Originally posted to Facebook, 26th June, 2016. Edited for clarity.
I was asked:
“What are examples of things that the EU have control over that you don’t like? When you say, “we get considerable sovereignty back over stuff that I think is important”, do you have examples of things ? Like, I don’t think I count pressure to join the single currency because we’re pretty good at pushing back.”
So, I generally disapprove strongly in principle of the whole system of decision-making on a European level. I don’t know the exact history of how it came about or whether it was intentional, but we ended up with is a system that has a floating layer of Eurocrats making policy who are totally untouchable by the people they’re ruling over, supported by elected governments whose individual voting power is sufficiently diluted that very few of them have any real control over what is happening, and both elected and unelected politicians then blame each other for stuff that people don’t like, preventing anyone from ever being held accountable for any of it.
So I don’t like that as a matter of principle, but if you want specific examples of things I don’t like that either affected us directly or we collaborated in, off the top of my head:
* I was really pissed off in 2005 when the EU Constitution was rejected by the French and the Dutch and they responded by amending all of the existing treaties and bringing most of its provisions despite the vote. We just ratified it without comment.
* In 2008 when the Irish rejected the Lisbon Treaty, I was really annoyed that they immediately ran a second referendum which won because the No campaign has spent all of its money on the first one and the Irish government put up a shit ton of money to crush the opposition. Again, we just ratified it without comment.
* In the 2011 Greek referendum debacle, Prime Minister George Papandreou insisted that the terms of the ECB bailout should be put to the Greek people given how insanely harsh they were, and political pressure was put on him by EU leaders until he cancelled the referendum and just legislated the bailout in the face of mass public opposition.
* In the 2015 Greek referendum debacle, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras called a referendum on the terms of the bailout and won a rejection of it by 2-1. In return, Merkel, Hollande and Schauble summoned him to a room and proceeded to harangue him for over four hours over all the terrible things they would do to his country until he finally caved and pushed through the bailout is the face of mass opposition and by this time increasing poverty and hunger of the Greek people.
* I really, really dislike that we have a European President. I dislike the fact that the office exists at all given it was rejected in the EU Constitution of 2005 by the French and the Dutch. I really dislike the fact that that office is filled exclusively by former EU Prime Ministers, and I hate that Presidents are selected through quiet conversations and lobbying behind closed doors dinners of the EU heads of state.
* Until the eurozone crash of 2008 and the migrant crisis distracted them, people were starting to talk quite seriously of establishing a foreign affairs minister to speak on behalf of the entire EU on foreign affairs, and establishing a European Army to promote peace-keeping missions. I think centralising either of these areas would inevitably lead to imperialist interventions in other people’s countries and quite possibly war with Russia (imagine if they had had such a force when Putin walked into the Ukraine last year).
* Generally there is no way of publicly protesting European policies, because the institutions that form it are deliberately split up all over the continent and are hard to get to. When I wanted to demonstrate against the proposed intervention in Syria in December, I caught a tube to outside Parliament and we shouted loud enough that we were heard inside the chamber. If I want to protest some piece of European legislation, I first have to find out what byzantine institution is discussing it, then I have to fly to another country, find that building, and then tell a whole bunch of Eurocrats who are wholly unused to public opposition and have sent security guards to shoo away anyone who does turn up what I think of them.
This is not democracy and the reason I have always laughed when people talk about “reforming” it is because the only reforms ever proposed have been in exactly the wrong direction.