Wednesday, 15 June 2016

Just what is the EU for?

Yes, yes I know I know.  It is for, as in pro, ever greater union.  But what is it actually 'for'?  That is does anything it does have any any unique usefulness and purpose that could not be achieved without it?  I really cannot think of anything that it does that could not be better and more cheaply achieved on a government to government basis or internally on a state by state basis.

The things it has 'achieved' - the Euro for example - have not been what you might call successful.  Have they? Or common standards?  Why?  Better to have competing standards from which we can continually test which works best.

Or 'security'. We already have NATO.  And police forces have long had informal and formal cross border co-operation, even prior to the EU.

The 'single market'? Well strictly speaking it isn't a single market.  It's a customs union, at best, or at worst and probably more accurately a giant single regulation area presided over by the biggest quango on the planet. Traders across borders have for centuries dealt with varying regulations, Yes it makes things easier, but again it reduces competition between regulations from which we can chose the best, and which are constantly evolving.

I just cannot for the life of me think of anything that makes the EU uniquely useful.


Rich Tee said...

To prevent war? Which I consider personally to be an admirable objective. However, you don't need a political union to prevent war and, as critics suggest, forcing different countries into a political union may actually increase the risk of war in the long run.

Mark Wadsworth said...

Nothing that could't be done on a straight inter-governmental level.

Shiney said...


"To prevent war?" - as @L said doesn't NATO do that?

Rich Tee said...

As I understand it, NATO's job was to protect against the Soviet Union and that it has lost its purpose since the Soviet Union collapsed.

This is all "as I understand it" as these are second hand opinions that I have picked up.

DCBain said...

Isn't the greatest anti-war protection having politicians who don't start them?

Tom Paine said...

Isn't it a bit naive to ask the question from the point of view of taxpayers? The Kinnock family, for example, know exactly what it's for and can reasonably declare it a great success.

Lola said...

TP. Hahahahaha!

DBC Reed said...

Never mind what it was for , all those sensible ideas of stopping uncontrolled industrial rivalry in Europe and consequent wars. Thats all old hat. High rent loving GB has packed in all that industrial malarkey and supports an electoral majority that will vote for anything as long as freshly created money goes straight into the property market and the State pension. Anything slightly racist and anti-immigrant is preferable for setting off the dog whistles to get the mainly past-work Brexit enthusiasts out on the streets in their strange 1950's clothes.

L fairfax said...

I was going to say that as well.

The Stigler said...

Rich Tee,

But we pretty much got rid of war across the globe with the invention of the tractor. There are almost no wars taking place except over oil or in places with extreme poverty, like Afghanistan or recently Rwanda or The Sudan. When's the last time there was a war in South America? Asia? Agricultural land is no longer worth the blood and treasure to get it.

And the causes of WW1 and WW2 were not about the EEC anyway. The first was about Serbia which isn't a member. The second was about Poland, which was only recently a member of the EU. To go back to actual France vs Germany war you have to go back to the Franco-Prussian war of 1870.

The answer to the question is that it was the customs union that suited European trade in the 1970s. In the post war era, roads and rail improved and goods could easily be transported around the place. Roll-on/Roll-off ferries started in around the mid-1950s. You do this and people start trading further.

Which is why the EU no longer makes sense. I can get a logo designed in the Phillipines. Get some bug fixing done in India. Why aren't they part of that customs union? The remain supporters see the Eurosceptics as the dinosaurs, but really, it's them. They're still seeing the world of the 1970s rather than 2010+. We should jack it in and work via the WTO to get tariffs down.

With regards to standards, standards are a very good idea, but you don't need an actual government to do it. There's lots of standards where countries come and go. ETSI, the group that manages the GSM standard includes Ukraine and Turkey. CE marking standards include Turkey (not in the EU or EEA) but not Ukraine. British roads hand MPH, French KMH. We can easily manage this stuff, especially as sensible standards always prevail. Over 99% of all communication traffic goes over TCP/IP.It's about as solid as a single standard as you can get, and no government is involved in that standard.

pen seive said...

"To prevent war"? Robert Heinlein once wrote "You can have peace. Or you can have freedom. Don't ever count on having both at once". There was no war between the various countries of the USSR, but there was little freedom. Do we want to live in peace, but live within the rules and regulations of the EUSSR?

Lola said...


Yes. For example:


Lola said...

DBCR. You really need to get handle on how this "competition works and bureaucratic rationing / planning doesn't" thing.