Free_Trade_Association#History_2

      Basically it offered an alternative model of international organisation in competing with the proto-federal EEC model, and therefore it had to be destroyed.

      Britain dumped EFTA along with the Commonwealth, and instead swung its full weight behind the creation of the EEC/EC/EU monster.

      • Peter van Leeuwen
        Posted June 11, 2013 at 3:39 pm | Permalink

        @Denis: “Had to be destroyed” yet another conspiracy idea? Who destroyed EFTA? It still exist, in spite of the UK “dumping it”. You’re correct with your 8, as the UK had already left before Finland and Liechtenstein joined, but at least 10 countries were EFTA member at some stage. Why did you UK democracy join a “monster”. Is the “monster” something in your head rather than a mainstream UK opinion?

        • Denis Cooper
          Posted June 12, 2013 at 6:07 am | Permalink

          Apart from anybody in this country or elsewhere in Europe , the US government made it clear to the UK government that it was not happy about the lack of political content in the EFTA agreement.

          This is a matter of historical record, not a conspiracy theory.

          • Peter van Leeuwen
            Posted June 12, 2013 at 2:27 pm | Permalink

            @Denis: I’ll take your word for it (didn’t know the US position before the UK left EFTA). By the way, it’s not just Obama but consecutive US governments which attach great importance to the UK’s EU membership. That is going to play a role in the 2017 referendum campaign.

    • forthurst
      Posted June 11, 2013 at 1:29 pm | Permalink

      “EU membership keeps going up (from 6 to 28 next month and more in future)”

      A similar argument could be made for international Bolshevism which continued to spread almost up to its final implosion. Bolshevism failed because, at root, it was an evil philosophy concocted by evil people which was economically illiterate, ie base on the vapourings of Marx. There is much about the EU which is reminiscent of that failed experiment.

      • Jerry
        Posted June 11, 2013 at 2:39 pm | Permalink

        @forthurst (and PvR): This is actually a very silly argument, after all it was only in the mid 1959 that Hawaii became the 50th State of the USA, what is more some want Puerto Rico to become the 51st State… The number of ‘members’ is neither a measure of success nor failure.

        • Peter van Leeuwen
          Posted June 11, 2013 at 3:42 pm | Permalink

          @Jerry: You’re correct. I haven’t studied Bolshevism but I do know that all this growing of the EU is due to countries voluntary applying for membership. They could have chosen to join EFTA, but apparently prefer the EU.

        • Martyn G
          Posted June 11, 2013 at 3:52 pm | Permalink

          Not sure that is quite relevant to the EU numbers. Countries becoming a new US State were buying into an established system of central and State governance whilst retaining their own identity and State government.
          Which is not the case with the EU, where continual changes in legislation, much of it banal, misguided or forming creeping erosion of national sovereignty for existing and joining members, is quite different to those becoming a new State of the USA.

          • Jerry
            Posted June 11, 2013 at 8:25 pm | Permalink

            @Martyn G: Utter bunkum! Only Texas, Alaska, & Hawaii (with perhaps now Puerto Rico) have chosen to join a ready formed federal state, all the other states either joined at the outset or early enough to help form what we now call the USA. What is more, any state joining the USA does not keep its own identity due to the need to implement federal laws or taxes, there is considerable leeway for State law so long as it doesn’t conflict with Federal law, but then that is also true of within the EU.

          • uanime5
            Posted June 12, 2013 at 1:05 pm | Permalink

            Given that federal law allows the US to overwrite state law there’s little difference between the US and EU states.

        • forthurst
          Posted June 11, 2013 at 4:41 pm | Permalink

          Jerry: did I say that increasing size was proof of failure? No I did not. What I am clearly saying is that increasing the scope of a bad idea will not insulate it from failure; the failure will merely be more widespread, that is all.

    • P O Pensioner
      Posted June 12, 2013 at 7:48 am | Permalink

      Peter van Leeuwen – Here in the UK a large number of people resent having our laws decided by faceless unelected people in Brussels who we cannot hold to democratic account.
      I still remember and recall a meeting I and others had with the late Otto Von Habsberg back in 1991 (who was at the time an MEP) when he told us that our “first past the post” electoral system might not be perfect but it was considerably better than the proportional representation method used by many mainland Europe “democracies”. He mentioned that the voters in these countries do not know who represents them and the MP’s don’t really care about the constituents they are supposed to represent. He went on to say that these MP’s only care about ensuring that they keep in with their Party Grandees to ensure that they are top of the Party list or near the top when it comes to elections. That ensures they get elected. I’ve always remembered his words and that is why I am against proportional representation replacing “first past the post”. Albeit the UK had to accept PR for the European elections.

      • Peter van Leeuwen
        Posted June 12, 2013 at 4:05 pm | Permalink

        Apologies for this long entry!

        @P O Pensioner, while I respect your position, here a few counter arguments:
        1. your system doesn’t properly represent the popular vote. A party with some 30% of the popular vote may have a large overall majority in parliament and then 30% dictate policy for 5 years. This is the major flaw in your fptp system.
        2. My mother in law had the misfortune of living in Stone. Do you think that her MP ever cared about her pro-EU stance? Of course not. This “caring about constituents” is fine for very local policies like a hospital or school, but for that we already have local politicians on the continent. A LibDem in Stone isn’t properly represented by an arch-conservative MP. His vote is “wasted”!
        3. See how rigid and inflexible the fptp system is for changes in public opinion. Compare how easily the populist PVV got into parliament in the Netherlands with the equally populist UKIP in Britain (trying in vain for 20 years! Is that democracy?) I think that some of all this eurosceptic anger and frustration in the UK is to blame on this failure of UK democracy – the best they can get is Cameron or an MP 100 miles from their own constituency, not a purely eurosceptic party. In the Netherlands that would be no problem.
        4. Look at the actual people representing you. In the Netherlands these people are also named “people representatives” and they are on average 10 years younger than the UK MPs who are far more likely just to make a life-carreer out of being an MP. No current Dutch MP has served longer than 14 years. See that the female representation in our parliament is about twice as good compared to yours. Why do you have all these men deciding on those policies which mainly affect women? What kind of democracy is that?
        5. Maybe not every UK MEP knows all his constituents, but the constituents usually know their MEP. Also, I don’t think that Cameron knew all his 37000 constituents personally, let alone the 61 million people he is supposed to represent internationally.
        6. The practical reality of course is that your parties have election manifestos (like over here) and that people vote for parties, programmes, policies. As a matter of fact I vote for a person, and as a matter of principle have tried to always vote for women as they are still under-represented.
        7. I’m sorry that I don’t give much authority to the opinion of the Crown Prince of Austria, Hungary, Croatia and Bohemia on these matters.

        Reply Constituencies usually have around 70,000 voters plus children, not 37,000. A man can represent a woman just as a woman can represent a man in Parliament. You do not have to have an identical experience to a constituent to be able to understand their needs and wishes.

    • Lindsay McDougall
      Posted June 13, 2013 at 11:06 am | Permalink

      What’s the problem with world wide free trade, no regional blocs and minimal government? If you want to control anything, try thinking how to cap world population.

      • Bazman
        Posted June 13, 2013 at 7:09 pm | Permalink

        You cap world population by prosperity which would include worldwide trade, but not a race to the bottom. Which could include us not being able to compete with the third world and being at the bottom in some industries thus blocking them as we cannot live like third world peasants. There cannot be peasants in Britain. It is not possible.

  2. Javelin
    Posted June 11, 2013 at 5:45 am | Permalink

    Only the insane and those still on the gravey train believe the EU as it stands is a good thing.

    • lifelogic
      Posted June 11, 2013 at 12:58 pm | Permalink

      The same could be said of vastly expensive “green” energy, the NHS, the global warming exaggerations, a 50% state sector, Blair’s counter productive wars, the BBC agenda, the litigation culture and system, the employment laws, the government road blocking with red lights, islands and bus lanes, the lack of more runways at Heathrow and Gatwick ………..

      But what does this say about Cameron and the rest of the Libdems?

      • Bazman
        Posted June 13, 2013 at 7:19 pm | Permalink

        More ranting. Which employment laws specically? Those protecting state cleaners using the NHS? What about you right wing fantasy agenda?

      • Bazman
        Posted June 13, 2013 at 7:59 pm | Permalink

        More ranting. Which employment laws specifically? Those protecting state cleaners using the NHS? What about you right wing fantasy agenda?

  3. Lifelogic
    Posted June 11, 2013 at 5:51 am | Permalink

    Indeed, but Cameron and much of your party clearly do not agree with you, whatever they say at election time, their actions speak for them. Anyway without a UKIP deal it is what Miliband says that matters now. Cameron has kicked everything into the long grass until after he and the Tories are booted out of office for several terms after his abysmal term of office.

    Meanwhile I listen to a very long non denial by William Haig, which said nothing of any substance, I can only assume the very worst about their uncontrolled and legally dubius suveillance of the public. Even if they were ” baseless” as he claimed, what exactly does ” baseless ” mean? True but lacking a base perhaps?

  4. Leslie Singleton
    Posted June 11, 2013 at 6:28 am | Permalink

    Keep up the good work. Never get much of an answer why we are are apparently so small and weak and useless and all the rest that, uniquely, we need to be in a wretched “single market” in the first place. If there are other instances of single markets around the world (I mean a sovereign economy homogenising itself into a larger nearby bloc) I would like to know where it is. Ask for instance a Japanese why Japan is not in a single market with the Asian continent and he will rightly think you are mad. Encourage Mainland Europe to merge fully if they want then work out an agreement with that new entity, simple as that. I went to Afternoon Tea at the village church yesterday and there was sugar, jam and cream in open bowls–how long till some expensive make-work bum-sitter in Brussels or Strasbourg or somewhere that I would have trouble finding on a map continues to allow this to go on without tamper-proof packaging? Be even funnier if it weren’t serious. With one bound, Jack was free–that’s what we want. All seems so obvious to me: we want a referendum now to establish the principle that, absent very significant change, we want to leave, with it being explicit that assuming the answer is Yes there would be a second referendum perhaps a year later based on renegotiated terms if any. Stop worrying about what “they” or anybody else thinks and do what is right.

    • Mike Stallard
      Posted June 11, 2013 at 8:23 am | Permalink

      I’m writing this in poor little Australia.

    • uanime5
      Posted June 11, 2013 at 12:55 pm | Permalink

      Japan doesn’t enter a single market because the only nearby country with a similar economic level is South Korea. By contrast there are far more countries nearby the UK that are at a similar level to the UK.

      • Denis Cooper
        Posted June 11, 2013 at 5:08 pm | Permalink

        And there are some countries at a much lower level than the UK but which are nonetheless part of the EU Single Market.

        • Leslie Singleton
          Posted June 12, 2013 at 3:28 am | Permalink

          Denis–Such countries are part of the bloc geographically and want to be part of it in every other way possible–part of a new country to be called “Mainland Europe”, this for reasons understandable from their point of view such as a desire to get rid of all the tedious borders and precisely because on their own these countries are insignificant. We in the UK on the other hand are separate and still I think the 5th largest economy in the world so what has such thinking to do with us? In any event the price both monetarilyand in terms of having foreigners who think very differently on too many matters telling us what to do is too high.

      • libertarian
        Posted June 12, 2013 at 8:53 pm | Permalink

        I wonder who Japan manages to sell its good to then uanime5 ?

  5. Mike Wilson
    Posted June 11, 2013 at 6:41 am | Permalink

    Recent topics have included comments on free votes, whipping and independent MPs.

    The point has been made that members of a political party must largely agree on basic principles to govern effectively.

    One of the most fundamental aspects of how we are governed is our membership of the EU and the affect that has on our laws and our economy – on everything, in fact.

    A considerable number of Tory MPs have a diametrically opposed view on the EU from that of their leader and other colleagues.

    I would suggest that you, Mr. Redwood, are in the wrong political party and you should never accept the whip on any matters to do with the EU.

    • lifelogic
      Posted June 11, 2013 at 1:03 pm | Permalink

      Indeed JR is clearly in the right party he should be just slightly to the centre left of it. Most of the other need to re-position themselves accordingly or leave.

  6. Martin
    Posted June 11, 2013 at 6:59 am | Permalink

    Regarding trade we have to accept the EU rules even for items sold by British companies in the UK. If not you get the old protectionist stuff where countries stopped imports by having local rules that stopped other countries selling things.

    E.G. The USA did this with British medical scanners in 1980. The USA still stops foreign companies doing much in the USA.

    Want to buy an airline? Sorry you must be an American.

    Need to send staff to the USA for a few days to service/support a product? Have the staff been to the USA a lot in the last few months? Even on holiday? these are the sort of questions companies (and their lawyers) have to worry about as as the US immigration authorities get more fussy about Visa waiver rules.

    Your trip to Germany to a “forum” is a case in point. Try travelling to the USA – are you doing a lecture? Or listening to a lecture? You might need a weird Educational Visa for that as it is not covered by the Visa Waiver scheme.

    Doing business outside the EU is much harder than you think. I’ve given examples about the USA. It gets tougher with some other countries.

    Reply The Forum meeting was in London.

    • Sue Jameson
      Posted June 11, 2013 at 1:43 pm | Permalink

      France has just scuppered any chance of a trade deal with the EU. It’s the French obsession of keeping everything “French” and not being tainted by the Anglo Saxon language and values they hate. The UK could have already concluded a deal on our own!

      “STRASBOURG, France—France won’t back free trade negotiations between the European Union and the United States if they include the film, radio or TV industries.
      Those sectors have traditionally been excluded from global free-trade agreements under what is known as the “cultural exception,” which allows governments to subsidize and protect them.
      French Trade Minister Nicole Bricq said Tuesday in an interview with The Associated Press that the latest drafts of the negotiating mandate, to be presented Friday, still have audiovisual services on the table. European officials, however, have said the “cultural exception” would be preserved.
      While France doesn’t have the power to block the negotiations, Bricq said she doubted the EU wanted to enter such massive negotiations without France’s support.
      Any treaty would eventually need the backing of all EU countries”

      • Martin
        Posted June 11, 2013 at 3:04 pm | Permalink

        Much of the British creative industries are nothing like as strong as the Americans. The French Government bats the corner for France. Given France’s deteriorating economy I suspect their influence will slide.

        There are bigger obstacles than the French to be sorted out. The USA is in many ways very protectionist. Even if an agreement is reached the US Senate will have to vote it through and there will be Supreme Court fun and games. Add to that the EU approvals process and National Governments and it is a long road indeed.

        You imply it would be easy for the UK to do this on its own. Would British farmers be happy if US beef flooded our country? What about the spirits industry? Labelling? Repeat for umpteen other products both ways. Would the Americans be happy to deal with us on our own? Maybe the Latino vote in the USA would make trouble over the Falklands?! Will Hollywood be pleased at unfettered competition from the UK? When it comes to negotiating with the the Americans Mr Hague comes over as being an easy touch for them.

        I also suspect that that you don’t see free movement of people as allied to free trade. Having spent days in certain embassies/high commissions getting Visas I can assure you that Visas and their costs are another form of protectionism.

  7. alan jutson
    Posted June 11, 2013 at 7:24 am | Permalink

    John.
    Your points are always well argued, but were they accepted ?.

    On a more trivial note.
    Have just returned from having spent a 3 week holiday in rural France, and having covered over 2,000 miles in total, the striking difference once again was the density of traffic on their roads compared to those in the UK, and the density of the population per square KM.

    In 3 weeks, not a single car parking fee was required at places of interest or in small towns and villages, compare this to our Lake district Holiday a couple of years ago when we spent £140 in one week just on parking fees !

    Yes they have road tolls, but you have the alternative of using Route National (far less busy than our A type roads) or empty of D type roads (far better than our B quality).

    Interesting that from our perspective all farms, at least in our locality, appeared well run, and all had new or near new equipment, indeed we passed so many tractor and agricultural showrooms during our holiday, we though this must be the centre of the worlds tractor production !

    We confirm some of your comments in your earlier posting of last week, that plastic is accepted almost everywhere other than for minor purchases, and a good rate of exchange is automatic on most cards, thus we never take much in the way of Euros simply because the 20% difference in the buying and selling rates applied by our Banks for such an exchange is just a rip off.
    We simply take sterling and change in the Country we are visiting, if more local cash is required, on a needs only basis.

    A one Central control type EU will never work and suit everyone, as all Countries and their populations run diffently, and just like buying one size fits all clothes, it fits and suites no one properly.
    One day they will realise such, and wake up from the dream.

    Once again we also noted
    The price of diesel in France was in a range of Euro’s 1.20- 1.40 per litre, with petrol more expensive, given that diesel is supposed to be more expensive to refine (the argument used by the petrolium companies over here) one can see why lorries arriving in the UK have full fuel tanks, and leave with empty ones !
    Is the price difference just down to fuel tax rates in each Country ?

    • Mike Wilson
      Posted June 11, 2013 at 9:05 am | Permalink

      Of course rural France has lots of tractor showrooms and new tractors on the farms.

      Ever heard of the Common Agricultural Policy? You know, the one where French farmers get loads of money regardless of how efficiently they farm.

      Your point re. parking charges is well made. I will not visit Wokingham town centre any more. I am sick of always having to pay through the nose for parking and face ludicrously draconian fines if I get a ticket. The whole thing is a tax grabbing racket.

      Wokingham town centre will have every shop boarded up with tumbleweed blowing along Broad Street before I visit there – unless the council change the parking arrangements and/or start running proper bus services.

      • alan jutson
        Posted June 11, 2013 at 2:37 pm | Permalink

        Mike

        My comment about the farmers and tractors was tongue in cheek.

        Yes fully aware of the Common Agricultural policy, they will never give it up, as they have a land mass that is about 5 times that of the UK, so I would guess they have more farmers votes to please with financial inducements of all kinds.

        Shame we did not argue our case as hard with/for our fishermen.

        Parking in Wokingham will get even worse when the Rose St car park goes in the near future, when the Town centre gets redeveloped.
        The fact that they are suggesting Peach street, the main through road is proposed to go from two lanes (in order to widen pavements) to one, will simply add to the congestion as well.

        • Mike Wilson
          Posted June 11, 2013 at 11:19 pm | Permalink

          Alan – is the redevelopment actually getting close? It has been talked about for as long as I have lived here – over 20 years now.

          Are they ever going to build the by-pass around the town – and the housing that was proposed to go with it. (All through low lying land as I recall the plans.)

          • alan jutson
            Posted June 12, 2013 at 4:24 pm | Permalink

            Mike

            Big sign now up opposite the Town hall, over Boots the chemist.

            “Works starts summer 2013”.

            To the best of my knowledge there are now no plans for a much needed by pass, as the 100 compulsary purchased homes of 30 years ago, were all sold off when the plan was abandoned many years ago.

  8. Roger Farmer
    Posted June 11, 2013 at 7:54 am | Permalink

    Very politely put John. Friendly relations with on going trade would be a perfect relationship. If we can make it happen and be successful in our politically independent role then it might make many of the countries of Europe realise that their rigid socialist one size fits all is not the way forward.
    I hope you managed to convey what we take exception to in the EU as presently it exists.
    The corruption and inability to account for their annual budgets.
    The complete lack of democratic accountability.
    Their constant interference in matters we consider a national responsibility.
    Their irresponsible attitude to immigration, that causes more problems than it solves.
    Their interference in the financial and business market place that puts us at a disadvantage in terms of world trade outside the EU.
    Their green and therefore overpriced energy that is again a setback to our world trade.
    Glory, self aggrandizement projects, such as a common EU foreign policy with embassies around the World and a European army. The first cannot work so the second has no purpose to back what cannot work.

    • uanime5
      Posted June 11, 2013 at 1:04 pm | Permalink

      Allow me to debunk a few europhobic lies.

      The corruption and inability to account for their annual budgets.

      Nor according to the Council or Auditors who have signed off the annual budget every year.

      The complete lack of democratic accountability.

      Councillors: democratically elected.
      MEPs: democratically elected.
      Commissioners: appointed by councillors, have to be approved by the EU Parliament.

      Their constant interference in matters we consider a national responsibility.

      Under the treaties they UK signed they have a right to do this.

      Their irresponsible attitude to immigration, that causes more problems than it solves.

      Freedom of movement is a fundamental part of the EU. Also given how high non-EU immigration is it seems any problems are due to the UK’s laws, rather than EU laws.

      Their interference in the financial and business market place that puts us at a disadvantage in terms of world trade outside the EU.

      The Tobin tax only applies to trade using euros, so it won’t effect any trade outside the EU.

      Their green and therefore overpriced energy that is again a setback to our world trade.

      Given that it’s not causing problems for any other EU country it’s more likely that these problems are caused by UK, rather than EU laws.

      Glory, self aggrandizement projects, such as a common EU foreign policy with embassies around the World and a European army.

      Just like the USA, who most eurosceptics seem to idolise for some reason.

      • Roger Farmer
        Posted June 11, 2013 at 4:46 pm | Permalink

        I can only assume you have cornered the market in rose tinted spectacles.

        • uanime5
          Posted June 12, 2013 at 1:13 pm | Permalink

          Actually I’ve just researched this topic, rather than listening to the nonsense UKIP spouts.

      • Edward2
        Posted June 11, 2013 at 4:49 pm | Permalink

        Uni,
        Its very bad to call other peoples opinions “lies”

        • uanime5
          Posted June 12, 2013 at 1:12 pm | Permalink

          Since when has claiming that the EU is unelected and corrupt despite all the evidence to the contrary been an opinion? Face it these claims were lies that I successfully debunked.

          • Edward2
            Posted June 12, 2013 at 4:15 pm | Permalink

            Uni, sadly you believe only your arguments are the only truth and all others are therefore lies.
            Its a form of political blindness, your inability to see the other side of any political debate you don’t agree with as a lie.
            You think you have “debunked” someones opinion, as you proudly keep telling us, but all you have actually done is to present your own argument.

        • Roger farmer
          Posted June 12, 2013 at 2:03 pm | Permalink

          I found Uni’s comments so fanciful my initial reaction was as above, but I feel it requires more detailed comment.
          1.
          The European Court of Auditors, the body charged with auditing EU accounts state that for 17 years culminating in 2010 are to quote, ” Still affected by material error”. A polite accountant’s way of saying they are not worth the paper they are submitted on.
          2.
          In terms of Democratic Accountability, the No referendum votes in both France and Holland were just ignored by Brussels. The Irish who had voted no were told to vote again until Brussels got the answer it required. Cyprus was blackmailed into the theft of it’s citizens bank deposits, very democratic I am sure. I await the next move by Brussels with Greece and Italy.
          3.
          If you cannot recognise the EU’s constant interference in matters of national responsibility you are suffering a convenient myopia. How about votes for criminals in jail or dictating who can benefit from the UK’s welfare state having made no contribution to it. The publication by the EU of a booklet aimed at social and welfare migrants from within the EU on how to screw the system. Ask the citizens of Park Lane what they think of (migrants ed) encamped in their part of London.
          4.
          On your Tobin Tax, let me quote Christian Noyer in the bank of France annual report. ” The levy risks destroying entire segments of our financial industry, costing jobs and damaging the public finances as tax revenues fall”., so quoted the Governor of the French Central Bank. Bankers in the UK have not welcomed it either. It is fanciful, political, and totally unworkable. My verdict, I suggest you check it out. The EU also have been allowed to dictate terms of commercial contracts between UK companies and other than EU customers. They wish to approve the way we trade.
          5.
          Apart from the cost of energy in the UK, with it’s green burden, I can assure you it is not cheap in Spain either. Every manufacturing process and movement of goods is affected by the cost of energy, it affects the end price. When our competitors in the World are not so encumbered, it is tough on our exporters.
          6.
          Europe is nothing like the USA. Europe cannot agree on any serious aspect of foreign policy, and most certainly as a unit cannot back it up militarily. It is still down to individual countries and the better for it. I have not experienced any sense of a grass roots Europe anywhere I have been in it, only acquiescence among the net beneficiary countries. This usually amounts to a billboard advertising that the EU paid for this or that project. The USA with everyone sporting a Stars and Stripes in their front yard is a million miles away from any similar sentiment in Europe. Europe is pre the Declaration of American Independence in just about any area you care to mention. Europe should have stuck to trade and perhaps in a hundred years time they might consider integration but only when all the people are demanding it.
          Frankly the Euro has been a disaster for those countries south of the olive wall. If you do not believe it ask the 50% unemployed youth in Spain. As with everything else in the EU it was imposed on the people who were never asked whether they wanted it or not, as is everything else flowing from Brussels.

      • Mike Wilson
        Posted June 11, 2013 at 11:26 pm | Permalink

        @uanime5

        Have a look at http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/eu/9657673/Audit-seriously-undermines-credibility-of-EU-spending.html

        Do you understand the difference between agreeing a budget and agreeing audited accounts?

  9. Brian Tomkinson
    Posted June 11, 2013 at 8:32 am | Permalink

    The “single market” is just a means to and end which is a country called Europe and the end of the nation states within it. That has always been the intention and we have been lied to ad nauseam by mendacious politicians. Your party leader is amongst the worst with his duplicity. The UK should leave the EU.

  10. James Reade
    Posted June 11, 2013 at 8:46 am | Permalink

    (1) What convinces you that the UK would be able to negotiate trade deals with other countries on the same terms the EU is able to?

    (2) What convinces you that Rules of Origin (ROO) restrictions won’t prove unfeasibly complicated if we left the UK given the amount of our production that involves inputs from various other countries?

    (3) Have you constructed a “cost-benefit exercise” on the amount of bureaucratic resources that would be devoted just to enabling the UK to stand still (if that is even possible given (1)) should it leave the UK and wish to retain current trade arrangements?

    (4) You seem to often laud Germany’s energy policy, yet from what I read from the energy sector’s writing, they appear to both doing much better than we are at reducing emissions yet also doing remarkably well as a productive unit. How do you square that with the apparent “dear energy” policies you keep on telling us the EU forces upon us? Is Germany somehow immune to this? What is it doing different despite also having the EU force these policies on them?

    (5) What convinces you given recent votes in parliament and in general elections, that UK regulation would be in any way different to that from the EU?

    Just a few questions from a sceptic of the eurosceptic arguments.

    I’m not an unquestioning europhile before anyone accuses. Ideally there’d just be no barriers to trade anywhere in the world, rendering the EU pointless. But in reality there isn’t – and of course neither would you or most of your commenters like that world either, since you all favour various restrictions on the free movement of goods and factors of production, regardless of how economically and socially harmful that would be.

    Reply In the case of a US Free trade Agreement we woulod be able to negotiate it much faster than the EU has done, without France trying to exclude media etc
    We are not plannign to leave the Uk and if we left the EU I see no difficulties with rules of origin. Germany has more carbon permits, and is going for coal as a means of power generation regardless of EU rules.

    • James Reade
      Posted June 13, 2013 at 2:14 pm | Permalink

      You don’t answer the question. Would we be able to procure as good terms as the EU could? I didn’t ask about speed, I asked about the terms. I’m not convinced they’d be identical.

      I’m glad you don’t think ROO will be an issue. Have you talked to the manufacturers in your constituency about this? Because I’ve read plenty that suggests others are less sanguine than you about it, and this begs the question – why should I believe what you’re telling me over them?

      On Germany, well if they’re able to stand in the face of EU regulations, why then aren’t we doing that? It seems there’s much more than we ever learn from eurosceptics on this. Clearly we have much more flexibility than you’d have us believe John, since you tell us about how things are forced upon us. How come Germany doesn’t have them forced upon them too?

  11. Denis Cooper
    Posted June 11, 2013 at 8:53 am | Permalink

    Today the German constitutional court begins a two day hearing on complaints about the ECB contingency plans for unlimited purchases of bonds issued by the governments of distressed eurozone states, should that become necessary to preserve the euro.

    I would be entirely sympathetic to claims by some German commentators that their constitutional court remains the highest legal authority in Germany, and can defy the EU’s Court of Justice, if it were not for the fact that even with a system of proportional representation the Germans keep electing political leaders who are virtually unanimous in their support for the creation of a pan-European federation with its constitution and laws having primacy over national constitutions and laws.

    Going back to May 2005, when the EU Constitution came up for parliamentary approval in Germany there was hardly any opposition in either chamber:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Treaty_establishing_a_Constitution_for_Europe#National_processes_at_a_glance

    Bundestag: 569 to 23 in favour, two abstentions.
    Bundesrat: 66 to 0 in favour, three abstentions.

    Yet Article I-6 in that Constitution explicitly stated:

    “The Constitution and law adopted by the institutions of the Union in exercising competences conferred on it shall have primacy over the law of the Member States.”

    As Martin Howe QC pointed out in his legal assessment of the treaty:

    “This is exactly the kind of provision one would expect to see in the Constitution of a federal state”

    citing the US, Germany, Australia and Canada as examples.

    In this country we have a Parliament dominated by eurofederalists because our FPTP electoral system makes it very difficult to break the stranglehold of three main parties which have all fallen under the control of eurofederalists, and of course once they have done their time in the Commons they will usually be installed in the Lords for the rest of their natural lives.

    With proportional representation German voters have no such excuse, and if they really want their constitutional court to be the supreme legal authority for their country then they should at least be consistent and stop electing solid phalanxes of eurofederalists to their legislature.

  12. Robert Taggart
    Posted June 11, 2013 at 10:46 am | Permalink

    Agreed, Johnny, but…
    Those two unfriendly British participants – do name them – please !

  13. uanime5
    Posted June 11, 2013 at 1:06 pm | Permalink

    The UK has no wish to impose tariffs or barriers against German cars or other products. Indeed, it would be against international trade rules anyway, even if the UK were outside the EU.

    Given that the UK already charges VAT and import duty on products from outside the EU it seems that such tariffs are not illegal. If the UK left the EU I have no doubt that these tariffs would apply to all non-UK imports, this harming businesses that are currently able to import things from the EU.

    The dear energy the EU is imposing is especially worrying, at a time when the US and Asia is benefitting from much cheaper energy supplies.

    Given that this problem isn’t effecting other EU countries it’s likely that this problem has been caused by the UK’s Government, rather than the EU.

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted June 11, 2013 at 5:02 pm | Permalink

      I have no doubt that with the UK outside the EU the UK government would be free NOT to impose tariffs on imports from the EU countries, and would NOT make a practice of doing so if suitable reciprocal arrangements were negotiated.

      • uanime5
        Posted June 12, 2013 at 1:18 pm | Permalink

        Given that the Government has recently lowered these tariffs so you can’t import as much from outside the EU it’s more likely that the UK will apply these tariffs to the EU if we ever leave the EU.

        • Denis Cooper
          Posted June 12, 2013 at 2:35 pm | Permalink

          Still makes no sense.

  14. Julian
    Posted June 11, 2013 at 1:06 pm | Permalink

    Keep plugging away at them!
    Just an observation:
    > half of EU member countries are net beneficiaries which accounts for a least part of the enthusiasm for the eu project. Almost unbelievably Italy and France are net contributors!

  15. Bert Young
    Posted June 11, 2013 at 1:22 pm | Permalink

    Fully agree with Roger Farmer and with the points you raised at the meeting . Of course the Germans don’t want us to leave ; loss of our financial contribution would only mean more for them to cough up . Our exit would also threaten the EU’s continuation , re-value upwards (significantly) German goods and make it much harder for them to export . A point I wished you had raised was the possibility of a split between North and South Europe . Economically and culturally this would make a great deal of sense . In any event , full marks for your efforts .

    • uanime5
      Posted June 12, 2013 at 1:21 pm | Permalink

      The UK’s exit will have little effect on the EU as the UK’s contribution can be raise through a minor increase in the amount paid by each member state.

      Also as the UK has no influence on the euro if the UK leaves there won’t be any “re-value upwards” of German goods.

  16. Atlas
    Posted June 11, 2013 at 1:57 pm | Permalink

    I just heard today that the French Air-Traffic Controllers are on strike for three days over the prospect of a single ‘ EU airspace’. I don’t remember hearing about this EU airspace in the British media or Parliament. Another example of the EU Superstate creep?

    • Martyn G
      Posted June 12, 2013 at 5:42 am | Permalink

      Atlas – Google EASA (European Aviation & Space Agency) and you will get to learn more about this. EASA has been causing all sorts of problems in the UK general aviation (GA) world with private and non-commercial world pilots, because so much of EASA’s regulations simply cause problems. Many GA pilots currently operate within the UK and Europe US-registered aircraft without any problems regarding maintenance, insurance and so on. Under EASA direction this is soon to be made illegal, which seems to be a typically spiteful decision rather than one based on aviation safety.

  17. Lindsay McDougall
    Posted June 13, 2013 at 11:11 am | Permalink

    The Single Market as I understood it was fully completed by the Single European Act of 1987. Everything since then has been federalism and bureaucratic interference in markets.

  18. Bazman
    Posted June 13, 2013 at 7:04 pm | Permalink

    We are now governed by the rich and large corporations. They know whats best though don’t they? If only we lower their taxes they will create jobs and prosperity for all as long as we pay for the infrastructure and education required to do this by PAYE and indirect taxation of the population or they will leave. Where to? The EU which includes Britain. Russia, China, Cayman islands? Yeah right.

  19. Grindelow
    Posted June 14, 2013 at 11:28 pm | Permalink

    The OECD sees the world falling into three growth rates with the EU at the bottom (no change really?) and the developing world at the top.

    I doubt devotees of the inflexible rule ridden EU high tax realize the importance of these growth differences. So far they have lead to the developing world catching up with the EU. Inevitably they must lead to the developing world moving past the EU in the longer term. OECD predictions are that the EU percentage of the world economy will have halved by 2050. In reality it could be worse because the EU’s ageing demographics are now combined with high young unemployment in the PIIGS. Germany reckons the crisis will last ten years. By then there will be around 15 years worth of new starters where 50%+ are long term unemployed. It is found that once people are unemployed for three years at the start of work they spend the rest of their lives largely unemployed with periods of low paid work.
    The already declining young workforce is effectively halved. Now it has to pay for additional unemployment costs as well as ever increasing aging costs. How likely is it that the PIIGS will be able to pay back their debts as well?

    The EU elite cannot control private capital. This will increasingly move to the developing world where returns are much higher and where there is a younger workforce. The EU must have high taxation to carry the aging and unemployment costs which will discourage companies inside the EU.

    As the developing world moves into graduate level work there will be even more competition for EU companies. Competition is going to get tougher than it is today.

    Somehow I can’t see the PIIGS making the grade in the competitive world outside the EU, especially locked to a shared currency with Germany which will always be too strong for them. Over the past decade German productivity has increased by around 15% due to investment in the private sector. PIIGS productiveness has been moving in the opposite direction.

  • About John Redwood


    John Redwood won a free place at Kent College, Canterbury, and graduated from Magdalen College Oxford. He is a Distinguished fellow of All Souls, Oxford. A businessman by background, he has set up an investment management business, was both executive and non executive chairman of a quoted industrial PLC, and chaired a manufacturing company with factories in Birmingham, Chicago, India and China. He is the MP for Wokingham, first elected in 1987.

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