David Cameron insisted on Wednesday that a ”one-size-fits-all” approach to the EU was misguided. He continued: ”Let us not be misled by the fallacy that a deep and workable single market requires everything to be harmonised, to hanker after some unattainable and infinitely level playing field.”
Mr Cameron seems to have missed 1967, when the European Economic Community became the European Communities via the merging of several treaties of overlapping membership. These treaties were collectively no longer purely economic in nature, and the Union has since moved further towards non-economic harmonisation in areas such as human rights and notably, albeit with difficulty, foreign policy.
Ironically, the man who missed what was by many accounts a great year (also, the year the UK announced the decision to apply for EEC membership) and thus has been left under a dark rock on the progress of the continent is also misleading British nationals as he accuses others of doing. In order to maintain the confidence of conservative euro skeptics, Cameron misleads the public consistently on the effects of EU membership, both economic and other.
President Obama’s comment expressing concern at the direction of the current UK debate came as a shock to many, coming from a state which values self-determination so highly in its foreign policy. The President’s involvement highlights the economic, human rights and foreign policy suicide that a UK exit has the potential to bring about, both at home and abroad.
It is worth noting that outside the Union, the UK has almost negligible human rights obligations under either domestic or international law, as well as few remaining trade treaties by which to float its economy over the competitive edge of the continental members. This is particularly poignant for the agricultural sector, which could deepen the state,s triple dip recession from either unemployment or a government attempt to match CAP subsidies.
The EU membership debate is a symptom of a more serious disease in the UK’s political body. The failure of successive budgets to improve high school and adult education, as well as political engagement more broadly, has led to record levels of disengagement and disenfranchisement since the turn of the millennium (source: http://www.ukpolitical.info). Sadly, the FPTP system gives no incentive for either the conservatives or labour to attempt another electoral reform. This means the EU issue has fallen amongst the pile of issues debated most fiercely on only the hard right and non-centred left of the parliamentary divide, putting the purpose of political manoeuvring in fierce competition with national interest.
The UK needs to look around at the advice being given, and who it’s coming from. It needs to start to look at Europe as an ends, not just means. Most importantly though, Europe needs to accept that a UK exit could be a chance for progress, from disentangle NATO issues, and to tackle its own serious recession crises without a veto power from an uncommitted state muddying the English Channel.