Another rebuttal to the EU
After posting below on the responses of Greg Lance-Watkins and This England to 50 supposed EU benefits, we received this rebuttal to the EU from Ewen Stewart and Mark Wallace of the Better Off Out campaign. We offer it today on the 50th anniversary of the unhappy Treaty of Rome.
1 The end of war between European nations.
Nato has kept the peace in Europe, not the EU.
2 Democracy is now flourishing in 27 countries.
All of whose national Parliaments are over-ruled by the undemocratic EU Commission.
3 Once-poor countries such as Ireland, Greece and Portugal are now prospering.
Largely due to changes in their own economic policies, and even the benefits of the single market could be obtained cheaper through EFTA. Meanwhile, Spain and Italy are officially suffering economically due to the Euro.
4 The creation of the world's largest internal trading market.
Which by the Commission's own admission costs three times as much to run as it generates in income, and limits trade with the outside world.
5 Unparalleled rights for European consumers
A policy that any sovereign parliament could introduce by itself – there is no need for the EU to do this.
6 Co-operation on continent-wide immigration policy.
Which means that no member state has the right to decided who crosses its borders within the EU, whilst anyone from outside is arbitrarily disciminated against. Why should unskilled Europeans have more migration rights than highly qualified Commonwealth citizens?
7 Co-operation on crime through Europol.
With policies like the European Arrest Warrant that ride roughshod over individual liberty, and the proposed abolition of the veto on Justice and Home Affairs which will allow the freedoms guaranteed by the British legal system to be standardised out of existence.
8 Laws that make it easier for British people to buy property in Europe
As with point 5, this is nothing that cannot be negotiated between sovereign nations.
9 Cleaner beaches and rivers throughout Europe
Replacing laws that any nation can introduce if it wishes, with such success that parts of the Mediterranean are some of the most polluted waters in the world.
10 Four weeks statutory paid holiday a year for workers in Europe.
And Working Time legislation that will ban people from working as many hours as they would like to.
11 No death penalty (it is incompatible with EU membership)
If a democratic country wants to introduce the death penalty, it should have the right to. Why is it a good thing that voters will no longer have control of their own criminal justice system?
12 Competition from privatised companies means cheaper phone calls.
We already have the free market, thank you. And what about the Commission trying to centrally set roaming charges for mobile phones, irrespective of competition?
13 Small EU bureaucracy (24,000 employees, fewer than the BBC)
Recent research has shown that the number is closer to 50,000 but the EU is not disclosing the numbers accurately. Also, the European Free Trade Area authority runs that system with a fraction of this number.
14 Making the French eat British beef again.
After allowing them to flout EU law for several years running.
15 Minority languages, such as Irish, Welsh and Catalan recognised and protected.
Not to mention Double Dutch, which thrives in EU regulations. The EU spends huge amounts of taxpayers' money translating between every conceivable combination of languages. Maltese to Gaelic, anyone?
16 Europe is helping to save the planet with regulatory CO2 cuts.
With policies like the Emissions Trading Scheme, which was so mismanaged it actually printed more permits than CO2 was produced already.
17 One currency from Bantry to Berlin (but not Britain).
The Euro, that even Commission advisers accept is damaging the economies of the members, and that it has been proven Britain is better off without.
18 Europe-wide travel bans on tyrants such as Zimbabwe's Robert Mugabe.
Many of Mugabe's aids and representatives can still travel, of course, and it is clear from recent news that not being able to go on holiday to Bruges has inexplicably failed to dent his abusive activities in Zimbabwe.
19 The EU gives twice as much aid to developing countries as the United States.
The EU acts as an extremely inefficient middle man for distributing our aid budgets, reducing the amount that actually reaches the developing world. EU protectionism deprives the world's poor of far more money in lost trade than we give.
20 Strict safety standards for cars, buses and aircraft.
The British travel safety record has been excellent for a very long time. Also, the EU's safety policies are ridiculous – the recent introduction of compulsory booster seats for 12 year-olds, for a start.
21 Free medical help for tourists.
And new EU rulings looking to force the NHS to cover the cost of British health tourists who travel abroad to skip the queue.
22 EU peacekeepers operate in trouble spots throughout the world.
With successes where? The EU was hardly effective with Bosnia, and even now postures ineffectively towards Sudan. Worse, there is a growing attempt to introduce an EU army, challenging the authority of national parliaments over armed forces and compete with Nato.
23 Europe's single market has brought cheap flights to the masses and new prosperity for forgotten cities.
This is not down to the EU at all. Increased competition in the aviation industry and improved technology has reduced prices. Also, I thought the EU is trying to clamp down on CO2 emissions (remember point 16?) Make your mind up!
24 Introduction of pet passports.
You've still got 26 more to come up with after this, are you sure this is the best you can do?
25 It now takes only 2 hours 35 minutes from London to Paris by Eurostar.
Which wasn't an EU project. (Although the financial mess it is in certainly has echoes of Brussels).
26 Prospect of EU membership has forced modernisation on Turkey.
Such as? Turkey continues to bring prosecutions against journalists, academics and artists who criticise the nation. In an edifying bit of playground diplomacy, France has outlawed about denial of the Armenian genocide just to antagonise the Turks
27 Shopping without frontiers gives consumers more power to shape markets.
Of course free trade is a good thing, but why it does not take a huge political construct to facilitate it. Also, the EU's tariffs against outside trade block consumer access to the vast majority of the global market.
28 Cheap travel and study programmes means greater mobility for Europe's youth.
Thousands of whom abscond without paying their fees.
29 Food labelling is much clearer.
Why does this need to be done at EU level?
30 No tiresome border checks (apart from in the UK).
Yes, you too can now transport drugs across an entire continent without border checks! If Turkey joins the EU there will be an open run between the Iraq border and Calais. Discuss.
31 Compensation for passengers suffering air delays.
Surely this, too, can be done by national parliaments?
32 Strict ban on animal testing for the cosmetic industry.
Like the death penalty, ethical choices should be left to the elected representatives of the people. Not to mention the free market.
33 Greater protection for Europe's wildlife.
Very little of which is enforced properly if at all. The Common Fisheries Policy has been an ecological disaster.
34 Regional development fund has aided the deprived parts of Britain.
Taking people's money in taxes, charging an admin fee and then giving what is left back. Are they meant to say thank you?
35 European driving licenses recognised across the EU.
As they were previously through bilateral agreements.
36 Britons now feel a lot less insular.
Can anyone else hear a barrel being scraped? The EU is a Eurocentric, unstoppably inward-looking project. The 21st century will be characterised by the booms in India and China and an increasingly global outlook, whilst the EU continues to navel-gaze.
37 Europe's bananas remain bent, despite sceptics' fears.
The rule against overly curvy bananas does actually exist! This is after all an organisation that subsidises tobacco farming and funds anti-smoking advertising.
38 Strong economic growth –greater than the United States last year.
Even including last year, the EU is lagging behind its competitors and has done for decades. This might just have something to do with the huge burden of regulation on business.
39 Single market has brought the best continental footballers to Britain.
They have actually been attracted by the huge growth in wealth of the football industry, and there was always provision to grant players work permits.
40 Human rights legislation has protected the rights of the individual.
And made a fudge of the British legal system, preventing criminals being pursued with the full vigour of the law.
41 European Parliament provides democratic checks on all EU laws.
When the laws are initiated by undemocratic bodies like the Commission, are we supposed to be grateful that there is a Parliament there just to rubber stamp them?
42 The EU gives more, not less, sovereignty to nation states.
Eh? How? The EU now makes 80% of laws over the heads of national parliaments and has direct control of swathes of government policy.
43 Maturing EU is a proper counterweight to the power of US and China.
In their dreams – economically and politically the EU is a declining basket-case.
44 European immigration has boosted the British economy.
This is debatable, and even if it is true, would it not be best for immigration policy to be controlled by our own elected Parliament?
45 Europeans are increasingly multilingual – except Britons, who are less so.
Education policy has nothing to do with the EU. Also, didn't you claim in point 36 that the EU was making Britons less insular?
46 Europe has set Britain an example how properly to fund a national health service.
Are we still talking about why the EU is a good thing, or just describing European nations now? I agree the NHS could learn a lot, but the continental systems are not down to the EU.
47 British restaurants now much more Cosmopolitan.
True, but it has happened in New York and Sydney, too - this is due to cultural changes in the anglosphere, not EU policies.
48 Total mobility for career professionals in Europe.
Whilst the EU is increasing restrictions on non-EU professionals, such as the new recruitment regulations on doctors.
49 Europe has revolutionised British attitudes to food and cooking.
Hello? The headline was "Reasons to love the EU", remember, not reasons to like European food.
50 Lists like this drive eurosceptics mad.
This is the most accurate point yet. Here's a sobering thought for you – an opinion poll this week showed 41% of British people believe they would be better off out of the EU, whilst only 25% believe they are better off in. Perhaps annoying them isn't the best tactic?