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Old 10-13-2015, 07:17 AM   #1
Taure
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British EU Referendum Thread

I thought I'd make a thread for referendum-related news and discussion, as we're going to be facing a steady flow of it for the next two years. Both "In" and "Out" camps have now launched their official campaigns and Cameron is facing calls to accelerate his negotiations by setting out a clear and detailed set of demands.

This opinion piece from the FT basically summarises my thoughts on the matter.

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If this is perfidy, it works for Britain

Nothing has brought out the UK’s talent for half measures like the European project

Meant to wound, “Perfidious Albion” sometimes feels like a backhanded compliment. The world can see that Britain has done well out of its reluctance to commit to anything. It never fell for socialism, fascism or any absolute belief system. Its empire outgrew others by putting material interests over a mission to spread Britishness, whatever that is. The malleable constitution, the tepid Anglicanism: these are the raw materials of an envied stability.

Nothing has brought out Britain’s talent for half measures like the European project. We were absent at the creation, then we joined, then we voted on whether to leave, then we conceived the single market, then we dodged the single currency, then we pushed the EU’s borders to the east and complained about the consequences, and now we are trying to revise the terms of our membership before voting again on whether to leave.

This is perfidy, and it works. Britain is a richer, more liberal economy than it was in 1973, when it entered the European Economic Community. This can only mean that Europe has been good for the country — or not so bad as to hold it back in a serious way. There is no third possibility. At some point, it will dawn on eurosceptics who talk up the success of modern Britain that they are inadvertently making the case for the status quo.

And it will dawn on zealots for integration that Britain’s commitment-phobia, maddening as it must be for them, has saved it from continental follies. We have our own currency and, for the most part, our own labour laws. Britain’s economic performance of late owes something to these freedoms. They were negotiated by governments that, at the time, were patronised for their lack of European vision.

Vision is the enemy. For half a century Britain has been muddling through and for half a century its interests have been served tolerably well. Both sides of the debate expect too much from the coming referendum. it will not be an existential or even a very historic event. It will not “settle” anything.

If we vote to leave, we will not really leave. A bargain will be brokered that preserves some British access to the European market in exchange for some duty to observe European laws — a version of the Swiss and Norwegian compromises. Over time, this diminished form of membership will start thickening out again as exporters ask for access to new sectors of the single market and regulations are borne as the price. Meanwhile, European Court of Justice rulings on Britain’s status will pile up, and they will tend to bind us in to the club making it harder for us to stand apart. One day, we will wake up and realise we have something tantamount to EU membership. Then we will get on with our lives.

Even the Leavers deny that a vote for them is necessarily a vote for total exit. Some cite the Norwegian and Swiss examples favourably. If that is their opening position, you can imagine the watery mush it will turn into over the course of the campaign.

And if we vote to stay, we will never become a truly European nation anyway. Even if David Cameron achieves the square root of nought in his renegotiation of membership, Britain is already estranged from the EU core by its currency.

This will not change under his or any conceivable premiership, especially if the eurozone integrates into something resembling a state for the sake of its own survival. At that point, Britain would have but one purpose in the EU: to prevent laws applicable to all members being decided by the currency bloc, especially those affecting our financial services sector.

The Remainers should not overstate their case: a vote to stay is a vote for decades of loveless, defensive diplomacy on Europe’s sidelines. If that is the burden that comes with participation in the world’s largest single market, voters will grudgingly live with it.

There is no clean answer to the conundrum of Britain and Europe. Because the referendum pits true-believing Europeans, who think the question is something as airy as “What kind of country should Britain be?”, against fervent sceptics, who see 1973 as a historic wrong to be avenged, nobody makes the case for fudge.

But fudge works. Fudge is the British way. Fudge is how Britain ended up with the best but not the worst of the European project. And fudge is what will emerge at the end of Mr Cameron’s great democratic exercise, whenever it comes and whatever the official result. The referendum is not a fork in the road. It is a roundabout with no exits.
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Old 10-13-2015, 09:40 AM   #2
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So if the Leavers win, the result is probably going to be Britain still paying membership fees and observing most of the EU laws? I could live with that, although I'd obviously prefer a proper British integration into the EU. Just pay the full price, dammit.
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Old 10-13-2015, 09:47 AM   #3
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So if the Leavers win, the result is probably going to be Britain still paying membership fees and observing most of the EU laws? I could live with that, although I'd obviously prefer a proper British integration into the EU. Just pay the full price, dammit.
Yes to observing most EU laws, but no to membership fees. EEA membership is considerably cheaper than EU membership (one prediction puts Britain's EEA membership at €2 billion a year instead of the current €11.6 billion a year).

The real sticking point, however, is that the EEA is still part of free movement of people. I imagine an exited UK would want to negotiate limits to that (e.g. a quota), which throws everything else up in the air.
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Old 10-13-2015, 12:42 PM   #4
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You'll want to keep a close eye on Switzerland, then. After they voted for a restriction/caps of the free movement, and a lot of blustering on both sides, it's gotten very quiet indeed. And the reason for that, from what I can see, is not that people are busy working -- but that they have nothing to show for their efforts.

Juncker and politicians from member states have been perfectly clear: There will be no caps, quotas or otherwise limitations -- or else, there will be no treaties (recall, there was an if-->then clause in the treaties with Switzerland, which invalidates them in case Switzerlands implements caps unilaterally).

My best guess is that eventually, the government stops pretending it can have the cake and eat it too, and the Swiss will vote again, with the finished proposal of either amended treaties (there were some other points that were less contentious) or caps.

In that light, I see the possibility of Britain getting anything like it as subzero.
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Old 10-13-2015, 01:12 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by Punjab Taure View Post
The real sticking point, however, is that the EEA is still part of free movement of people. I imagine an exited UK would want to negotiate limits to that (e.g. a quota), which throws everything else up in the air.
Are you and Sesc describing immigration?
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Old 10-13-2015, 01:15 PM   #6
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We're talking about the free movement of workers and EU citizens, which isn't quite the same thing as immigration (immigrants intend to stay).
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Old 10-13-2015, 08:03 PM   #7
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We're talking about the free movement of workers and EU citizens, which isn't quite the same thing as immigration (immigrants intend to stay).
I don't see any objections to citizenry (other than for security reasons) but yeah, I can see resistance to free movement of workers.
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Old 10-19-2015, 06:55 PM   #8
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Yes to observing most EU laws, but no to membership fees. EEA membership is considerably cheaper than EU membership (one prediction puts Britain's EEA membership at €2 billion a year instead of the current €11.6 billion a year).

The real sticking point, however, is that the EEA is still part of free movement of people. I imagine an exited UK would want to negotiate limits to that (e.g. a quota), which throws everything else up in the air.
I think we'll see movement against 'free movement'. If the UK are to remain part of the EU, we need to take our place as one of it's leaders, if not the pre-eminent one. Britain's economy will overtake Germany's, and along with our soft and hard power, we can play a major role in streamlining the EU.

On the other hand, I don't fear us leaving the EU. Much of our current relationship with the EU will remain about the same. If smaller nations can have deals with the EU, so can Europe's most powerful nation. Whether we are in or out, Britain is an essential cog in Europe.
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Old 10-20-2015, 04:55 AM   #9
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If the UK are to remain part of the EU, we need to take our place as one of it's leaders, if not the pre-eminent one. Britain's economy will overtake Germany's
I'll believe that when it happens. Or maybe when a non-english research center predicts the same

Sure Britain can become a major power in the EU. But I don't see them embracing the European idea any time soon. Even if the Referendum overwhelmingly says to stay in the EU, the British way will still be the half-ass way that Taure's post has described. It'll probably work for you, but you're not going to be an essential cog that way.
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Old 10-20-2015, 06:07 AM   #10
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I'll believe that when it happens. Or maybe when a non-english research center predicts the same
It's actually the OECD prediction. OECD forecasts that the UK's GDP will pass Germany's in 2033:

https://data.oecd.org/gdp/gdp-long-t...ndicator-chart

(Click long-term forecast on the side bar, then go to chart view to see the breakdown.

That said, there are certain caveats.

Firstly it assumes that UK productivity returns to historical levels rather than stays in its current slump. There are signs of a return to increasing productivity but it's not there yet.

Secondly it assumes continued immigration into the UK at current levels and continued membership of the EU. Also no Scottish independence.

Thirdly the increase is largely a function of population. Germany's GDP per capita is still higher than the UK's in the prediction.

Fourthly with large numbers of refugees entering Germany and boosting its population, the prediction may no longer hold.

Fifthly with the current signs of global economic slowdown and secular stagnation, all predictions are highly suspect anyway.
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Old 10-20-2015, 06:50 AM   #11
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It's actually the OECD prediction. OECD forecasts that the UK's GDP will pass Germany's in 2033:
Ah, I only found a mention of a CEBR study.

If Germany's per capita is still higher in that prediction, that means that the UK's workforce needs to exceed Germany's. Do they really expect a population increase of 20 million (10 million workers, plus dependants) in the next 15 years?
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Old 10-20-2015, 12:31 PM   #12
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Ah, I only found a mention of a CEBR study.

If Germany's per capita is still higher in that prediction, that means that the UK's workforce needs to exceed Germany's. Do they really expect a population increase of 20 million (10 million workers, plus dependants) in the next 15 years?
Funnily enough, I am actually more German than British, although culturally British. From what I've seen of the two nations, the UK has the potential to really get the best out of it's people, but it would take a major shift in policy and thinking to get there. Germany is already ahead on that path.
I'm of course talking about welfare bribery, where too many are not interested in aspiration. It all starts at school when they can't be bothered enough and of course that has consequences for future job prospects. Germany's apprenticeship schemes should be an example to strive for.
I'll give you an example of just how screwed up it is. The SNP in Scotland constantly go on about Scotland's riches in resources, and how they'll be the second Norway. Yet their major gripes are increasing welfare and removing austerity. Norway, on it's 3rd try and after 6 years of creating it's famed 'oil fund', only managed to start saving once their economy went into surplus. So by rejecting austerity, an independent Scotland would have no hope of matching their boasts. Natural resources do not guarantee wealth, as so many countries have discovered.
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Old 10-20-2015, 05:45 PM   #13
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Norway's oil fund doesn't translate directly into funds for the government because they've set up what amounts to a gigantic pension scheme for the entire nation. All the money from their North Sea oil fields goes directly into that and is protected by numerous laws and regulations so that it can't be used for day to day spending.
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Old 10-20-2015, 05:55 PM   #14
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Norway's oil fund doesn't translate directly into funds for the government because they've set up what amounts to a gigantic pension scheme for the entire nation. All the money from their North Sea oil fields goes directly into that and is protected by numerous laws and regulations so that it can't be used for day to day spending.
Yes, and it can be used in an emergency. The point is that the SNP think they can duplicate Norway's success with their current policies. People like them are intent on promoting envy against the rich, when that is not the true battlefield. People shouldn't envy the rich, they should aspire to join them. The battle for the rest is the living wage.

On a related matter, it never ceases to amaze me that people keep stating with bitterness, "the rich just get richer!". Of course that will happen! Money breeds money.
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Old 10-20-2015, 05:56 PM   #15
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I would like to see us leave, as it would be interesting. However Cameron is becoming something of an expert in winning referendums with fear.
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Old 10-29-2015, 08:24 AM   #16
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And the USA comes out swinging:

http://www.theguardian.com/politics/...f-it-leaves-eu

Quote:
US warns Britain: If you leave EU you face barriers to trading with America

The United States is not keen on pursuing a separate free trade deal with Britain if it leaves the European Union, the US trade representative, Michael Froman, said – the first public comments from a senior US official on the matter.
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Old 10-29-2015, 08:28 AM   #17
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So much for the special relationship.
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Old 10-29-2015, 08:37 AM   #18
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So much for the special relationship.
Well, we did have that affair with China...

(But seriously, fuck the "special relationship". It never existed. What ever came of it? Afghanistan and Iraq wars, GCHQ bending over for the NSA, massively costly defence projects like the F-35... no trade deals, not even diplomatic assistance in the Falklands War, the Suez crisis.)
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Old 10-29-2015, 08:47 AM   #19
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Well you did get NFL games in London and the London special of Friends...

No but in all seriousness I see where you're coming from. Britain has continually got shafted like a battered wife.
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Old 10-29-2015, 09:37 AM   #20
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I'm not convinced the UK leaving would benefit them (or us in the EU, for that matter), but if they want to leave, who are we to deny them.

It'd certainly be an interesting time to be in.

PS: that 'speshul relationship'? Hahaha oh my sides.jpg

Come on now. The UK should know better.
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