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My comments on social media to a True EU Believer

I wrote this on Facebook today in response to a guy arguing that the EU was necessary for the following reasons:

As global trade widens and becomes more complex, rules must be harmonised and we need large bureaucracies to enforce this, so the UK should be involved, to influence this necessary process:

The UK’s own democratic arrangements are poor or not working well so why is the EU so bad?

We need to regulate even the most basic items, such as how lightbulbs are made, because, er, fair trade.

The costs of all this EU stuff are well worth it because it stopped a war for the past 70 years between the major continental powers. So stop going on about free trade, silly rules and farm subsidies. Look at the bigger picture.

As you can detect, I am not impressed by these statements. This was my response:

A few things: it is a big claim that the EU (or what used to be the EEC) has been the major reason for stopping Germany from invading France yet again after 1945. I would argue that the “glue” of the EU has had some positive impact, but surely, the fact that Germany was utterly destroyed in 1945, split in two, and that the Western powers faced the Soviets, and were protected under the NATO umbrella, was the key to why there wasn’t another continental war. And even if all the red tape, rule harmonisation, costly farm subsidies and all the other palaver was justified as a price worth paying on that basis, why would the UK, which wasn’t a defeated power and with a different history, want to subsume itself into a federal project? It does not follow at all. The case is not made. De Gaulle was also correct in his “non” to UK entry in the early 60s as he rightly feared that his Franco-German compact would be bent out of shape.

As global trade expands and the world becomes “smaller” with the Internet and jet travel and containerisation, it doesn’t require ever larger, more elaborate bureaucracies of transnational states to be built. In fact, what things require is more, not less, devolution of power, more variety, and less one-size-fits-all thinking. Why should complexity require more centralisation, rather than less?

The idea that we need single EU rules on how lightbulbs and other materials of the modern world are made is not justified on the basis of protecting “fairness”, and in fact all too often, such regulations are imposed and lobbied for by industry groups knowing that they raise barriers to entry against cheaper or different manufacturers, and reduce competition. Unless there are very clear-cut safety issues, I invariably smell a rat when people defend government bans on certain mechandise by talking about “fair trade”. It’s protectionism with a nice tie.

My position is not an “anarchist” one. It is more in tune with a general classical liberal approach to business, government and diplomacy, and above all driven by scepticism about big projects to reshape very old institutions and national loyalties. The launch of the single currency was an exercise in hubris, the results of which are still with us.

Take-home fact: Members of the European Parliament cannot, as far as I know, repeal a directive once it has become law. Nor can MEPs initiate a new law on their own, as an MP can. The MEPs are pale shadows of truly effective legislators and the democratic deficit in the EU is unsustainable.

15 comments to My comments on social media to a True EU Believer

  • Mr Ed

    The MEPs are pale shadows of truly effective legislators

    That is one minor mercy, given what they might do unleashed.

  • Paul Marks

    Good reply J.P.

    It also strikes me how OLD the pro E.U. arguments.

    The economy is very complicated and needs expert educated regulation.

    International trade is even more complicated than domestic trade.

    Allowing the people freedom leads to political instability and economic chaos.

    All these arguments were made by Colbert – Chief Minister of Louis XIV (the Sun King) more than 300 years ago.

    Colbert offered us “free trade” with France and the (ever increasing) areas of Europe it controlled – IF we would accept his regulations, his “system”. Licences, permits and all.

  • Paul Marks

    There is a long term principle in English and then British foreign policy from the reign of the first Elizabeth to the reign of the second Elizabeth 400 years later – and that long term principle has been to PRVENT European “Unity”.

    A “united” Europe could (and can) only be a threat to the independence of this island – just as the Roman Empire had been. And a “united” Europe could (and can) only slide into tyranny and cultural and economic stagnation – just as the Roman Empire had.

    Such things as the demented “Copyright Directive” of the European Union (which is nothing to do with protecting the “starving artists” and everything to do with crushing political and even cultural dissent – even negative film reviews) show that a bureaucracy (which is what the European Union is) must inevitably decline into tyranny.

    It is incredibly depressing to hear Mrs May and co talk of their (sincere) desire for cooperation with our “friends” the European Union.

    Philip II of Spain, Louis XIV (the Sun King) of France, Napoleon, Kaiser Wilhelm II, Adolf Hitler, Joseph “Stalin”, all tried to “unite” Europe under their “system” – but none of these previous efforts had the active HELP of the government of this island.

    The European Union is NOT our “friend” – and our policy should be to undermine and DESTROY it in all ways possible.

  • Tom

    It’s interesting he mentioned lightbulbs. Years ago I was present at a meeting of an industry organisation in Berlin where a representative of a famous European company boasted in a presentation about securing a temporary monopoly by lobbying the EU to make the old style incandescent light bulbs illegal and specifying standards for their “green” replacements that he had drafted. With this advance knowledge his company was of course ready to meet the new standards immediately and therefore had a clear run at the market while competitors geared up their production facilities.

    Big corporations *love* having the ability to lobby/bribe bureaucrats to create such consumer-shafting opportunities and/or raise barriers to market entry. But real invention and creativity tends to come from the smaller businesses and startups that are damaged — or aborted — by bureaucracy.

  • Sam Duncan

    “The UK’s own democratic arrangements are poor or not working well so why is the EU so bad?”

    I’ve noticed – and it’s been particularly apparent during the various referendums we’ve had recently – that some people have real difficulty with the concept of “worse”.

    “the demented ‘Copyright Directive’”

    It alone is reason enough to leave without the disastrous “Withdrawal Agreement”. Even if all the “Project fear” scaremongering were true, it would be a price worth paying to escape that horrific piece of (as Johnathan points out, effectively unrepealable) legislation.

  • Nicholas (Unlicenced Joker) Gray

    Can you imagine the arguments if the Remainers had won the referendum? “Of course we’re joining up to the New European Army! And London might lose a few outsiders, but it will be the financial hub of Europe- after Berlin or Frankfurt!”

  • staghounds

    I would have thought that sockets would determine how light bulbs were made.

  • Nemesis

    ‘As global trade widens and becomes more complex, rules must be harmonised and we need large bureaucracies to enforce this, so the UK should be involved, to influence this necessary process:’

    I used to read Richard Norths EU Referendum blog. There was much to criticise but could not fault his research. I remember reading that most of the rules that emanate from the EU come from further up the chain via various global organisations in which the UK voice was subsumed by the EU as a whole. By leaving the EU we could regain our own seat in these various organisations and therefore have more direct input not less.

  • Rudolph Hucker


    Re “There is a long term principle in English and then British foreign policy from the reign of the first Elizabeth to the reign of the second Elizabeth 400 years later – and that long term principle has been to PRVENT European “Unity”.”

    That sounds like a cue for a Sir Humphrey classic or two.

    Yes Minister explains the EEC (EU)

    Sir Humphrey explains Brexit

  • TheHat

    Hey Staghounds, sorry the base is the least important factor in determining functionality and usefulness. I have an early compact fluorescent light bulb. It was billed by ‘my government’ as the best thing since hash browns and the ‘immediate/must have NOW’ replacement for the incandescent bulb. Both have the same base. Break the wrong one and you’ll have mercury vapors floating around. (Strange how the damn government is silent about those bulbs now.) Since then there have been at least three evolutions of LED bulbs. All with the same original base. As an aside, when the power goes out and all is dark, the LEDs stay lit for 10 minutes or more. Now back to our regularly staged government intervention…

  • Zerren Yeoville

    “The costs of all this EU stuff are well worth it because it stopped a war for the past 70 years between the major continental powers.”

    Nothing to do with the EU at all, despite its preening self-regard on the peace topic.

    Everything to do with two other factors:

    1. The existence of nuclear weapons, and the fear that any major conflict that erupts would be likely to turn nuclear in short order. Europe is a relatively small and densely-populated area compared to some other parts of the world; while the USA or Russia might be able to absorb and recover from a limited nuclear exchange, that same limited nuclear exchange would cause vastly more death and destruction in a European context.

    2. Declining family size and a loss of faith in religions and rulers. If you have ten kids, a strong religious faith and look up to your rulers as superior beings, you might find it easier to accept the sacrifice of some of your progeny on the altar of ‘King and Country’, particularly if you have been convinced that your children are thenceforth enjoying eternal life in the hereafter instead of being simply annihilated. But if you have only one or two children to represent your genetic stake in posterity, you simply are not going to be so willing to send them off to get killed in some meaningless brushfire conflict which you strongly suspect exists mainly due to bungling politicians who may or may not own shares in arms manufacturers.

    … and as for lightbulbs, isn’t it curious that at the same time that incandescent light bulbs were forced off the market to be replaced by CFLs containing mercury, firms which had been manufacturing traditional mercury ‘stick’ barometers were banned from doing so? Which is more likely to end up crushed and leaking in a landfill – a dead light bulb, or a £750 heirloom-quality barometer?

  • Robbo

    From 1945 until the 1990s there was a large US Army force in Germany, not to mention BAOR. France was not going to go to war with Germany, in this situation, and neither was Germany going to go to war with France. Full stop.

  • Chip

    My standard argument against Americans who criticise Brexit is for them to imagine:

    – Congress cannot initiate laws

    – laws are proposed by an unelected council comprised of one person from every country in the americas

    Usually shuts them up.

  • Julie near Chicago

    Chip, if you ask me, the killer argument would be for us to imagine that

    * Congress cannot repeal laws *.

    Not that it does so anywhere near often enough.

  • Paul Marks

    It was a central principle (indeed THE central principle) of the Old Whigs (going back to Chief Justice Sir Edward Coke, the great ENEMY of Sir Francis Bacon, long before the term “Whig” was even used in politics) that there was certain fundamental principles of liberty and national independence beyond the reach of BOTH King AND Parliament.

    That position, the position of such Old Whigs as Chief Justice Sir John Holt (Chief Justice from 1689 to 1710) was rejected by the vile Blackstone Heresy of Sir William Blackstone that the Parliament could do anything it liked – for example pass a “law” that all people with brown eyes be burned alive (Blackstone, unlike Jeremy Bentham, claimed to be believe in natural justice, natural law, but it is incompatible with his concept of the unlimited power of Parliament) – the American Revolution and the Bill of Rights (and the 50 State Bills of Rights) are a reaction against Blackstone.

    It was hoped, by Blackstone and others, that Parliament would not do wicked things (for example destroy fundamental liberties – or sell out the nation itself) – but they offered no remedy if it did. And saying that one could “vote them out at the next election” assumes there is an next election – if the power of Parliament is truly UNLIMITED then it can prolong its own life, or “extend Article 50” in defiance of and contempt and hatred for, the people.

    In the early 1970s a change took place – Parliament decided to hand over its power to the European Economic Community (now the European Union) – declaring that European Law trumped British law.

    Most Members of Parliament (“Lords” as well as Commons) appear to be content to be paid puppets putting on a show – while the real decisions are made by the European Union.

    It is difficult to over state the blood freezing evil of so many members of the House of “Lords” and the House of Commons. They sell out the independence of the nation for 30 pieces of silver – or LESS if offered a smaller amount.

    Deselect, deselect, deselect. The British version of Primaries – ordinary members of local Constituency Associations must work to peacefully and democratically deselect the traitors – the enemies of this nation.