Thursday, May 03, 2007

Whither the European Union? Free-Trader, Egalitarian...or Hypocrite?

The EU is going places--or at least that's what the EU would like its citizens to think. That is, judging by an opinion piece by a lawyer who now works in the financial services.

She (I presume) writes an interesting piece about the EU, and looks at the following issues:

  • Withdrawing from the EU will put businesses in disadvantageous positions in Europe

  • Inconvenience caused to tourists and migrants

  • Withdrawal will distort the market

  • Member states should not enjoy benefits of the EU without facing drawbacks

  • We know the writer is a free-trader--and there's nothing wrong with that if that's what gets your kicks--because of the manner in which she castigates the attempt by the EU to assume an "egalitarian" EU predicated on a single market. She writes:

    With the egalitarian ideology at its core, the EU is heading in a direction that is opposite its original destination. The aim of the EU officials is to create a collective block and to build a high fortress around it. That block will hamper the growth of Europe. Instead of truly fostering free trade, EU regulations and directives hold back those who endeavor to progress; indeed such efforts are frowned upon.

    This is so ironic it's not funny. If you look at the steely attempts by the European Union and its arm-twisting of countries of the Africa, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States to comply with its version of regional integration à l'Africaine, you could arrive at the conclusion that the EU is ferociously free-trade.

    If you look at attempts by civil society organisations setting up websites, such as EPA Watch; specifically to monitor the obfuscatory tactics deployed by the EU in its relations with African countries, you begin to wonder whether a little hypocrisy is in the offing.

    So when the writer finally writes:

    It is one thing to devise policies founded on egalitarianism but quite another to implement them as if they are based on the ideas of free exchange.

    I begin to ask myself is it not time to question what the EU does and says in theory, and practice?

    Or is the EU pulling a very fast one on some of us?

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