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Binoculars MS ClipartSome people don’t follow the news – they wait a while and look at the bigger, long term picture. They may have a point.

It’s barely a month since “Fallout Friday” and we have been in  a situation where waking from a five minute nap could leave you feeling like some latter day Rip van Winkle emerging from a hundred year sleep into a world that had changed being recognition.

Petabytes of online comments have flooded into existance only to become virtual fish and chip wrappers within milliseconds of the author hitting the ‘Send’ key. Adding my largely unoriginal thoughts to the national running commentry wouldn’t have made any difference.

Time for the long view.

Europe-relief-map

For the record, I favour leaving the EU. It’s profoundly undemocratic and refuses to change in the light of changing circumstances. I’m totally in favour of things like free trade, common standards and international cooperation, but reject the European political project of ever closer political union and increasing federalism.

“Europe is not and can not be democratic”

Europe is not and can not be democratic because the peoples of Europe can never have a common conversation or reach a common mind in the way that individual nations can. There are no pan-European political parties (which, given the experience of the 20th century, is not necessarily a bad thing) and there is no pan-European press to hold the EU to account. EU elections based on party lists are a small, but ineffective fig-leaf which merely draws attention to the MEPs’ lack of democratic apparel.

Europe cannot be democratic because of the imbalance between wealthy, powerful and mature democracies on the one hand and poor, sometimes dysfunctional, states on the other. Democracy is about the distribution of power and effective checks and balances to prevent abuses or misuses of that power. It is a truism that people are best served when power is devolved to the lowest practicable level – the unjustified flow of power to both central government and the EU institutions is the antithesis of a healthy democracy.

“The EU refuses to change”

The EU refuses to change and often refuses to consider change. It’s still wedded to the Common Agricultural Policy, the Common Fisheries Policy and the surreal to-ing and fro-ing between Brussels and Strasbourg.

It’s still wedded to the idea of free movement of labour, which may have made sense when Europe consisted of a small number of countries with relatively few prospective migrants, but must at the very least be reconsidered when faced with a population of half a billion in an era of cut-price travel.*

Since the founding of the EU and its predecessor organisations, Europe and the world have changed. Europe has grown from 6 to 9 to 28.  The British, French, Dutch, Belgians and Portuguese have disposed of often extensive colonial empires.The Soviet empire has collapsed. Globalization has increased. There has been an information revolution. Voting for the EU in its current form would be like voting for a political party on the basis of its 1950 election manifesto.

*Related post: Immigration – a problem or a solution?

Images: Blue World Image credit – Petr Kratochvil ; Antique Map – original out of copyright. Both images reproduced under Creative Commons  Public Domain Licence, downloaded from FreestockPhotos.biz , 22nd July 2016