Heading Toward the EU Exit?


z.hashemi20111224155640827On the European Union front, things are getting more and more promising. For years now, a majority of Brits have favored their country’s withdrawal from the EU, compelling Prime Minister David Cameron to promise a renegotation of the terms of UK membership and a referendum on the question of withdrawal after next year’s general election. In recent days, the Telegraph has noted that the rise in voter support for the UK Independence Party – which favors a quick EU exit – may well become “the political story of 2014”; meanwhile Le Monde described the UKIP as having “the wind in its sails” (while characterizing its supporters, in a news story no less, as “irrational”). Observers suggest that the UKIP, in May elections to the European Parliament, may well win more votes than the Tories.

One sure measure of the UKIP’s success is that EU stalwarts are now taking it seriously – and making it an object of their usual brand of disinformation and demonization. German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, who has referred to EU opponents as “brainless people who call themselves eurosceptics,” warned the other day that when those Eurosceptics form parties “while Europe is in a crisis,” it “doesn’t make our work any easier.” (There’s a man who understands how democracy works!) The EU, insisted Steinmeier, has kept European countries from going to war with each other since 1945 – the usual baseless claim, which is now pretty much the only legitimate-sounding argument that pro-EU politicians have left. (After all, they can’t say, “Dissolving the EU would hurt my career.”)

Meanwhile, Viviane Reding, the European Commissioner for Justice, who has made no secret of her desire to see the EU become the United States of Europe, is so perturbed by Cameron’s actions that she accused him recently of promoting “populist myths,” aligning with “populist movements,” and making “populist speech[es]” – the standard European-elite way of slamming politicians who actually listen to their constituents. Speaking in London on Monday, Reding loftily informed British voters that they’re too ill-informed about the EU to make a wise decision about EU membership: “The fact is that very often, I see a completely distorted truth being presented and then how do you want people to take an informed decision? They simply cannot.” (Why, by the way, is Reding such a fervent EU supporter? Could it have anything to do with the fact that she’s from Luxembourg, a country two-thirds the size of Rhode Island and with a population slightly larger than Fresno’s – meaning that without the EU, her political career would be toast?)

Euroskeptics aren’t just being maligned by a few European politicians. On the contrary, the superstate itself, in defiance of its own rules, is systematically – and clandestinely – targeting its critics. As the Telegraph reported the other day, secret EU documents describe a planned “propaganda blitz” designed to counter Euroskepticism in the run-up to the EU elections. Millions of taxpayer dollars willl be spent to identify and monitor anti-EU blogs and other media and to post pro-EU comments – undercover, of course – to balance out the criticism with the message “that the answer to existing challenges… is ‘more Europe’ not ‘less Europe.’”

With shenanigans like this afoot, it’s no wonder that it’s not just Britain that may be headed toward the exit. In the Netherlands, Geert Wilders’s Freedom Party – which, like the UKIP, has been steadily growing in public support in recent months – did something interesting: it commissioned a report by Capital Economics, a macroeconomics research firm in Britain, to determine what kind of economic impact the Netherlands would experience if it left the EU. The report, released on February 6, came to an unambiguous conclusion. Among the main points: eliminating EU overregulation in the Netherlands would “reduce the cost of doing business in the Netherlands by a minimum of €20 billion annually by 2035”; post-EU revisions in Dutch immigration policy would “reduce public expenditure by a minimum of €7.5 billion annually” by 2035; extra-European exports would climb; and macroeconomic cycles would be managed more effectively, resulting in €309 billion in added national income by 2035. Yes, there would be costs, but they’d be “modest and manageable.” Nor would banking stability or sovereign debt be imperiled.

In short, Dutch withdrawal from the EU (dubbed “NExit”) would represent “a long-term benefit to the Dutch economy and, more than likely, a short-term help in easing the Netherlands out of its current economic ills.” The Freedom Party succinctly summed up the impact NExit would have on Dutch households: “the Dutch economy will be 10 per cent bigger by 2024….The average annual benefit is almost 10,000 euros per household over the next two decades.” Wilders himself commented that, at a time when the Dutch economy is stagnating, the report “shows that leaving the EU is our way out of the crisis.” Freed from Brussels, “the Dutch will be able to cut taxes and reduce VAT and excise duties. The Dutch will no longer have to ship their tax money to Greece and will be able to stop paying welfare benefits to Romanians and Bulgarians.”

The report has had its critics. Mathijs Bouman, a classical liberal economist, finds it thorough and professional but strongly disputed many of its assumptions and conclusions. Then again, he’s a staunch champion of both the EU and the euro, so his response is hardly surprising. Yernaz Ramautarsing, the one-man anti-leftist juggernaut at the University of Amsterdam whom I wrote about here in December and met with in Amsterdam earlier this month, told me that while the report “will not convince opponents,” it will “force them to be more concrete about their plans for Europe.” Yernaz’s concern is that while the EU is anti-capitalist and anti-individual rights, so are most members of national parliaments across Europe. The Freedom Party supports free markets at the EU level, Yernaz said, but it “fails to protect free markets on a national level.”

Fair enough. Still, I can’t help taking immense pleasure at these anti-EU developments in both Britain and the Netherlands – because it seems crystal clear to me that the absolute and total demise of the corruption-ridden, regulation-happy, power-hungry EU is the necessary first step toward a Europe in which politicians who actually heed voters’ opinions aren’t reflexively smeared as low-life populists, in which sensible immigration policies aren’t routinely condemned from the bully pulpit in Brussels as unutterably racist, and in which the continent, from Cyprus to the Shetlands, isn’t ruled by remote, arrogant technocrats who view individual liberty as an antiquated concept and the democratic process as a hindrance to progress. 

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  • UCSPanther

    The cracks have been forming for years, and the EU will shatter with time.

    It will be well-deserved.

  • terra x

    Talk is cheap. The EU is an open market with no trade barriers, restrictions or tolls between all members. The UK does 1/3 of its trade, the Netherlands 1/2 of its trade within the EU.

    With an Exit, these nations would be forced to renegotiate their access to the 500 Million market and loose any form of political influence regarding the market.

    Ford, the UKs last remaining major car producer, warns it will reassess its UK presence if country leaves the EU and relocate in a member state.
    Goldman Sachs has warned European banks will quit London if UK leaves EU.
    The Dutch pharmaceutical industries are allready on a lookout for locations in Germany and France should in case of a Dutch EU exit.
    The 1/2 a million strong Dutch agricultural industrie, tailor-made for EU export, has forecast a compleat collapse of flower and vegetable exports and a take over of the market by Poland, Spain and France

    Wealth is not created by national whimsies or sensitivities, wealth is created by open markets and free trade. Its the basic rule of Capitalism.

    • davarino

      Ya, as long as you dont get the blood sucked out of you in the process. Have you ever had to do business with Europe? I’d rather poke myself in the eye with a sharp stick. Have fun with your brand of “capitalism”, while you have to choke down all the rest of the crap that goes along with it.

    • BagLady

      We can have trade agreements without the gravy train puffing between Strasbourg and Brussels. Failed politicians to and fro in stretch-black limos. Others in private jets. Each and every year the auditors, paid a great deal of money to make the books look good, have refused to sign off the accounts. This is the gentleman’s way of saying that the fraud and mismanagement is beyond their ability to hide.

      Such a system is doomed and should be done away with ASAP.

    • logdon

      You are obviously one of the planted trolls Bruce talks of.

      I guess also from your spelling that English is not your first language. We stopped using the spelling compleat some time ago and the last time I saw it was on the cover of Izaak Walton’s worthy tome on angling.

      Are you Frau Merkel’s sister in drag?

      Go away to the Guardian student debating forum aka CiF, where you belong.

      Your dubious rabble rousing and crying wolf have no place on a site where people think for themselves rather than jumping to the whiplash order of the commissar.

    • trapper

      The EU is not an open market. It is a protected market for the select.

    • Habbgun

      Yeah….yeah….the EU was sold as a means of ending tariffs but immediately became a governance organization. Without the EUnuchs over their shoulders free markets will adapt to the short term trade issues..

    • Ray

      It’s with tragic irony that you champion Ford as a reason for the UK to remain in the EU. Previously manufactured in Southampton, Ford took advantage of a cheap £80 million European Investment Bank (EIB) loan to upgrade it’s Koceali plant in Turkey,allowing new-generation Transit vans to be produced there, and promptly closed the Southampton plant.

      The UK, a major component of the EIB, is contributing towards replacing UK jobs with Turkish jobs. Sadly, the only winners from the UK membership of the EU reside elsewhere.

    • A Z

      Just because you call it free trade does not mean their is level playing field.

      If it is not tariffs then it is safety inspections.

      If is not safety inspections then it is a government suing a transnational which is not their transnational to dog it so that it loses its’ stride.

      France did that to Microsoft. Sic the legal dogs on them so your own homegrown company can take over market share.

      This will happen to Google in Russia and China. Watch & LEARN

  • Paul Weston

    Good stuff Mr Bawer, save on niggle: Viviane Reding does not want a United States of Europe. If the EU wanted to be modelled on the USA it would have done so from the start. Vladimir Bukovsky has pointed out the similarities between the power structures of the Soviet Union and the European Union, which one can only assume is why the socialists behind the EU adopted a name more in keeping with Communism than capitalism.

  • Martin Grimes

    Informative and refreshing. Do these two political parties stand alone or are there others waiting in the sidelines? Political parties from Denmark and France for example. This titan of a government we call the EU is now top heavy. It should fall on its own lacking the roots to sustain its branches….timber!

  • MukeNecca

    You can have Europe, or you can have EU. Not both.
    “European Union” has nothing to do with Europe. EU is a stage in the march driven by anti-western ideology designed to obliterate the individual historical, religious and cultural identity of different European nations, which until recently, was the key to the uniqueness of Europe.

    This Europe-hostile march is a part of a global process inspired by the eschatological vision of the “global village” smuggled into history by the maniacs of the Left – from Marx and Lenin to sundry Clintons, Obamas and Soroses. EU is doing to Europe what the Democrat Party is doing to the US. Poisoning it.

  • blert

    Brussels is in the business of moving money from Peter to Paul.

    NExit and the rest ruin their ‘business’ model.

  • It’sAllAboutLiberty!

    From think tanks to Chamberlainesque politicians, of course Left-protofascist European Union keenly uses media 24/7 to spread it’s propaganda. It’s orientation is becoming ever more a Nazi West German with Soviet East German breeding program.

    We must STOP NATIONALIST(HITLER) + MARXIST(STALIN) GENETIC MUTATION INTO LEFT-PROTOFASCIST EURO-SOCIALISM FROM METASTASIZING IN EUROPE & USA by assisting all True Conservative [fiscal, social, foreign policy/defence] Eurosceptic parties.

  • It’sAllAboutLiberty!

    Deleted

  • theyellowbear

    It really doesn’t matter now, does it?
    From what I have been reading, for some time now, the U.K. will be lost to the Muslims soon…