Scott Sumner  

Against Brexit

PRINT
The Value of History... What If Donald Trump Isn't All...

In June, the British will vote on whether to leave the EU. There are lots of good arguments on both sides, and I have mixed feelings on the question. But in the end I believe the UK should stay in the EU.

From a libertarian perspective, there are strong arguments on both sides. Leaving the EU might reduce freedom to trade and migrate. On the other hand, Britain would be able to avoid certain undesirable regulations if it left the EU. The euro isn't an issue here, as the UK is already outside that poorly designed single currency, and almost certain to stay that way.

People that know much more about the issue than I do suggest that some of the arguments for and against have been overstated. If Britain left the EU, it might negotiate some trade and migration agreements. And there are very few regulations that Britain has adopted only due to outside pressure. They are perfectly capable of producing bad labor market regs on their own, as when the Conservative government recently enacted a bill that will sharply boost the minimum wage rate.

In the end, I see the Brexit vote as being part of an epic global struggle of narrow-minded nationalism versus enlightened cosmopolitan neoliberalism. Elsewhere the issues are much starker, and the white hats and black hats are much easier to spot. But it's the defining issue of our time, just as it was the defining issue of the first half of the 20th century. (This is not to imply that all Brexit fans are narrow-minded nationalists---I respect many supporters of Brexit---just that the issue has become tangled up in the global swing toward nationalism.)

Right now, nationalistic leaders like Putin are basically rooting for anything that creates economic turmoil in the West, hoping it will lead to nationalistic regimes that are sympathetic to his. And the rise of nationalism could have serious economic repercussions. Here's the Financial Times:


Apocalyptic stories abound about what an exit would mean for the British economy. The current account deficit would be harder to finance, apparently, and the country could lose a big chunk of its export markets. By this logic, the pound would be the main loser if the polls start moving further in favour of the Leave campaign.

On deeper reflection, this does not seem to be the major investment risk. After all, foreign investors know that even if the UK were to leave, they will be paid in sterling. Their property rights and access to the courts, and the terms under which contracts are written in -- all the things that make owning UK assets attractive -- would also remain in place.

By contrast, Europe would face the departure of its largest export market. The EU is not a monopoly, or even the lowest cost supplier of anything bar French cheese. So a UK exit would make European products even more expensive, and increasingly likely to be substituted by Asian equivalents.

Now if the UK's exit debate had been taking place at a time when the European economy was in a robust state of health -- averaging yearly growth rates of, say, 2.5 per cent -- then perhaps the EU could be a bit more relaxed.

But that is decidedly not the case. Italy -- the eurozone's third-largest economy -- is in a debt trap from which it is struggling to escape. Just to stabilise its debt-to-GDP ratio at the current level of 130 per cent, it would need to deliver nominal economic growth of some 1.4 per cent per year over the next five years, our calculations show. For Portugal and Spain to achieve a similar feat, their economies would need to grow at an annual 1.3 per cent and 3.4 per cent respectively.

Over five years this might be achievable, but only with much more progress on structural reform. The problem with these forecasts is that they assume the next five years will be devoid of financial shocks. No one can guarantee that. On average, Europe suffers a recession every six years. Should a slump occur, none of the eurozone's weak links will have sufficient fiscal ammunition.

Yet Europe's financial troubles pale in comparison to its political problems.
Mainstream political parties have retreated in Greece, Spain and Ireland while in France the Front National is gaining ground. Germany is not immune from political turmoil, either. Chancellor Angela Merkel's decision to open up the country's borders to Syrian refugees has proved to be a boon for the populist and anti-EU Alternative for Germany party.

So, paradoxically, as the risk of Brexit increases, so too does the threat of Europe's fragmentation.

Under these circumstances, financial markets would surely begin to discount the break-up of the eurozone. And it is not obvious which currency or assets investors might want to be left holding the day after the divorce. It could be that euro-denominated securities, not sterling-denominated ones, turn out to be the weakest link.


If the gold standard had magically disappeared in 1930, it would have been a huge boon to the world economy, perhaps preventing the Great Depression. But it failed gradually, and the slow process of disintegration made the Depression even worse. I'd say the same about the euro. If it was gone tomorrow, the eurozone would grow more rapidly for a few years (although many supply-side problems would remain.) But the gradual break-up of the eurozone (which is more likely than a quick end) could trigger another global recession---just when nationalism is on the rise.

Britain can do much more good within the EU, fighting against a federal Europe, than it can on the outside. If they fail, they can always exit at a later date, say if the EU decides to adopt a fiscal union. Now is the time for the British people to stand up for globalization, liberalization and openness, as much of the rest of the world reverts back to nationalism. This round of nationalism won't last forever.


Comments and Sharing






COMMENTS (31 to date)
Britonomist writes:

Good to have you on our side!

Mark writes:

"In the end, I see the Brexit vote as being part of an epic global struggle of narrow-minded nationalism versus enlightened cosmopolitan neoliberalism."
This seems like a profoundly inaccurate assessment of things pertaining to the EU. The EU is most certainly not the side of cosmopolitan neoliberalism; going from nationalism to supernationalism is just a change in scale, not in essence imo.

I don't have a strong opinion either way on brexit, but definitely think the EU should govern less, not more (and some of its members may benefit from having their own currencies). The EU is in many respects less libertarian than the many of the nation states that belong to it.

So another narrative at play: the struggle between local governance and self-determination, and increasingly intrusive centralized government. neither this one nor your narrative encapsulates the attitude of the actual Britons voting on the matter, but in the question of more vs. less government control over society, the EU as it is right now does not seem to me to be on the right side of things. I give the brexit folks the benefit of the doubt that many agree and that this is a major factor in their position. After all, the socialists are against it, right?

Scott Sumner writes:

Mark, I agree that the EU is far too intrusive, but it also does lots of good things, like free trade and free movement of labor.

I'd prefer that Britain stay inside and work to make it better. If they leave, the forces of centralization will be strengthened.

Matthew Moore writes:

'I'd prefer that Britain stay inside and work to make it better.'

That would be great, but sadly it is a fantasy. The EU is irredeemably statist and technocratic. It is no bastion of free trade. The CAP and CFP alone dispense almost unbelievable amounts of subsidy to priviledged groups. The one and only goal of the core of Euro politicians is the creation of a single European state, through a series of crises and a ratchet effect. I realise that sounds like a conspiracy theory, but it is the stated aim of senior Eurocrats. Note the repackaging of the 'European constitution' as a 'treaty' and the rerunning of inconvenient referenda. It is anti-democratic by design, conceived to prevent WWII style populist nationalism by the abolition of the nation.

'If they fail, they can always exit at a later date, say if the EU decides to adopt a fiscal union. '

This, for me, is the most likely outcome. The situation is not yet critical, but this only ends one way. Either the Eurozone goes full federal, at which point the UK government either leaves or the public hit the streets, or it doesn't in which case the Euro crisis returns to finish it off.

I expect the latter. I don't believe full integration is possible without popular consent, and the EU doesn't realise that you can't create a nation simply by creating the trappings of a nation- flag, anthem, embassies, etc
'

Lorenzo from Oz writes:

"I'd prefer that Britain stay inside and work to make it better. If they leave, the forces of centralization will be strengthened."

Nice idea but unlikely to work and yes, except that they will be strengthened even more if the Brits stay, because all the harmonisation nonsense, etc will be "vindicated".

If after this many years of Britain being in, the EU cannot generate more support from the British public than neck-and-neck with leaving then it really hasn't performed well at all.

Also, nationalism or patriotism? The first is commitment to an ethnic identity, the second a state identity. (English or Scottish identity is nationalism, British is patriotism.)

Actually, the real argument about Brexit is not a nationalist or patriotic one, it is a popular sovereignty one. The EU tends to subvert popular sovereignty, that is the fundamental problem with it and why it is so poor at dealing with crises--it undermines any practical accountability. How do you think they ended up with such a disastrous central bank?

Complaining about rise in nationalism is often a cover for not talking about accountability and sovereignty. Conversely, a sense of insufficient accountability leads to concern for sovereignty and a rise in nationalist politics. The EU is doing a great deal to encourage nationalist politics precisely because its accountability is so poor (and the policy consequences thereof).

Weir writes:

When America left the British Empire, this was a disaster for millions of American slaves, and slavery itself was a disaster for America. Having left the British Empire, America clung to slavery for six decades more than the Brits would have allowed. Plus, the Brits abandoned their crippling tariffs a hundred years before America: Again, it would have been better for America had you not left in 1776.

When you compare American presidents with British PMs, your presidents are thuggishly dictatorial. Presidential politics is criminal, in both North and South America. You have a written constitution, which your caudillos ignore with impunity. The constitution itself is great, but it isn't any constraint on your rulers now. So the argument for independence is vastly stronger in Britain today than it was for America.

Scott Sumner writes:

Matthew, You said:

"The EU is irredeemably statist and technocratic."

If there is one clear, unambiguous lesson from history, it's that nothing is irredeemable. Many socialists in Europe hate the EU because they see it as promoting neoliberalism. In my view both the critics and supporters of the EU overstate their case.

Lorenzo, You said: "Complaining about rise in nationalism is often a cover for not talking about accountability and sovereignty."

Five years ago I would have agreed with you. I would have viewed the sovereignty and accountability problems as more important than nationalism. But the world has changed a lot in 5 years, and is now a much scarier place. Nationalism is quickly becoming the world's number one problem.

I would add that a big part of the loss of sovereignty that we are likely to see in the future is unrelated to the EU. It's things like FATCA (which I strongly oppose.)

Weir, Not sure how that relates to the Brexit vote . . .

Weir writes:

The Seven Years War with France had established Britain as the world's leading colonial power and had left her with vastly increased territories to administer in North America. The problem the Government now had to face was to pay not only for the war's victories but also for the cost of defending and administering the territories which had been secured. When George Grenville was in office he had decided that it was only proper that at least part of the high cost of maintaining a force of ten thousand men in America, as a safeguard against French revenge and Indian depredations, should be met by the American colonists themselves, who, in his opinion, had contributed very little to the war effort. After all—even though Americans complained that the British army was really intended to keep them in subjection—it was their homelands which were to be protected; moreover, their taxes were so relatively slight that an American paid no more than sixpence a year, against the average English taxpayer's twenty-five shillings.

Lorenzo from Oz writes:

Scott, you are not going to get an argument from me about internationalisation (particularly using treaties to avoid accountability) is a problem--but that is the EU model writ large.

As for FATCA, well arrogant over-reach is also an issue, but that is accountability again.

Nationalism appeals in part to a lack of any sense of control, so trying to rally folk around institutions which have acquired serious accountability problems as some barrier to nationalism is looking at the seen problem and missing the unseen cause.

Has any institution fired up nationalism in Europe more than the ECB? Part of the point of NGDPLT is surely that it increases accountability.

Weir: The Imperial Parliament was making decisions Americans had no say in and the protection deal no longer seemed a good one. (There were more than 13 British colonies in the New World; the ones that no longer accepted the protection trade off were the ones that revolted.)

Matthew Moore writes:

'If there is one clear, unambiguous lesson from history, it's that nothing is irredeemable'

Yep, you're right. I overstated my case. It's an emotional topic for me. For reasons which aren't quite clear to me, and which I hope aren't xenophobic, I resent legislative and regulatory interference with my freedom from Brussels far more than the equivalent from Westminster. I have a romantic notion of English liberty - magna carta and all that. At its occasional best Westminster is still the protector of my common law freedoms, whereas the EU is based in a Napolenoic statutory law tradition. The two traditions sit uneasy alongside each other

Lorenzo makes a more powerful point. Far from being a force against nationalism, the EU itself is provoking a nationalist reaction. Partly this is due to its monetary incompetence, but it's partly due to its anti-democratic behaviour.

Scott Sumner writes:

Lorenzo, I completely agree about the ECB. Of course the UK is outside the euro, and if it stays in the euro it provides a sort of beacon of hope, encouraging countries like Poland to stay outside the euro.

Matthew, I agree with the criticism of the EU, and would prefer the same sort of more decentralized structure that British neoliberals prefer. I would add that the rise of nationalism is not just about the EU, it is a global phenomenon.

If I'm wrong, and Britain is not able to stop the growing centralization, then it should leave at a later date.

Alex Flint writes:

I'd be fascinated to hear how you would redesign the single currency if you could remake it from scratch.

faust writes:

I am afraid the arguments presented here are, at best, straw man arguments and at worst mischaracterise those in favour of Brexit.

Firstly, the argument that this is down to either narrow-minded nationalism or enlightened cosmopolitanism is the same argument that Tony Blair used when he said that it was those who were "open or closed". Indeed, it is this patronising viewpoint that has resulted in the populist backlash apparent both in the US and in Europe.

The EU is not "enlightened" in the sense that it seeks to lift up humanity but rather repesents a political project. Having spoken to many who work within the EU they do not look at it as a cost vs benefit but rather as the only way to guarantee peace in Europe. In short, it is like a cult in the way those who run it behave.

Secondly, the idea that the UK has influence is hard to square when you see capital controls being imposed in Greece or over 1 million migrants march into Germany or Turkey eventually being admitted out of desperation. Kindly remind me of where Britains influence is? Making policy less bad means the policy is still bad. It does not make the policy good.

Finally, the EU is experiencing significant strain with the rise of populist movements as the central premise of the EU economically fails generations of Europeans. It is better taking the pain now than wait two decades and take the pain then.

Topher Hallquist writes:

Scott, are you so sure a federalized Europe would be a bad thing? From my POV (a liberaltarian who agrees with you about many, but not all, issues), the big problem with the EU seems like it's a half-measure. It should either be full-fledged government, or a mere free trade-and-migration zone, not anything in-between.

jdgalt writes:

It seems to me you've ignored the elephant in the room: the fact that Europe's major debtor nations, especially Greece, Italy, and Spain, are demanding and getting large subsidies from the other member nations of the EU, including the UK. Leaving would protect the assets of UK taxpayers and bank depositors from any further seizures to pay those costs -- and there will certainly be plenty more of them.

The EU is a lifeboat that has begun to be swamped because some of the passengers in it are too fat. If you're in that lifeboat and get the chance to jump to a more stable boat where the fatties can't follow you, of course you should do it. It's a no-brainer.

TMC writes:

The great thing about capitalism is that allows bad institutions die. Allow the EU to die. Make way for better institutions. Europe would be much more interesting and resilient grouped loosely, following their own peoples wishes rather than some centralized authority's. The US should go back to this model as well. 50 more individual states would be a natural test are for new ideas. Good ones live and bad ones die.

Colin Brewer writes:

I shall vote to remain for none of the above reasons. If the UK leaves the EU then inevitably Scotland will leave the UK. Catalonia will follow and in all probability Wales will follow at some more remote future point. Uk and Irish Membership of the EU has emasculated Irish terrorism and this will enjoy a resurgence following Brexit.
I view the balkanisation of Western Europe as an appalling prospect. Many of these statelets would be outside the EU because eg Rump UK and Rump Spain would veto their membership.

Scott Sumner writes:

Alex, Of course my first preference is no euro at all, but I do believe it might work with a 4% NGDPLT system.

faust, I did not suggest that all supporters of Brexit were narrow-mined nationalists.

Topher, You said:

"It should either be full-fledged government, or a mere free trade-and-migration zone, not anything in-between."

I agree, and favor the free trade/migration option.

jdgalt, You said:

"It seems to me you've ignored the elephant in the room: the fact that Europe's major debtor nations, especially Greece, Italy, and Spain, are demanding and getting large subsidies from the other member nations of the EU, including the UK."

That's not clear to me. Do you have evidence for that claim?

TMC, It depends what replaced it.

Colin, I agree about Scotland.

mbka writes:

Scott,

"In the end, I see the Brexit vote as being part of an epic global struggle of narrow-minded nationalism versus enlightened cosmopolitan neoliberalism. "

This is the core of the current situation. And I also agree on the later comment re: the balkanization of Western Europe. There is another element here, which is that the UK is Europe's strongest tie to the US. If the UK leaves the EU, the US loses its strongest anchor withing Western Europe and with that, good luck with keeping some form of common line vs. Russia's ambitions, or the wildly differing self interests of Eastern European countries. There will be true balkanization, with Germany one again left as the strongest force.

In the final analysis, the EU was created with a vision of free movement of people, capital and labour, and had the protection of competition as a core principle. It's strange to me that many see the EU as some kind of outside oppressor when it has very few direct executive powers over member states. Its powers are more legislative. And frankly, the anti EU arguments often resemble the anti federal government voices in the US. Here, critics focus on items of federal "oppression" while ignoring that most mischief is really done at the state government level. Not to mention many federal agencies were created with the intent to tackle state corruption in the US. The EU has often a similar function. When my country joined the EU in the 90's to me it was a hope that there would be some outside legal discipline, to reduce the level of local political mischief. Brussels is farther than your national government, and to me that is a good thing.

About national sovereignty, this too feels odd to me. Why should I care about "my" national sovereignty any more than about "EU" sovereignty? What should I care for most surely must be my individual sovereignty, not any one state's ("national") sovereignty. And my own individual sovereignty is in turn highly dependent on my personal freedom, to move, trade, work wherever I want. The EU significantly enlarged these freedoms for me, and so it is a net positive. I couldn't give a hoot about the sovereignty of "my" national government to limit my freedoms.

Finally, the EU has the principle of subsidiarity enshrined in its treaties - to solve every issue at the most local level possible. Implementation may not be perfect, but isn't this a great start? What national government has such a principle in its founding papers?

To conclude, Europe w/o the EU would be just a return to the old fractionalization and milking by local authorities. The EU has growing pains for sure. But the US had a major civil war too, over eighty years after its inception. I hope it won't come to that in the EU. But I do believe it is worth preserving and improving.

Scott Sumner writes:

mbka, Excellent comment.

You said:

"Finally, the EU has the principle of subsidiarity enshrined in its treaties - to solve every issue at the most local level possible. Implementation may not be perfect, but isn't this a great start? What national government has such a principle in its founding papers?"

This is the key point. I once did a post advocating an EU type set-up for the US. (Although the euro crisis has made me rethink that a bit.)

I mostly agree with you, and I suppose my only reservation is a concern that the subsidiarity principle is not followed strickly enough.

Christian Moon writes:

Or is it narrow-minded cosmopolitan neoliberalism versus enlightened nationalism?

It's more the suffocating of nationalisms that has caused the problems in Europe these last two centuries. Multi-national states in Austria-Hungary, in first Tsarist and then Soviet Russia, in Ottoman Turkey, and even in Yugoslavia have all failed catastrophically. Forcing the construction of another one really isn't an enlightened project

I say forcing because we deliberately don't get to vote for or against the EU government and its fundamental and unchanging goal of creating an ever closer union.

Weir writes:

People ought to be allowed to make decisions for themselves. Not "The People" in capitals, because that's national self-determination, which is rearranging the deckchairs. That's just a change in personnel when every contender insists that he knows best. The man in Whitehall or the man who left Whitehall for the bigger parliament in Brussels instead? That's a limited choice: One level of politics or another level of politics.

Another myth is that there are no narrow-minded nationalists staffing the bureaucracy in Brussels: The universities are churning out narrow-minded nationalists with PhDs in their own identities, or in the exotic identities of noble savages, in Palestinian identity, in black nationalism, shouting fake quotes that they attribute to Cecil Rhodes.

This is a genuine quote from Immanuel Kant: "The guardians who have kindly taken upon themselves the work of supervision will soon see to it that by far the largest part of mankind (including the entire fair sex) should consider the step forward to maturity not only as difficult but also as highly dangerous. Having first infatuated their domesticated animals, and carefully prevented the docile creatures from daring to take a single step without the leading-strings to which they are tied, they next show them the danger which threatens them if they try to walk unaided."

Kant wouldn't ban people from vaping. Kant wouldn't call CO2 a pollutant, either. Politicians call it a pollutant, but it's plant food. It's what you're breathing out through your nose right now. It's the bubbles in beer.

During the actual Enlightenment people believed in the scientific method, not "scientific consensus," which is the argument from authority, or a popularity contest, or it's coalition-building, just gathering the numbers. If the empirical data doesn't bear out your predictions, just intimidate people into silence instead. Shout out loud how on our side there are people like us, who all agree with each other, and then there's the scum, the trailer trash like Judith Curry and Bjorn Lomborg and Matt Ridley, who must not be given a platform or be allowed to invade our safe space with their empirical data and all their palaver about costs and benefits.

The universities are full of Bernie Sanders nationalists, and creationists, too, if the subject is the human brain, which they insist is separate to evolution. The class of 2016 thinks that fracking causes tsunamis and golden rice is a conspiracy and that the Y chromosome is a social construct, and there have always been ambitious lawyers who think politics is the path to glory. But good government isn't national government, or supra-national government, or any kind of intervening, overbearing, intruding force.

Robespierre was an ambitious lawyer, playacting at the grandeur of Rome. So the Bastille was torn down, "and its seven prisoners released: four forgers, two lunatics and one aristocratic delinquent, imprisoned at his family's request." And just seven British officers were government enough for tens of millions of Indians, who fared worse under the Mughal Empire than under the foreigners coming over from Glasgow and London. At least until the Brits went Fabian, busying themselves with permits and central planning. I'm simplifying and stylising, obviously. But the example of America is another excellent one: America would have been better off if its exit had been postponed and postponed and postponed.

The slave states were a feudal backwater. Tariffs were better than the income tax, but then you didn't actually swap one for the other: You burdened yourself with both, simultaneously, at prohibitively high rates for most of the twentieth century. Your progressive-era prohibition on immigration, like your federal government's prohibition on alcohol, was a disaster too. Your federal government is exactly as Jimmy Carter described it, "a horrible, bloated, confused, overlapping, wasteful mess." Your state governments are merely bankrupting themselves.

Having a say in how some government is run? A myth, at every level, and a distraction from an actual choice: Will each of us get to make our own decisions, or are we subjects, to be shepherded and supervised? In the eighteenth century there were true cosmopolitans like Benjamin Franklin who didn't take so much pride in the conventional beliefs of his own narrow class background that he would impose them by law on everybody of any class, anywhere and everywhere.

Hans writes:

"If the gold standard had magically disappeared in 1930, it would have been a huge boon to the world economy, perhaps preventing the Great Depression."

So now an inanimate object is the bane (blame)
for the failure of human action; Good God!

So what does the pro-EU crowd raise to defend this village federation, why the evil spectrum
of nationalism. (when a phobia or racism will
not do)

The principal reason for this formation was to
rival American, both in economic and political clout.

The question should be axe, whether or not the EU
has benefited or advanced it's economic growth rate. You decide, I report.

1941 to 1993 (EU-15) GNP
7439 - 11,342 52%

1994 to 2014 (EU-15) GNP
11,342 - 15,932 40%

Hans writes:

1941 to 1993 (EU-15) GNP
7439 - 11,342 52%

CORRECTION

1974 To 1993 (pre-EU) GNP
7439 - 11,342 52%

enoriverbend writes:

@Weir
"When America left the British Empire, this was a disaster for millions of American slaves, and slavery itself was a disaster for America. Having left the British Empire, America clung to slavery for six decades more than the Brits would have allowed. "

First, you make the classic logical error of assuming that British history would otherwise be exactly the same except for America's departure. One might point out that since the vast number of slaves on American soil were no longer Britain's concern, it made it quite a bit easier to abolish slavery.

Second, remember that the Brits did it piecemeal and not all at once. The last British possession to have slavery abolished was not until 1843. And even after that, there was the curious exception of Sierra Leone which allowed domestic slavery up until 1928.

Vasilis Kostelidis writes:

"In the end, I see the Brexit vote as being part of an epic global struggle of narrow-minded nationalism versus enlightened cosmopolitan neoliberalism".

I cannot agree more with that statement.

Also, mbka's post has a lot of insight.


The EU opened the borders and allowed migration and free trade (no tariffs and quotas).
This fact alone, has (in my and other people's view) prevented war for the last 70 years.

Who can say what the UK politics may be if they exit the EU? More Mercantilistic or more libertarian? They can go both ways, as history tells.

But is there anyone who thinks that France would be more libertarian if they exit the EU?

Le pen thinks openly, and a lot of French people agree with her, that the French jobs must be protected from EU competition.
She will impose tariffs and quotas.
She will not let the dangers of globalization to enter her country.

How long after that until things go bad?

Their standard of life will fall, compared to other countries.
They will start blaming the "bad EU" that is always against "poor" France.
You know the argument, Russia and Greece have been using it for a lot of time.

As mbka writes:
"Brussels is farther than your national government, and to me that is a good thing".


I apologize for my bad English.

ASG writes:

How ironic to read on this site that now "voice" is better than "exit". Perhaps you should take all those Arnold Kling pieces down?

The British people will be better able to stand on the side of openness, globalisation and liberalisation, when they have their laws decided by their own democratic representatives.

Hans writes:

The Swiss, perhaps the wises of all
Euromen, decided against membership of
the EU confederation.

What was the result of this economic
isolation, from the rest of EuroLand?

GNP; 1994 - 292
GNP; 2014 - 701 US $ +71%

Almost double in growth of that of EU 15
over the same time period.

Source: IMF

Norway more than likely experienced higher
growth rates than the EU 15 as well, but
was not considered due to the fact of oil
playing too large of a role in revenues.

Lorenzo from Oz writes:

mbka: "It's strange to me that many see the EU as some kind of outside oppressor when it has very few direct executive powers over member states. Its powers are more legislative."

Surely, that is enough. There is no democratic mechanism to repeal EU legislation.

The problem is not the insistence on being a democracy to be a member (which has been good for Europe) or the free trade effects (ditto) it is the political project that has been tacked on top; the profoundly lacking in transparency and accountability political project.

Putting the question in terms of "nationalism" is to miss the point.

Lorenzo from Oz writes:

This pro-Brexit movie takes aim at the lack of accountability and transparency. And it pushes a patriotism of liberty rather than ethnic nationalism.

James Alexander writes:

Bit late to this debate. Sorry. A few confused thoughts.

Why do Britons have to sacrifice independence and accountability to save the EU nations from themselves? We are in danger of becoming too like them to help. Bad laws get enacted here thanks to the EU providing cover for our bad lawmakers. "Not our fault, Brussels, (not) sorry mate, hands tied, etc, etc."

Southern Europeans don't trust each other so Northern Europeans have to assume the burden. How will that end?

A fiscal union is a good idea for the members of the Euro, the UK should encourage it by leaving the EU.

Nothing is immutable, all things change. Germany looks good now but was the "sick man of Europe" for many years, and the danger man too before that. Italy looks bad now but has been both good and bad in the past, but works best with high nominal growth.

More diversity of nations us a good thing even if it means some will succumb to local corruption. Is that better or worse than the endless recession in Greece or super-high youth unemployment?

Comments for this entry have been closed
Return to top