/ UCK EU referendum

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MG - on 01 Nov 2012
Would you vote in or out?

In.
Wonko The Sane - on 01 Nov 2012
In reply to MG:
> Would you vote in or out?
>
> In.

I wouldn't vote. I do not think referendums are a good idea for this kind of decision.
Steve John B - on 01 Nov 2012
In reply to Wonko The Sane:
> (In reply to MG)
> [...]
>
> I wouldn't vote. I do not think referendums are a good idea for this kind of decision.

But that wouldn't stop there being a referendum!

I'd vote out, at least it would put a stop to all the in/out arguments.
Cuthbert on 01 Nov 2012
In reply to MG:

In. This might to start sounding like an 0898 number.
Dave Garnett - on 01 Nov 2012
In reply to MG:

In.

And actually I'm starting to be in favour of holding a referendum. I think the constant undercurrent of mostly ill-informed anti-European whingeing from the usual suspects plus the current crop of Alan B'Stards on the back benches and the tedious petulant semi-detached contrarianism of various governments over the last 20 years (but especially this one) finally needs to be tackled head-on.

The most common complaint (usually by people who haven't troubled to find out the first thing about European Community structures) is of a 'democratic deficit'. If a referendum is what it takes to finally get us to commit as active participants rather than sulkily dragging our feet, then let's get on with it.
Simon4 - on 01 Nov 2012
In reply to Wonko The Sane:

> I do not think referendums are a good idea for this kind of decision.

Why not? They seem perfectly reasonable for a single major issue, like Scottish independence, or whether to have regional parliaments or city mayors.

Most of the arguments given against referenda on this sort of question seem to centre around the objector disliking the level of knowledge that they think the public has, or the newspapers that they read, or thinking that some elect group (to which of course the objector belongs, but the majority of the population do not), should be the ones allowed to settle all important questions.

These arguments, such as they are, could invariably also be applied to general elections, so unless you think they should also be abolished in favour of a ruling elite, a referendum seems perfectly appropriate to settle a major constitutional issue.

Unless of course your objection is principally based on the fact that you fear it would not give the answer you want.
EeeByGum - on 01 Nov 2012
In reply to Saor Alba:
> (In reply to MG)
>
> In. This might to start sounding like an 0898 number.

You don't get a vote in your Independent Scotland Sunny-Jim. And Scotland will almost certainly start its independent life out of Europe I reckon.

Personally - not sure. A hell of a lot of publicised good comes from Europe, but I don't deny it costs a lot and is about as accountable as a red faced land owner bearing a shot gun and shouting "Get of my land!"
puppythedog on 01 Nov 2012
In reply to MG: In, but is Scotland goes independent and is in the Eu I will try to move there.
Wonko The Sane - on 01 Nov 2012
In reply to Simon4:
> (In reply to Wonko The Sane)
>
> [...]
>
> Why not? They seem perfectly reasonable for a single major issue, like Scottish independence, or whether to have regional parliaments or city mayors.
>
> Most of the arguments given against referenda on this sort of question seem to centre around the objector disliking the level of knowledge that they think the public has, or the newspapers that they read, or thinking that some elect group (to which of course the objector belongs, but the majority of the population do not), should be the ones allowed to settle all important questions.
>
> These arguments, such as they are, could invariably also be applied to general elections, so unless you think they should also be abolished in favour of a ruling elite, a referendum seems perfectly appropriate to settle a major constitutional issue.
>
> Unless of course your objection is principally based on the fact that you fear it would not give the answer you want.

See Dave Garnett's answer above. That's why.
Governments are elected to make informed choices. The average person in the street is basically a numpty when it comes to anything economic or political.

Keep referendums limited to matters of opinion. Not to be used when INFORMED choices are to be made.
GrahamD - on 01 Nov 2012
In reply to Wonko The Sane:

The average person in the street will vote whichever way the Sun tells them to.
Skip - on 01 Nov 2012
In reply to Wonko The Sane:
> (In reply to MG)
> [...]
>
> I do not think referendums are a good idea for this kind of decision.>

Agreed.

But i'd vote IN

Doug on 01 Nov 2012
In reply to Dave Garnett: I'd vote to stay in, but continue to be amazed at the ignorance & misinformation about the EU in the British press
Greenbanks - on 01 Nov 2012
In reply to MG:

Referenda are uck anyway - invariably too polarised
Big Steve - on 01 Nov 2012
In reply to MG: out
Darron - on 01 Nov 2012
mkean - on 01 Nov 2012
In reply to Darron:
Out
mkean - on 01 Nov 2012
In reply to mkean:
In
mkean - on 01 Nov 2012
In reply to mkean:
Shake it all about...

You do the hokey kokey...
johnj on 01 Nov 2012 - fibre.melett.com
In reply to MG:

I may have voted when the vote had any relevance right back at the start of the Euro, but I won't even bother with it now, as the non elected folk who run the show will only put it to the public when they are sure they'll get the result they want, after influencing the voting population with their 'third way' political tools.

Instead on voting day I'll do something useful with my time like scratching my arse!
Dave Garnett - on 01 Nov 2012
In reply to johnj:
> (In reply to MG)
>
> I may have voted when the vote had any relevance right back at the start of the Euro, but I won't even bother with it now, as the non elected folk who run the show will only put it to the public when they are sure they'll get the result they want, after influencing the voting population with their 'third way' political tools.

Classic. Presumably you'll be reserving your position to whine about it afterwards on the grounds that you weren't properly consulted though?
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johnj on 01 Nov 2012 - fibre.melett.com
In reply to Dave Garnett:

No I've long passed the point of even bothering to get concerned in what they get up to; It's obvious for any fool to see that it's just a big pantomime, I mean who would let David Cameron be in charge of anything important, he's just a banking cartel PR puppet, sometimes when i look closely enough i can see the stings that the CGI folk haven't cleaned up properly.
Eric9Points - on 01 Nov 2012
In reply to MG:

In......probably.

I'm moderately Euro sceptic but on balance I think we're better in than out.

I think the grumbling is a good thing, it means the Eurocrats can't take anything for granted.

I'd definitely vote no to joining the Euro or giving the European parliament any more powers.
Ken Lewis - on 01 Nov 2012
In reply to MG:

Out.

I miss duty free on european city breaks.
In reply to Eric9Points:
> or giving the European parliament any more powers.

In EU decision making who do you want to have more powers then? The Commission? The EP got more voice in legislative procedures because most who looked thought it wasn't democratic for the Commission and Council to cook everything up together.
Simon4 - on 01 Nov 2012
In reply to Wonko The Sane:

> Governments are elected to make informed choices. The average person in the street is basically a numpty when it comes to anything economic or political.

In that case, they should not be allowed to vote in general elections either - why would they be any better at picking from one or another political party than deciding which polity their country should belong to? So you are basically arguing against democracy altogether. If that is what you mean, then have the courage of your convictions and say so - also tell us what sort of selection of an elite you favour, and if you would include yourself in that high-minded elite.

> Keep referendums limited to matters of opinion. Not to be used when INFORMED choices are to be made.

Translation : "Guardian readers are superior to the common herd, who should not be allowed to vote or think in the way that they want. If the plebs ARE allowed to vote at all, Guardian readers should get at least twice as many votes as them. In addition to the plebs being forced to pay for the Guardian-BBC, whether they want it or not, other non-PC papers/broadcasters should be censored".

> Not to be used when INFORMED choices are to be made.

Informed by who? No point in having them if they can't actually have an effect. All political/economic choices are about opinion as well as information anyway.
MG - on 01 Nov 2012
In reply to Simon4: So which way would you vote? (Ideally express your choice without reference to the Guardian, Guardianistas or BBC).

I do take Wonko's point - most people are uniformed about most things. I certainly wouldn't want to have to take the time to learn about most political matters before voting in referendums on them all. I am quite happy to vote for MPs to do that learning for me and then judge them on the aggregate effect of their decisions. EU membership though seems profound enough for a referendum to be justifiable if the status quo is to change.
bouldery bits - on 01 Nov 2012
In reply to MG:

Balls deep in the EU please.
Bjartur i Sumarhus on 01 Nov 2012
In reply to MG: out.
Sir Chasm - on 01 Nov 2012
In reply to MG: What makes you think you're informed enough to be qualified to vote for an MP? Your level could be parish council.
mkean - on 01 Nov 2012
In reply to Simon4:
So you'd rather have a referendum on everything rather than electing a representative body?

An overwhelmingly large proportion of the UK population are incapable of making a reasonable stab at understanding the arguements let alone analysing the data in a meaningful way yet you'd rather they were given the choice instead of an elected group based on general ideals?

MG - on 01 Nov 2012
In reply to Sir Chasm:
> (In reply to MG) What makes you think you're informed enough to be qualified to vote for an MP? Your level could be parish council.

Pragmatism and a centuries experience suggests allowing the vote generally, even to parish council level people such as me, is a good idea for social stability. I might start a riot otherwise.
tony on 01 Nov 2012
In reply to MG:
> (In reply to Simon4) So which way would you vote? (Ideally express your choice without reference to the Guardian, Guardianistas or BBC).
>

Impossible. It's a Well Known Fact that the EU is a Guardianista BBC conspiracy and that all references to the EU must be made in terms of the evils of the Guardian and the BBC (it being vital to overlook the fact that the EU is actually run from Berlin). Or perhaps the Guardian and the BBC are also run from Berlin? Maybe it was Angela Merkel who ordered the Jimmy Saville show to be ditched?
Sir Chasm - on 01 Nov 2012
In reply to MG: Because countries, like Switzerland, who employ referendums more extensively than the UK are terrible for the rioting.
Ken Lewis - on 01 Nov 2012
Whenever informed choices are to be made, policy based evidence is gathered. Hardly an informed choice.

I think I'd rather have it decided by an uninformed herd.
Trangia - on 01 Nov 2012
In reply to MG:

I would lobby to have no referendum - we have an elected Parliament to make this kind of complex decision on our behalf.

However my leanings are towards staying in.
MG - on 01 Nov 2012
In reply to Sir Chasm: I think the Swiss do have a parliament you know.
Sir Chasm - on 01 Nov 2012
In reply to MG: I don't think anyone is proposing removing parliament, however it has been suggested that the electorate can't be trusted to vote in referendums.
Sir Chasm - on 01 Nov 2012
In reply to Trangia: You're quite old, did you vote in the referendum on EC entry in 75?
MG - on 01 Nov 2012
In reply to Sir Chasm:
> (In reply to MG) I don't think anyone is proposing removing parliament,

Good, I'll call the riot off.
Trangia - on 01 Nov 2012
In reply to Sir Chasm:

Yes
Sir Chasm - on 01 Nov 2012
In reply to Trangia: Did you not have an elected parliament then to make the decision for you?
Trangia - on 01 Nov 2012
In reply to Sir Chasm:

I hope I've become wiser with age!
andic - on 01 Nov 2012
In reply to Simon4:
> (In reply to Wonko The Sane)
>
> [...]
>
> In that case, they should not be allowed to vote in general elections either - why would they be any better at picking from one or another political party than deciding which polity their country should belong to? So you are basically arguing against democracy altogether. If that is what you mean, then have the courage of your convictions and say so - also tell us what sort of selection of an elite you favour, and if you would include yourself in that high-minded elite.
>

If we are going to achieve utopia we need to move towards post normal democracy.......
andic - on 01 Nov 2012
In reply to tony:

She did have the leadership of Italy and Greece replaced......

And who is to say where the funding of various outfits operating in the NGO/Quango/Charity sphere offering training and consultancy services to the bbc and govornment/CC comes from and to whom they owe their allegiance?
Ken Lewis - on 01 Nov 2012
In reply to andic:
> (In reply to tony)
>
> She is a part of the Frankfurt Group, which did have the leadership of Italy and Greece replaced......


To prevent the aforementoned guardianistis contending your point, I have amended it so it is now factualy correct.

MonkeyPuzzle - on 01 Nov 2012
In reply to MG:

In. I've not seen a compelling argument to leave the single biggest free market there is. To think we could remove ourselves and not end up with dozens of new, less favourable, individual trade relationships in place of what we have now makes no sense.
silhouette - on 01 Nov 2012
In reply to MonkeyPuzzle:
> In. I've not seen a compelling argument to leave the single biggest free market there is.

I would be genuinely interested to know what barriers to free trade exist right now between the EU and Switzerland and Norway.
mkean - on 01 Nov 2012
In reply to silhouette:
I would be genuinely interested to know what barriers to free trade exist right now between the EU and Switzerland and Norway.

That no one in the EU can afford anything made in Switzerland or Norway?

;-)

Wonko The Sane - on 01 Nov 2012
In reply to silhouette: If you are going to try to compare us politically with other countries, It's utterly meaningless unless you compare us socially and economically as well.

It's a limp argument at best and displays my point quite nicely about the general public being ill equipped to make this kind of decision.

I also think comparing it to the 1975 referendum isn't very useful. Back then the EU was a fledgling and Britain could afford to be more isolationist in the world which existed then, when global communication and economy was almost certainly not expected to come so far in the short time elapsed.

I have changed my mind on voting though, a few sensible comments in here have made me realise that I can't stop a referendum, so I should be part of it and vote in please. While we still matter enough to be taken seriously.
silhouette - on 01 Nov 2012
In reply to Wonko The Sane:
> It's a limp argument at best and displays my point quite nicely about the general public being ill equipped to make this kind of decision. etc etc etc

Fascinating. An innocuous question about trade barriers elicits a response which could best be described as swivel-eyed.
Wonko The Sane - on 01 Nov 2012
In reply to silhouette: I had to look up swivel eyed. No, not mad to point out that if you set yourself up very differently to the UK socioeconomically, asking about trade barriers loses any real relevence if considered in isolation.

Swivel eyed not getting the point.
Eric9Points - on 01 Nov 2012
In reply to TobyA:
> (In reply to Eric9Points)
> [...]
>
> In EU decision making who do you want to have more powers then? The Commission? The EP got more voice in legislative procedures because most who looked thought it wasn't democratic for the Commission and Council to cook everything up together.

OK, perhaps I was imprecise, in fact I probably was.

I'm happy to be part of a free trade organisation which allows free movement within it's boundaries etc but I'm not happy to allow the EU to do things like veto the UK budget for example.
John2 - on 01 Nov 2012
In reply to Dave Garnett: So do you call the adoption of the European Constitution / Lisbon Treaty democratic then? France and Netherlands both voted against the original proposals in referendums, at which stage the proposals were recast as the Lisbon Treaty. The Irish populace rejected the Lisbon Treaty and were in effect told that they has made the wrong decision. In a second referendum they accepted the Treaty. The majority of EU countries did not hold a referendum on either proposal. In the UK David Cameron gave a 'cast iron' guarantee in his election manifesto that a referendum would be held on the Lison Treaty, but no such referendum was held.

Is that what you call democracy?
Dave Garnett - on 01 Nov 2012
In reply to John2:

You have a point about Cameron's promise and, as I said, I'm in favour of a referendum to address precisely this kind of objection.
John2 - on 01 Nov 2012
In reply to Dave Garnett: What about the rest of the things that I said. Do you have anything to say about them or are you a mindless apologist for a process of railroading?
Rob Exile Ward on 01 Nov 2012
In reply to MG: In.

The EU is an extraordinary experiment in combining the most advanced social policies - human rights, rule of law, environmental protection, economic development - with credible global industrial strategy. The future - and it's working.

What's not to like?
John2 - on 01 Nov 2012
In reply to Rob Exile Ward: 'What's not to like?'

The euro?

To go further, the disastrous implemetation of the euro should be giving the apologists for the EU pause for thought. It was entirely predictable that the euro would end up in the disastrous state in which it now is, and yet the EU apologists continue to press for further harmonisation of industrial, commercial and social policies among widely differing and long-established states each of which has a separate government. What would it take to make them understand that this is a Quixotic enterprise?
Rob Exile Ward on 01 Nov 2012
In reply to John2: Which worthwhile enterprise doesn't seem quixotic when it's first embarked upon?
Bruce Hooker - on 01 Nov 2012
In reply to MG:

I don't quite see why we would vote again, it's already been done for those not aware of it - it was the last time I voted in Britain, in fact the last time I voted on a major issue at all as within the EU people who actually use the possibilities it provides lose the right to vote on all but minor issues... a bit ironical really.

So if people want another referendum about membership now how long will this be valid for? Will it become a regular thing? Maybe every 10 years there could be a referendum on EU membership and between them, spaced by 5 years, a referendum on Scottish independence?
John2 - on 01 Nov 2012
In reply to Rob Exile Ward: You haven't replied to the points that I made.
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Sir Chasm - on 01 Nov 2012
In reply to Bruce Hooker: Perhaps it could be valid for 37 years.
Bruce Hooker - on 01 Nov 2012
In reply to Sir Chasm:
> (In reply to Bruce Hooker) Perhaps it could be valid for 37 years.

That's a catchy sort of period... the age of Christ plus a leap year... it might catch on I suppose.

Flatus Vetus - on 01 Nov 2012
In reply to MG:

What's the EU done to earn the thousands I've been forced (without my consent) to pay them?
Uniformly sized cucumbers, Neil Kinnock's European holiday home?
Anything else?
Bruce Hooker - on 01 Nov 2012
In reply to Flatus Vetus: yeras

What has the EU ever done for us? The possibility to live and work in any one of over twenty countries with very little bureaucracy... The biggest market in the world.... No wars for about 60 years in an area that was traditionally torn by some of the worst wars in history... and doubtless a few others.

On the other hand it has also brought us a commitment to military intervention at the beck and call of the USA and doubtless a few more negative things, but then there's no such thing as a free lunch.
In reply to Bruce Hooker:
> as within the EU people who actually use the possibilities it provides lose the right to vote on all but minor issues... a bit ironical really.

They don't despite you claiming it. That's your position, not that of many (most?) people who move around within the EU. Again, if you want to vote, why don't you just get French citizenship?
IainRUK - on 02 Nov 2012
mcdougal - on 02 Nov 2012
In reply to MG:

Can I vote; sort of In, but not quite as In as we are now, but definitely not Out?

No?

Oh, alright, In then.
Dave Garnett - on 02 Nov 2012
In reply to John2:
> (In reply to Rob Exile Ward) 'What's not to like?'
>
> The euro?
>
> To go further, the disastrous implemetation of the euro should be giving the apologists for the EU pause for thought.

Of course. Lot of things were done badly (principally Greece lying about one or two key financial metrics when it was applying to join). Yes, the Euro included too many countries not really ready for it, yes, there's an issue about the eastward expansion of the EU; yes, we need to decide whether the 'ever closer union' thing is really anything more than a bit of idealistic rhetoric. Of course the Common Agricultural Policy and fisheries quotas and loads of other things need to be reformed. And yes, maybe we do need to say that budgets can't just expand indefinitely and there must be some limits to EU ambitions.

But, you could make the same complaints about any system of government, including ours. It doesn't mean that we should just abdicate from any involvement and go and sulk on our own.

As for the petty nationalism, do you really think we are so special that we can't manage to be at least as broad-minded as the French and German?
jkarran - on 02 Nov 2012
In reply to Ken Lewis:

> Whenever informed choices are to be made, policy based evidence is gathered. Hardly an informed choice.

Sad but it rings true.

> I think I'd rather have it decided by an uninformed herd.

That briefly conjured up images of cows in smart tunics and peaked hats debating the finer points of our position within the EU :)

Times like this I'm glad I don't read so well, it's a lot more fun this way. Moooooo :)
John2 - on 02 Nov 2012
In reply to Dave Garnett: You still don't understand, do you? the basic flaw of the euro is that a single interest rate and single exchange rate were imposed on countries with widely differing tax regimes and industrial output. This created problems not only for Greece but also for Portugal, Italy and Spain.

Germany did very well out of it, selling Mercedes cars to Greek taxi drivers who were able to afford them because of low euro interest rates.

A wish not to be part of a huge multi national alliance that has yet to demonstrate any unquestionable benefits for its members and that is run by an extravagantly wasteful bureaucracy is not petty nationalism. It is an informed choice based on an evaluation of the advantages and disadvantages of membership.
MG - on 02 Nov 2012
In reply to John2:



> A wish not to be part of a huge multi national alliance that has yet to demonstrate any unquestionable benefits for its members and that is run by an extravagantly wasteful bureaucracy is not petty nationalism.

Possibly not, but we are talking about the EU, not whatever you are referring to here.

AJM - on 02 Nov 2012
In reply to John2:

> The Irish populace rejected the Lisbon Treaty and were in effect told that they has made the wrong decision. In a second referendum they accepted the Treaty.

As far as I recall, wasn't a part of the "no" vote first time round driven by the "no" campaign publishing what was effectively totally made up bollocks such as that a "yes" vote would be forcing Ireland to relax its abortion laws and things like that?

To me, that highlights one of the problems with referenda; that it's so hard to actually get a clear picture of the costs and benefits, without misinformation and bias creeping in, at a level which the general population can actually engage with. And I'm inclined to agree with the view that electing representatives whose job it actually is to understand this shit and make sensible long term decisions based on a full understanding of the issues makes a lot of sense. Whether, of course, our current politicians are intelligent enough to do this is another question.

I think that leaving the free trade area would probably be a mistake, but I'm as yet undecided on how much of the rest I see value in, and most importantly I'm happy to acknowledge my ignorance on how possible it is to take the good bits like a common market and freedom of movement and whatever without some of the bad bits like cross European standardisation and the beaurocracy it brings with it.
Dave Garnett - on 02 Nov 2012
In reply to John2:
> (In reply to Dave Garnett) You still don't understand, do you? the basic flaw of the euro is that a single interest rate and single exchange rate were imposed on countries with widely differing tax regimes and industrial output.

Actually, I do understand and I don't disagree with your basic point.

But the EU and the Euro are not the same thing. I know you'd love to get all self-righteous about it and it must be a real frustration to you that we aren't actually in the Euro, apparently despite the omnipotent unelected powers in Brussels (or Berlin, depending on your prejudice).

Also, you say that the fiscal rules were 'imposed' as though these countries didn't gladly sign up of their own volition. It was the Greek, Italian and Portuguese governments who agreed to this (or are they unaccountable too?). Those were the rules for joining the club. Probably they were unwise to do so; certainly the EU should have been less trusting and more discriminating. But if you think the EU should have had stricter rules and maybe intervened more assertively and sooner in the national economies you mention, maybe you're right, but that's arguing for more central control not less.
John2 - on 02 Nov 2012
In reply to AJM: I think your objections to referenda are in fact objections to any form of democratic vote, and can be dealt with by Churchill's dictum that democracy is the worst possible form of government apart from all the others which have been tried from time to time.

As for the single market, the UK could still trade with EU nations if it were not a member. As Europe heads deeper into the recession caused by the botched implementation of the euro they are unlikely to be the most free spending of trading partners anyway.
John2 - on 02 Nov 2012
In reply to Dave Garnett: What I'm saying is that just as a single interest rate is unsuitable for a collection of countries with individual fiscal regimes, so any set of unified regulations and policies is at best wasteful and at worst harmful for a group of nations which differ so greatly in wealth and standards of development as those of the EU.
In reply to John2:
> an extravagantly wasteful bureaucracy

What's "extravagantly" wasteful about the EU bureaucracy? There is some corruption, often once EU funding is moved down to the national or regional level, and the 2 seat parliament is ridiculous, but that's the French veto for you. In comparison to say US govt. spending on military procurement, or the level of corruption in China, the EU looks far from extravagantly bad.
Dave Garnett - on 02 Nov 2012
In reply to John2:

So you don't see any advantage in having a common EU standard for the acceptable level of lead in paint, or the E coli count on bathing beaches?
Sir Chasm - on 02 Nov 2012
In reply to Dave Garnett: What would the problem be in signing up to those two standard if the UK wasn't in the EU?
John2 - on 02 Nov 2012
In reply to Dave Garnett: The UK already had a perfectly adequate standard for the acceptable level of lead in paint. To contribute to the cost of an EU standard for the same thing is wasteful. The necessity to register chemical products to conform with the EU standards has been a significant and costly problem for a number of UK manufacturing companies.
John2 - on 02 Nov 2012
In reply to TobyA: What about the dual location of the parmliament in both Strasbourg and Brussels? Pretty extravagantly wasteful in my opinion. What about the 'sign in and sod off' system which allows MEPs if they so choose to collect a daily allowance of 284 euros by simply signing into the parliamentary session then sodding off somewhere else?
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Dave Garnett - on 02 Nov 2012
In reply to John2:

But what about the costs of testing imported paint for compliance with our standards on lead levels, as opposed to relying on a common standard required for anything we import from the EU? Rather typically you only see one side of the equation.

I don't think we are necessarily the paragons of environmental safety you imagine. Water treatment is a good example where it's been EU standards that have driven our, rather reluctant, compliance.

Anyway, the costs of EU compliance have be seen in terms of the opportunities they provide.
John2 - on 02 Nov 2012
In reply to Dave Garnett: It was indeed the necessity of complying with EU water treatment standards that precipitated the privatisation of the UK water industry. However, I don't recall any particular problem with people suffering as a result of bad quality water in the UK before that date. This standard is a matter of judgement, rather like the differing levels of blood alcohol permitted for drivers in the UK and in France.
AJM - on 02 Nov 2012
In reply to John2:

It could trade but would of course be more vulnerable to trade tariffs, and it would be possible for the EU to close out some of the City's role as a euro trading hub for example as well.

Regarding disdain for democracy - direct democracy perhaps. Representative democracy at least has the theoretical possibility of people prepared to take the right long term decisions at the expense of the short term unpopularity. I mean in reality a benevolent dictator or computer would do the job best but they seem somewhat hard to find.

As a direct and hypothetical (ignore your views on europe for a second and focus on a principle) question, do you think it is better for a country to have it's elected government take an unpopular but objectively beneficial decision or for a referendum to deliver the opposing non-beneficial decision, to the long term detriment of the population?
neilh - on 02 Nov 2012
In reply to Dave Garnett:

It's like a bigger scottish independence vote.
Id vote in for the Common Market only.
Everything else out as its too undemocratic.
Sir Chasm - on 02 Nov 2012
In reply to AJM: But that's a stupid question and shows contempt for the electorate, if it could be shown that the decision was objectively beneficial why would people not vote for it in a referendum?
EeeByGum - on 02 Nov 2012
In reply to John2: The problem with the anti-European stance, is that it is easy to look at the waste of the EU and it is similarly easy to look at the amount of money we throw towards Europe. You can even fiscally measure what comes back to us. However, one thing that is not known is the cost to this country of effectively doing all the stuff the EU does for us. Just as setting targets or privatisation almost always back fires and ends up costing more, I can't help feeling that there would not necessarily be a net gain by getting out. I also can't help feeling that harping on about how unaccountable the commission and MEPs are is a distraction to the fact that our own MPs and councillors aren't really very accountable either.
Dave Garnett - on 02 Nov 2012
In reply to John2:
> (In reply to Dave Garnett) It was indeed the necessity of complying with EU water treatment standards that precipitated the privatisation of the UK water industry.

Nonsense. That might have been the political camouflage for the overt Tory policy of privatisation - not that the privatised industry seemed to embrace their regulatory commitments until threatened by the regulator backed up by EU standards.

>However, I don't recall any particular problem with people suffering as a result of bad quality water in the UK before that date.

I'm referring to the standards of waste water dumped, for instance, on public beaches. Ask the surfers how clean the water used to be (not that it's always perfect now).
AJM - on 02 Nov 2012
In reply to Sir Chasm:

Short term discomfort versus long term benefits. Bias/prejudice. Media spin. Populist politiking. All sorts of reasons. It's touchingly naive to suggest that people can always objectively identify the right course of action on subjects they have no expertise in - it's hard enough for experts after all.

To be fair though, as a hypothetical question it's main purpose was to see whether Johns belief in direct democracy in this case is based on high principles of putting people in direct control of their lives regardless of the consequences of them getting it wrong, or whether it's because he thinks it will deliver the answer he wants.
Sir Chasm - on 02 Nov 2012
In reply to AJM: Give us an example of a question that you think MPs can give an objectively correct answer to that they can't explain to us plebs.
AJM - on 02 Nov 2012
In reply to Sir Chasm:

<sigh>

As I've already explained, it's a hypothetical black and white question in order to find out about principles rather than their application to real life - would John be a fan of a referendum on something that was intensely unpopular but actually the best decision in the long run. If I bring an actual real world example into it you will use it as an opportunity to distract the discussion from the actual question by arguing over whether the "right" decision is right or not, which doesn't really help me find out what I want.

Sir Chasm - on 02 Nov 2012
In reply to AJM: No, it's a hypothetical question about a hypothetical question and you are unable to give an example of a question that parliament can give an objectively correct answer to that the same parliament is unable to convince the electorate of.
MG - on 02 Nov 2012
In reply to Sir Chasm:
> (In reply to AJM) No, it's a hypothetical question about a hypothetical question and you are unable to give an example of a question that parliament can give an objectively correct answer to that the same parliament is unable to convince the electorate of.

You are rather narrowing it down with the requirement for objectivity as this rules out judgement calls. How about, that man made CO2 emissions result in climate change?

Sir Chasm - on 02 Nov 2012
In reply to MG: That was the criteria ajm gave.
John2 - on 02 Nov 2012
In reply to AJM: I've nothing against governments taking unpopular but objectively beneficial decisions, of course. I guess you could say that income tax is unpopular, but the proceeds benefit the nation. The problem with your question is the word 'objectively' however. Not everything tnat a government does can be objectively assessed.
AJM - on 02 Nov 2012
In reply to Sir Chasm:

I really don't think you've grasped the point behind my question. Ill give it one last go.

The idea is to separate reality, which is shades of grey (objectively right and wrong exists in childrens books more often than the real world I'm afraid), out of the equation to see what the underlying principles would be in a purely black and white situation.

As such, any situation I can give will be from the real world and hence a "shades of grey" question rather than black and white. Your post above seems to think that this might be a surprise to me; I am afraid thats very much my intention.

Sorry if that's not the answer you were hoping for, but I hope that perhaps the reason behind the question is slightly clearer now. If not then I'm afraid I can do no more; I tried!
Sir Chasm - on 02 Nov 2012
In reply to AJM: It isn't an answer at all, but I see John has answered your original question
AJM - on 02 Nov 2012
In reply to John2:

Can anything?

I thought that would probably be your answer.

I realise I've not been doing well with staying in touch - the weather hasn't been up to many midweek missions of late. Anyway, I saw Sue this week, who said you are settling in well, which is good!
AJM - on 02 Nov 2012
In reply to Sir Chasm:

Well, it was an explanation of why your question didn't really need or have an answer.

As you say though, John didn't seem to struggle with the concept, which is the important thing.
In reply to John2:
> (In reply to TobyA) What about the dual location of the parmliament in both Strasbourg and Brussels?

Well I had already mentioned that, but as I'm sure you know that's because of the French govt. I believe it's now a majority of MEPs who have signed up to wanting to just be in Brussels.

Expenses are annoying, but the actual money is peanuts as part of the community budget, in fact crumbs of peanuts - and at least they're following rules to get cash, unlike so many British MPs who seems to have been lying to get theirs.

I'm sure you can make an argument that CAP funding is extravagantly wasteful and that's serious money, but I don't know if you agree. Plenty in farming industry don't.
In reply to Sir Chasm:
> Give us an example of a question that you think MPs can give an objectively correct answer to that they can't explain to us plebs.

Theoretically anything can be explained to anyone, but most people are far to busy getting on with life to take an interest. The parliamentary committee system does a rather impressive job of being "the jury" representing us, when it comes to either gathering expert opinion to make policy or to critically assess the results of government policy.

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John2 - on 02 Nov 2012
In reply to TobyA: My view of CAP funding is that it is indeed wasteful. Its original purpose was to allow the continued existence of French farmers on picturesque farms in the Alps, discouraging the more efficient UK farmers.

We now have the principle of set aside payments, whereby farmers are paid to produce nothing on potentially productive land. Of course they then use expensive fertilizers and pesticides on the land they are allowed to produce on, to the general detriment of the environment. Surely it would be more sensible to allow them to use all of their land for productive purposes and to have a true market in place in which produce would be sold at a price that the ultimate consumer was willing to pay. High EU food prices are of course supported by import tariffs on non-EU produce - this is the famed single market in action, making agricultural produce more costly than it need be.
Sir Chasm - on 02 Nov 2012
In reply to TobyA: And again, no example of a question that parliament can answer objectively correctly that us commoners can't have a stab at.
Wonko The Sane - on 02 Nov 2012
In reply to Sir Chasm:
> (In reply to TobyA) And again, no example of a question that parliament can answer objectively correctly that us commoners can't have a stab at.

Does this disingenious over simplification pass for discussion and conversation in your household?
Sir Chasm - on 02 Nov 2012
In reply to Wonko The Sane: Yes. But only when we're not discussing what tyres to put on cars we haven't got.
Wonko The Sane - on 02 Nov 2012
In reply to Sir Chasm:
> (In reply to Wonko The Sane) Yes. But only when we're not discussing what tyres to put on cars we haven't got.

Yet on here, it appears the norm for you. Whatever the subject.

Sir Chasm - on 02 Nov 2012
In reply to Wonko The Sane: Do you think it's ever appropriate to let the electorate answer a question in a referendum? Our are you happy for parliament to decide everything? There you go, two simple questions.
Doug on 02 Nov 2012
In reply to John2:
> (In reply to TobyA) My view of CAP funding is that it is indeed wasteful. Its original purpose was to allow the continued existence of French farmers on picturesque farms in the Alps, discouraging the more efficient UK farmers.
>
Except the UK wasn't in the EU (or EEA as it then was) at the time the CAP was first put together
Wonko The Sane - on 02 Nov 2012
In reply to Sir Chasm:
> (In reply to Wonko The Sane) Do you think it's ever appropriate to let the electorate answer a question in a referendum? Our are you happy for parliament to decide everything? There you go, two simple questions.

Yes, I think it's appropriate to let the electorate participate in a referendum. On the proviso that it's a single policy decision which is readily understandable and which doesn't have far reaching ramifications if we make the wrong choice, or that all implications are presented as a worked out proposal.

My problem is not so much asking the public if they are in favour of the EU as such. My problem is that in the world as it is, if we do NOT enter the EU properly, we have no choice but to completely re think many of our other policies because we would become increasingly isolated.



Presenting it as a vote " EU or not" is just far too simplistic. Large portions of the GP are very easily lead with 'jingoistic' arguments which appeal to an X Factor, sensastionalist audience.

It's always easy to present the popular case.
That does not make it the right choice.

Britain is quite a backward looking country but I'm afraid the 'bulldog spirit' is just not going to be enough in the world of tomorrow should we isolate ourselves.

Look how small the world has become in 40 years. What will it be like in 40 more?

If the arguments were presented along those lines...... of what the possibilities for a no vite really are and the changes that would potentially need to be made to all aspects of our society if we voted no...... then I'd be more inclined to say yes to a referendum. Even then, if I were a politician, I'd want signed bits of paper from every no voter so I could have it waved in front of them 20 years later when they are complaining at the state of the country.


Unfortunately, I think some decisions really are "Like it or not" decisions.
Sir Chasm - on 02 Nov 2012
In reply to Wonko The Sane:
> (In reply to Sir Chasm)
> [...]
>
> Yes, I think it's appropriate to let the electorate participate in a referendum. On the proviso that it's a single policy decision which is readily understandable and which doesn't have far reaching ramifications if we make the wrong choice,
>
Ah, you see big questions that have far reaching ramifications are exactly the questions that could be appropriate for referendums. Otherwise you're left with x factor questions.
Wonko The Sane - on 02 Nov 2012
In reply to Sir Chasm:
> (In reply to Wonko The Sane)
> [...]
> Ah, you see big questions that have far reaching ramifications are exactly the questions that could be appropriate for referendums. Otherwise you're left with x factor questions.

Only if presented fully. When you've worked out how to do that.......... go tell the politicians (and me) I'll certainly be all ears...... if a little sceptical.
Sir Chasm - on 02 Nov 2012
In reply to Wonko The Sane: Make your mind up, first you say that decisions that have far reaching ramifications aren't appropriate for a referendum, now you say they are as long as they're explained properly (as if anyone thinks you should have a referendum without explaining the issues). You have to start with the question, how it's explained comes later.
Wonko The Sane - on 02 Nov 2012
In reply to Sir Chasm:
> (In reply to Wonko The Sane) Make your mind up, first you say that decisions that have far reaching ramifications aren't appropriate for a referendum, now you say they are as long as they're explained properly (as if anyone thinks you should have a referendum without explaining the issues). You have to start with the question, how it's explained comes later.

Sigh. Back to how you were.

I then went on to explain why they're not appropriate. If there were a way of overcoming the problems I've mentioned, I'd rethink it.
Sir Chasm - on 02 Nov 2012
In reply to Wonko The Sane: Give it a go, it worked in 75, there's no reason to think it won't work in Scotland in 2014. Try to put aside your contempt for your fellow voters and have a little faith.
Coel Hellier - on 02 Nov 2012
In reply to Wonko The Sane:

> Large portions of the GP are very easily lead with 'jingoistic' arguments ... Britain is quite a backward
> looking country but I'm afraid the 'bulldog spirit' is just not going to be enough in the world of
> tomorrow should we isolate ourselves. [...] If the arguments were presented along those lines....

I see, so you'd only allow a referendum if you got to control the discussion. And anyone who tried patiently explaining that a "no" vote is the very opposite of a vote for "isolation", but instead about being fully international, and anyone who explained that it was not about "jingoism" or "bulldog spirit" but rather about what is the best form of government for Europe and about whether a centralised federal state with ``ever closer union'' is really the way to go would not be allowed to speak, because you want to totally straw-man the opposition and silence any intelligent and thoughtful criticism of the direction of the EU.

Tell me, is that desire to control the debate because you don't actually have any good pro-EU arguments and don't want to have to argue it on the actual merits of the case?

Someone should explain that the rationale for being in the biggest country possible ended with the invention of the machine gun and other WMDs capable of killing lots of people, such that it no longer matters so much how many foot soldiers you have in your army. That, coupled with the now pretty ubiquitous acceptance of local determination as a way of settling frontier disputes.

And nowadays, most people want to live in countries with a high degree of local autonomy. Look at moves in that direction in Wales and Scotland, and in many new nations in the Balkans and Baltic States, etc. And, if being big is to great and obviously the way to go, why are the Canadians (a smaller economy than ours) quite happy being separate from the US? Why are some of the smallest nations some of the world's best places to live (Switzerland, Norway, Canada, New Zealand, etc)?

Nope, I really don't get it, why is being part of a big union -- just for the sake of it -- a good thing?
Wonko The Sane - on 02 Nov 2012
In reply to Coel Hellier:
> (In reply to Wonko The Sane)
>
> [...]
>
> I see, so you'd only allow a referendum if you got to control the discussion. And anyone who tried patiently explaining that a "no" vote is the very opposite of a vote for "isolation", but instead about being fully international, and anyone who explained that it was not about "jingoism" or "bulldog spirit" but rather about what is the best form of government for Europe and about whether a centralised federal state with ``ever closer union'' is really the way to go would not be allowed to speak, because you want to totally straw-man the opposition and silence any intelligent and thoughtful criticism of the direction of the EU.
>
I've no wish to control the debate, no. I just have no wish for a very badly represented, one sided debate which appeals to the lowest common denominator.




> Tell me, is that desire to control the debate because you don't actually have any good pro-EU arguments and don't want to have to argue it on the actual merits of the case?
>

I don't know the outcome of a yes or no vote any more than anyone else does. However, I susped that your idea of being truly international would just leave us in the cold with very little to offer anyone. Tell me, what are you proposing we sell internationally? Our resources? Our skills?
Or we could pursue isolationist policies.......... ok, but you have to concede our society would have to change a lot if that choice were made, and that needs explaining fully.


> Someone should explain that the rationale for being in the biggest country possible ended with the invention of the machine gun and other WMDs capable of killing lots of people, such that it no longer matters so much how many foot soldiers you have in your army. That, coupled with the now pretty ubiquitous acceptance of local determination as a way of settling frontier disputes.
>
I've never mentioned armies. Trading blocks however will become increasingly important I feel. Put another way, you hear an awful lot about China and the USA foreign and trading policies. Not so much about say, Australia's.


> And nowadays, most people want to live in countries with a high degree of local autonomy. Look at moves in that direction in Wales and Scotland, and in many new nations in the Balkans and Baltic States, etc. And, if being big is to great and obviously the way to go, why are the Canadians (a smaller economy than ours) quite happy being separate from the US? Why are some of the smallest nations some of the world's best places to live (Switzerland, Norway, Canada, New Zealand, etc)?
>
I have no issue with the UK choosing that path. IF it's a very informed decision.

> Nope, I really don't get it, why is being part of a big union -- just for the sake of it -- a good thing?

I am not saying it is the best choice. I happen to think it's the best PRACTICAL choice, however.
Coel Hellier - on 02 Nov 2012
In reply to Wonko The Sane:

> However, I susped that your idea of being truly international would just leave us in the cold
> with very little to offer anyone.

Err, why?

> Tell me, what are you proposing we sell internationally? Our resources? Our skills?

Yes, our skills. We're a large and successful economy, which interacts well with many countries world-wide, and there is no reason why we should not continue to be.

> Or we could pursue isolationist policies......

Strawman, no-one is advocating that.

> Trading blocks however will become increasingly important I feel.

Absolutely.

> Put another way, you hear an awful lot about China and the USA foreign and trading policies.
> Not so much about say, Australia's.

And yet, were I given the choice of being a random person in one of those three countries, I'd pick Australia. Isn't that what this is about ultimately, quality of life? (And not, the "seat at the table" that the Europhiles think so important that they'd sacrifice all else for).

> I have no issue with the UK choosing that path. IF it's a very informed decision.

Does it have to be an equally "very informed" decision to stay in the EU and proceed to ever closer union, joining the Euro, and on to federalism? Or are you adopting different thresholds for the two options, and if so why?
Wonko The Sane - on 02 Nov 2012
In reply to Coel Hellier:
> (In reply to Wonko The Sane)
>

>
> Yes, our skills. We're a large and successful economy, which interacts well with many countries world-wide, and there is no reason why we should not continue to be.
>
I don't see us as currently able to survive on our skills. We are in the process of possibly placing restrictions on banking etc...... which may well lead to other less scrupulous countries taking our position in that industry. When it comes to intellectual property, we're being overtaken in that field by the likes of India and other up coming countries, and we're average at best as it stands.

> [...]
>
> Strawman, no-one is advocating that.
>
I am not suggesting it's being mooted......... but it SHOULD be because it's a very possible outcome. And as I've said elsewhere, not necessarily one I'm against if it's a planned economy.

> [...]

>
> And yet, were I given the choice of being a random person in one of those three countries, I'd pick Australia. Isn't that what this is about ultimately, quality of life? (And not, the "seat at the table" that the Europhiles think so important that they'd sacrifice all else for).
>
Yes, it is. However......... I did say I felt a yes vote was the best PRACTICAL solution. I simply do not think the average British citizen is ready for the kind of change which would lead to a real increase of quality of life. It isn't a freeby to be doled out, it has to be worked for.

And mentioning australia, I recently met two people just back from aus who loved being there, but reported that getting the average Aussie to work was a nightmare. Hence them, and people like them being employed to achieve targets. It isn't all milk and honey.



> [...]
>
> Does it have to be an equally "very informed" decision to stay in the EU and proceed to ever closer union, joining the Euro, and on to federalism? Or are you adopting different thresholds for the two options, and if so why?

Frank4short - on 03 Nov 2012
In reply to Coel Hellier:

> Why are some of the smallest nations some of the world's best places to live (Switzerland, Norway, Canada, New Zealand, etc)?

> Nope, I really don't get it, why is being part of a big union -- just for the sake of it -- a good thing?

It's funny for such a normally rational and intelligent person how you seem to see red when it comes to this issue. You repeatedly cite the examples of Switzerland, Norway, Canada, Australia, Singapore, New Zealand, etc. whenever this conversation comes up. Saying that small is better why should we be a part of something bigger. Every single time it's pointed out in all of the aforementioned countries there are significant independent factors in their being successful small nations (natural resources, banking, generations of social engineering) none of which are akin to or more apt direct comparisons to the uk. Yet you continue to say it whenever the conversation comes up. Do you think saying it over and over will make it more true?
In reply to Doug: I know very little about ag. policy but that way my understanding too. I thought it went back nearly as far the coal and steel bit!
In reply to Coel Hellier:
> Why are some of the smallest nations some of the world's best places to live (Switzerland, Norway, Canada, New Zealand, etc)?

Did you purposely leave Sweden, Finland, Denmark and Ireland out of that list? Interestingly according to the recent Legatum rankings, Switzerland is rather poor on education and personal freedom - they would be overall top or second if they did better on those factors http://www.prosperity.com/Ranking.aspx

It would seem to me that your list suggests social democracies are the best places to live in the world and the less inequality there is an a society the better for that society.
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Bruce Hooker - on 03 Nov 2012
In reply to TobyA:
> (In reply to Bruce Hooker)
> [...]
>
> They don't despite you claiming it. That's your position, not that of many (most?) people who move around within the EU. Again, if you want to vote, why don't you just get French citizenship?

You have no right to vote in the country you reside in... that's a fact, can you vote in all Finish elections? As for changing nationality at each move, have you any idea of the complexity in countries like France? The whole notion of "free movement of people" within the union implies maintaining righting votes wherever you live surely?

PS. Please answer my simple question, can you vote in all the elections in your permanent country of abode - Finland, or not? At present EU rules only impose such a basic freedom on EU elections and, recently, fro municipal ones... Do you deny this?
John2 - on 03 Nov 2012
In reply to TobyA: I think Doug is taking my words a little too literally. The CAP favours small producers such as French Alpine farmers above larger, more efficeint farms such as those in the UK. Happy with that formulation?

Things are possibly changing now, but traditionally the most urban of Parisians used to proclaim his attachment to 'la France profonde' and lay claim to agricultural ancestors just as American presidents like to proclaim their Irish roots.
Bruce Hooker - on 03 Nov 2012
In reply to John2:

> traditionally the most urban of Parisians used to proclaim his attachment to 'la France profonde' and lay claim to agricultural ancestors...

Because this is essentially true. The industrialisation of France is comparatively recent compared to some countries and till the first half of the last century is was an agricultural country. Most families only need to go back a generation or two to find their ancestors on the land. Even today agriculture is still an economical power house, especially with a CAP which is incredibly generous to them - many small farmers earn a significant part of their income from EU subsidies... a factor which prevents modernisation of the system and has become self-sustaining.
Coel Hellier - on 03 Nov 2012
In reply to Wonko The Sane:

> I don't see us as currently able to survive on our skills.

If you are concerned about our ability to compete then you should be *against* joining the Euro and the EU's drive to ever closer union. That's because it removes one of the prime methods of curing uncompetitiveness, namely your currency devaluing. That is why Greece (and to a lesser extent Spain and Italy) are screwed -- they can't devalue against the better-performing German economy. Joining the Euro/EU doesn't magically make it easier for your economy to compete, it makes it harder.

Again, can we actually discuss this topic on its merits, rather than just sneering at anyone against the current direction of the EU as "little Englanders"?

> And mentioning australia,... It isn't all milk and honey.

Nor is the Eurozone. Do you read the news?


>
Coel Hellier - on 03 Nov 2012
In reply to Frank4short:

> Yet you continue to say it whenever the conversation comes up. Do you think saying it over and over will make it more true?

And people claim we need to be large without any attempt to actually make the case. Do you think saying it over and over will make it more true? The reason I cite various small countries that are near the top of the quality-of-life league is to show that being small does not prevent doing well, there is nothing wrong, in itself, in being small (even if you can call the world's 7th biggest economy "small").

If *you* want to argue that we need to be part of something much bigger then *you* make the argument. Can you?

> Every single time it's pointed out in all of the aforementioned countries there are significant
> independent factors in their being successful small nations (natural resources, banking, generations
> of social engineering)

We have more oil than anyone in Europe except Norway, more money from banking than anyone in Europe except Switzerland, etc. If you want to argue that we can't be successful as an independent country then try making the argument -- funny how pro-EU advocates never really attempt that, they just claim we "need" to join in a big conglomeration and then sneer at anyone who asks "why?" and claims that they're simply being "little Englanders".

One day we may get intelligent and reasoned arguments for joining a federal Europe. Strange how we aren't being presented with them already.
Bruce Hooker - on 03 Nov 2012
In reply to Coel Hellier:

> That is why Greece (and to a lesser extent Spain and Italy) are screwed -- they can't devalue against the better-performing German economy.

I think there is a more serious long term result of being in the Euro: a country's currency is defended by the strength of the zone as a whole. If Greece or Spain had retained their own local currency their economic policies, or lack of, would have been sanctioned long ago by the money markets. As it is by the time the situations had reached such an extreme as they have now and could no longer be ignored it was far to bad for any easy solution.

It's linked to what you have mentioned but is another aspect of the same problem. To avoid it within the framework of a single currency a federal system with a European government would have been needed (the real reason for pushing the Euro so early) and also the acceptance of populations to abandon less economically viable areas - as they do in the USA, Greece could have become a "Dust-Bowl" with picturesque ruins, for example.
Coel Hellier - on 03 Nov 2012
In reply to TobyA:

> It would seem to me that your list suggests social democracies are the best places to live in the world
> and the less inequality there is an a society the better for that society.

Is anyone disputing that? The point is that, according to the data, being very large is *not* something that correlates with being high up those league tables.

(PS If less inequality helps a society, would you consider it easier to equalise across something the size of the UK or across something the size of Europe -- surely the latter will inevitably have more disparity?)
John2 - on 03 Nov 2012
In reply to Bruce Hooker: #I think there is a more serious long term result of being in the Euro: a country's currency is defended by the strength of the zone as a whole. If Greece or Spain had retained their own local currency their economic policies, or lack of, would have been sanctioned long ago by the money markets'

Good grief Bruce, I agree with you. Are you mellowing with age or am I going senile?
Bruce Hooker - on 03 Nov 2012
In reply to John2:

Well I'm not mellowing, I've thought this for a long time... so... :-)
In reply to Bruce Hooker: We've discussed this before. I vote Euros and local elections in the country of my residence (happened to have just voted in the municipal elections last Sunday on my way out to go climbing), and I vote in the general elections in the country of my citizenship, i.e. the UK.

I only asked about changing nationality because if you've been away from the UK for too long to vote there in general elections (15 years continuously, I believe) you will have passed most or all of the requirements for citizenship in the second country I imagine?
In reply to Coel Hellier:
> more money from banking than anyone in Europe except Switzerland, etc.

Is that true? I would have thought the City earns considerably more than Switzerland.

But this small/big division you're building is false dichotomy because the EU is not a state, and even with possible closer integration on fiscal issues for example, I still believe there is very little evidence that it ever will be just one large state.

And the UK alone is far too big to ever be considered a "small" state; we're the 6th biggest economy in the world. The UK out of the EU would still be very far from being a small state.
In reply to Coel Hellier:

> Is anyone disputing that?

You normally do with your Thatcherite/free trade leanings!
ITS on 03 Nov 2012
In reply to MG:
To answer the original, very straightforward question, I would vote out.
Coel Hellier - on 04 Nov 2012
In reply to TobyA:

> Is that true? I would have thought the City earns considerably more than Switzerland.

Yes, true -- I was implicitly normalising by population.

> But this small/big division you're building is false dichotomy because the EU is not a state, and even with
> possible closer integration on fiscal issues for example, I still believe there is very little evidence
> that it ever will be just one large state.

What does "ever closer union" mean then? I think the Eurozone will become a state on the federal model. There could still be a fair degree of autonomy for individual countries, much like Wales and Scotland now have within the UK, but once you have majority voting on all major Eurozone issues (which you will), you effectively have a state.

> And the UK alone is far too big to ever be considered a "small" state; we're the 6th biggest economy
> in the world. The UK out of the EU would still be very far from being a small state.

I agree with you. Tell that to all the pro-EU advocates who keep telling us that we're far too small and puny to survive outside the EU and that we simply must join in with a Euroland federal superstate.
In reply to Coel Hellier: My feeling is that you don't have much sense of the politics within other EU countries if you really think that "ever closer union" is somehow inevitably going reach the telos of a federal state. I don't even think that if there was total fiscal union you have a federal state, because so many of the functions of what we take to be a state are missing. Classic political science (Hobbes, Weber, etc.) tends to focus more on violence (the legitimate monopoly on...) than economics. Whilst, say, joint taxation levels might be attainable (although is even that likely?), can you see the Germans closing down their Ministry for Foreign Affairs and letting the EAS represent them in, say, Tel Aviv? And I wouldn't hold your breath for the French to put their nuclear forces under European control!
Coel Hellier - on 04 Nov 2012
In reply to TobyA:

And I suggest that you're doing the classic British thing of not believing that people mean what they say.

> Classic political science (Hobbes, Weber, etc.) tends to focus more on violence (the legitimate monopoly on...) than economics.

OK, by a Federal Euroland I am referring to the important things -- the economy, taxation, social welfare etc, things that affect people's day-to-day life. If "classical political science" doesn't regard those as the important features of a state then classical political science needs updating.

Things like French nukes and German representation in Tel Aviv are less relevant to most people's day-to-day lives. But there is talk of a European President and a European foreign policy and foreign minister. And for single-points-of-contact for the Americans to talk to if they want to talk to "Europe". I'm willing to bet that within 30 years Euroland foreign policy will dominate and foreign policy of the component nations will have a status similar to Alex Salmond's foreign policy.
Bruce Hooker - on 04 Nov 2012
In reply to TobyA:

OK, so you confirm you can't vote in the main elections in your country of residence, which is exactly what I said, so when you said just above:

> They don't (ie. lose the right to vote on all but minor issues) despite you claiming it. That's your position, not that of many (most?) people who move around within the EU.

You were being economical with the truth as Mrs T used to say, or telling a porkie as I would say.

As I've said above I would not vote for Britain to leave the EU, if I had a chance to vote which seems doubtful even though I am a British citizen and a householder there, but there are many legitimate reasons why others would, of which a serious "democratic deficit" is one. The loss of franchise is just one, there are many others - the scandal of having a double parliament, with MEPs packing up their bags and moving between too highly expensive buildings each week is another.
Wonko The Sane - on 04 Nov 2012
In reply to Coel Hellier: Coel, from memory having looked at your post yesterday and a quick check, the UK economy is around $2.4 trillion, which, as you point out is the 6/7th largest economy in the world.

However, compared to $17 trillion for the EU, $14 trillion for the USA and just under $8 trillion for China (which, don't forget is still experiencing massive growth to our stasis) We are quite small.

Small when compared to trading blocks. Don't forget there are places like India as well still showing growth. I.E. we are being outsripped all over the place.


At the moment, we have a lot of sway in the EU because we are the third largest economy in Europe by nation. But our relevence will become less and less as Europe integrates further into a 'Federal Europe'
Being a federal Europe means it has more and more direct control over that $17 trillion, leaving us as an outsider with a small and unimportant economy (in the scheme of things)

If Europe integrates further, what skill does the UK have which Europe will NEED to buy from us rather than internally? It has to be something so useful to them that they are happy to give us good trading terms in order to get it from 'outside' the EU (us). Off the top of my head, I can't think of anything.

This is what I mean when I say a yes vote is the best PRACTICAL solution to the issues of the future.

I myself have no particular wish to fully integrate into the EU just for the sake of it. I'd rather be independant if I thought it could work.


There are other ways to go.

We could make the decision to be independant, but given the likes of China, India and a federal EU, we would need to be quite self sufficient. We have dwindling fuel reserves. Our financial sector is bouyant, but unable to support the entire economy and in danger of being legislated into a corner when it comes to being competetive world wide. I can see a situation where our financial clout is transfered to places such as Singapore and China etc, exacerbating the problem. Manufacturing? We're ok at it at best. Germany beats us hands down at anything technical and India/China beat us in the cheap goods dept.
So chosing to be self sufficient will mean Britons HAVE to accept a slightly different lifestyle. They will have to become a bit less consumer based and strive for energy self sufficiency.
Do you see that happening any time soon? Do you see this as an option the politicians can sell to us?


Or we can sell our expertise in engineering and suchlike. Though to do that, we'll need to change how that is valued in this country. Talking to someone I know who runs a manufacturing business and he's saying financing is still almost as bad as it was in 2010. What's your plan to get us into a position where our R&D is well funded enough to be sellable to the world?



These are just some of the questions I have for the future. I say yes to the EU because it appears to me the best of a lot of difficult options. Not perfect, but a bit of an umbrella at least. I can't really see how any other course would lead to anything but a contracting economy and a steady slide into obscurity. But if you see it differently..........
Do tell!
Bruce Hooker - on 04 Nov 2012
In reply to Coel Hellier:

The atmosphere in France is far from moving towards a federal European state and all over Europe there are nationalist movements growing so I can't really see the signs that you see indicating a move the other way. If you just look at foreign policy, something that defines to a great extent the policy of a nation state and therefore requires the application of the highest level of political thought I just can't see how this could be done at EU level without power being shifted almost totally to the federal level, as in the USA for example. At present it's hardly the greatest intellects that go to Brussels, often it's a consolation prize for politicians that lose out and public interest in debates in the European assembly and other European institutions must be about zero, even the Vatican probably gets more attention!

So I'd say the evidence is more towards a continued "muddling by", some would say the British method in fact, with neither more federalism nor the break up of the commercial union. Business as usual in other words.
Bruce Hooker - on 04 Nov 2012
In reply to Wonko The Sane:

> Not perfect, but a bit of an umbrella at least.

That could be the problem though.... it certainly is what enabled Greece and possibly Spain to get to the state they're in. Protected by the EU and the Euro, Greece just went on in deficit, taxes left uncollected and corruption a way of life, all financed by low interest rate borrowing that the Euro enabled, until it all went wrong. If they had been fully exposed to economic pressures as an independent state they would have had to sort their act out years ago, before it reached the present catastrophic levels.

It could be that an umbrella avoids the need to be responsible and for some governments the temptation is just too strong?
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Wonko The Sane - on 04 Nov 2012
In reply to Bruce Hooker:
> (In reply to Wonko The Sane)
>
> [...]
>
> That could be the problem though.... it certainly is what enabled Greece and possibly Spain to get to the state they're in. Protected by the EU and the Euro, Greece just went on in deficit, taxes left uncollected and corruption a way of life, all financed by low interest rate borrowing that the Euro enabled, until it all went wrong. If they had been fully exposed to economic pressures as an independent state they would have had to sort their act out years ago, before it reached the present catastrophic levels.
>
> It could be that an umbrella avoids the need to be responsible and for some governments the temptation is just too strong?

I think you're putting things the wrong way around.
The point was to try to bring the likes of Greece and Spain economies into line with the rest of Europe, which is the entire POINT of the EU. A pretty bad recession got in the way of that and ruined those plans.

The fact that Greece and Spain have been helped the way they have just illustrates my point.


And bear in mind, this is with the EU as it stands now. If anyone doubts the direction it is aimed toward (a Federal Europe) I think they're kidding themselves.

It won't happen overnight because we don't have a convenient civil war to move things along. But I am reasonably certain it will happen over time.
Coel Hellier - on 04 Nov 2012
In reply to Wonko The Sane:

> Don't forget there are places like India as well still showing growth. I.E. we are being outsripped all over the place.

Your argument is a bit like the joke "the one who dies with the most money wins". The idea is not to be part of the biggest trading block with the biggest economy -- the aim is quality of life! OF COURSE a bigger entity with a much larger population can easily have a larger economy, but the important thing is not the total, its the amount PER HEAD OF POPULATION.

> leaving us as an outsider with a small and unimportant economy

Yep, and plenty of places with "small and unimportant economies" can be high up in wealth PER POPULATION and in QUALITY OF LIFE. Shall I list them all again?

> If Europe integrates further, what skill does the UK have which Europe will NEED to buy from us rather
> than internally? It has to be something so useful to them that they are happy to give us good trading terms

Look, it's quite simple. Free trade with us benefits both AND THEM. We sell them 280 billion of stuff a year but the rest of the EU sells us 310 billion of stuff a year. They will not want to stop selling us stuff! They are not going to say, "Now that you're not in the EU, we'll refuse to sell you any BMWs, Audis, Mercs, VWs, Skodas, Volvos, Citroens, Renaults, Alfa Romeos, Fiats etc". Access to our market is our bargaining tool.

Further, the world is gradually moving to more open trade and fewer trade barriers, with GATT agreements and similar. The idea that the EU will only trade with other EU nations is bonkers.

(NB, I'm not even going to bother replying to your alternative suggestion of an isolationist "self sufficient" economy, that idea is completely gaga).

However, I will make the more general point that, if you're worried about our economy competing with internationally, then joining Euroland is no panacea. We would *still* be competing with Germany just as much (perhaps more so) within Euroland as outside it -- only then we'd have thrown away the one big equaliser, the one big safety net, namely a floating currency. The effect of that is that if we're less successful then our currency depreciates, and that re-balances things, makes our goods cheaper to others, and makes us competitive again! It is a quite wonderful mechanism for balancing international trade.

Without that mechanism Greece and other Mediterranean countries are stuffed. They are faced with a future of competing against Germany *without* that floating exchange rate, and there is no way they can do it. No sensible projection ends with Greece paying off its debts and competing again! They are a long-term basket case owing to the Euro. To have thrown away that floating currency was utterly bonkers, economic madness justified instead by the political aim of "ever closer union".

Don't you see that the floating currency offers by far the best protection against the threat of uncompetitiveness that concerns you? You have a sensible concern, but you're totally overlooking the best weapon of all to protect against it!


Coel Hellier - on 04 Nov 2012
In reply to Bruce Hooker:

> The atmosphere in France is far from moving towards a federal European state and all over Europe
> there are nationalist movements growing ...

Yeah, but the Eurocrats won't let that stop them -- if people vote against them then they'll just be told to vote again. Whatever the mood of the people, Euroland integration is proceeding at a more rapid pace than ever, it has to as the only way of making the Euro work. If you don't have floating currencies you have only one other mechanism to right imbalances across countries, namely massive wealth transfers from richer to poorer nations, and that requires centralised government.
Wonko The Sane - on 04 Nov 2012
In reply to Coel Hellier:
> (In reply to Wonko The Sane)
>
> [...]
>
> Your argument is a bit like the joke "the one who dies with the most money wins". The idea is not to be part of the biggest trading block with the biggest economy -- the aim is quality of life! OF COURSE a bigger entity with a much larger population can easily have a larger economy, but the important thing is not the total, its the amount PER HEAD OF POPULATION.
>
It's a bit like ~Tesco. They have everything under one roof, so people shop there. It's similar with trading blocks.

> [...]
>
> Yep, and plenty of places with "small and unimportant economies" can be high up in wealth PER POPULATION and in QUALITY OF LIFE. Shall I list them all again?
>
I have already SAID this in effect, but I've yet to hear how it's achieved.
It's ok losing your objectivity and being sarcastic, but it does not answer HOW you will change the UK (and it's rather demanding population) from a consumer lead economy into one which concentrates on quality of life.
> [...]
>
> Look, it's quite simple. Free trade with us benefits both AND THEM. We sell them 280 billion of stuff a year but the rest of the EU sells us 310 billion of stuff a year. They will not want to stop selling us stuff! They are not going to say, "Now that you're not in the EU, we'll refuse to sell you any BMWs, Audis, Mercs, VWs, Skodas, Volvos, Citroens, Renaults, Alfa Romeos, Fiats etc". Access to our market is our bargaining tool.
>
No, free trade is only a benefit to THEM if there is something they NEED from us that they cannot get elsewhere.
A bit like in my last job, where if possible, I would go to an existing contractor to do a job because the fact they get a lot of work from us means they will accept smaller profit margins. If I needed something specialist which they cannot provide, I had to source it elsewhere and pay through the nose for it.
Me giving them the occasional bit of work did not support their entire business.

> Further, the world is gradually moving to more open trade and fewer trade barriers, with GATT agreements and similar. The idea that the EU will only trade with other EU nations is bonkers.
>

No it isn't The world is moving toward larger trading blocks with trading agreements negotiated between them.


> (NB, I'm not even going to bother replying to your alternative suggestion of an isolationist "self sufficient" economy, that idea is completely gaga).
>
Except it works for some of the countries you keep going on about. I did not say isolationist, I said self sufficient. I also said I do not see how it can be implemented.



> However, I will make the more general point that, if you're worried about our economy competing with internationally, then joining Euroland is no panacea. We would *still* be competing with Germany just as much (perhaps more so) within Euroland as outside it -- only then we'd have thrown away the one big equaliser, the one big safety net, namely a floating currency. The effect of that is that if we're less successful then our currency depreciates, and that re-balances things, makes our goods cheaper to others, and makes us competitive again! It is a quite wonderful mechanism for balancing international trade.
>

I did not say it is a panacea. I said it was the best PRACTICAL solution (for the thrid time of it being ignored)

> Without that mechanism Greece and other Mediterranean countries are stuffed. They are faced with a future of competing against Germany *without* that floating exchange rate, and there is no way they can do it. No sensible projection ends with Greece paying off its debts and competing again! They are a long-term basket case owing to the Euro. To have thrown away that floating currency was utterly bonkers, economic madness justified instead by the political aim of "ever closer union".
>

In the short term, under current circumstances, I agree. But a Federal Europe has an end game, it's not all about instant gratification.


> Don't you see that the floating currency offers by far the best protection against the threat of uncompetitiveness that concerns you? You have a sensible concern, but you're totally overlooking the best weapon of all to protect against it!

I won't disagree that the implementation of a single currency is premature. But it's there. It isn't going to fall apart, it won't be allowed to happen. So my OTHER concerns of being increasingly isolated take precidence.
Coel Hellier - on 04 Nov 2012
In reply to Wonko The Sane:

> The point was to try to bring the likes of Greece and Spain economies into line with the rest of Europe,
> which is the entire POINT of the EU. A pretty bad recession got in the way of that and ruined those plans.

That's not really true. It's more accurate to say that imbalances were growing and growing, owing to the Mediterranean countries being out-competed by Germany. Those imbalances were glossed over and ignored, funded by massive borrowing by the Mediterranean nations at an artificially low interest rate resulting from the strength of the *German* economy. The recession didn't cause these problems, it just revealed them.

> The fact that Greece and Spain have been helped the way they have just illustrates my point.

They've been put on life-support, but there is no route for them back to health. The only way Greece can get back to competitiveness and pay back its debts is if it starts out-competing German industry. Yeah right. The only way they could do that is with a massive currency devaluation; that's the one thing they can no longer do.

So the only future for Euroland is if the German engine funds the Mediterranean countries. That is only plausible with German voters dictating terms; it requires centralised government.



Wonko The Sane - on 04 Nov 2012
In reply to Coel Hellier:
> (In reply to Wonko The Sane)
>
> [...]
>
> That's not really true. It's more accurate to say that imbalances were growing and growing, owing to the Mediterranean countries being out-competed by Germany. Those imbalances were glossed over and ignored, funded by massive borrowing by the Mediterranean nations at an artificially low interest rate resulting from the strength of the *German* economy. The recession didn't cause these problems, it just revealed them.
>
> [...]
I partially agree. I see it more as a luxury that Europe could afford in good times, which it can't now.
>
> They've been put on life-support, but there is no route for them back to health. The only way Greece can get back to competitiveness and pay back its debts is if it starts out-competing German industry. Yeah right. The only way they could do that is with a massive currency devaluation; that's the one thing they can no longer do.
>
Here I only partially agree. No route back to health in the current economy perhaps. But if there is a recovery, I think you'll find the issues would be dealt with a little better.

> So the only future for Euroland is if the German engine funds the Mediterranean countries. That is only plausible with German voters dictating terms; it requires centralised government.

Yep. Which is pretty much the end game for Europe.
It's also my reason for wanting in now. As the thrid largest economy, we have a lot of power to steer things as we would like them. Stay out and that power diminishes over time.
Coel Hellier - on 04 Nov 2012
In reply to Wonko The Sane:

> It's a bit like ~Tesco. They have everything under one roof, so people shop there.
> It's similar with trading blocks.

Tosh, there will still be Apples and Sonys and all sorts -- the world is too connected now for the Euroland to only buy from and trade with itself.

> No, free trade is only a benefit to THEM if there is something they NEED from us that they cannot get elsewhere.

That's flat out wrong. Selling to us is a benefit to THEM. That is how people get wealthy, by selling things to other people. As I said, they sell us 310 billion quid of stuff a year. THAT is the benefit to THEM.

> I did not say it is a panacea. I said it was the best PRACTICAL solution (for the thrid time of it being ignored)

And, for the sixth time, it is a very IMpractical solution. Throwing away a floating exchange rate is the fast track to everything you fear. Try telling the Greeks that being locked into a single currency with Germany is the best "practical solution". Don't you think that devaluing the Greek currency by 80% would have been a far more practical solution? That's how every other country in such a mess has got out of it.
Dave Garnett - on 04 Nov 2012
In reply to Coel Hellier:

Ok, just out of interest, what if it could be shown that membership of the EU was completely financially neutral when all contributions, grants in aid, trade balances, investments, etc were taken into account.

Would you, in principle, be in favour of our being an integrated part of Europe or would you prefer us to be entirely independent of the EU. Do you view some degree of political, cultural, educational integration as a desirable philosophy or just wrong as even a long-term aspiration?

In reply to MG: I have no idea. I like the fact that there hasn't been a war between the main countries in Europe since WWII. If the EU has played a part in that it's a good thing, and worth paying a lot of money for.
Wonko The Sane - on 04 Nov 2012
In reply to Coel Hellier:
> (In reply to Wonko The Sane)
>
> [...]
>
> Tosh, there will still be Apples and Sonys and all sorts -- the world is too connected now for the Euroland to only buy from and trade with itself.
>
Please tell me what OUR Apples and Sonys are?? I have raised this question elsewhere.

> [...]
>
> That's flat out wrong. Selling to us is a benefit to THEM. That is how people get wealthy, by selling things to other people. As I said, they sell us 310 billion quid of stuff a year. THAT is the benefit to THEM.
>
Yes, but they are in a stronger position. I.E. they have things WE need, what do we have which THEY need???


> [...]
>
> And, for the sixth time, it is a very IMpractical solution. Throwing away a floating exchange rate is the fast track to everything you fear. Try telling the Greeks that being locked into a single currency with Germany is the best "practical solution". Don't you think that devaluing the Greek currency by 80% would have been a far more practical solution? That's how every other country in such a mess has got out of it.

I never said it was ideal. I said the most practical. Best of an unatractive bunch.
Coel Hellier - on 04 Nov 2012
In reply to Wonko The Sane:

>> So the only future for Euroland is if the German engine funds the Mediterranean countries.
>> That is only plausible with German voters dictating terms; it requires centralised government.

> Yep. Which is pretty much the end game for Europe. It's also my reason for wanting in now.

So you're so afraid of the UK's ability to compete on the world stage that you want to head for a future in which we live permanently on handouts, funded by the German economy? Wow, how defeatist!
John2 - on 04 Nov 2012
In reply to Wonko The Sane: Give me a few instances of the UK having succesfully steered things as we would like them in the EU (Margaret Thatcher's negotiation of our rebate doesn't count because that was a withdrawal from the standard terms of EU membership).
Coel Hellier - on 04 Nov 2012
In reply to Wonko The Sane:

> Yes, but they are in a stronger position. I.E. they have things WE need, what do we have which THEY need???


Really? What? What does Euroland produce that we can't buy instead from the US, China, Japan or somewhere else in the world. Bratwurst? Camembert?
In reply to Bruce Hooker:

> OK, so you confirm you can't vote in the main elections in your country of residence,

No I vote in the general elections of the country of my citizenship. Why should I be able to vote for the president of a country of which I'm not a citizen? Why should you? That's not how citizenship works. Can you not be a dual French/British citizen?
Wonko The Sane - on 04 Nov 2012
In reply to Coel Hellier:
> (In reply to Wonko The Sane)
>
> >> So the only future for Euroland is if the German engine funds the Mediterranean countries.
> >> That is only plausible with German voters dictating terms; it requires centralised government.
>

Of all the people I expect to take something selectively and out of context on here, you are the last person who would occur to me. It's beneath your arguing skills.


> [...]
>
> So you're so afraid of the UK's ability to compete on the world stage that you want to head for a future in which we live permanently on handouts, funded by the German economy? Wow, how defeatist!

Nowhere did I mention US living on handouts. We are the third largest economy in Europe, and in real terms, better set than France. THIS is why I want us in now.


Again, you are being selective on how you are cutting and pasting and again, it's beneath you.
In reply to Bruce Hooker:

> The atmosphere in France is far from moving towards a federal European state and all over Europe there are nationalist movements growing so I can't really see the signs that you see indicating a move the other way.

> So I'd say the evidence is more towards a continued "muddling by",

Yep, I agree. Coel's sense that there is some unstoppable train rolling towards a federal state seems to be more a reflection of European coverage of the British media than it is a comment on the domestic political realities of so many EU members at the moment.
Wonko The Sane - on 04 Nov 2012
In reply to Coel Hellier:
> (In reply to Wonko The Sane)
>
> [...]
>
>
> Really? What? What does Euroland produce that we can't buy instead from the US, China, Japan or somewhere else in the world. Bratwurst? Camembert?

Cars. Energy (being in also gives us economies of scale when buying outside the EU) Technical skills. They are our closest trading block and unless we are talking cheap goods, it's usually cost effective to buy from the closest.
So please, tell me what we have that they need, which they cannot get from within their own borders.
In reply to Coel Hellier:
> (In reply to Bruce Hooker)
>
> [...]
>
> Yeah, but the Eurocrats won't let that stop them -- if people vote against them then they'll just be told to vote again.


> Whatever the mood of the people, Euroland integration is proceeding at a more rapid pace than ever, it has to as the only way of making the Euro work.

This isn't true Coel. You can say it, but it just isn't the case. All sorts of integration has just ground to halt because of the financial crisis. And on financial integration, Germany is VERY far from being convinced that this is the right way to go. We've had three years of stop-gap measure exactly because of the unwillingness to go further down that route. It's exactly the idea of transfer payments that is making the northern Eurozone countries so reticent.



In reply to John2:
> (In reply to Wonko The Sane) Give me a few instances of the UK having succesfully steered things as we would like them in the EU

Pretty much the entire history of ESDP/CFSP.
Coel Hellier - on 04 Nov 2012
In reply to TobyA:

> This isn't true Coel. You can say it, but it just isn't the case. All sorts of integration has
> just ground to halt because of the financial crisis. And on financial integration, Germany is
> VERY far from being convinced that this is the right way to go.

OK, I'll rephrase -- either Euroland moves to much tighter integration, or the Euro will collapse (or at least jettison several countries).
ads.ukclimbing.com
Coel Hellier - on 04 Nov 2012
In reply to Wonko The Sane:

> Of all the people I expect to take something selectively and out of context on here, you are the
> last person who would occur to me. It's beneath your arguing skills.

I didn't quote selectively or out of context, I quoted your reply and the bit you were replying to. If you didn't mean it like that then you said it wrong.

Anyhow: if we're in Euroland then either we're competitive with Germany or we live on German handouts. If we're capable of competing with Germany then we'll have no problems competing on the world stage. Thus your stance doesn't make sense unless what you're after in the long term is wealth transfers from Germany to us.
Coel Hellier - on 04 Nov 2012
In reply to Wonko The Sane:

> Cars.

Come on, we can buy cars from Japan, China, the US etc.

> Energy

What you really mean by that is gas, and that comes from outside the EU (Russia) rather than within the EU.

> Technical skills.

What technical skills can we only get from Euroland that we don't have ourselves and can't get elsewhere?
In reply to Coel Hellier: Yep, that seems quite possible.

BTW the idea that a floating currency is some bullet proof economic protection is also wrong. If you have a sensible government it can help, but look at places like Argentina - they got out of their disaster by pegging to the dollar. Finland also nearly went bankrupt when it opened it currency to trade freely. Four years of "the casino economy" followed by a recession worse than the 1930s.
Wonko The Sane - on 04 Nov 2012
In reply to Coel Hellier:
> (In reply to Wonko The Sane)
>
> [...]
>
> I didn't quote selectively or out of context, I quoted your reply and the bit you were replying to. If you didn't mean it like that then you said it wrong.
>
>

It is out of context because I've previously argued the whole reason I want us in is because we are the third largest economy. This gives us negotiating power if not equal to, on a par with Germany. My yes vote is to take that power while it exists.

Should we opt in further down the line when power and control are already established, our negotiating position is drastically diminished.



Wonko The Sane - on 04 Nov 2012
In reply to Coel Hellier:
> (In reply to Wonko The Sane)
>
> [...]
>
> Come on, we can buy cars from Japan, China, the US etc.
>
But we don't buy cars from the US much. They're generally rubbish. We buy them from the Japanese. Or when we want a nice car, from the Germans or, if we're feeling very flush, the Italians. Our home gorwn options really being limited to the Jaguar and Land Rover...... and without resorting to Google, I'd bet you a tenner they're not fully UK owned, if at all.


> [...]
>
> What you really mean by that is gas, and that comes from outside the EU (Russia) rather than within the EU.
>
Gas at the moment, yes. And as I said, the ability to buy as a trading block gives better purchasing power.
But a Federal Europe would create more options for alternative sources. The French are heaviley into nuclear power. I am sure there are parts of Europe where shale oil is available in large quantities. Renewables.


> [...]
>
> What technical skills can we only get from Euroland that we don't have ourselves and can't get elsewhere?

I did not say we cannot get skills from elsewhere. We can. From other trading blocks.

But let us focus on the word 'trade' here.
You are talking mostly about purchasing. What do WE offer to a Federal Europe that they cannot get within their own borders?
Coel Hellier - on 04 Nov 2012
In reply to Wonko The Sane:

> Should we opt in further down the line when power and control are already established, our negotiating
> position is drastically diminished.

There I agree with you. And that means we either join in wholeheartedly now or seek a long-term alternative. Unless the Euro breaks up, the Eurozone is the future of the EU, and that means that establishing of power and control is happening now in the Eurozone. Thus if people want us to be in the EU longterm they need to be arguing for us to join the Euro now. What is highly sub-optimal is being in Europe and just following along with whatever Euroland decides, which is the current tactic.

At the moment, all the relevant decisions and "power and control" nego
Wonko The Sane - on 04 Nov 2012
In reply to Coel Hellier:
> (In reply to Wonko The Sane)
>
> [...]
>
> There I agree with you. And that means we either join in wholeheartedly now or seek a long-term alternative. Unless the Euro breaks up, the Eurozone is the future of the EU, and that means that establishing of power and control is happening now in the Eurozone. Thus if people want us to be in the EU longterm they need to be arguing for us to join the Euro now. What is highly sub-optimal is being in Europe and just following along with whatever Euroland decides, which is the current tactic.
>
> At the moment, all the relevant decisions and "power and control" nego

I don't think the Euro will be allowed to fail.
Which leaves us with:
(a) Join wholeheartedly
(b) An alternative plan.

My problem is, as mentioned before, I don't even see an outline of a workable plan b which would be accepted by the British public let alone a fleshed out one.

And the clock keeps ticking.
Coel Hellier - on 04 Nov 2012
In reply to Wonko The Sane:

> We buy [cars] from the Japanese.

Exactly, so they're not something that we "NEED" to get from the EU, as your earlier argument suggested.

> Gas at the moment, yes. And as I said, the ability to buy as a trading block gives better purchasing power.

The EU doesn't currently buy gas as a bloc, it's mostly bought by multinational companies. Are you suggesting that the EU is going to be so integrated that gas will be bought centrally by a single buyer?

> I did not say we cannot get skills from elsewhere. We can. From other trading blocks.

Again you're reversing your previous claim that there are items we "NEED" to get from the EU.

> What do WE offer to a Federal Europe that they cannot get within their own borders?

We offer them a market that will buy stuff worth 310 billion quid a year from them. That gains us the quid pro quo of access to their market. That allows us to compete to sell in the EU. Just as we do now. Indeed we sell 280 billion quid a year of stuff to them.
Coel Hellier - on 04 Nov 2012
In reply to Wonko The Sane:

> I don't even see an outline of a workable plan b which would be accepted by the British public let alone a fleshed out one.

Acceptance by the British public is not the issue, you could easily get assent for a semi-detached relationship with the EU, and could very likely get assent for leaving the EU entirely. The problem here is that the political classes want to be in the EU. That is why they never hold any of the referendums that they promise -- because they know the anti-EU vote would likely win. So no recent government has dared consult the people on this.
Wonko The Sane - on 04 Nov 2012
In reply to Coel Hellier:
> (In reply to Wonko The Sane)
>
> [...]
>
> Exactly, so they're not something that we "NEED" to get from the EU, as your earlier argument suggested.
>
> [...]
>
> The EU doesn't currently buy gas as a bloc, it's mostly bought by multinational companies. Are you suggesting that the EU is going to be so integrated that gas will be bought centrally by a single buyer?
>
> [...]
>
> Again you're reversing your previous claim that there are items we "NEED" to get from the EU.
>
> [...]
>
> We offer them a market that will buy stuff worth 310 billion quid a year from them. That gains us the quid pro quo of access to their market. That allows us to compete to sell in the EU. Just as we do now. Indeed we sell 280 billion quid a year of stuff to them.

Coel, I have a hangover from hell and going to bow out now. All I am going to say is to bring your attention to the difference between purchasing and trade.

We can buy anything from anywhere. What can we sell back as an independant nation state which is so needed by large trading blocks that we will be able to negotiate good trading terms?
Wonko The Sane - on 04 Nov 2012
In reply to Coel Hellier:
> (In reply to Wonko The Sane)
>
> [...]
>
> Acceptance by the British public is not the issue, you could easily get assent for a semi-detached relationship with the EU, and could very likely get assent for leaving the EU entirely. The problem here is that the political classes want to be in the EU. That is why they never hold any of the referendums that they promise -- because they know the anti-EU vote would likely win. So no recent government has dared consult the people on this.

Which was what I started off saying. I am against a referendum for this reason.

I am now going to catch up on some needed sleep.

Coel Hellier - on 04 Nov 2012
In reply to Wonko The Sane:

> What can we sell back as an independant nation state which is so needed by large trading blocks
> that we will be able to negotiate good trading terms?

And here is my reply FOR THE EIGHT TIME. Our negotiating good trading terms is NOT based on us having particular goods that they want, it is based on us offering them access to our markets -- which they very definitely do want, because they really do not want to lose sales of 310 billion quid a year. And they have a trade surplus with us.

As I said, I have given you that answer REPEATEDLY. You can ask it another 8 times if you wish and I'll give you exactly that same answer.
Coel Hellier - on 04 Nov 2012
In reply to Wonko The Sane:

> I am against a referendum for this reason.

It's not very democratic to be against a vote just because you think you'll lose it.
Bruce Hooker - on 04 Nov 2012
In reply to TobyA:

> Why should you? That's not how citizenship works.

Because the EU is supposed to allow free movement of people, "free" implies that they shouldn't be disenfranchised each time they change countries - I'm moving back to England more now, so if I'd gone through the hassle of taking French nationality, I would then have to change again or once more be disenfranchised? Even you must realise it makes no sense.

> Can you not be a dual French/British citizen?

No, my children have dual nationality but I can' be born again.

It's funny that you insist so much in defending an anomaly that is quite flagrant, it's not necessary to defend all such anomalies in order to be in favour of the EU - why not defend it and try to improve it?

How can you defend the notion that a young person making a Europe wide career, making changing countries a regular thing should have to waste time changing nationality at every new job? Especially as the solution is so easy - if it's easy for municipal elections then it's easy for national ones, it's only conservatism and xenophobia in member countries that prevent it.
Dave Garnett - on 04 Nov 2012
In reply to Coel Hellier:
> (In reply to Wonko The Sane)
>
> [...]
>
> So no recent government has dared consult the people on this.

Well, I agree, it's starting to look as if we need to do it soon, but it would be nice if there was something like objective coverage in the mass media. We do have to find a way of getting past the latent xenophobia and (at the risk of coming over all Billy Bragg) appeal to some ideal of European fraternalism.

If I can't make up my mind based only on the available facts, I find it's often useful to look at the sort of people who are for or against an idea. I tend find myself more likely to persuaded of the merits of a proposal if I find Rupert Murdoch is against it, for instance.

I do occasionally hear some well-reasoned anti-European arguments. Gisele Stewart's position is interesting, for example, not least because she clearly is 'European' and her arguments are not based purely on ignorance. But I'll admit a certian prejudice myself to the baying mass of swivel-eyed UKIP nutters and backbenchers of the Bill Cash school of international relations.
john arran - on 04 Nov 2012
Euroscepticism is a vote-winner, as it's far easier to drum up anti-anything feeling - particularly if you can wheel out negative national stereotypes in the process - than it is to sell the message of an increasingly harmonised society with fewer barriers to movement and trade. But the political classes by and large feel that being in Europe is certainly in our interests, so they will continue to play the hypocritical game of bad-mouthing all things Euro while still working behind the scenes to benefit from being a part of it.

Reminds me a little of the situation in Pakistan, where bad-mouthing all things American is a sure way to popular support, whereas it seems the political elite appear to be in support of (at least the financial benefits of!) continued US involvement.

Another point I've long wondered about is why a majority of the electorate (if we're to believe the opinion polls anyway) are against closer integration with the EU whereas a majority are also against the breakup of the UK. On the face of it if smaller and more responsive is better for the UK then why is it not also the case for Scotland, Wales, etc? Is it just natural conservatism to maintain a status quo which doesn't seem to be broken too badly, or is there more to it than that?

In answer to the OP: IN (but then again in my line of business I would say that!)
Dave Garnett - on 04 Nov 2012
In reply to john arran:
> In answer to the OP: IN (but then again in my line of business I would say that!)

Actually, I don't think you need apologise, even tongue in cheek!

In my line of business the EU makes a big difference too, which is one of the reasons I support it (although not the only one).
In reply to Bruce Hooker:

> Because the EU is supposed to allow free movement of people, "free" implies that they shouldn't be disenfranchised each time they change countries

But EU citizens moving within the EU are not disenfranchised in the vast majority of cases. You don't seem to accept most people aren't in your situation, which seems in part to come from the fact that you moved to France long before there was an EU, or a right to freedom of movement of labour. I have one British friend in Finland who has lived here 20 yrs and doesn't have the right to vote in the UK anymore, but hasn't tried to get Finnish citizenship, so he like you doesn't get to vote in any national election. But I have another British friend who has been here 30 yrs, took Finnish citizenship and whilst he can't vote in the UK elections anymore, votes here. He is still British though.

> No, my children have dual nationality but I can' be born again.

It doesn't matter, you can be a dual national of many countries. I'm quite surprised you can't be in France, indeed a random quick google brought this blog up http://www.secretsofparis.com/heathers-secret-blog/becoming-french-part-1-the-question-of-dual-citiz... that where the writer is dual citizen of France and the US, having been naturalised in France. If they let the Americans do it, it would be odd if EU citizens couldn't hold dual citizenship.

> How can you defend the notion that a young person making a Europe wide career, making changing countries a regular thing should have to waste time changing nationality at every new job? Especially as the solution is so easy - if it's easy for municipal elections then it's easy for national ones, it's only conservatism and xenophobia in member countries that prevent it.

You vote in national elections in the country of your citizenship. A Brit can move around the EU to their hearts content for 15 years and still vote in the UK general elections. Many, many of my friends are EU citizens living in other EU countries than their own. It may be odd to you but I've never heard anyone complain about voting in their home country for national elections.
Wonko The Sane - on 04 Nov 2012
In reply to Coel Hellier:
> (In reply to Wonko The Sane)
>
> [...]
>
> It's not very democratic to be against a vote just because you think you'll lose it.

It depends on whether you think democracy is about voting on every decision, or whether you think it's about voting in people to make those those decisions.

I fall into the latter camp. Because the former would be a mess.
Sir Chasm - on 04 Nov 2012
In reply to Wonko The Sane: Well earlier in the thread you said you didn't want a referendum because the poor huddled masses wouldn't vote the way you think they should, make your mind up.
ads.ukclimbing.com
Bruce Hooker - on 04 Nov 2012
In reply to TobyA:

> But EU citizens moving within the EU are not disenfranchised in the vast majority of cases.

But even you have admitted that this is untrue - if you are interested in politics you want to vote in the country where you live, work, pay taxes, use public services etc etc, and as you yourself admit this is not the case with the EU! What on earth is the point in having a vote in the country you were born in but no longer live in?

It doesn't even make sense in democratic terms, after years away from a place how is it efficient to vote there? On what basis, you spend your life elsewhere. For years I could have fiddled a vote in Britain but I didn't because I think it is morally wrong to help decide who runs a country where you only have a distant emotional interest.

Politics is not a game it is a serious business and you can only really understand what is happening fully in the country where you are a full resident... Voting in a country where you will not have to face up to the consequences of your vote is somewhere between irresponsible and dishonest.

> the writer is dual citizen of France and the US, having been naturalised in France. If they let the Americans do it, it would be odd if EU citizens couldn't hold dual citizenship.

It is odd but it is also the case. It is important for US citizens who want to work in France as unlike British citizens they cannot do this easily.

PS. Dual nationality is not a solution either (you realise you can't have two votes, don't you, and that concerning the USA your tax situation is dodgy too?) as what happens when you move again, triple, quadruple nationality? The simple rule would be as for EU and local elections you vote where you are fiscal resident - never heard of "no taxation without representation", it not a new concept and not one I invented, it's the basis of democracy.
In reply to Bruce Hooker:
> But even you have admitted that this is untrue

No I haven't. It's all very simple, if you want to vote in a country's national elections, you need to be a citizen. Otherwise we could all go on holiday to Ohio next week to make sure Obama gets back in. It's a ridiculous.

> and you can only really understand what is happening fully in the country where you are a full resident...

Why? A Pole working for a couple of year in London, doesn't understand Polish politics anymore? I follow UK politics more closely than I follow Finnish politics, but I probably understand US politics better than UK politics and I've been there a few times on trips.

We're lucky that because of EU rules we can vote in Euro elections anywhere we are resident in the EU, but if you got stuck in dicey situation somewhere far away, it is the British govt. that would be obliged to help, you not the French, because you are not a French citizen.

You seem very angry about this, but if it was so important for you why didn't you just get French citizenship? If you don't want French citizenship, well then that's your choice. Personally I'm quite happy to vote in the general election in the UK because I have a lot more than a "distant emotional interest". I am a British citizen, the decisions made by the British govt. have a direct impact on my life and of most of my family. If I don't move back to the UK then I'll have to make a decision what happens when my time as an overseas voter runs out in a few years.
Bruce Hooker - on 04 Nov 2012
In reply to TobyA:

> Otherwise we could all go on holiday to Ohio next week to make sure Obama gets back in. It's a ridiculous.

Do you become a fiscal resident, pay taxes etc when you go on holiday abroad? You really are scraping the barrel... but why?

> You seem very angry about this, but if it was so important for you why didn't you just get French citizenship?

Not angry but it's a clear injustice which reduces the credibility of the EU. You may live in a country like many ex-pats while ignoring your political responsibility to the people you live with, take out what you will but put little back but it's hardly the best way to make the country or the EU work. It's a rather typical English attitude but not one of our more endearing traits of character.
In reply to Bruce Hooker: Bruce, you will insist on personalising everything and getting so angry. Take a deep breath old chap.

> You may live in a country like many ex-pats while ignoring your political responsibility to the people you live with, take out what you will but put little back but it's hardly the best way to make the country or the EU work.

I really don't see what you're on about? I'm not sure how my situation is any different from yours? I vote in the local elections, I vote in the Euro elections. I'm a member of the parents association of the school. I'm involved in various "civil society" groups and causes, do a bit of volunteering etc. What else do you want me to do? I just don't have the right to vote in presidential election because I'm not a citizen. Was one of the reasons that you didn't look for citizenship in France because you would have needed to do national service? I'm too old now, but if you get Finnish citizenship before you're 30 and you're male, you're in the army.

I don't get why you don't see how simple it , voting goes with citizenship. You want the right to vote, be a citizen. What's so unfair about that?
Wonko The Sane - on 04 Nov 2012
In reply to Sir Chasm:
> (In reply to Wonko The Sane) Well earlier in the thread you said you didn't want a referendum because the poor huddled masses wouldn't vote the way you think they should, make your mind up.

I never said huddled. In fact, I never said anything, though I'll concede I implied they're a bit thick.

I do wonder what you think I'm confused over though. I think democracy is about electing people to make deicsions, not putting those decisions to the vote. Particularly if they are difficult decisions. Unless I worded the statement he wrong way around and said latter when it should have been former...... I'll go re check.
Sir Chasm - on 04 Nov 2012
In reply to Wonko The Sane: Referendums aren't democratic? Fascinating.
Wonko The Sane - on 04 Nov 2012
In reply to Sir Chasm:
> (In reply to Wonko The Sane) Referendums aren't democratic? Fascinating.

I did not say this.
I said I do not beleive this is what democracy is about. I beleive dmeocracy is about voting in people who then spend their time appraising themselves of the situation in their remit so as to be able to make the best decisions possible with the best information, in your name.

Otherwise, why have a government at all?
Let's just make everything a popular vote. The technology is there.

Government by X Factor!
Sir Chasm - on 04 Nov 2012
In reply to Wonko The Sane: How would you resolve the issue of independence for Scotland without a referendum? Would you have been happy with the government of the day in 75 making the decision whether or not to join the EC?
I don't think your idea of referendums for every issue is very sensible, but for one-off questions I think we could risk letting people decide.
Wonko The Sane - on 04 Nov 2012
In reply to Sir Chasm:
> (In reply to Wonko The Sane) How would you resolve the issue of independence for Scotland without a referendum? Would you have been happy with the government of the day in 75 making the decision whether or not to join the EC?
> I don't think your idea of referendums for every issue is very sensible, but for one-off questions I think we could risk letting people decide.

honest answer??
don't give a toss aout Scotland and have no idea what the arguments for and against are. No idea what they hope to achieve from it. No idea if their economy can stand it.

Until I understand the arguments better, I can't comment on whether a referendum is a good idea.



For instance.......
If the decisions had few implications, I.E. the economy would not change drastically, there would be no terrible fallout from the decision etc, then I say fine, let them have a referendum on whether to leave the UK.

If however there are dire consequences of standing alone and the vote is really about the popularity of being a seperate nation state, no, I don't think there should be a referendum on it.
People generally vote with what's popular, not good for them.
Alan Taylor - on 05 Nov 2012
In reply to MG:Don't know but would like a vote on it.....
Al Evans on 05 Nov 2012
In reply to Wonko The Sane:
> (In reply to Sir Chasm)
> [...]
>
> I did not say this.
> I said I do not beleive this is what democracy is about. I beleive dmeocracy is about voting in people who then spend their time appraising themselves of the situation in their remit so as to be able to make the best decisions possible with the best information, in your name.

Here here, that is what true democracy is all about, sadly we dont all always get the leaders we want.
Coel Hellier - on 05 Nov 2012
In reply to Wonko The Sane:

> I think democracy is about electing people to make deicsions, not putting those decisions to the vote.
> Particularly if they are difficult decisions.

Democracy is really about the people deciding things, the "consent of the governed". For practical reasons that does in effect mean electing people to make decisions, since it would be impractical, unwieldy and incoherent to put every issue to the vote. However, for very major decisions of high long-term importance, such as Scottish independence or us joining the Euro or similar, a referendum is appropriate.

If you don't want a referendum because you think it won't go the way you want then that's anti-democratic. Of course you may be anti-democratic because the plebs and the proles can't be trusted to know what's good for them, but history shows that for all democracy's faults, it is overall the best system.
Coel Hellier - on 05 Nov 2012
In reply to Al Evans:

> Here here, that is what true democracy is all about ...

The word "democracy" originated from Greek city states where citizens would gather in the city square and vote on all issues. That is raw and pure democracy. What we have is a republic, where we appoint people to represent us at such votes because we can't all attend (with the "city square" being Westminster).

Pure and raw democracy would of course be unworkable (you'd get a yes vote for a requirement to balance the budget, and yes votes for massive spending increases, and yes votes for tax cuts), so we elect governments to put forward a coherent program and then give them time to implement it. However for very major long-term decisions a referendum is the right way of deciding, since for those it is plausible and workable to consult the people.
Coel Hellier - on 05 Nov 2012
In reply to Wonko The Sane:

> People generally vote with what's popular, not good for them.

How kind of you to appoint yourself to the station of telling the rest of us what is good for us.
Wonko The Sane - on 05 Nov 2012
In reply to Coel Hellier:
> (In reply to Wonko The Sane)
>
> [...]
>
> How kind of you to appoint yourself to the station of telling the rest of us what is good for us.

funnily enough, I'm 'people' too.
Sir Chasm - on 05 Nov 2012
In reply to Wonko The Sane: True, a totalitarian person.
MG - on 05 Nov 2012
In reply to Coel Hellier:
> (In reply to Wonko The Sane)
>
> [...]
>
> Democracy is really about the people deciding things, the "consent of the governed". For practical reasons that does in effect mean electing people to make decisions, since it would be impractical, unwieldy and incoherent to put every issue to the vote. However, for very major decisions of high long-term importance, such as Scottish independence or us joining the Euro or similar, a referendum is appropriate.
>
> If you don't want a referendum because you think it won't go the way you want then that's anti-democratic.


But "very major" and "long-term importance" are pretty subjective as criteria for deciding when a referendum is appropriate. Energy and foreign policy fit these requirements but I think most people would not want referendums on such matters. Generally topics that are multi-faceted and difficult to gain a full understanding of without spending a lot of time on do not lend themselves to referendums, regardless of their importance. EU membership is a least arguably in this category.

(I note, for example, that your position on this thread on membership has been a very narrow, short-term one based on trade benefits while ignoring other matters such as culture, stability, and global defence and diplomatic clout).
Wonko The Sane - on 05 Nov 2012
In reply to Sir Chasm:
> (In reply to Wonko The Sane) True, a totalitarian person.

Really?

I think there is some ground between the words 'govern' and 'rule'
Coel Hellier - on 05 Nov 2012
In reply to Wonko The Sane:

> funnily enough, I'm 'people' too.

Well I do want a referendum on our relations with the EU. If you don't want one or don't consider yourself competent to judge then you're welcome to abstain.

What amazes me is the "trust our elders and betters" attitude, the idea that we should trust the political elite who created the Euro, when the evidence is blatantly clear that it has led to a monumental catastrophe for Greece and (to a slightly lesser extent) other Mediterranean countries. This is mis-management of epic proportions. Greece is screwed for generations, there is no way out, at least not without leaving the Euro -- since the only way out their situation, namely declare bankruptcy, default on all debts, then devalue the currency massively to make them competitive again, has been disallowed.

The Euro-sceptics pointed out all these flaws of the Euro long ago, though even they didn't think it would turn out so disastrously so rapidly, but were of course ignored because the Euro was driven by politics and not by economics.

If Euro-Greece doesn't do it for you, exactly how big a f&ck-up do the Eurocrat politicans need to make before you conclude that perhaps they don't know best?
Wonko The Sane - on 05 Nov 2012
In reply to Coel Hellier:
> (In reply to Wonko The Sane)
>

>
> What amazes me is the "trust our elders and betters" attitude,
>
I am 46 and a construction manager. I quite probably know more about construction than you.
Does that make me your better, or just someone more qualified to make decisions about construction?
ads.ukclimbing.com
Sir Chasm - on 05 Nov 2012
In reply to Wonko The Sane:
Totalitarian; of or relating to a centralised dictatorial form of government requiring complete subservience to the state (cod).

Yep, based on your comments you're totalitarian.
Wonko The Sane - on 05 Nov 2012
In reply to Sir Chasm:
> (In reply to Wonko The Sane)
> Totalitarian; of or relating to a centralised dictatorial form of government requiring complete subservience to the state (cod).
>
> Yep, based on your comments you're totalitarian.

Nope. Based on my comments, I'm against referendums on some subjects.

We've not discussed any of the other, very complex checks and balances which exist with our form of government. Most of which, I'm either in favour of or think they should go further.

Not QUITE a definition of totalitarianism.
MG - on 05 Nov 2012
In reply to Coel Hellier: You say that Australia would be your country of choice and somehow imply this is evidence that the EU is a bad idea. Yet Australia, like the USA, China, Canada and many other countries is a federal state with a common currency and many other features that are similar to what the EU may look like in a few decades. If the system works in countries you admire, why not Europe?
Coel Hellier - on 05 Nov 2012
In reply to MG:

> Generally topics that are multi-faceted and difficult to gain a full understanding of without
> spending a lot of time on do not lend themselves to referendums

"Don't worry your pretty little heads about it, you can't be expected to understand."

> I note, for example, that your position on this thread on membership has been a very narrow, short-term
> one based on trade benefits while ignoring other matters such as culture, stability, and
> global defence and diplomatic clout.

Yes I have focussed on economics, though there is nothing "short term" about what I've said. But for everything else, I still much prefer an "a la carte" Europe to a federal majority-voting Euroland. The point is that if Europe has to make it's policies attractive enough for nations to want to opt in, item by item, then they'll make far better policies.

Culture: I'm baffled, what cultural considerations point to advantages of a federal superstate instead of an a la carte Europe?

Stability: I really don't see Norway and Switzerland as causes of instability, do you? Recent instability in Europe has been caused by people being in larger conglomeration states than they wanted to be in (Balkans, Czechslovakia, Baltic states, etc). And the current Euro-Greek crisis seems a far more likely cause of instability than of stability.

Global defence: OK, why would a federal superstate be better for that than opt-in alliances such as Nato?

Diplomatic clout: Diplomatic clout is, in the end, set by the status of your economy etc. I don't see why us having one vote among 26 in a Euro foreign policy gives us more clout than being independent. Anyhow, why is "diplomatic clout" so great? If "diplomatic clout" gets us into wars in Iraq and Afghanistan etc that we don't need to be in then I'm happy to lack diplomatic clout.
Sir Chasm - on 05 Nov 2012
In reply to Wonko The Sane: Yes, you've made it clear that you wouldn't countenance a referendum if it didn't give the result you wanted.
In reply to Coel Hellier:

> Well I do want a referendum on our relations with the EU.

What about on capital punishment or the legality of abortion? Those seem much simpler subjects for everyone to decide on than EU membership. Should they be subject to referendum? They are subjects of people's profound religious beliefs for example - should the people not get chance to express those beliefs?
Coel Hellier - on 05 Nov 2012
In reply to Wonko The Sane:

> I am 46 and a construction manager. I quite probably know more about construction than you.
> Does that make me your better, or just someone more qualified to make decisions about construction?

I could assess your competence on construction and might well conclude that you know much more about it than me -- especially if your buildings are still standing a few decades or so after they're built.

In the same way I can assess the competence of those constructing the Euro, and assess whether that is "still standing", and I conclude that they are simply incompetent.
In reply to Coel Hellier:

> Global defence: OK, why would a federal superstate be better for that than opt-in alliances such as Nato?

Well, that one is rather obvious for all the European states when you look at the direction of both Russian and US grand strategy currently.
Coel Hellier - on 05 Nov 2012
In reply to TobyA:

> What about on capital punishment or the legality of abortion? Those seem much simpler subjects for everyone
> to decide on than EU membership. Should they be subject to referendum?

They're also topics that matter far less to society as a whole than things like joining the Euro. I've no particular objections to referenda on those, but nor would I particularly advocate them.

> They are subjects of people's profound religious beliefs for example ...

I see no reason why something being a "religious" belief makes it any more important than any other type of belief, so that, for me, is no reason to hold a referendum.
Coel Hellier - on 05 Nov 2012
In reply to TobyA:

> Well, that one is rather obvious for all the European states when you look at the direction of
> both Russian and US grand strategy currently.

No it isn't at all obvious. An "a la carte" Europe would not prevent states grouping together if they wanted to. As I keep trying to explain, being against federal majority voting is not a desire to be isolationist, it's a desire to cooperate as appropriate.
MG - on 05 Nov 2012
In reply to Coel Hellier:
> (In reply to MG)
>
> [...]
>
> "Don't worry your pretty little heads about it, you can't be expected to understand."

So you do think everything should be decided by referendum? Fair enough, but you are an outlier. Most people recognise that they can only make informed choices about a limited range of matters because life is too short. Hence we "employ" politicians to look at things for us. Sometimes this goes wrong of course because we choose the wrong politicians.

>
> [...]

> Culture: I'm baffled, what cultural considerations point to advantages of a federal superstate instead of an a la carte Europe?

Any number of exchanges in schools, music, art, sport and son on. Yes some of it would happen anyway but mostly not.


>
> Stability: I really don't see Norway and Switzerland as causes of instability, do you?

Not of late, no. The EU has been at peace for 60 years now. That is pretty much unprecedented in european history. Membership of the EU pretty much rules out conflict with other countires. As recently as the late 1970s Austria and Italy were on the verge of conflict. Such quarrels are pretty much unimaginable now. I think this is a good thing. Note the pressure on Turkey to sort out Cyprus before it can even be considered as a member too.

> Global defence: OK, why would a federal superstate be better for that than opt-in alliances such as Nato?

Becuase it is increasingly likely that USA/EU defence aims will diverge. We saw some of this in Libya and with the US's "pivot" to the East it will likely become more common.

> Diplomatic clout: Diplomatic clout is, in the end, set by the status of your economy etc. I don't see why us having one vote among 26 in a Euro foreign policy gives us more clout than being independent.

Well I think you are wrong. The EU has much greater influence as one at organisations like the WTO than each of its member states would when not coordinated.
Wonko The Sane - on 05 Nov 2012
In reply to Coel Hellier:
> (In reply to Wonko The Sane)
>
> [...]
>
> I could assess your competence on construction and might well conclude that you know much more about it than me -- especially if your buildings are still standing a few decades or so after they're built.
>
> In the same way I can assess the competence of those constructing the Euro, and assess whether that is "still standing", and I conclude that they are simply incompetent.

Well, the euro is something very much still under construction. And I can tell you that no matter how good the company, the construction manager, the site manager,, the design team or the workers, problems come up in construction ALL the time.
You are trying to judge a building on it's longevity when it's not even been completed.
In reply to Coel Hellier:

> No it isn't at all obvious. An "a la carte" Europe would not prevent states grouping together if they wanted to.

Well it doesn't work very well as the history and demise of the WEU shows, and indeed the current paralysis in ESDP also demonstrates. Seriously, if you study European security policy, its very obvious.
MG - on 05 Nov 2012
In reply to Coel Hellier:
As I keep trying to explain, being against federal majority voting is not a desire to be isolationist, it's a desire to cooperate as appropriate.

Which is exactly what the EU is! Any sensible approach to cooperation requires some central coordination.
Wonko The Sane - on 05 Nov 2012
In reply to Coel Hellier:
> (In reply to TobyA)
>
> [...]
>
> They're also topics that matter far less to society as a whole than things like joining the Euro. I've no particular objections to referenda on those, but nor would I particularly advocate them.
>
> [...]
>
> I see no reason why something being a "religious" belief makes it any more important than any other type of belief, so that, for me, is no reason to hold a referendum.

And to extend the analogy further, your answer to this failing construction project appears to be to sack the construction company and employ the skills of people from outside construction.
Bruce Hooker - on 05 Nov 2012
In reply to TobyA:

> I don't get why you don't see how simple it , voting goes with citizenship. You want the right to vote, be a citizen. What's so unfair about that?

So no vote for local elections either then? No United States of America either! They thought it was unfair back then, and they were right.

I typed a more complete reply but the browser blipped and I can't be bothered to repeat it all again. There is no national service in France so that little snipe falls flat, at 63 I don't think I'd be much good in the army anyway. Your barrel scraping is getting deeper and deeper, why are you so against democracy? Why would you or I vote in Britain when we don't live there, and why not vote where we live permanently and pay taxes? Your voting in Ohio is so silly I can't believe you typed it, obviously tourists don't vote, who has ever suggested they should?

At present in France the vote of foreigners is one of the two big social debates on at present, this would include non EU permanent residents too, again with only partial franchise as a first step. The Socialists and the left as a whole are in favour, the right, out of fear of millions of muslims voting are against. The debate is acrid, other issues are behind it and for the government it is a good way of taking attention off their woeful economic performance... Neither side seems to use your "arguments" though, you would be with the right apparently but in the EU the muslim vote is hardly the question so it's hard to see why you argue so strongly for your own loss of basic political rights?

As for changing nationality at every move, aren't there enough bureaucrats already draining the economy? It takes several years of efforts in France to obtain nationality, in Britain it's not a five minute job either, what on earth would be the practical sense of going through all this every time you changed place of residence? You really don't seem to have considered the implications either, concerning taxes, affiliation, the situation of partners and children... Don't you spend enough time with senseless paperwork already?
Coel Hellier - on 05 Nov 2012
In reply to MG:

> You say that Australia would be your country of choice ...

Nope, I said that out of THREE (US, China, Australia), and if I were to be plonked down as a random citizen, then I'd choose Oz of those three.

> and somehow imply this is evidence that the EU is a bad idea.

Nope, I did not say "and therefore the EU is a bad idea", I said that, and therefore being small is not *necessarily* bad and that being big for the sake of it not *necessarily* a good thing.

> Yet Australia ... is a federal state with a common currency and many other features

Sure, in a much smaller nation and a much smaller economy than us. My whole stance here is deciding what federations and what currency unions are appropriate ON THEIR MERITS! Not on the basis of "small = bad, large = good, therefore we *have* to join in because joining in is good per se".

One thing that is essential for a common currency and a centralised federal state is massive transfers of wealth from one region to another. Within the UK and within Australia voters are ok with that; and West Germans were ok with that w.r.t. East Germany. It might be than in 100 years European voters are ok with that Europe-wide, but we are certainly not in that position now, and imposing now will cause trouble.
In reply to Coel Hellier:

> They're also topics that matter far less to society as a whole than things like joining the Euro.

They might be less important for you, but you're not everyone. Women's rights to have control over their own bodies has become very important to the current US presidential election.

My point is you want a referendum on the EU because you think that current opinion in the UK would align with your politics on this.
Coel Hellier - on 05 Nov 2012
In reply to Wonko The Sane:

> And to extend the analogy further, your answer to this failing construction project appears
> to be to sack the construction company and employ the skills of people from outside construction.

You employ two sets of consultants. One designs you a building. The other says "that design is so flawed it will fall down within a decade". The first lot says "Nah, it'll be fine, trust us". You go with the first lot and build it. A decade later the building collapses in a crumpled heap. Which set of consultants do you now trust?
Jimbo W on 05 Nov 2012
In reply to MG:

> Would you vote in or out?

I'm not sure!

I really don't know how I'd vote now. Whatever the case I think we need to have the full advantage of the Europe internal market going forward. But if there is a path that allows us to be part of the EEA, and that that remains a stable long term prospect, then I'd be happy with that. I just don't know enough about the issues to make a decision. Perhaps others could help inform me? In the past I would have been part of the Eurozone and full European integration, even a federal state, but the European financial crisis has severely put me off. The reason is not because of the facts of it happening, but because of the slow, intransigent responses to it. There are multiple US states that effectively receive state to the tune of several percent of US GDP every year. While Germany has seriously benefited from countries like Greece joining the EU, the rhetoric that they are all to blame and the tardy assistance, leads me to believe that Germany itself doesn't really believe in the EU project, or at least doesn't want to accept the bad with the good. That makes it very hard to believe in the European project at all.
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Coel Hellier - on 05 Nov 2012
In reply to TobyA:

> My point is you want a referendum on the EU because you think that current opinion in the
> UK would align with your politics on this.

Yes I do think that a referendum would likely go the way I would want, but I'm also a democrat to the extent that if it went for wholescale Euro-integration then I'd accept that as a legitimate decision and think that we should then try to make it work by joining in wholeheartedly.

What I think it silly is half-heartedness and following on with the Euro-zone without influencing it, which is the UK's long-standing directionless policy because this issue has never been sorted. That's why we should have a referendum to direct the government one way or the other.
Bruce Hooker - on 05 Nov 2012
In reply to Wonko The Sane:

> I think democracy is about electing people to make decisions, not putting those decisions to the vote.

It's one form of democracy, representative democracy, but it's not the only one, some countries use the referendum far more, a sort of partial direct democracy. Personally I think representative democracy has a lot of advantages, especially in large countries. It also acts as a sort of filter - with direct democracy most countries probably would still have the death penalty for example, and the question of EU membership could well be another case where a referendum would give a different result to a parliamentary vote. It's on issues where emotion plays a great part that such differences become clearer.

I'm sure there must be books, quite old ones even, which discuss the various forms of democracy, the pros and cons of each, in depth but I haven't got a reference to give.
Wonko The Sane - on 05 Nov 2012
In reply to Coel Hellier:
> (In reply to Wonko The Sane)
>
> [...]
>
> You employ two sets of consultants. One designs you a building. The other says "that design is so flawed it will fall down within a decade". The first lot says "Nah, it'll be fine, trust us". You go with the first lot and build it. A decade later the building collapses in a crumpled heap. Which set of consultants do you now trust?

Serious answer?
It depends on their design remit.
If the first consultant designed a building as instructed to a budget with certain constraints, then someone else pointed out flaws which didn't take into account those constraints........ I'd trust both. But obviously, the decision to go with the first consultant was made for some reason.

I.E. it was the best the client could afford at the time.

Euro is no different. It IS a bit of a hodgepodge. It was never going to be anything else at first. I am quite sure people were well aware.


In the same way that Trident was always priced at 20 billion when the government knew it would cost 30. ( figures could be wildly wrong, it's from memory)

It's just how things get done.
Coel Hellier - on 05 Nov 2012
In reply to MG:

> So you do think everything should be decided by referendum?

No I don't. To quote my earlier post: "For practical reasons that does in effect mean electing people to make decisions, since it would be impractical, unwieldy and incoherent to put every issue to the vote. However, for very major decisions of high long-term importance, such as Scottish independence or us joining the Euro or similar, a referendum is appropriate".

> Any number of exchanges in schools, music, art, sport and son on.

Nope, I'm still baffled. Why could these things not happen in an a la carte Europe but only in a federal superstate Europe?

> Becuase it is increasingly likely that USA/EU defence aims will diverge.

So what? I've nothing against an opt-in European military alliance.

> The EU has much greater influence as one at organisations like the WTO than each of its member
> states would when not coordinated.

Which is a bad thing if they then use that influence to, for example, defend CAP and protectionist trade barriers.
Coel Hellier - on 05 Nov 2012
In reply to MG:

> Which is exactly what the EU is! Any sensible approach to cooperation requires some central coordination.

Nope, the EU is *enforced* cooperation. I advocate opt-in cooperation. So, states that wanted could operate a CAP; states that didn't want to could opt out. Ditto for other policies. That's a very big difference in how things are run.

As I said, by making policies opt-in, that forces the Eurocrats to make them attractive so that nations want to opt in. If you had only France opting in to the CAP, that would be great!
In reply to Bruce Hooker:
> There is no national service in France so that little snipe falls flat, at 63 I don't think I'd be much good in the army anyway.

France suspended national service in 1996. When did you move to France? In the 70s?

> Why would you or I vote in Britain when we don't live there, and why not vote where we live permanently and pay taxes?

I do pay some taxes in the UK, not a lot as I earn little there, but still some. I also normally spend 1-2 months of the year in the UK. I think perhaps our "migrant experiences" are rather different. To me moving to Helsinki was little different to moving to Glasgow.

> Your voting in Ohio is so silly

Of course it's silly! You have to be a bloody citizen to vote!

> As for changing nationality at every move,

Who has suggested that? As far as you've told us - you've moved to France and then stayed there for what, 30+ years? Have you moved around? If you have a job that takes you different EU countries for a few months to few years on a fixed term basis, then no one is going to change their nationality.

> what on earth would be the practical sense of going through all this every time you changed place of residence?

None, see above. But if you're not willing to do it, why should you get to have a vote for the president of that country?

You still haven't explained to me why you didn't want to become French, if as you say all you life and soul is there. If you still essentially feel British (I do) then why should you vote for the president of another country. If you don't, then be a citizen of France.

BTW, just for your info; in Finland anyone, with any passport, resident for more than 2 years can vote in municipal elections (similar to the UK if I remember correctly). All EU citizens can vote in European elections. And Finnish citizens, including ex-patriots around the world, can vote in general and presidential elections. A big chunk of our tax percentage is municipal so anyone who has lived here for 2 years gets about representation for about 2/3rds of their taxation.

MG - on 05 Nov 2012
In reply to Coel Hellier:
> (In reply to MG)
>
> [...]
>
> Nope, the EU is *enforced* cooperation.

Well it's not - we have signed treaties (and not signed others) as have all the countries involved.

I advocate opt-in cooperation.

This is a recipe for a complete mess and gridlock at best and conflict at worst. The idea you can pick and choose every policy along with 25+ other states doing the same is absurd. You either cooperate, or you don't
In reply to Coel Hellier:

> Nope, the EU is *enforced* cooperation.

You keep saying things like this but it simply is wrong and I really think you just don't understand the different decisions making processes within the EU or the legal basis for EU decision making. They don't use the terminology anymore but traditionally there were the three pillars to the EU, the common market, Justice and Home Affairs and CFSP. Of those only the common market was under majority voting and the commission had the power to launch policy. JHA and CFSP were intergovernmental. Lisbon changed some of those issues and there are certain issues from II and III that took on some community method decision making, but most didn't. Secondly certain states have always negotiated opt-outs on various issues, the Danes being a case in point.

The EU is not "enforced cooperation". If you keep saying it you are deliberately trying to mislead either yourself or others. How can people be expected to make a good decision on this either way when they don't understand these fundamentals?
Coel Hellier - on 05 Nov 2012
In reply to MG:

> This is a recipe for a complete mess and gridlock at best and conflict at worst.
> The idea you can pick and choose every policy along with 25+ other states doing the same is absurd.

Why? Sorry, that's just assertions not an argument. There are plenty of examples of opt-in mechanisms working well. NATO, CERN, ESA for example, or Schengen.

> You either cooperate, or you don't

What is wrong with picking areas of cooperation? I.e., we say yes on free-trade, no on CAP and the Euro.
Coel Hellier - on 05 Nov 2012
In reply to TobyA:

> The EU is not "enforced cooperation". If you keep saying it you are deliberately trying to mislead either yourself or others.

Sorry, the whole point of the move from vetos to qualified majority voting is "enforced cooperation" in the sense that you can be out-voted and then have to abide by and implement the majority decision.

If you really think that the EU is not "enforced cooperation" then can we say, ok guys, we don't like the CAP, we'll pulling out, and we won't contribute towards the funding for the CAP? Ditto common fisheries policy?
Bruce Hooker - on 05 Nov 2012
In reply to TobyA:

> France suspended national service in 1996. When did you move to France? In the 70s?

in 74, fixed in 75 so already too old for the army... but why would I change nationality just because I'd met a new girlfriend and moved to live where she did?. Since I've stayed on but the whole point of the EU is that you can live in any country of the union without administrative hassle - that's what it's all about and one of it's big advantages - it's funny you don't see this.

I have been thinking of moving back for years, and working towards it - spending time there, bought a house there, but what with three children, their education and so on it has dragged on. Just as many French people who live in Britain - London is now the second or third French city in terms of population - I am using the system as it was designed.

The only major design fault is on franchise and the only reason it hasn't been fixed, is the xenophobia of populations who are easily whipped up to refuse foreign residents the vote, even after many years of residence.

Clearly you don't see it this way, you don't mind paying taxes and having no say how they are used, but I do, we are different... just as I feel no democratic right to vote in a country where I am not a permanent resident - Britain - I don't think this is would be morally right. I could do it, I only need to fill out the form we get in our letter box ever election time, but it would be dishonest so I don't do it.

I just live in hope that common sense will rule one day, but with little hope as the numbers concerned are too low and many don't really care about voting.
In reply to Coel Hellier: Yes, because fisheries and ag has always been in under the communities pillar. The member states have jointly decided that in some areas they follow majority voting (but don't forget the blocking minorities, the Parliament's ability to stop legislation and the various specifically negotiated opt outs). We can leave aside the question of what is "enforced" about jointly agreeing the rules to a certain game and then sticking by them, because I understand what you mean by "enforced", but what is enforced in ESDP/CFSP for example? All or very nearly all of it follows unanimity, as does most of JHA. And it's within JHA that Cameron is currently seeking further opt outs (really the British/Irish situation is already "opt-in" rather than opt-out) so that changes to some majority voting there, following Lisbon, won't effect the UK. Denmark has always opted out of JHA going back to the Edinburgh agreement in 92(ish?).

I'm not actually sure how your vision of the a la carte EU would different from the hodgepodge of compromises and special deals (such as Norway's position!) that we already have, although I have a feeling that is Tory policy currently. You get some special agreement signed, which the rest of the Union does because their PMs understand political pressure, declare victory and then carry on essentially as before.

Right, enjoy the rest of the debate. I'm out at this point as I have to write some non UKC political arguing! :)
In reply to Bruce Hooker: I know exactly what you mean about coming for "a year" and somehow still being here ten years later! My central point is just that the concept of citizenship still matters very much in the modern world, even within the EU. If I'm abroad and I get in trouble I go to the British Embassy*, other countries do or don't let me in with/without visas etc. because of my British passport.

Actually, I believe now one of those little EU advantages is that any EU state's embassy is meant to help out any EU citizen if they can't get to their own embassy. So when be chased by a rampaging mob in some far off hell hole and you see a German flag a-flying, see if you can vault the wall into their garden. The Germans would probably look after us better than the Brits!
MG - on 05 Nov 2012
In reply to Coel Hellier:
> (In reply to MG)
>
> [...]
>
> Why? Sorry, that's just assertions not an argument. There are plenty of examples of opt-in mechanisms working well. NATO, [etc]

NATO (and similar examples) is in or out. You can't decide to have your navy in and the airforce out. Or decide on mutual defence of countries a-e but not g-u in the case of attack. It's the same with most organisations - picking and choosing the bits you like doesn't work well, and the more complex the organisation the less practical it becomes.

Can you honestly not see the mess that would result from endless bilateral agreements without some coordination? Eg. Trade in product x is free between country a and b, and between b and c due to agreements. But not between a and c. Hence trade goes a to b, and then b to c and huge cost to everyone. Exactly this sort of mess occurs in the US where various combinations of States have mutual recognition for professions but others don't. So for example working as an engineer in WA is fine if you qualify in CA, but working in OR is not. There is no real reason for this except the lack of coordination between States. The EU does a good job of removing these barriers and complexities.


Coel Hellier - on 05 Nov 2012
In reply to TobyA:

> We can leave aside the question of what is "enforced" about jointly agreeing the rules to a
> certain game and then sticking by them ...

Well obviously we can decide to leave the EU and not join the game, but the point is that if we're in the EU then participation in the CAP and common fisheries policy etc are obligatory. That is "enforced cooperation" and is very different from an "a la carte" model in which specific programmes such as CAP would be opt-in.

You objections to this language is just pedantry.

> I'm not actually sure how your vision of the a la carte EU would different from ...

Well for a start we could just pull out of the common agricultural and fisheries policies (and not contribute funding to them), and the working-time directive and anything else if we so choose. Isn't it obvious that this model of Europe would be very different from the current one?

Automatic opt-outs is very different from having to negotiate opt-outs (and in some areas not being allowed to opt-out -- for example no nation applying to join the EU now is allowed to opt out of the Euro).

And, Europe would be forced to make policies attractive so that nations would willingly opt in to them.

MG - on 05 Nov 2012
In reply to MG: Before anyone checks those States rules, that was a conceptual example.
Coel Hellier - on 05 Nov 2012
In reply to MG:

> NATO (and similar examples) is in or out. You can't decide to have your navy in and the airforce out.

Yep, but membership of NATO does not obligate cooperation on tax and social policy etc. *Obviously* it needs to be both airforce and navy and not just one because the navies and airforces would operate as one in a wat.

> Can you honestly not see the mess that would result from endless bilateral agreements without some coordination?

Nope, because people would see the advantages of not having a mess by opting in to wider free trade areas. Like they already do. EFTA for example.
tony on 05 Nov 2012
In reply to Coel Hellier:

I wonder if the EU is a concept for which the time has passed. I can see that there was a good deal of sense in it when the Common Market was established, partly as a free trade body, but also, in the aftermath of the war, as a way of reducing likely political conflict leading to wars.

But all that was quite a long time ago. As far as trade is concerned, I'm not sure what difference membership of the EU makes. With the massive increase in globalised trade in the intervening years, the barriers to free trade are far fewer than they were - any import/export tariffs are regulated by the WTO (eventually), and ISO standards look after safety and performance.

Politically, all countries will revert to national interests before European interests (as shown by the increasing requirements for national referenda before any further EU treaty changes), so the opportunities for the EU to negotiate internationally are restricted.

Economically, it seems we only have to look at the complete f*ck up that is Greece and Spain at the moment to see that EU membership doesn't represent a universal panacea and doesn't lead to a land of milk and honey.

I know there's a lot more to the EU than the very superficial coverage I've given, but I do wonder if there might not be better ways of dealing with those elements of genuine common interest (shared research interests for example) than with the current arrangements.
Coel Hellier - on 05 Nov 2012
In reply to tony:

I agree with you that world-wide trade agreements are increasingly the way to go. The EU is a barrier to that owing to their protectionist attitudes of wanting to protect the CAP -- that is the main item that has prevented agreement in the latest GATT rounds.
Bruce Hooker - on 05 Nov 2012
In reply to tony:

> Economically, it seems we only have to look at the complete f*ck up that is Greece and Spain at the moment to see that EU membership doesn't represent a universal panacea and doesn't lead to a land of milk and honey.

Isn't it more them using the Euro the cause of the problem rather than EU membership. The two are not the same thing.
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MG - on 05 Nov 2012
In reply to Coel Hellier:
> (In reply to tony)
>
> I agree with you that world-wide trade agreements are increasingly the way to go. The EU is a barrier to that owing to their protectionist attitudes of wanting to protect the CAP

Interesting your use of "their" in this post and higher together with your denial that being anti-EU is in anyway jingoistic. Also interesting that with these objections to GATT the EU is almost certainly accurately representing the views of Europe's citizens, and in an effective way that individual countries could never do, but you somehow regard the EU as anti-democratic.
In reply to Coel Hellier:

> You objections to this language is just pedantry.

No they're not, being part of CAP and fisheries policy is some of the costs of being in the single market that the UK has chosen to accept.

> Well for a start we could just pull out of the common agricultural and fisheries policies (and not contribute funding to them), and the working-time directive and anything else if we so choose.

And then we would be excluded, arguably fairly, from the single market and need to negotiate some sort of EEA-type access deal to get back in. I'm not sure what happens then, but consumer prices are likely to increase if nothing else.

You never answered about what's enforced about cooperation in JHA and CFSP?
Coel Hellier - on 05 Nov 2012
In reply to MG:

> Interesting your use of "their" in this post ...

"They" being people who support the CAP and protectionist policies to protect the CAP.

> ... and higher together with your denial that being anti-EU is in anyway jingoistic.

It's not jingoistic, it's being in favour of GATT and free-trade and against the CAP and protectionism. The EU negotiators certainly do not have my support for their position, so I refuse to use "our" about that policy.

> Also interesting that with these objections to GATT the EU is almost certainly accurately
> representing the views of Europe's citizens

Really? What's the evidence for that? Most French citizens may support the CAP, yes, but many across Europe don't.

Coel Hellier - on 05 Nov 2012
In reply to TobyA:

> No they're not, being part of CAP and fisheries policy is some of the costs of being in
> the single market that the UK has chosen to accept.

Exactly, it's "enforced cooperation" on those areas as a price of EU membership.

> You never answered about what's enforced about cooperation in JHA and CFSP?

Even if there are some areas where there isn't enforced cooperation, there are plenty of areas where there is (agriculture and fisheries for example, among lots of others). And every EU treaty has extended the scope of enforced cooperation and reduced the areas of voluntary opt-in.
tony on 05 Nov 2012
In reply to Bruce Hooker:
> (In reply to tony)
>
> [...]
>
> Isn't it more them using the Euro the cause of the problem rather than EU membership. The two are not the same thing.

You're right to say they're not the same thing, but they are related. Without EU membership, it's doubtful that Greece would have been able to borrow as much as it did do, since their borrowing costs were lower because of their EU membership. If they hadn't borrowed so much, they wouldn't now be so stuffed by their use of the the euro (and consequent restraints on interest and exchange rates).
Coel Hellier - on 05 Nov 2012
In reply to Bruce Hooker:

> Isn't it more them using the Euro the cause of the problem rather than EU membership. The two are not the same thing.

Increasingly they are and will be the same thing -- for example any country applying to join the EU must agree to accept the Euro. The few current opt-outs are allowed to stay that way, but no new opt-outs will be allowed, so it's one-way traffic to the Euroland future.

For example, should Scotland vote for independence in the referendum, they would then be required to apply for EU membership (if they wanted to be EU members) and under current rules that would require them adopting the Euro. (I wonder whether voters in that referendum will realise that they're voting to join the Euro and thus have a different currency from England.)
cuthill76 - on 05 Nov 2012
In reply to Coel Hellier:

"For example, should Scotland vote for independence in the referendum, they would then be required to apply for EU membership (if they wanted to be EU members) and under current rules that would require them adopting the Euro. (I wonder whether voters in that referendum will realise that they're voting to join the Euro and thus have a different currency from England.)"

Really, says who? The counter position.

Membership:

http://www.newsnetscotland.com/index.php/scottish-opinion/4341-a-unionist-lexicon-an-a-z-of-unionist...

http://wingsland.podgamer.com/chasing-the-game/

Euro:

http://www.newsnetscotland.com/index.php/scottish-opinion/4341-a-unionist-lexicon-an-a-z-of-unionist...


Coel Hellier - on 05 Nov 2012
In reply to cuthill76:

> Really, says who? The counter position.

Jose Manuel Barroso, President of the European Commission, and Herman Van Rompuy, the president of the European Council, have both stated that a newly independent Scotland would be a new state which would have to apply for EU membership.

http://www.heraldscotland.com/news/home-news/independence-row-as-eu-chief-backs-union.19330659
In reply to Coel Hellier:

> Exactly, it's "enforced cooperation" on those areas as a price of EU membership.

It's accepting a majority vote, in fact it's less than that because of the various safeguards. What happened to your earlier paeans to democracy?
In reply to Coel Hellier:

> And every EU treaty has extended the scope of enforced cooperation and reduced the areas of voluntary opt-in.

I suspect this isn't true, because whilst the community method has been extended over time, the EU gets new areas of competence but they are under unanimity, being are pillar II and III issues. I would think that the "area" has increased faster than that section of the area under QMV.
MG - on 05 Nov 2012
In reply to TobyA:
> (In reply to Coel Hellier)
>
> [...]
>
> It's accepting a majority vote, in fact it's less than that because of the various safeguards. What happened to your earlier paeans to democracy?

As far as I can see Coel (and friends) are happy with democracy within something UK sized but not larger or small. Within the UK "QMV voting" (aka "a majority") operates within parliament and this is apparently OK. Quite why making some decisions in a larger sized entity such as the EU on a similar basis is not OK, is not clear to me. Similarly why is the UK such a perfect size for such decisions? Why not have each county operating as a separate state to avoid the imposition and enforcement of central government?
Coel Hellier - on 05 Nov 2012
In reply to Toby:

> It's accepting a majority vote, ...

Sure it is, and accepting a majority vote is "enforced cooperation". Why are you so reluctant to accept the bleeding obvious? Namely that EU rules requiring participation in the CAP are examples of "enforced cooperation"/

> What happened to your earlier paeans to democracy?

Why sure, that's what being in the same state is all about, accepting democratic votes and accepting "enforced cooperation" on many matters with the rest of the population. The question is whether we want to be part of a Euroland state in that sense or not.

Look, I'll say it openly: Being part of the UK-side state is accepting enforced cooperation with the rest of the UK-wide state. Now your turn: can you say it?: Being part of the EU is accepting enforced cooperation with the rest of the EU.

I really don't understand why you are evading so much on this.
Coel Hellier - on 05 Nov 2012
In reply to MG:

> Quite why making some decisions in a larger sized entity such as the EU on a similar basis is not OK,
> is not clear to me. Similarly why is the UK such a perfect size for such decisions?

No-one has said that the UK size is optimum! No-one has said that bigger entities are sub-optimal per se! All I'm saying is please can we judge the issue of joining in greater EU integration ON ITS MERITS, rather than doing so on the basis of "bigger is automatically better", coupled with a fearful timorousness against anything other than joining in.

It's astonishing how rarely the EU advocates actually make an argument that EU integration is actually a good thing! Here's an essay challenge for EU-advocates: "The EU is currently far better off for having adopted the Euro because ....". Be sure to have a section starting: "Greece is currently far better off for having adopted the Euro because ...".

brokenbanjo - on 05 Nov 2012
In reply to MG:

I would vote yes to stay in and yes to a Federal Europe. The further we distance ourselves from the self-appointed 'World Police' across the Atlantic the better. There is no reason why a Federal Europe cannot work apart from self-importance. We seem to be the only ones not wanting it and why is that really? Federal Europe will only fail because of half-arse attempts to do stuff, and us vetoing everything because we can will not help. In time the LSE will move to Frankfurt as Europe strengthens and grows and then, as a nation, we are f*cked.
MG - on 05 Nov 2012
In reply to Coel Hellier:
> (In reply to MG)
>
> [...]
>
> No-one has said that the UK size is optimum! No-one has said that bigger entities are sub-optimal per se! All I'm saying is please can we judge the issue of joining in greater EU integration ON ITS MERITS, rather than doing so on the basis of "bigger is automatically better", coupled with a fearful timorousness against anything other than joining in.
>

Well I have made several arguments above, most of which you simply ignore before repeatedly coming back to the narrow issue of trade agreements and then confusing the EU with the Euro. It gets a bit tiresome!

Coel Hellier - on 05 Nov 2012
In reply to MG:

> Well I have made several arguments above, most of which you simply ignore ...

Can you point me to these arguments? The only arguments I can remember you making I replied to directly.
MG - on 05 Nov 2012
In reply to Coel Hellier:
> (In reply to MG)
>
> [...]
>
> Can you point me to these arguments? The only arguments I can remember you making I replied to directly.

You replied, sarcastically and flippantly, rather than responded in any sensible manner. Key advantages of the EU as I see it

-Stability (60 years peace and counting),
-Culture (many opportunities for exchange and understanding),
-Diplomacy and law (common line when dealing with other major countries and large cooperations e.g. google, US, avoiding a divide and rule approach from these bodies)
-Pooling resources for major projects (many aspects of research, legislation, standards etc.)
- Freedom to travel and be employed etc across a huge area.





Coel Hellier - on 05 Nov 2012
In reply to MG:

> You replied, sarcastically and flippantly, rather than responded in any sensible manner.

Oh I see, so simply labelling counter-arguments "sarcastic and flippant" is an excuse to avoid rebutting them?

> Key advantages of the EU as I see it
> Stability (60 years peace and counting),

Where's your control experiment to show that the EU is responsible for that peace, as opposed to the many other factors involved? As I said, most recent instability in Europe has been about peoples not wanting to be in larger conglomerations and thus splitting up (Balkans, Czechslovakia, Baltic States etc), plus the Euro seems to be increasing instability, not reducing it (e.g. Greece).

> -Culture (many opportunities for exchange and understanding),

Just as there would be in an a la carte Europe. I mean, we can't possibly have cultural links with, say, Australia, can we, given that we're not in a superstate with them, and of course we get on far worse with Norwegians than Swedes and far worse with Austrians than the Swiss, all because the Norwegians and Swiss are not in the EU.

> -Diplomacy and law (common line when dealing with other major countries

Which is an advantage if you like the common European line, and a disadvantage if you don't.

> -Pooling resources for major projects (many aspects of research, legislation, standards etc.)

All of which can be done (and likely better done) without a superstate. On research, CERN and ESA are good examples. Increasingly these things need to be done by world-wide agreements.

> - Freedom to travel and be employed etc across a huge area.

There is nothing to stop a country adopting such things in an a la carte Europe, if they so wish. For example these things apply de facto to the Swiss as much as Austrians.
MG - on 05 Nov 2012
In reply to Coel Hellier:
> (In reply to MG)
>
> [...]
>
> Oh I see, so simply labelling counter-arguments "sarcastic and flippant" is an excuse to avoid rebutting them?
>

Hardly, I gave several counter-examples that you just ignored with comments about Switzerland not being a threat.


> [...]
>
> Where's your control experiment to show that the EU is responsible for that peace, as opposed to the many other factors involved?

I don't have a spare Europe in my pocket, sorry. You have to look at history and similar examples and make a judgement. Europe no cooperation for several millenia and constant war. EU founded peace ever since. US, China, India all internally peaceful with cooperation; South America, most of Africa, (until recently) Balkans not stable with little cooperation.


As I said, most recent instability in Europe has been about peoples not wanting to be in larger conglomerations and thus splitting up (Balkans, Czechslovakia, Baltic States etc),

Err, they all either are or want to be in the EU and have been or are becoming much more stable as a result! Also as above examples of Italy/Austria and Turkey.

>
> [...]
>
> Just as there would be in an a la carte Europe.

Again as above, "a la carte" quickly becomes a horrendous mess. Again you just ignored specific examples I give of this.
Coel Hellier - on 05 Nov 2012
In reply to MG:

> You have to look at history and similar examples and make a judgement.

Yep, and there are a lot of factors other than the EU, for example the NATO v Warsaw Pact power blocs. Also, regardless of the EU, we've arrived at a place where first-world democracies nowadays accept local determination and don't go to war against each other. For example, there are no signs of war between the US and Canada, despite them not heading for "ever closer union", nor between Australia and New Zealand, so I don't see why one would necessarily attribute the same in Western Europe to the EU.

> Err, they all either are or want to be in the EU and have been or are becoming much more stable as a result!

No, they're becoming more stable because they have the governmental structure that their populations want.

> Again as above, "a la carte" quickly becomes a horrendous mess. Again you just ignored specific
> examples I give of this.

That again, is just assertion and not argument. You've not presented evidence that "a la carte quickly becomes a horrendous mess". For instance, that's what places like Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Norway, Switzerland, etc operate on -- joining in as and when they see fit -- and those countries are not in a "horrendous mess" and nor are their relations with other countries a "horrendous mess". This shows that the choice is not between a federal superstate and a horrendous mess.
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baron - on 05 Nov 2012
In reply to MG: I don't claim to be an expert but I think that peace in Europe was mostly due to nations hiding behind the U.S.A dominated NATO using the threat of the Soviet Menace as an excuse.
Now the same and other countries hide under the EU umbrella.
One thing that is common to both these situations is a small number of countries putting in far more than the rest and receiving little in return.

pmc
Sir Chasm - on 05 Nov 2012
In reply to MG: We didn't join for 28 years, what ensured our peace before 1975?
In reply to Coel Hellier:

> I really don't understand why you are evading so much on this.

I'm happy to "evade" your word games: trying to label something you are politically against negatively. If you call respecting a democratic decision "enforced cooperation" then fine, but I think you're just plain wrong. I would take 'enforce' to mean that a party is being pressured or forced to cooperate against their will. This does sometimes happen in the EU where member state government's lose cases in the ECJ and then are fined: if they don't want to pay the fines then they have to cooperate - that seems like enforced cooperation but is relatively rare, or happens only in specific and limited cases. Agreeing on a democratic structure and then accepting the outcomes is, well, democracy. EU member states have and do get opt outs of all sorts of areas of policy where they don't want to be part of the majority voting system, and as I've repeatedly tried to point out there are huge areas of EU competence where there is no majority voting. And of course any state can leave the EU if they wish.
Coel Hellier - on 05 Nov 2012
In reply to TobyA:

> If you call respecting a democratic decision "enforced cooperation" then fine, but I think you're just plain wrong.

Just calling a spade a spade. Our Labour party respects the democratic decision and so accepts the "enforced cooperation" of being in opposition (as opposed to launching a military coup or rioting to make the country ungovernable). This is the basics of a state, obedience to the law is "enforced cooperation" whether we like that law or not.

> I would take 'enforce' to mean that a party is being pressured or forced to cooperate against their will.

Sure, and we don't want to be in the CAP, but we're forced to accept it as a condition of EU membership.

> Agreeing on a democratic structure and then accepting the outcomes is, well, democracy.

Sure, and democracy involves enforced cooperation! I am obliged to cooperate with the tax authorities, for example. And yes, I am "pressured or forced" in the sense that I could end up in jail if I refuse. I really don't see why you are so evasive on this obvious and basic point.

Bruce Hooker - on 05 Nov 2012
In reply to tony:

> Without EU membership, it's doubtful that Greece would have been able to borrow as much as it did do, since their borrowing costs were lower because of their EU membership.

I'm not sure EU membership enabled lower borrowing rates, it was more that using the Euro meant that Greece was protected from attacks on its currency, the Euro remained stronger the Drachma alone could have been. If Greece hadn't been protected in this way then they would have been in trouble long ago and perhaps would have changed their ways before the present melt-down. Britain is in the EU but has it's own currency which it needs to defend by political and financial means day by day, something that stimulates the brains of those in charge.

On the other hand is this really the fault of the Euro itself? The Greek government got away with it's actions, or inaction, because they were under the Euro umbrella, but ultimately they made the wrong decisions, year after year. So we are blaming the Euro for the incompetence of the governments!

So a competent government using the Euro but in a responsible way could get the best of both worlds... maybe. Human nature being what it is, especially in the South of Europe perhaps the baton of money markets is the only way to keep governments on the rails? It does seem a little unjust though, blaming a mechanism for being too comfortable.

PS. All these remarks apply inasmuch as we remain in an open capitalist system, in another economic system things might be different, but until someone comes along with a new method I feel obliged to stick within capitalist logic... Maybe if Greece breaks down completely and a revolution comes about maybe they will be as original as they were a couple of thousand years ago, they invented democracy maybe they'll come up with something new?

I won't hold my breath though.
MG - on 05 Nov 2012
In reply to Coel Hellier:

> There is nothing to stop a country adopting such things in an a la carte Europe, if they so wish.

But this does rely on the EU existing in the first place.

Anyway, we could go on. It basically comes down to whether you think allowing decisions to be made "above" UK level in some matters is desirable or not. I (and I think a majority on this thread) do; you don't. A final plea to remember that the EU is not solely about trade, and that the Euro does not equal the EU
Coel Hellier - on 05 Nov 2012
In reply to MG:

> But this does rely on the EU existing in the first place.

No it doesn't, there is nothing to stop people having free-movement agreements without the EU. For example the UK and Ireland allowed free movement between the two, long before being in the EU, and currently Australia and New Zealand allow free movement between themselves; Canada and the US are discussing that, etc.

You don't need superstate in order to reach such agreements. You are attributing lots of things to the EU that would or could have happened just as readily without it.

> A final plea to remember that the EU is not solely about trade,

I'm well aware of that, it's also about lots of dumb things like the common fisheries and agricultural policies and lots of regulations in other areas.

> and that the Euro does not equal the EU

Only two countries (us and Denmark) have an opt-out from the Euro, all the others are either members or obligated to be on a track to be members. All new EU applicants are required to join the Euro. No new opt-outs will be allowed. Unless the Euro fails catastrophically the future of the EU is as Euroland. There may be a small handful of peripheral countries (in the EU but not the Euro) but they'll increasingly have little clout.

Pretending that the future of the EU is not about the Euro is a refusal to face reality. That's always been the problem with the British stance, we've always adopted the attitude that by "engagement" we can steer the EU in our preferred direction, whereas we can't, since most of the leadership of other countries doesn't want what we want, they want "ever closer union".
Wonko The Sane - on 05 Nov 2012
In reply to MG: Ok, I offer up the alternative.

Let's bin off Europe and ask the US if we can be the 51st state. I'd like that.
In reply to Coel Hellier:

> Only two countries (us and Denmark) have an opt-out from the Euro,

My understanding is that the Commission accepts the defacto Swedish opt out, they know that Sweden isn't going to join in the very least medium term - they can't "enforce cooperation". I presume that Poland, should it want to, could play exactly the same game.
In reply to Coel Hellier:
> since most of the leadership of other countries doesn't want what we want, they want "ever closer union".

Again, saying it like it's a fact doesn't make it any less wrong.
Coel Hellier - on 05 Nov 2012
In reply to TobyA:

> My understanding is that the Commission accepts the defacto Swedish opt out, they know that Sweden
> isn't going to join in the very least medium term ...

So the EU is ok, so long as there is an "understanding" to ignore the rules. The same sort of "understanding" that Euro-countries could ignore rules about borrowing and fiscal stability.

In reply to Coel Hellier: Nope, it's a legal argument from the Swedish govt. that I believe is that although their '95 agreement said they are meant to join the Eurozone, they don't have to take one of the earlier steps, and if they don't do that, then they're not allowed to join the Eurozone as it's part of the convergence criteria. Something like that I think. Anyway, it seems that the Commission's legal dept. seems to agree with them, but leaving the lawyers aside I guess the Commission also accept the political reality that they can't force a member state to adopt the Euro against their will.
Coel Hellier - on 05 Nov 2012
In reply to TobyA:

> Nope, it's a legal argument from the Swedish govt. that I believe is that although their '95 agreement
> said they are meant to join the Eurozone, they don't have to take one of the earlier steps, ...

Excellent, good to see them thumbing their noses at the Eurocrats.

Now, if only we could find some lawyers like that ...
In reply to Coel Hellier: They're "not thumbing their noses at Eurocrats", it's just how EU politics progresses. Finland did much the same in signing up for CFSP when it domestically not ready for much of what could have been entailed. I think the current crisis show quite clearly the rather limited real powers of the Commission in comparison to the member states.

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