On the money side, while it's true that Britain pays in more than it gets out (as do all of the wealthiest countries in the EU), it's important to remember that a lot of that money is going to fund economic development in the rest of the EU which, as you pointed out, are amongst our major trading partners. Also worth noting that the poorer parts of the UK also receive regional development funds - it's not all going to Eastern Europe.
If the UK wants to retain the trade benefits of being in Europe (and this benefit is clear if you work in any kind of cross-border business) then it needs to at least remain in the European Economic Area. While in theory this could be done while leaving the EU (Norway is an EEA member but not an EU member), what is gained by this? Britain would still be obliged to follow EU market regulations, but would no longer be able to vote on them.
There seems to be a belief that we would receive some separate cushy trade deal from the EU, since Britain is so special, but there are several countries' governments I can see acting vinidictively in the event of a British exit.
Britain already has one of the cushiest deals in the EU. An opt out on the Euro, optouts on Justice and Home Affairs legislation and a rebate on contributions which means we pay less than another country of equivalent revenues would. And it would be tragic if we throw all this away with something like 51%/49% split in the referendum.
One thing I have considered however, although this doesn't directly affect the UK since they are still on their own currency, is what is happening in the EU as a result of the common currency. You have countries like Germany that are thriving, with very low unemployment and strong economies, while you have countries like Greece and Spain which are essentially in depressions. The issue is there appears to be no way out of their death spiral. Because Greece and Spain are now dependent on EU loans, they are now in a state if indentured servitude. They cannot devalue their own currency to become competitive and as a consequence, they are now beholden to the other countries. I am honestly not certain how that may mitigate itself.
How to deal with economic disparities within the Eurozone is a problem, and not one I entirely understand. As I understand it, this is part of the purpose of the regional development fund - to channel money towards the poorer parts of Europe. Isn't this essentially how the US deals with economic disparity amongst its states? It's not like West Virginia can devalue its currency either.
This is, of course, not so relevant to Britain, since the UK and Denmark negotiated opt-outs before signing the Maastricht treaty that exempt them from any obligation to ever adopt the Euro.
What the immigrant issue and the Greece bankruptcy issue has demonstrated to me is that the EU is more about corporate security and banker security than it is about people.
In other words corporate oligarchy over popular democracy in decision making.
I'm not really sure how you tie the immigrant issue into an idea of corporate oligarchy running the EU. If by immigrants you mean the refugee crisis, then I'm not sure the corporate oligarchy would have a unified view on the issue. And given that it's an issue which divides both the European Council and European popular opinion you're not making much of a coherent point here.
Worth bearing in mind, however, is the enormous day-today benefits we gain from the unification of the European market and the abolition of trade barriers. Maybe I'm biased on account of the fact that most jobs I've had in my adult life involve doing business with people in foreign countries, but the process is always cheaper and easier when it's happening within the EEA. Euopean competition rules have shattered many national monopolies across Europe by forcing them to open up markets to competition from the rest of Europe.
And the important point is that the abolition of barriers applies equally to labour as to capital. I can move freely within the European Union and it is illegal for any member state to discriminate against me on the basis of nationality. This has been an enormous boon to me, though I can understand how someone who lives ten miles from where they grew up only sees this freedom only as an invitation for foreigners to invade his territory.
And the EU gave to Britain for the first time an effective Bill of Rights, and yet this epochal acheivement is one of the things many in favour of leaving see as the problem.
One other issue in the EU is the manner in which regulations are being handled. Regulations exist the world over, but there are now many cases emerging in the EU where larger corporations are using stricter EU regulations to push out smaller businesses who have a more difficult time conforming to the broader laws. Now I am not anti-regulation by any stretch of the imagination, but at the same time, the way the laws and the influence exists in the EU, specific regulatory initiatives can be enacted that a larger corporation can easily absorb as part of their cost structure versus a smaller ma and pa outfit that runs on narrow margins.
National governments also regulate markets, however, so this is hardly a problem unique to the EU. The cross-border harmonisation of market standards does, however, make it much easier for said ma and pa outfit to branch out and open an second store across the border in Lille - something that was never a problem for the big company with a team of lawyers equipped to deal with 28 separate regulatory regimes.
Once again, it comes down to how the regulatory environment is influenced and how the regulations operate within the EU structure. One of the cases cited by Brexit proponents was a situation where a UK small business owner, a salmon smoker (note: someone who makes smoked salmon, not someone who rolls salmon doobies ) had to spend copious amounts of money on the packaging of his product to conform to the allergy regulations of the EU that require any fish product to be labelled as containing 'fish'. And even though his market was local, he still had to conform to this regulation, which cost him thousands of pounds per year in paper work and associated labeling costs.
It is certainly true that recent EU regulations require allergy labelling on packaging. This is not some magic result of them being EU regulations, however. The same would be the case if they were national laws. In considering whether this is something imposed on Britain against its will, I ahd a look a the voting records of the European Council - the UK government voted for this legislation.
That's just the government of course, not the Parliament, which is supposed to be the sovereign body. What happened when the act enshrining this into British law was laid before Parliament? Well, they voted it into law.*
That aside I cannot fathom how this would cost him thousands in paperwork. Restaurants round here met the regulations by printing new versions of their menus with allergy notes. One simply printed a white A4 sheet of paper. This 'thousands of pounds per year' sounds like bollocks to me.
*I had intended to cite the result of the vote in the Commons, but this is frustrating difficult to find. Frustrating since I know it's freely available online. Some work needs to be put into Hansard's search functions when knowing the name of an Act of Parliament and the year it was voted on is insufficient to locate the result of the vote on it.
Now granted this is likely an extreme case. If it even exists since the person citing this example was a staunch anti-EU individual. Nonetheless, as we have all realized in our own election cycle, once something is posited (build a UUGE wall for example), the counter-points to the argument are often lost or ineffectual.
And this is the most frustrating of all. So much of the debate is totally disconnected from any real problems with the EU (which, of course, there are). It's about made up nonsense like straight bananas.
Yes, and it's highly likely, almost inevitable that that will happen.
Which is quite interesting from a historical perspective, since when Britain had a referendum on whether to leave the EEC back in the seventies, the Scottish were much more likely to vote in favour of leaving than the English. The only counties in the whole UK where a majority voted to leave were the Shetlands and the Western Isles.
Two things: first I lump refugee with wilful immigrants -- both are looking to improve their lot -- and second I think immigration should be without barrier or constraint, certainly without being penned up in counterproductive camps. If more people were able to vote with their feet perhaps wars would not be so prevalent.
But they would also tend to go where the benefits and pay are better, so companies would have to up their share to the workers to keep workers. Corporations tend to like keeping a cadre of cheap(er) labor.
One of the founding principles of the EU is free and unrestricted movement within the EU - that's the whole point.
I'm a bit confused by what you're saying about the refugee crisis, though. I think you need to distinguish between the actions of the EU, and actions of member states.
Going to a common currency certainly helped unify the various states in the early US history, so a common currency is not a bad idea, but does it need a whole government structure to implement? Would not the world benefit from a single currency if that were the case? Probably.
By unification of the market I don't mean the single currency - the EU as a whole still has about ten currencies after all. I mean the free movement of goods, labour, services and capital.
The abolition of trade barriers between states was also a good thing in the early US history, but the elimination of trade barriers between countries (NAFTA etc) with significant differences in the way workers are treated has been a disaster for the middle class workers in the US as jobs are shipped overseas for cheaper labor and lower safety and environmental controls.
But the EU is fundamentally different than something like NAFTA; since the free movement of [i]labour[i] is enshrined into it's law along with the free movement of goods and capital. And this is one of the reasons we have a common governance structure - to enforce minimum standards of labour rights and environmental controls across the open market.
We've created a zone of open borders where people can move where they like and, upon settling in a new country, immediately become legally equivalent to a citizen in almost every respect. Doesn't this sound like the sort of thing you were looking for?
On a side bar, Rupert Murdoch's Sun Newspaper has endorsed the 'Leave' campaign.
And in other breaking news, day followed night, people eat food, and the Pope is in favour of Catholicism.
I am somewhat frustrated that the Remain campaign is not making more of Tuesday's ruling at the European Court of Justice. Brussels had challenged Britain's policy to limit benefits to certain foreign citizens who didn't work, but on Tuesday the ECJ ruled the UK governments measures were consistent with EU law. Wouldn't this be a perfect case study against the idea of Brussels dictating rules to Britain?
If, as you say, it is a nation state, then is it a member of the EU? In fact it would not even qualify to get into the EU but because it is surrounded by an EU state, Italy, it is inextricably linked to the EU but not governed by it. Although recently they have been forced to pay taxes on all non-religious properties including residential spaces and shopping malls. So yeah they don't have to pay taxes on church and religious buildings. This makes them above the EU super-state in my eyes.
What a bizarre collection of non-sequiturs.
I'm not sure it makes sense to describe the Vatican as a nation state, but it's recognised as a sovereign state by most of the world. It's not in the EU, but then nor are Switzerland or Albania. EU membership is not a requirement.
I do not know the EU treaties oif by heart, but I'm pretty confident there is nothing in there forbidding states whose territory is surrounded by an EU member-state from joining.
No one pays taxes to the EU. The EU has no powers of direct taxation. I believe you're talking about the fact that Italy ended tax-exempt status for church property which was not actually a religious property, like a church or monastery. But this only applies to property on Italian soil, not that on the (tiny) bit of land recognised as sovereign Vatican territory. None of this has anything to do with the EU, though.
The US and Italy are investigating the Vatican over the Vatican's Tax Affairs? And what other matters are being investigated?
To what end? Neither the US nor Italy have any enforcement authority over the Vatican any more than they have enforcement authority over the UK or Russia or any other Nation State.
They would have to the extent that the Vatican owns property in the US or Italy. The Catholic Church does have to pay taxes on the property it owns; despite having various exemptions in different countries due to absurd, antiquated laws; so there's no reason a government couldn't be investigating it for tax evasion.
I've been thinking about what happens in the event of a ridiculously close vote to leave. Legally, the government is under no obligation to obey the referendum results; but politically of course it would be suicidal to ignore a leave vote.
But what if the leave vote gets something like 50.2%? It seems to me that it would then be perfectly justifiable to hold a second referendum after we actually know the terms on which Britain would leave. However, I'm sure that would be perceived and treated a underhanded vacillation and an attempt to evade the public will. And the knowledge that a second referendum would follow would be a big incentive for other EU states to refuse any terms even remotely favourable to Britain.
The older farts pass away in large numbers every day and the younger ones aren't so myopic and destructive. The young folks in every E.U country (France, Greece, and yes the U.K.) are like 80 to 20 in favor of the relatively anti-nationalistic European Union.
Only the old fools want out.
While this is of course an exaggeration, it does raise an important point about the whole referendum business. If only people under the age of 50 voted, the result would be a convincing victory for the Remain vote, according to opinion polls. And yet it's the younger generaitons who are going to have to live with the consequences of this vote the longest.
I used to be very much in favour of referenda, but I'm starting to question that. The results of a general election can be undone in about 5 years; that's not the case with a major constitutional change like this.
Surely it's the older 'rotting' generation who, having witnessed the changes, are in the best position to cast an appropriate vote. The young fools have nothing to compare against. Now I am not saying things were great in the good old days, I remember things being pretty bad, but there was more freedom, less surveillance, and you could even kick a can down the road without getting a fine.
We have similar problems with voting here. Old people who vote Communist since they remember that, when the Communists were in power, their hips worked, they were prettier, and they didn't need to get up twice in the night to piss. Things were clearly better then.