I have taken part in a good many debates now ahead of the referendum. One of the most striking things about the Remain advocates I have faced is how little they like or even understand the modern European Union. None of them have come out defending monetary, political, capital markets, banking, and energy union. None of them have advocated the EU army or defended the EU/Turkey and EU/Ukraine policies. None of them have wanted to discuss open borders and the migration policy. Several of them have stressed the fact that they dislike much of the bureaucracy. Most stress the way the UK is opted out of the Euro and Schengen.
Most of them wish to live in a 1970s style world where the EU (EEC) is primarily a so called single market, and the only things we need to discuss are trade arrangements. It may be inconvenient to Remain that the EU now sees itself as a foreign policy force in the world, that its founding principles include the free movement of labour, and the Euro is the most important step to full union it has so far taken. The 5 Presidents Report is not mentioned as a proud Manifesto for future ever closer union, but dismissed as unlikely or remote.
If I believed in a united Europe then I would be telling people how today’s EU is but a stepping stone on route to a more united future. I would be talking about pan European solidarity, about the obligations we owe to the poorer parts of the Union, and about what I wanted the Union to do in the world as its power grows. Where is the UK advocate of the type of European Union most continental governments wish to help fashion? Why is it just in the UK that the pro EU people are in denial about the current nature and future aims of this binding legal grouping of states?
The future agenda will have to ensure bigger transfers of money around the EU to tackle poverty and unemployment in the badly affected areas. There is a growing wish for fairer sharing of the migrants coming into southern and eastern Europe. There are demands for much more political integration, to buttress the single currency. The EU has a big agenda to take more control of taxation, to spend more of our money, and to represent us abroad. They are well on the way to controlling fishing, farming, energy, transport and much else.
Far from In being the stable status quo, it will indeed be a wild ride to political union. Do those who wish to remain want to veto, opt out or compromise with the next Treaty?