Euro-know: Know the European Union!
Where is the European Union going? What benefits and costs does it bring? What attitudes should we as citizens within it have towards it? Should we wish to withdraw from it, partially or totally? Or should we be striving to change it in some way while staying within it? These are the questions addressed on this webpage. We aim to bring together as much material here as we can that bears on these issues: when we do not have it, we hope to point out where to find it on the web or elsewhere. The page began a decade or so ago to deal with the issue of whether the UK should join the euro or not: today as issues concerning the EU have broadened out, we have decided to broaden the page’s scope in line with them.
It is time indeed we face up to these issues, because the evidence is accumulating that the EU is facing massive economic failure - just as the EU expands in apparent political success to include more and more members. Growth in the EU has stagnated, unemployment is high, taxes are absorbing high shares of GDP and yet public services are not particularly good; against this background EU policy has moved against free trade in agriculture and manufacturing, has greatly regulated markets especially the labour market with its burgeoning ‘social chapter’, and has failed to make progress in opening up service markets to competition which was supposed to be a key objective of the Single Market. Instead of free markets, the EU has created Fortress Europe. These policies have exacted a high economic cost, both in terms of consumer choice and incomes and in terms of growth. EU citizens are questioning the EU increasingly as a result: the most striking recent examples were the rejections of the new EU Draft Constitution by French and Dutch voters and of the Lisbon Treaty (effectively the same Constitution in different garb) by Irish voters. That Constitution/Treaty were attempts by the dominant EU elite to expand the powers of central EU institutions over member governments and citizens. We do not know the detailed reasons why Dutch, French and Irish voters rejected it; but questioning the EU central powers they certainly were. Another example: in the UK there is now a majority of people agreeing with the statements ‘The UK should stay in the single market but pull out of the other political elements of the EU’ or ‘The UK should leave the EU altogether’. While in the UK opinion has always been more hostile to the EU than elsewhere, such a majority has never occurred before.
So, in the following pages, we review
- studies of the EU, its costs and benefits to different countries
- evaluation of the draft constitution and its elements
- analysis of EU economic policies
- options for change in the EU and for members to leave or renegotiate.