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Thread: EU Single Market - built to last?

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    EU Single Market - built to last?

    I read an interesting piece of commentary recently that said the EU could collapse in the wake of the global recession because, basically, the prosperity that the single market has brought has been the only thing the EU has been able to sell itself on. People don't like Europe much, but are pursuaded by the fact it can help make them rich. This has been most evident in the Eastern European countries wanting to join, but is also true of Western Europeans too.

    So, with the global financial crisis leading to more calls for protectionism from ordinary people ("British Jobs for British Workers"), could we be seeing the beginning of the end for the Single Market and - by consequence - the EU itself? What could be done to stop this? Discuss..

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    Satyavrata Maciamo's Avatar
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    Good proof that you shouldn't trust everything you read. The Brits are famous Eurosceptics, and the British press is especially anti-EU (probably the only one in Europe). That's why the European movement decided to make a website for British people called What has Europe ever done for us ?. Must see if you have the slightest doubt about the benefits of the EU.
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    Thanks Maciamo, that's an interesting site. Actually I don't regard myself as a Euro-sceptic (although, in the liberal tradition, I think it's healthy for all citizens to have a certain of scepticism towards their goverment) and this article was - I think - in the Guardian, hardly a Euro-sceptic rag. Furthermore, I do quite resent the accusation that Brits are particularly Eurosceptic. The are several nations in Europe who haven't even bothered to engage with the European project - Norway, Switzerland, Iceland - and others who have thrown a spanner in the works just as many times as have the Brits (the Danes, for example). Let's not forget, it wasn't the British who wrecked Lisbon, was it? I'm not saying Britain is full of fervent Europhiles, but I do think it is unfair for people to continue singling us out as Eurosceptics - we are NOT especially Eurosceptic and actually have quite a long and proud tradition of being a leading player within "Europe".

    But, I digress, this was not the point of my post. My point was to highlight the danger that could exist if people began to "see through" the benefits of the internal market. This is not fear-mongering - there are already people and groups who point out that the internal market is unevenly and inconsistently applied (see www right2bet net for a good example), and political parties who campaign on platforms that say the internal market is bad news for ordinary people (the left-wing No2EU in the UK, for example).

    I'm staunchly pro-European but I'm also a free-marketeer. I worry that by not making a good enough case for the benefits of the free market, the EU could suffer and eventually wither. Please do not mistake my well-meaning concern for malicious criticism.

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    Satyavrata Maciamo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jbuk View Post
    Furthermore, I do quite resent the accusation that Brits are particularly Eurosceptic. The are several nations in Europe who haven't even bothered to engage with the European project - Norway, Switzerland, Iceland - and others who have thrown a spanner in the works just as many times as have the Brits (the Danes, for example).
    Not all Brits are Eurosceptics of course. According to polls it still well over one third of the population, and on some issues over half. This is why the UK hasn't joined the Euro-zone, or the Schengen visa agreement yet (although Norway, Iceland and Switzerland have).

    Let's not forget, it wasn't the British who wrecked Lisbon, was it?
    That's true, but many experts think that they would have if given the chance. That's why the British government tried to avoid a referendum at all cost. There is a segment of the population (in any country) that is far too influenceable by the media and lack the ability to understand the issues at stake. That's the weak point of democracy (well, referendums at least). Even the French and Dutch, who are usually quite Europhile, used the European Constitution referendum as a way of expressing their discontent at the current government (and how could they not, Chirac was still president at the time ).

    I'm not saying Britain is full of fervent Europhiles, but I do think it is unfair for people to continue singling us out as Eurosceptics - we are NOT especially Eurosceptic and actually have quite a long and proud tradition of being a leading player within "Europe".
    It is undeniable that at the top, British politicians have had a lot to say in EU matters. But too many Britons are still against the euro 10 years after its introduction (7 years after the actual notes and coins were released) for shallow reasons such as "we like to see our Queen on the banknotes, it makes us feel British" (despite the fact that Canadians and Australians, among others, have have the Queens on their banknotes and are not British). I am especially appalled by the way British tabloids never miss an opportunity to bash any work made in Brussels.


    I'm staunchly pro-European but I'm also a free-marketeer. I worry that by not making a good enough case for the benefits of the free market, the EU could suffer and eventually wither. Please do not mistake my well-meaning concern for malicious criticism.
    The EU's attraction is not just the free market. This was the starting point with the EEC. We have come a long way since then. I especially praise the EU's way of regulating/banning dangerous chemicals in everyday products (something that many individual states wouldn't have done themselves), or to curb prices on cross-border mobile phone calls and sms (something that had to be done at the pan-European level to be effective), or scold countries which banking system is clearly abusive towards their customers (like France).

    I wouldn't give that up, even if the free market had to be disabled (something I cannot envisage in today's increasingly globalised world).

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    I would advise against arguments such as "the public is too easily influenced by the media" and "they can't understand the issues". Those are just base insults, and impossible to substantiate. I have also never heard anybody say that wanted to keep the pound because the notes have the queen's head on them? But even if I had, I don't think I would call such a person "shallow", as you do.

    The EU's biggest successes have been in the area of the free market. All of the things that you point to - regulation of the chemical industry, the capping of mobile phone charges, and the regulation of banks - are all part of this; they are things done to enhance the operation of the EU's internal market. I have no problem with reams and reams of EU directives and legislation coming into force to make sure that the internal market operates smoothly, effectively and fairly. I just wish they would do more of this stuff and do a good job of advertising it: as I said in my previous post, not everybody agrees that the internal market is being implemented fairly (see the right2bet website for one example, but there are countless others).

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