October 28, 2012
In today’s civilized world couples separate on friendly terms, well almost. It happens – recent trend- that parties are also arranged with friends to celebrate the event.
It is now common knowledge that the UK wants to distance itself from the European Union; the British are not meaning a full-blown separation, they rather seek a courteous collaboration.A deeper analysis of the situation will help understand that history and culture are behind the British position and no aversion whatsoever toward the European partners subsists.
In Thatcher times the UK agreed to join the then “European Community” to conceive a market union indispensable to promote economies of scale among a closely intertwined number of countries; many barriers have fallen since then: customs-duty abolition, free movement of people, enhanced communication infrastructures, financial regulations, etc.
Along the years, the European Union has evolved and new reasons have brought about the advantage of implementing a solider union, largely motivated by the creation and functioning of the common currency, this is known as the Eurozone or Euro-area. The British argument is more about the Eurozone rather than the European Union at 27.
The United Kingdom statutes go back to when the Country was an empire and, prominently, they are based on the Crown which transcends the scope of the Country, and they are still in force!
The United Kingdom is a constitutional monarchy and includes 15 overseas territories. The Commonwealth countries (2012 update) share with the United Kingdom the same person as their monarch. Gibraltar is the only overseas territory included in the European Union.
Although Britain is among the most advanced democracies effectively, the monarch is as well the head of the Anglican Church (a theocratic State on paper). The Act of Settlement 1701, which is still in force, excluded Roman Catholics, or those who marry Catholics, from succession to the English throne.
This is in plain contrast with the EU treaty which enshrines effective democracy and a principle of laity and equal stance in front of religions and secular philosophical institutions.
From the Treaty of Lisbon preamble:
‘DRAWING INSPIRATION from the cultural, religious and humanist inheritance of Europe, from which have developed the universal values of the inviolable and inalienable rights of the human person, freedom, democracy, equality and the rule of law,’
More cultural differences making a union difficult include:
Defence policy presents another issue; the UK plans to withdraw from EU-wide co-operation on matters of crime and justice in favour of a reduced number of articles to be negotiated; besides, Britain has long shunned the Schengen open borders arrangement, probably due to the experience gained in the Commonwealth years . The failed merger between BAE and EADS might be at the core of the EU defence policy, as the UK is sensed to be closer to the USA rather than the European continent and still less close to the EU.
Eurozone countries have voted the introduction of a harmonised financial transaction tax (FTT) to make the financial sector contribute to the costs of the sovereign debt crisis. Ten countries have agreed to that: France, Germany, Austria, Belgium, Greece, Italy, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia and Spain. London has long been an important financial centre and Britain demands assurance from the EU that the new banking union will not undercut its own influence over financial regulation; others logically ask why London should remain the continent’s pre-eminent financial centre if the Country will not be part of the Eurozone; will the UK be considered in future a quasi-fiscal paradise?
The British Government has recently argued – rightly in my opinion – that the Eurozone budget be separated from that of the European Union. The financial needs of a tightly integrated monetary union are of a completely different order of magnitude than what can be provided by the EU budget. The inevitability of separate budgets is one of several reasons why the Eurozone is not sustainable, in the long term, as a Union within the EU. The “Project Europe 2030” already in march will develop an organisation that will become a federation or confederation in future; this will require a treaty change, also advocated by the Commission president José Manuel Barroso in his State of the Union speech.
The Chatham House-YouGov Survey 2012 has found that 48 per cent of UK citizens support an EU exit against just 31 per cent who would prefer to stay. A further incertitude is presented by the Scottish referendum on the separation from England to be held in October 2014.
Mr Cameron’s coalition, including Conservatives and Liberal-Democrats, was established in the Summer of 2010 and proceeding on thin ice; the Government plans to negotiate a series of concessions as the price for British consent to the treaty change that Eurozone group will need for deeper integration. If the present Government survives, the package could then be put to the British people – or the English without Scotland – in a referendum to be held after the next general elections, due in 2015.