Europe: The Faltering Project

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I campaigned against it in this country and do not regret it even though we lost. I believe in this country, however, they can be appreciated.

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So maybe I too will have a sympathetic ear in this place! Today, if you compare these two unions, the United Kingdom and the European Union, what you have is a very sad, pathetic vista on both sides of the English Channel. You have the EU, which is celebrating the overcoming of a crisis, the eurocrisis in particular, which is actually getting worse. And you have a UK which is celebrating its newfound confidence by cutting off its nose to spite its face, through Brexit. Forty years of membership of the European Union has allowed a particular development model, or economic model in Europe and in the United Kingdom to emerge, which, if you will allow me to be slightly vulgar about it, is nothing more than a rentier economy.

When you cultivate that kind of economy for 40 years, you cannot suddenly cut it off from the European Union and pretend that you are going to rule the waves again to reconstitute the British Empire. I mean, you can pretend that, but it is pretty catastrophic for this country!! At the same time, you have a European Union that is so grossly unappealing, because it is failing in its duty to itself to recognise the systemic crisis that it has entered into ever since the financial crisis of exposed the fragility of its monetary and all but absent fiscal institutions, that it is impossible in this country, in the context of a referendum like that of June , to make the argument that we need passionately to support the European Union and to remain in the European Union because it is the best thing since sliced bread.

But it was the truth. But that is not an argument for dissolving the Greek state! It is an argument for fixing it! Similarly, in so far as we consider ourselves true Europeanists, we have a duty to be highly critical about this European Union, but then to ask ourselves this question. Is it in the interests of the many to disintegrate it? So allow me now to briefly say a few words about the EU and the UK on a constitutional basis.

Because one of the strongest arguments, actually, the strongest argument in favour of Brexit, is the argument that the EU is a profoundly antidemocratic concoction — I agree with this argument — I think it is. Britain has a long tradition of parliamentary democracy and it is essential therefore to restore sovereignty to the House of Commons to preserve the parliamentary traditions of this country. Now that is a very powerful argument, and anyone who dismisses it on the basis that sovereignty no longer matters needs to be taken to task by every democrat in the world.

The argument that sovereignty does not matter any more because our states are powerless to influence the big, bad world that we live in — that is an argument that must be treated with the contempt that it deserves.

Sovereignty is not to be dismissed and should never be confused with power. Sovereignty is about being able to make decisions on your own on the basis of a democratic process, to the extent that your limits of power permit you, and it is not to be scoffed at. In the EU on the other hand, we have a process by which we have deferred to the European Union; we have taken sovereignty from our parliamentary systems in our democratic states and transferred it to a democracy-free-zone in Brussels.

And that is a very good argument for Brexit. But it is not a clinching argument. And there are two reasons for that.

Europe: The Faltering Project

There is nothing to be proud of regarding the UK constitution. And allow me to link this — this is a controversial point that I shall make — with the observation that England excepting London has been completely disenfranchised in the last twenty years. Brexit is an English phenomenon. And to a great degree it reflects the fact that most of the English, outside of London, have been disenfranchised by the political system, by the United Kingdom constitution. And it was. But sometimes taking a few steps in the right direction is worse than taking no steps.

Because the Scottish have a parliament and they have a government.

Europe: The Faltering Project

The Welsh have their Assembly. The Northern Irish have, whatever they have. Because there is no way that it can be expressed. So this is why I was saying right at the beginning that the Brexit referendum was first and foremost a terribly lost opportunity to rethink the constitution of the United Kingdom. So sovereignty is being sidelined. It is being depleted, both in the European Union — look at my country: our sovereignty has been completely and utterly demolished by the troika and the European Central Bank.

And similarly here. Your House of Commons is being treated as a discarded rag by this Government in this rush towards a wholly uncertain Brexit. So what should we do?

Refine your editions:

Well allow me to suggest that on both sides of the English Channel, we need to chart a new course for an uneasy British public, and uneasy publics in France, in Germany, in Greece, in Spain. And this, we had better look at as a joint project. Now, unlike many of the Remainers, I believe that as democrats we must respect Brexit. We played, and we lost. And the idea that Brexit will be reversed because the British people were not sufficiently informed, or they were influenced by Vladimir Putin or some such nonsense! All rights reserved.


But what should we do? You can check out any time you like, but you can never leave. You will be more stuck in Brussels and the machinations of the machinery of Brussels after voting for Brexit than you would had you not voted for Brexit. First, end this phoney negotiation with Michel Barnier and Mister Juncker. What on earth are you doing, Prime Minister, talking to Juncker and Barnier? These people are grey-suited bureaucrats without a mandate to have any discussion with you. They can have dinner with you. They will bitch about you after the dinner, which they do invariably.

But even if they agree with you they cannot give you that which you want. And what do you want? You want a long-term agreement with the EU that secures certain privileges of access to the single market without actually being in the single market. For some reason this is what Theresa May wants, and she is never going to get this from Barnier and Juncker even if she hypnotises them both.

Barnier said as much: he comes in with a list of boxes and he has to check the boxes. You have to give us that before we move to the second phase. This is what I would do in a negotiation if I want to kill it. If I want to make sure that there will be no negotiation. So end this negotiation. Tell Mr. Barnier to go home. End these negotiations. And file immediately for an European Economic Area, Norway-style agreement for a five-year period after the end of the two-year post-Article 50 triggering period. The Norway-style agreement has the following advantages.

Secondly, you do come out of the common agricultural policy, the fisheries policy. You come out of the Customs Union but you stay in the Single Market — so you solve the Irish question, because there will be no need for a border. You sort out the fact that for six years if you are counting , the contributions to the EU will continue like Norway contributes, having access to the Single Market. And most profoundly, you give the House of Commons a period of six years in which to discuss firstly what future arrangements it wants with the European Union; secondly, how to transcribe EU law into British law without transferring legislative powers from the House of Commons to the Cabinet; and also to reconfigure the UK constitution in such a way that allows the United Kingdom to become reinvigorated politically, and allows the anger in England over its marginalisation within the political process to subside.

This is the way to do it. Not by means of creating ruptures in free trade, creating huge queues at Dover, ending the supply chains from Nissan and Toyota and so on, while making promises to Nissan and Toyota that your government cannot fulfil because your budgetary constraints prohibit you from fulfilling them. So this is what we are proposing, and we are proposing this in the context of what I was saying earlier — that the European Union itself is a work in progress. Because it is not sustainable the way it is today. He gave this Sorbonne speech which was actually quite good, in which he said, the model by which the European Union has been proceeding in the last seven decades is kaput.

It is finished. We cannot continue like this any more. We need to reconfigure the monetary union. We need to reconfigure our single market. And most importantly, we have to democratise it, and move away from the cartel-like structure that we have now. He gave this Sorbonne speech which was actually quite good. Of course he is not going to be listened to by Berlin. But if he is not listened to within the next six years, there will be some other ruptures to the EU — we do not know what the situation will be. Now moving on, and this is how I am going to close, to what DiEM25 is proposing for the European Union… I am going to frame our proposal by juxtaposing against it the two dominant points of view today.

What are the two dominant points of view?

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  5. Now the problem with this is, to liquidate something you need a state that comes to the aid of the victims of the liquidation. So when the United States federal government liquidated the debt of General Motors in , it had the mechanisms by which to ensure that the creditors of General Motors did not go to the wall.

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    Europe: The Faltering Project Europe: The Faltering Project
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