Read DH’s latest blogpost here. Fine stuff, but as he says, it sadly won’t happen.
Sod it: I might as well put it up anyway:-
Daniel Hannan: EU is ‘in a democratic mess’
The European Union is an economic, demographic and democratic mess, writes Daniel Hannan.
Published: 11:42AM GMT 21 Nov 2009
“It’s all very well to criticise, Hannan, but what would you do if you were in Van Rompuy’s shoes?” So asked a euro-enthusiast friend when I had finished tearing into Thursday night’s stitch-up.
It’s a fair question, and it won’t quite do to answer that I wouldn’t be starting from here. The EU is in an economic mess: its share of world GDP will fall from 26 per cent to 15 per cent in 2025. It is in a demographic mess: 40 years of low birth rates have left it with a choice between depopulation and mass immigration. And it is in a democratic mess, with turnouts plummeting.
- Herman Van Rompuy is David Cameron’s kind of guy
- Baroness Ashton ticks all the right EU boxes
- Brown congratulates Ashton on EU job
- Van Rompuy named as Europe’s first President
So what would I do? Step one is easy: I’d abolish the Common Agricultural Policy, thereby giving a greater boost to Europe’s economies than any number of bail-outs and stimulus packages. Food prices would fall sharply: the average family would save more than £1,000 a year in grocery bills, with the greatest savings being made by those on the lowest incomes. Scrapping the CAP would also be the single greatest gift Europe could give the Third World. It would remove the main barrier to a full WTO agreement. Oh, and it would take a penny off income tax into the bargain.
With the CAP out of the way, it would be easy enough to dismantle the rest of the Common External Tariff. I’d phase out all structural, cohesion and social funds, releasing armies of consultants and contractors to more productive work. Ditto the staffs of dozens of euro-quangos: the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs, the European Food Safety Authority, the European Chemicals Authority, the European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions and so on.
Now the biggie: deregulation. According to the Commissioner for Enterprise, Gunther Verheugen, the benefits of the single market are worth around 180 billion euros a year, while the cost of complying with Brussels rules is 600 billion euros. In other words, by its own admission, the EU costs more than it’s worth. The solution? Heap the bonfire with pages of the acquits communautaire: the EU’s amassed regulations. Scrap the directives that tell us what hours we can work, what vitamins we can buy, how long we can sit on tractors, how loudly we can play our music. Return power to national governments or, better, to local authorities – or, best of all, to individual citizens.
I would confine the EU’s jurisdiction to matters of a clearly cross-border nature: tariff reduction, environmental pollution, mutual product recognition. The member states would retain control of everything else: agriculture and fisheries, foreign affairs and defence, immigration and criminal justice, and social and employment policy.
The European Commission could then be reduced to a small secretariat, answering to national ministers. The European Court of Justice could be replaced by a tribunal that would arbitrate trade disputes. The European Parliament could be scrapped altogether; instead, seconded national MPs might meet for a few days every month or two to keep an eye on the bureaucracy.
You will, of course, have spotted the flaw in my plan: it would put an awful lot of Eurocrats out of work. Which, sadly, is why it won’t happen. For, whatever the motives of its founders, the EU is now chiefly a racket: a massive mechanism to redistribute money to those lucky enough to be on the inside of the system.
Daniel Hannan is Conservative MEP for South East England. Read his Telegraph blog here