Making the case for a reformed EU
Share This Article:
In just under 6 weeks the nation will be deciding whether it wishes to leave or remain in the European Union. It seemed like an easy enough question to me initially, someone politically uninitiated. A simple choice between a pan European identity that includes perks like visa-free travel across 28 countries and affordable year abroad programs, or a road trip of retrograde nationalism in the backseat of Uncle Nigel’s car, where something as mild as M4 traffic could trigger a rant about immigration and our bloody borders. I admit I was guilty of reducing the whole debate to these things; I was assessing the proponents of the argument instead of assessing the argument on its own merits. So what are its merits? Brexit seems to be mainly drawn around the issues of sovereignty and democracy, immigration and identity. On sovereignty and democracy, those who would like to leave the union argue that it is undemocratic. Who are the demos of the EU? Have you as a member of this international organisation ever felt like your voice mattered, or that your views were represented? This to me is the key argument for Brexit; the EU has continuously become disdainful towards democratic rule and accountability, and it is led by a commission of bureaucrats who have a vision for Europe they have not consulted its population about. This is where the European parliament comes in – or at least should come in. The European parliament consists of representatives for every member state. These representatives are directly elected by the people and are part of the decision making process in most areas of EU activity. However the parliament, unfortunately, does not have much power and is increasingly becoming an avenue for protest candidates who are avowed Eurosceptics. Voter turnout in the UK for the 2014’s European parliament election was around 36% and has been consistently lower than the EU average since 1979. In order to reap the benefits of democracy one must first participate in it. Then the case can be made for remaining in the EU as an engaged populace, one that seeks the passage of new EU laws through its Citizens Initiative and is concerned about its political direction. An argument can be made for the lack of autonomy because of EU laws, but complete autonomy is not possible as a state in an increasingly globalised world. There are many international unions that restrict and control the behaviour of its members: NATO has its minimum defence spending requirements of 2% of GDP, the WTO has its rules of trade and restrictions on tariffs and subsidies. Of course NATO and the WTO are extremely beneficial, but so is the EU. Already there have been predictions by both sides about the economic costs of leaving or staying on individual families, but these are ridiculous claims. It is widely accepted that the British economy would suffer to some extent in the short term, but there is no reason to think it wouldn’t get better. But again this economic leap of faith is unnecessary with a reformed EU. Valid criticism can be laid against the EU because of its tilt towards big business – it’s no surprise that David Cameron and the rest of the political establishment support remaining in the union, but I do not believe leaving will solve any of our problems. The same political engagement that laid rest to the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) – which was fraught with criticism for its secrecy and its possible violations of civil liberties of internet users – is what is needed to reform the EU; the fact that MEPs overwhelmingly rejected ACTA was a testament to the will of the populace. Remaining in the EU and banding together across national lines is what is needed to combat trans-national threats to democracy.
- Article continues below...
- More stories you may like...
- Finding the next Farage: UKIP's leadership crisis
- The Brexit debate, from an American's perspective
- Why I'm striking against unfair university profits