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Sunday, June 12, 2005

Which Way for Europe

The following item is from The Independent. It illustrates why the EU will probably never progress beyond what it is today, or indeed, regress following the French and Dutch “no” votes to the Constitution. As the article says, Europe is at an historic crossroads. Given the diversity that is Europe, I have formed the view that the EU will probably mean little more than a common currency (the UK excepted) and freer borders, but that is about all.

So, which way for Europe?
Constitutional Europe:
Builds on the status quo with reforms to make the EU work better. Drawn up after more than two-and-a-half years under the chairmanship of the former French president, it is the result of compromises and trade-offs. It combines existing treaties into one text and changes EU decision making structures to help an enlarged EU operate more efficiently. It includes a voting system linked to population size. Nations in favour: Spain, Italy, Greece.

United States of Europe:
It describes a division of responsibility between a central authority and states, regions or provinces. But is usually coupled with the term “superstate” in Britain, or shorthand for closer European integration, for example on the economy, taxation, agriculture and the environment. Nations in favour: Luxembourg, Belgium.

Free Trade Europe:
This is the British model under which European co-operation is limited or kept at an inter-governmental level. The cornerstone is seen as the single market, allowing free movement of goods and eliminating trade barriers. Britain has won new allies with the accession of Eastern European nations which tend to be more Atlanticist in instinct and put greater onus on free markets and competition that social protection. Nations in favour: UK, Poland, Estonia.

Multi-speed Europe:
An idea debated much over the past decade which would allow an inner core of countries, probably based on France, Germany and the Benelux, to forge ahead with closer integration, leaving Britain in the slow lane. It already exists with the single currency and the passport free zone. If France and Germany could agree on common objectives they might use the mechanism to boost economic co-operation in the eurozone. Nations in favour: France, Germany.

60 years ago, who would have thought of a Franco-Germanic alliance? It does explain the “no” vote and clearly Britain is on the outer in Europe. It certainly calls into question the direction of the EU, and from that I think we can expect to see stronger ties between Britain and the USA.

What does this mean for NZ? Well, no matter which way Europe goes, trade will not become any easier for us. A free trade deal with the US is unlikely to happen in my lifetime and just maybe we are right to turn our attentions to Asia. One thing is absolutely for certain, the Commonwealth really means nothing to our traditional partners.

And yes, we will continue to queue in the “Aliens” aisle at Heathrow while Germans et el breeze through passport and visa free – my grandfather will be spinning.

By Sir Humphrey's Guest Blogger, Paul

Posted by Lucia Maria | 6/12/2005 07:25:00 pm


Blogger Adolf Fiinkensein said...

And their elitist Leftie leadership thought they could be a super power? Super spagetti/saurkraut/bouillabaise, maybe.

6/12/2005 07:47:00 pm  
Blogger Paul said...

Adolf, that is the really interesting thing, they all deluded themselves into thinking they could pull such a thing off.

Typically with the left, they sing from the same hymn sheet, but actually just can't work with each other. Leadership by committee or union ... HA!

Bit like Labour, the Greens and whatever Anderton will go by this time round.

6/12/2005 08:36:00 pm  
Blogger Lucyna said...

I wonder if Germany will change their direction after their elections? I saw on Berlin Bear's site a poll result which saw a dramatic swing to the right there. Quite amazing for such a socialist country.

Hope I got the formatting right, Paul, as to what what your writing and what came out of the Independant.

6/12/2005 08:59:00 pm  
Blogger ZenTiger said...

Lucyna, I'm so glad you put the link in to credit Paul. Now I know that his name is Paul and erm, that as well as his name being Paul, he's done a good post on Sir Humphreys about the EU.

6/12/2005 09:31:00 pm  
Blogger Paul said...

Lucyna, you got it just right! Thanks. I think the analysis also helps us understand the Iraq issue too, the UK vs the French and Germans vis-a-vis the USA ... interesting times.

6/12/2005 09:52:00 pm  
Blogger Berend de Boer said...

Stronger ties between the US and Britain? I doubt it. The Labour Party in Britain hates the US as much as any socialist, and Tony Blair is the lone exception. The conservative top in the UK is right now just a bunch of wackos, no betting on what they might be doing. But it's clear that the Nation as a whole deeply distrusts the US. Britain has decided for socialism.

I believe Europe will continue like it is now, just muddle on. Their wellfare states are collapsing the next 10 years, and that might lead to more individualism between the states.

Things might change more dramatically if we get political leaders that will take their country out of the Euro, but I don't believe that will happen.

6/13/2005 09:15:00 am  

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