Sunday, January 31, 2016

The EU (2) - UK In or Out?

The debate at home and abroad about whether the UK membership of the EU should continue is hotting up with David Cameron now seeking a longer term ability to restrict new immigrants from the continent having to be paid British social security benefits. In the UK the social security benefits are not regarded as that generous but anyway to me that is a non-issue. Most people prefer to be self supporting so even if some commence on benefits the majority will seek independence from the state as soon as feasible.

Added to the above I recall that for many years as a young worker in Pimlico, then not a wealthy part of London refuse collections and road cleansing were often left undone  through the absence of a suffiicient number of workers prepared to undertake such jobs despite the highish levels of unemployment in the UK at that time. For whatever reason that difficulty has become history since the  UK acceded to what was then called the Common Market. More recently on a TV documentary about the London Underground there was an interview with a lively non-British looking individual who explained how he was able to earn a highish income through overnight work on the Underground. I freely admit that those tasks sound tough probably too much so for me but nonetheless  that such posts have  those willing to do them these days is an attribute to the UK's EEC  membership.

Despite the above the current state of the EU (ignoring for one moment that we in the UK so far  at least ,only voted to join "The Common Market") is becoming more and more unattractive. It is helpful first (to me at least) to return to  points  made on here a while ago following a post by fellow BU blogger Barnaby:Comments on EU and Immigration  In fact David Cameron's policy of providing aid (far larger sums  than any other EEC member) to refugees in and near to Syria seems far more humane.  Furthermore given the huge outcries in the UK at present about the paucity of council housing, school places and NHS costs well articulated by the political left and with which I have huge sympathy, surely the positions of those key aspects of British life would collapse under the strain of admitting further huge numbers of  people who would need to use them?

The above in turn leads to consideration of the current EU position on immigration. Sadly there seems to be little policy beyond perhaps blaming Greece  which is virtually a bankrupt country for not spending more on dealing with the difficulties there. Indeed if my interpretation is correct, rather than EEC money and assistance being transferred to Greece to assist that country and the refugees arriving there with their huge difficulties,  the EEC is threatening  to remove Greece from the Schengen area altogether.  Dreadful in  my view and thankfully the UK is not part of the Schengen area.

When the UK joined the EEC huge British fishing rights were ceded and very large payments from the UK to the EEC HQ were agreed. We grumbled about the EEC agricultural policy which benefited countries like France with many farm small holdings but gave far less benefit to the UK's much more efficient farmers. Politicians then said that all this would change after, was it seven years, when  agricultural policy would come up for renewal again within the EEC. In fact little seemed to happen after the  expiry of the  seven years and  even less is said about that in the current debate about EU membership.

Those who wish the UK to remain members of the EEC argue that  the huge trade benefits would be lost. That argument seems weak to me as trade works both ways,  Indeed  if I am wrong adding high import duties to  the large number of  large cars like German up market models that clog up UK city roads and motorways might  be  beneficial for a number of reasons going beyond public finances.

However my fear at present is that when major issues arise which are likely to affect the whole EEC, like the current refugee crisis, the EEC fails to work.

 Instead the largest EU country decides to act as it sees fit, without advance consultations and agreement with the others and then seeks to impose penalties on those who  then disagree with or decline to accept its  actions. To me such unilateralism   is so unattractive that the argument in favour of the UK leaving the EEC is strengthened.

Initially I favoured the EEC; subsequently after several debates over two or three years with a now retired Foreign Office official who has always been negative about the UK's membership I became negative. The idea of a poll after so many years favoured by the current Prime Minister is  a great development. Now I find the issue of some SNP Scots considering whether to vote no to the EEC in order to be able to call for another vote on splitting the UK if the overall vote if the vote is to quit, so self serving and lacking any kind of community spirit that I wonder whether the EEC really does  have any deep if not genuine community purpose?

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