Monday, 19 December 2011

Opening up a pro-eu(er)

Or, perhaps, reading the 'phile' of a pro-eu(er) - in one particular case. My attention is drawn to two articles that have appeared today; one in the Times (£), the other on the website of Public Service Europe, both of which contain 'irregularities'.

In the first, entry of which I have not due to the paywall, it is understood that Roland Rudd who is chairman of Business for New Europe - and who in the past was one of those who believed that this country should have joined the euro at its inception - argues that should Britain leave the EU and then forge a membership similar to that of Norway it too would be the subject of 'fax-machine diplomacy. Perhaps Rudd should be directed to posts by Richard North, here and here.  

Digressing slightly it seems that the likes of Hannan and Farage, amongst others, are 'fixated' with the idea that the only alternative available, should Britain exit the European Union, is membership of the European Economic Area (EEA). As an alternative, however, might not an arrangement such as the Swiss have - of bilateral agreements -not be better? Even though such negotiations may take time to complete, Britain's position as a market, an economy and bearing in mind the potential to the EU of any subsequently agreed 'contributions' must carry a great deal of weight.

Whilst on the subject of Norway I believe it correct to say that only just over 3.5% of Norwegians are unemployed, inflation is circa 2.5% cent and debt /deficit levels are almost the only ones in Europe that come anywhere near the Maastricht criteria, coupled with the facts that Norway export more per capita to the EU from outside that organisation than Britain does from inside, whist their trade with the EU is in surplus, whereas ours is in deficit.

Time dictates that I move on to "Nucleus" (building influence through Europe) and the article written by a Director, one Matthew Lewis, linked to above. Where to start? In fact there are so many 'irregularities' in this piece, one written by someone who appears to belong in a kindergarten, that I can't be bothered to even start - go read it for yourselves! Suffice to say, I will pick-up on one statement he makes, namely "We cannot operate as a Switzerland or a Norway, it is not in our nature" as it immediately begs the questions of why and why not? Bearing in mind the statistics quoted above, if it is not in our nature, following his 'reasoning'(?) then perhaps it would be to our own good as a nation that we changed our nature. That we have been for ages a 'trading nation' and have survived as such seems to have escaped him, something he would know had his education been better than it obviously was. Lewis' statement that "we cannot operate as a Switzerland...." illustrates that this is yet another 'robot' imprisoned in the 'current political bubble' because it is obvious that in making that statement it has not crossed his mind to think about our system of democracy. That Lewis writes in the vein he does is not surprising as he is a committed 'euro-realist'. Digressing slightly again, as their 'About' section is woefully short of information I have emailed them to ask how long they have been in existence, whether it is long enough that they have annual accounts and reports - and if so why they are not readily available on their website; if not and they have only recently been formed, from whence and from whom came their funding for start-up.

As I have said previously, if, some time in the future, there is to be a public debate on our membership of the EU it behoves politicians of all parties to tell us the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the unvarnished truth where matters EU are concerned - and the same exhortation applies to anyone else who wishes to influence public opinion!

Afterthought for Master Lewis: An alternative viewpoint from a 'business leader'.


Sue said...

Nucleus :) You read my mind.. I tweeted "an article by Matthew Lewis, aged 13.3/4"...

I have a smile on face, first time for a very long time. I'm fucked if I know what's going to happen but when confusion reigns this badly in the EU, it has to be good!

Sue said...

With all the animosity being directed at Britain now, I understand why the FO had the need to plan an evacuation plan for expats.

I can however happily report that these things are not taken personally by ordinary people. They happen to realise that none of us have any influence left over our politicians :)

However, I have already planned to come home during next year for good but only because I feel my time here has ended.

john in cheshire said...

"We cannot operate as a Switzerland or a Norway, it is not in our nature". Oh, that's nice to know. And of course it is in our nature to be f**ked over by 26 members of the EU? And pay them for the privilege.
The man's a cretin.

James Higham said...

Bilateral trade - the way to go.

IanPJ said...


It is worth noting at this point that the UK has two treaties in force at this point in time.

We are both members of the EU AND the European Economic Area (EEA). Leaving one does not mean exclusion from the other.

We only need to leave the EU to be as free as Norway and Switzerland already are.

Richard said...

We are members of the EEA by virtue of our membership of the EU. See:

The treaty is between the contracting parties (members of the EU) and the members of EFTA.

On the face of it, if we ceased to be a contracting party, we would no longer be members of the EEA.

But before we rejoined, it looks as if we would first have to join EFTA.

I am happy to acknowledge, though, that this is a grey area.

IanPJ said...

Many thanks for the clarification.

On the basis of what you have provided I may undertake some further digging to see exactly what options may be open to us, and what possible course of actions are available.

cosmic said...

Richard North has a very good point. There is no clear vision of what life could be like outside the EU and no convincing plan as to how we would deal with various realities such as EFTA/EEA together with a host of other international arrangements which would need to be dealt with. Such a plan couldn't be detailed and it would need to be flexible, but would have the advantage that major problems would not be a surprise that we had to muddle through somehow. A risk of failure would be that we were crawling back to the EU or its wreckage.

Also, it would mean that Euroscepticism was presenting a positive view to work towards and not the negative one of reacting against the EU and leaving and being left with a great unknown. The great unknown is a powerful force to erode Eurosceptic sentiment and feeds the 'In Europe but not ruled by Europe'/renegotiation foolishness, which amounts to being in the EU but complaining.

One of the failings of UKIP is that it doesn't really have such compelling vision of life after the EU, it sort of hints at it.

The UK isn't Norway and it isn't Switzerland. For a start neither have been members of the EU. Totally different countries with different outlooks and histories.

Ian Hills said...

What a nasty outfit Matt Lewis' "nucleus" is, crowing about Bombardier losing the rail contract to Siemens

As Siemens gets most contracts through bribes - they've been found guilty in courts around the globe - it wouldn't surprise me if they finance nucleus, too.

PS looks like they'll get the main HS2 contract too.

WitteringsfromWitney said...

Sue: Be pleased to welcome you back.

jic: You state the obvious.....

JH: Any trade.......

IPJ: While I was trying to find that link I see R very kindly did and also stated what I was going to say in that I believe we would have to apply for EFTA membership, if that is what we want rather than bilateral agreements that Switzerland has.

c: Agreed and also agreed Ukip needs to get its act together.

IH: Not had any response from Nucleus yeet - will post when I do.

Gawain Towler said...

Just to let you know, not fixated, merely recognising that under Treaty obligations we are, once we leave the EU by default a member of the EEA. At which point we can then decide. It is merely a default position.