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Europe and the 1.7 Billion Euros Bill.


Lisa O`Brien
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In my day I was very familiar with all the ins-and-outs of NATO Common Funding.  The EU is run very differently but what I'm sure both organisations have in common is that the rules in force will have been agreed by all participating nations.  The Commission will not simply have dreamt this procedure up last week and, without knowing when we signed-up to it - as I'm certain we must have done - perhaps that was at a time when the Treasury felt that the UK was always more likely to be eligible for a refund under the procedure?  Whatever the case, the request has certainly arrived at a singularly inappropriate time in terms of UK domestic politics!

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The trouble is, whatever the realities, the perception is going to be that the UK is always having to hand over money, and all it gets in return is a bunch of idiotic rules designed to separate us from our heritage and turn us into an obscure European outpost, and a free flow of immigrants from the poorer part of the EU. The EU supporters in the government have got to make a clearer case about why British membership is an advantage rather than a liability.

 

I'm not a particular fan of the EU, especially the ambitions of certain elements in the European Commission hierarchy to effectively do away with national sovereignty in favour of an overarching "United States of Europe" single-county utopia, but realistically, in this day and age, the UK isn't going to prosper by standing alone, and I also wouldn't like to see it becoming any more of a US lapdog than it is already. I think it's a difficult situation, but also one that's being addressed with more emotion than thought, thanks to the way some of the tabloids are managing to hit people's buttons about things like immigration.

Edited by Melody
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Yes.  After the Scottish referendum, I'm even more unconfident of the British electorate's ability to look at all the issues with a clear mind and vote on that basis, rather than on one small component of the whole :(

 

But a referendum we shall have.

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taxi4ballet - they go oink as they flap!  Seriously though, I agree.  Like many grand schemes, in theory it is wonderful but in practice it just isn't working.  It is horrendous that the auditors of the EU haven't been able to sign off the accounts as being accurate for years.  Does anyone know the last time they did?  If it were a commercial enterprise it would have gone bankrupt long ago, with many charges of fraud.  Can it ever work - I don't know.  It would be nice if it did but I have serious doubts.

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From the point of view of a confirmed Eurosceptic, the EU was sold to the U.K. as a sort of grand free trade agreement.  It has since morphed into a far more complex arrangement and I wonder whether the vote to join, or in the subsequent referendum to remain a member, would have carried if we had known how it would evolve. I even remember Edward Heath saying, after he had retired from active politics, that "it was always intended that the European Common Market would become an all-encompassing federation".  A pity he didn't point that out at the time.

 

I suppose one is either in favour of being part of a federal system, or one is not, but regardless of the principle of the thing I doubt if anyone can be really happy with the present situation.  The accounts are a disgrace.  So is the waste of money involved in the lumbering bureaucracy and the remuneration and expenses for MEPs.  A shameful few of the British population vote in the European elections and even fewer, I suspect, can name their MEP or state the party to which they belong.  How many of us know the European parties with which our national parties are aligned?  For most of us it would seem that dissatisfaction or anger over rules about employment, immigration, deportation of convicted EU criminals, the size and shape of fruit and vegetables and now it seems the strength of our vacuum cleaner motors is the main effect of membership.  Meanwhile we have alienated some of the Commonwealth countries because of EU trade restrictions. 

 

The general view seems to be that we can't go it alone.  And certainly the overseas global conglomerates (Japanese car industry, U.S. financial sector to name but two) seem to want us to stay as a sort of "all areas pass" into European markets.  But we're paying a terribly heavy price - and I don't just mean the £1.7 billion additional charges.  Sometimes I wish I were Swiss or Norwegian ...

 

And to add, as a final point - whoever dreamed up the idea of the Euro and thought that a single currency would work for economies as diverse as Germany and Greece must have been mad.

 

Edited to add final point.

Edited by AnneMarriott
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I've often suspected that the person who dreamed up the idea of the Euro had no intention of it being used by economies as diverse as Germany and Greece - I assume it was intended (although I'm sure not stated out loud at the time) that one large federation of non-sovereign member states would need one currency, and that the situation of having a single currency for a bunch of diverse countries would be such a shambles that it would lead to the federal Europe of the bureaucrats' dreams because the alternative wouldn't be tenable. I wonder if they ever thought that it would backfire so spectacularly (with the help of the US banking meltdown) that a breakup of the EU might be the more likely outcome than the United States of Europe.

 

I've noticed, during trips home, how things seem to be getting less European (and, unfortunately, more and more Americanised). It seems to be more common now than 20 years ago to see pounds, ounces, pints, acres, feet, and inches. And we never did swap miles for kilometres. Nowadays the most stubborn holdout seems to be the use of the centigrade thermometer rather than the Fahrenheit one.

Edited by Melody
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Well personally as an English person I have always felt closer ,in a cultural sense to America than I ever would to France,Germany,Italy,Spain or Greece. Yes, there`s the common English language,but it goes beyond that. Similar diet,similar tastes in music,similar [sort of] sense of humour. European countries are beautiful places to visit and even live and work in. But to me at least, they are definately "foreign". I wouldn`t necessarily call the American culture foreign.

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I would - in some senses even more so because you don't expect it to be so different. The common language is convenient, though. I do wonder which language the United States of Europe will be expected to adopt. I can just see Britain, France, and Germany going to war over that one.

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I've often suspected that the person who dreamed up the idea of the Euro had no intention of it being used by economies as diverse as Germany and Greece - I assume it was intended (although I'm sure not stated out loud at the time) that one large federation of non-sovereign member states would need one currency, and that the situation of having a single currency for a bunch of diverse countries would be such a shambles that it would lead to the federal Europe of the bureaucrats' dreams because the alternative wouldn't be tenable. I wonder if they ever thought that it would backfire so spectacularly (with the help of the US banking meltdown) that a breakup of the EU might be the more likely outcome than the United States of Europe.

 

I've noticed, during trips home, how things seem to be getting less European (and, unfortunately, more and more Americanised). It seems to be more common now than 20 years ago to see pounds, ounces, pints, acres, feet, and inches. And we never did swap miles for kilometres. Nowadays the most stubborn holdout seems to be the use of the centigrade thermometer rather than the Fahrenheit one.

Well of course that would be a spectacular case of putting the cart before the horse.  What a shame the people responsible couldn't foresee that the horse would shy and back away in a panic, trampling over everything in its path, because of course the poor thing couldn't see where it was going. 

 

As for the Americanisation of the U.K., I'm agin it too.  But just because I don't want to be forced into an American box it doesn't mean I want to be forced into a pan-European one, especially one with such dubious claims to democracy and transparency.

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Well personally as an English person I have always felt closer ,in a cultural sense to America than I ever would to France,Germany,Italy,Spain or Greece. Yes, there`s the common English language,but it goes beyond that. Similar diet,similar tastes in music,similar [sort of] sense of humour. European countries are beautiful places to visit and even live and work in. But to me at least, they are definately "foreign". I wouldn`t necessarily call the American culture foreign.

 

Actually, I couldn't disagree more!  American might speak a similar language as the UK, but apart from that I felt foreign in the USA in a way that I have never felt anywhere in Western Europe, even if I couldn't speak the language. 

 

However, I think the idea that if we leave the EU it will be a big mistake is a difficult one to assess.  One of my friends works in the manufacturing industry, and he said that the only thing you need for a successful international business is to produce something that other countries want to buy.  And you don't need to be part of some political European state to do it.  His firm produces some sort of technical wizardry used in the aviation industry, and their market is global.  As far as they are concerned, having lots of MEPs in Brussels makes not one jot of difference to them. 

 

I always get the impression that a lot of this is scaremongering by politicians, and I have no real clear sense of what the advantages actually are.

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Although the UK and the US share a common language there are several aspects of America which I find very alien: the very poor welfare provision and lack of employee rights for most workers (maternity rights, for example, are virtually non-existent); the widespread opposition to universal healthcare provision (which is seen by many as actually immoral); the right to bear arms and the deeply conservative religious views held by huge swathes of the population. Despite the language difference I feel culturally closer to Europe.

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Completely off topic, but I have just spotted a huge grammatical error in my post, caused by changing a sentence without reading it properly  :dunce:   I do wish the Edit button would be available permanently for posts you have written yourself! 

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Completely off topic, but I have just spotted a huge grammatical error in my post, caused by changing a sentence without reading it properly  :dunce:   I do wish the Edit button would be available permanently for posts you have written yourself!

I understand your frustration, Fonty, but unfortunately this 30 minute edit limit is an integral part of the system software for the forum and there is nothing we can do to change it. We had a choice between no editing and the 30-minute limit, so we thought the latter was the better option!

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That's pretty rigid. I don't normally find IPB forum software less good than vbulletin, but a pre-set time limit on edits (along with the lack of ability to copy posts from one thread to another) is a real disadvantage.

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