Brexit

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Re: Brexit

Postby joe92 » 21 Feb 2016, 13:32

super_dipsy wrote:I admit to being terribly confused over the question of leave or not. I think the main reason is there are a LOT of red herrings and unfounded claims on both sides that only confuse the majority. For a start, I personally do not put any credence in economic arguments for and against, because frankly noone knows what will happen if we leave. One argument put forth by the stay camp is that Europe is our largest customer for goods and services, and being outside Europe would leave us with huge barriers to trade an punitive tariffs. But then, as the leave camp points out, we are a huge customer for goods and service produced in other parts of Europe and therefore it is almost certain there would be huge pressure on the remaining Euro governments to quickly set up trade agreements so they can continue sellling us stuff; and of course this works both ways.

My own approach is to instead look at the broader and more long term question of what do you want to be. Starting from first principles, the major architects of the European project were unashamedly clear that they wanted to achieve 'ever closer integration'. Much of this integration is evident in the various treaties that underpin the project. That is why the Euro was created, it is why there is pressure from the European Parliament for a European army and a European President and for Europe to sit on the Security Council etc.. This desire for closer integration is built into much of what the EU does. However, the first step on the journey was the idea of a common market across Europe (the European Economic Community) and this was a clever strategy because almost noone could argue that this was desirable at some level. British politicians have been good at trying to argue away the subsequent steps leading down the path of ever closer integration by saying that the best place for us to be to ensure the EU is what we want is from the inside, and we will work to change it.

Where we stand now though, we have learned some lessons. Even with the polls showing Brexit is a real possibility. the European governments and in particular the behemoth that is the European Parliament have fought every inch of the way and have given a fraction of what Cameron originally wanted. It has been made very clear that those bodies have no intention whatsoever of allowing the UK to disrupt their plans for closer integration. In a nutshell, the UK tried (pretty incompetently it has to be said) to inch the Euro project agenda back to just being a free trade EEC, but it has been unanimously rebuffed.

So I think what people have to decide is do they want to end up in a federalized Europe under a single currency where the laws and regulations are set by the Eurocracy, or do we not. It is not about economics in my mind, but purely and simply where do we want to end up. But people need to be clear on what the future will be; there should be no pussyfooting around. We can no longer pretend that we can get what we want changed, because it wont happen. Do we want to have the Euro as our currency, and have all the 'federal' government done from Brussels / Strasbourg, with the national parliaments playing the 'local government' role? Or do we want Britain to remain a sovereign power with its own government calling the shots, even if this means we become a tiny country with little international influence and a weakened economy? Note I am not saying we WILL be weakened in these ways, I am simply saying that it is a definite possibility.

I've said enough (or probably far too much ;) ). Just my personal view. Decide on the question based on what you want the UK to be as a nation, and don't get bogged down in arguments that are built on ifs and maybes.


As eloquently put as that was super_dipsy, it was all speculation. Even in your first paragraph you said "there are a LOT of red herrings and unfounded claims on both sides" and then proceeded to claim a huge red herring and unfounded claim that the out camp puts forwards. Factually speaking there is no indication that the EU is heading towards a federal state system. As it stands we have the power to reject almost all laws being proposed by the EU, we just have had 3 useless governments in a row who haven't rejected any. No other member to the EU has accepted as many laws as we have.

If it were the case that a federal system was proposed for the EU I would sincerely hope we get another vote. I would join the out camp immediately if it seemed like we were going to hand over our sovereignty to unelected officials. If the EU were to be reformed into a federal system with elected officials, I could possibly accept that. But even then I would be dubious about it, I'm not so sure a system could work for Europe.

For me, the best thing the EU could be is the continued economic free trade benefits, alongside a European army and fewer bureaucracies. I think all EU states should quit NATO, the warmongering alliance, and create our new defence force which would be purely defence. The idea of a European President is nonsensical to me and it should be made much clearer about our ability to reject proposed laws.

As for Cameron, he has to be worst politician that there has ever been. He is an incompetent, uninspiring, insipid little man who does exactly what he's told. The fact that he came away from the EU with anything at all amazes me. I doubt he could organise a piss up in a brewery let alone negotiate better terms within the EU. And just look at what he did come away with, a new name for our position which he's pushing as a victory even though it can be removed at any time in the future. He is the best thing the out camp could wish for.
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Re: Brexit

Postby super_dipsy » 21 Feb 2016, 14:54

joe92 wrote:As eloquently put as that was super_dipsy, it was all speculation. Even in your first paragraph you said "there are a LOT of red herrings and unfounded claims on both sides" and then proceeded to claim a huge red herring and unfounded claim that the out camp puts forwards. Factually speaking there is no indication that the EU is heading towards a federal state system. As it stands we have the power to reject almost all laws being proposed by the EU, we just have had 3 useless governments in a row who haven't rejected any. No other member to the EU has accepted as many laws as we have

I think you are reading my post in slightly the wrong context. You are claiming I am quoting my own huge red herring by saying that the EU will suddenly become a 'federal states of Europe'. what I actually tried (but not very successfully by the sound of it ;) ) to draw the path and focus in on the 'ever closer integration' bit. If you want more info on what the founding fathers wanted, look at the Delors Commission. Jacques Delors was in my mind a pretty outstanding politician and was the key man in Europe for 3 terms spanning the 1980s and 90s. He was totally clear that his direction was for economic, monetary and political union; that is why the 'ever closer integration' phrase is specifically included in the treaty.

If you now look at what the EU has done over its lifetime, you see a journey and THAT is what I was pointing to. It isn't instant, but it has a clear direction and although it moves somewhat glacially it will continue to move on that path. I believe people are trying to hide their heads in the sand if they claim that this process can be stopped or backed out if some countries do not like it. Thatcher made very brave statements about stopping the inexorable move towards European federalism, but the current negotiations demonstrate that even with a fairly serious threat of breakup, the EU is not going to change its direction. They will do what all good Diplomats do (as we know from playing Diplomacy!); they will come up with watered down compromises which are in themselves not absolute to make 'give up' the tactical battles, but ensure that the overall war is still won.

Take a look for example at the progression from the creation of the Euro. This was perhaps the most brilliant bit of the war strategy of all. The basic idea that was sold was that in a European Common Market (which many people see as a good idea, and I am one of them!) then of course it makes sense to have a common currency. As a European citizen, I love that I can go to Europe and simply carry Euros in the Eurozone. But of course, Delors and his team knew exactly what they were doing. Many of us sleepwalkers through all of this did not really get any further than thinking how cool it is to be able to use the same money in different countries; but Delors and his team knew perfectly well what would happen. The rest of us began to twig when the Euro crisis bit. The fact that most of us had not really appreciated but became abundantly clear is that having a common currency without further integration across the board does not work. That is one of the major reasons that some of the southern eurozone countries are now suffering so much while others such as Germany have benefited. A common currency without a broader integration cannot work. Now the brilliance of the Delors commission becomes apparent, because also it has to be virtually impossible for a country to get out of the Euro or roll the Euro back.

So I do not believe I am making any unfounded claim. As I say, of you look at all the steps we have taken in Europe in the last 30 years, this is an inexorable path. Look at the way the regulations and laws have continued their move to Brussels and Strasbourg, Individual countries can have opt outs, argue specific points, but progress will continue as the glacier grinds on to its eventual destination. If you want another example, look at the progress of the European Court of Justice. The 'tactical' reason it was set up was that it was reasonably obvious that having European regulations meant that there would probably be some legal issues which were not able to be addressed by an individual country but which needed to be handled as a European issue. But the 'strategic' reasoning has gradually become clearer (slowly but surely) that the intent is this is where legal rulings will be made for all states. Countries like the UK often get very hot under the collar at the way that the court is expanding its jurisdiction and influence beyond its 'remit', but again that is people just being blind to what the 'remit' was; it was always the intent because political and economic union would naturally in the end need a common court and common laws.

Maybe I can turn this around to make my main thrust clearer. Whenever I get into discussions on this subject, as I say I get terribly confused by details, but once you put all the details and arguments and counter-arguments into the 'tactical ' camp and concentrate on the longterm glacial movement I things become clearer. So I ask people to tell me what they want the EU to be in 50 years time. What is their 'end game'? Many in the UK answer along the lines you do Joe.

joe92 wrote:If it were the case that a federal system was proposed for the EU I would sincerely hope we get another vote. I would join the out camp immediately if it seemed like we were going to hand over our sovereignty to unelected officials. If the EU were to be reformed into a federal system with elected officials, I could possibly accept that. But even then I would be dubious about it, I'm not so sure a system could work for Europe.

For me, the best thing the EU could be is the continued economic free trade benefits, alongside a European army and fewer bureaucracies. I think all EU states should quit NATO, the warmongering alliance, and create our new defence force which would be purely defence. The idea of a European President is nonsensical to me and it should be made much clearer about our ability to reject proposed laws.

This is a reasonably common view, and not just in the UK (well, OK, not the bit about NATO, but the European bits! ;) ). But this is exactly my point. I absolutely agree that if only we could fixate on an EU common market then that would be brilliant, but this is not the plan. Look at everything that happens and you see that. if you want to see some specifics, try looking at the Euro role in the UN and on the Security Council. Initially, the EU had a role simply as an observer. By 2011, this had been upgraded so that the EU spokesperson now has the right to speak in debates and submit proposals. On the SC front, although the UK and France are on the SC and the EU is not in its own right, the EU has passed further directives on its own countries (France and the UK in this case) such that for example if the EU has a defined position on something that the UK or France must invite the EU to speak in order to present the EU's position. So you see how the EU has glacially moved from only watching, to watching and speaking at UN committees etc, to speaking and presenting positions at the Security Council. Through EU directives to its member states, the UK and France have to get it involved even in the Security Council business.

Taking this example as illustrative of the general progress on the EU journey, can you honestly say this is the 'final status'? Is this where things will stop? Or do you see a point at which the step from the EU agreeing directives that it be invited by member states to speak and present becomes directives that the member states should indeed be restricted to following the EU party line? And from there to the point that the Security Council says it is a bit silly to have UK and France on it when EU Directives force them to represent the EU position, and why not cut out the middle men?

This question of 'what is the final status' is the one I have banging away at all the time. Note I am not saying I think a federal Europe is right or wrong, but what I AM saying is that in the last 30 years many people have refused to pay attention to the strategy and have instead got tangled up in the tactical battles of the day. People need to have their eyes open.

I would finish with one question to you Joe, since you so eloquently encapsulated what at the level of EU citizen (certainly in the UK at least) is a common view. Given that the current negotiations on 'changing things' has been reduced to so little, even given the fact that Cameron started off with such a small list of changes anyway, how do you see the UK or any other country halting the progression? Is it your belief that at some point the countries will rise up to say 'stop'? When they all have their own personal agendas? Let me give one final example (since i think examples are helpful). The EU needs to continue on its path of economic and fiscal integration because otherwise the Eurozone will suffer more of the problems it is already suffering. The UK in particular, not being in the Eurozone, wants to be able to stop the Eurozone dictating to non-Eurozone countries through EU legislation. The result is that the EU has agreed in the latest proposal to the UK that only one non-Euro country is required to hold up its hand and say stop.......but wait. What the EU has agreed is that 'saying stop' means forcing a debate between other EU leaders on the offending piece of legislation. And to be clear, NO COUNTRY has a veto in this debate. Does this mean that the progress towards ever tighter EU legislative control over economic regulations across the EU is stopped? Or does it just mean that although a non-Euro country can delay legislation while the required debates are held, they will still be outvoted by the Euro bloc?

I find all this so fascinating because it has such a close affinity to an actual game of Diplomacy! I would love to ask our top ten players what they think of the negotiation tactics and strategy over the life of the EU! ;)
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Re: Brexit

Postby Keirador » 28 Feb 2016, 02:49

Yeah, dipsy's right. Similar arguments have been had in this forum a few times. Scotland, Catalonia, Greece, etc. Economic integration has always been the incentive to get states to sign on to the real goal, the elimination of intra-European war through political consolidation. If any member of the EU has the ability to wage war on another EU member, the project isn't done.
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Re: Brexit

Postby musashisamurai » 28 Feb 2016, 04:20

For me, the best thing the EU could be is the continued economic free trade benefits, alongside a European army and fewer bureaucracies. I think all EU states should quit NATO, the warmongering alliance, and create our new defence force which would be purely defence. The idea of a European President is nonsensical to me and it should be made much clearer about our ability to reject proposed laws.


Lol, but could you guys afford your own defense? Because right now, what the EU has (outside of Britain and arguably Germany) I give you that) is tiny and mostly nonexistant, at least practically. French naval doctrine for example calls for 2* aircraft carriers, and they have 1, so for example, they will lack a flagship for two years when its in repairs. Their amphibious assault ships, essentially smaller carriers, aren't rated for hostile waters due to their weak defense system. During Libya (a mistake, I admit), the other NATO countries could not have operated without American aid.

Hell, its a deal for you guys. Iceland doesn't even have to have a military anymore. Article V has only been used once-thats the self-defense clause-after 9/11 to invade Afghanistan and I've yet to hear someone complain about it (though yes, how the campaign was run) while Article IV was used 5 times. Mostly by the Turks, but Poland and the Baltic members begged for increased NATO support after Russia invaded Crimea.

Without NATO, the effective military strength of Europe would be negligible in any military endeavor, and without the NATO structure for a command system, you guys would spend too much time arguing over who should lead, that you'd get run over in a day.

Britain could feasibly manage defense on their own, as could Germany, but neither could provide defense to the EU without American aid, and the costs would skyrocket.

If Britain left NATO and got every EU state to do so at the time (with or without leaving the EU too), I guarantee you there would be a war within the decade and the EU states would not be able to manage.

*You have multiple because you have to expect that at any time, a certain fraction of your ships are in repairs or being refurbished in port.
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Re: Brexit

Postby Keirador » 28 Feb 2016, 04:31

Well part of the logic of European integration is more efficient defense. Consolidation in suppliers, standardized equipment across forces, etc.
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Re: Brexit

Postby musashisamurai » 28 Feb 2016, 04:38

Keirador wrote:Well part of the logic of European integration is more efficient defense. Consolidation in suppliers, standardized equipment across forces, etc.


Which NATO does. Most ships, aircraft and guns are made to NATO standards so that every member state has these benefits.

As far as consolidation in suppliers, that just means larger contracts with the same companies. Most get exports anyways, or export variants, and when new models are designed, they are generally shared across NATO for those who want or need them. As far as efficiency, not paying is cheaper than paying any time.
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Re: Brexit

Postby Keirador » 28 Feb 2016, 10:16

musashisamurai wrote:
Keirador wrote:Well part of the logic of European integration is more efficient defense. Consolidation in suppliers, standardized equipment across forces, etc.


Which NATO does. Most ships, aircraft and guns are made to NATO standards so that every member state has these benefits.

As far as consolidation in suppliers, that just means larger contracts with the same companies. Most get exports anyways, or export variants, and when new models are designed, they are generally shared across NATO for those who want or need them. As far as efficiency, not paying is cheaper than paying any time.


This isn't generally true. Europe has overcapacity in its defense contractors, in no small part because each company has a nation-state or two sticking up for it not because it's economically efficient, but just for nationalistic reasons. Europe doesn't actually need three different multirole fighter jets, but they have them, because Sweden won't take the Gripen away from Saab, France won't take the Rafale away from Dassault, and Britain / Italy won't take the Eurofighter from BAE / Finmeccanica. Airbus is also behind the Eurofighter, and that program should, in my opinion, be given full backing, but there's nobody in the EU to say "OK, France, Sweden: pack it up, the Eurofighter has won the contract for all of Europe, we're all buying from that program now." As a result, production numbers for all three fighters are smaller, meaning R&D costs are way higher per-plane than they "should" be. Britain, France, and Germany are all independently building submarines, even though Germany is clearly the best at it. There are at least ten armored vehicle programs all filling the same combat role, or at least similar enough that the US would simply make variants of the same vehicle rather than build a new design from the drawing board up.

Equipment can be shared across NATO, but for nationalistic reasons, it often isn't.
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Re: Brexit

Postby Si_rolf » 23 Mar 2016, 21:20

What is missing in this discussion is the idea of Europe, the roots and reasons of unification. On the continent everybody is aware of the benefits of the EU because we suffered more heavily under communism, fascism, wars and economic chaos when the EU wasn't there. If you're unable to grasp that value and only see a cold sum of benefits versus costs, you should leave.
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Re: Brexit

Postby V » 24 Mar 2016, 16:10

Fascinating historical perspective here, but considering what Si_Rolf just correctly pointed out, the biggest political challenges & threats to Britain have always eminated from Europe, to be faced by Britain (often alone).

Republicanism from France.
Fascism from Italy, Spain, Germany.
Communism from Russia.

May be this causes the commonplace British view that politically Europe is a source of difficulties, not benefits. Just a thought :-)
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Re: Brexit

Postby super_dipsy » 24 Mar 2016, 17:14

Si_rolf wrote:What is missing in this discussion is the idea of Europe, the roots and reasons of unification. On the continent everybody is aware of the benefits of the EU because we suffered more heavily under communism, fascism, wars and economic chaos when the EU wasn't there. If you're unable to grasp that value and only see a cold sum of benefits versus costs, you should leave.

A fair point that Europe has had greater stability since the second world war. I wonder though how much of that stability has stemmed from the EU. One could also point to a number of other factors such as NATO and the advancement of technology and weaponry that has made large-scale wars rather self-defeating in the last 60 years or so. But perhaps your point is that France and Germany are not at each others throats since the formation of the EU since they were (and probably still are) the axis of the EU. That is undeniably true and hence there is sound backing for your position...although I would hesitate about the last part of your statement; I think if you asked some of the southern states and Greece in particular they might say they have suffered fairly extreme economic chaos, and some would even say because of and not in spite of the EU. I guess it could however be argued that that is because the EU project has not yet been completed. Certainly if there was fiscal harmony and federation over the union (ie it was a union in fact rather than in desire) then the economic and social woes Greece has felt over the past years might have been mitigated. I don't think it would have affected the difficulties they are having with the overwhelming migration, but certainly a common currency backed by a common banking system and sharing of debt would have avoided a lot of the economic pain falling disproportionately on Greece and its southern neighbours.

I honestly do not know at the moment which way I will vote. I lean one way, then the other. All I was trying to do earlier was to make sure that people did not live within the myth that 'what we need is to be part of a reformed Europe / common market but keep control over our own laws'. This is I believe just hiding your head in the sand; time has moved on. You either continue with Europe on the path to eventual Union (maybe in 50 years) or you step off into the great unknown. Indeed, it is the 'unknown' bit that scares the living daylights out of me ;)
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