Thursday 13 June 2013

Why leaving the EU would be counterproductive

Eurosceptics argue that Britain should withdraw from the European Union to gain greater autonomy. But leaving the EU would not achieve this objective.

In a post on the LSE’s British Politics and Policy blog, Seamus Nevin points out that leaving the EU would not only fail to secure what Eurosceptics desire but would likely make the UK’s position worse. Britain would continue to be strongly influenced by the EU, whether it liked it or not, but would have much less power.

EU laws, which the UK currently helps make, are becoming a de facto global standard and cannot be avoided:
EU law has to be negotiated, regardless of whether a state is within or outside the European Union. Strategies which imagine the EU issue can simply be wished away by leaving the Union not only fail to secure their desired result but would, in fact, likely make the UK’s position worse. Note that in exchange for access to the European single market, Norway, whom UKIP cite as a possible model for the UK, contributes to the EU budget and accepts almost all EU regulations yet has no say in forming those regulations.
Although the author doesn’t say so, his article reinforces the point that a desire to withdraw from the EU is not a serious policy proposition. It is an emotional spasm, stemming largely from the widespread feeling among people who are older or less educated that the world has left them behind.

The author argues for a renewed emphasis on reforming the EU from the inside. This is necessary but not sufficient, since it does not address the resentments of people who feel marginalised. We need policies that tackle this alienation by providing wider opportunities and involvement, otherwise emotion will trump reason.

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