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petec
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In my opinion, there won't be a realistic chance of coming back after leaving, neither for GB nor for any other country. I don't see any scenario, even less a scenario with better terms. As long as Germany is in the EU leaving is nothing but a loss of influence/power.

 

But maybe this is just my German perspective. Obviously, I don't want Britain to leave because it's a balancing force.

 

What is the realist's case for leaving? (Honest question)

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EU is the best thing that happened to Europe in the last century. Seeing it fall apart is very sad. IMHO every effort should be made for more integration rather than less.

either you don't know much about european history or i have misunderstood the european union.

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What is the realist's case for leaving? (Honest question)

 

Mine would be two simple observations:

1. if we were on the outside debating whether to join, we wouldn't dream of it.

2. I'm a big believer that democracy works best at a fairly local level.  I don't want to vote on what happens in Germany/Greece/anywhere else - and I don't think they should vote on what happens here.  That's not because I'm a nationalist, but because I think different policies suit different peoples at different times.  I think you see that in Greece today.

 

I also see few benefits in staying in; lots of the claims made for the EU are nonsense (e.g. that it is responsible for peace in Europe) and I believe we could trade freely with it and the rest of the world on our own.  And I am really not sure we need another layer of government and regulation: our own politicians produce quite enough of that.

 

The problem is, so few people really understand the implications, and so much of the debate is going to be hyperbole, that making an intelligent decision is pretty tough.

 

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Pete,

 

While your first argument isn't really an argument I fully understand your second one. Maybe it's really different for the UK but for Germany at least the EU has been a huge force for liberalization. And I think a lot of that is also due to Britain's influence. Most people underestimate how many privacy, free trade, and (abolishment of discriminating) tax laws are direct or indirect result of EU directives or the Maastricht treaty/European court of justice.

 

One example: If a British company wanted to take over Siemens it would be very hard if not impossible for the German government to block it. It wouldn't be a problem at all if a Swiss company tried to do that. That it works that way is a direct result of the Fundamental Freedoms in the Maastricht treaty and the European Court of Justice watching over them. You can't imagine how hard Germany could make it e.g. for UK banks to do their business in Germany/with Germans when there is an easy way to give this business to a German bank and how easy it would be for lobbyists of German banks to convince our government/parliament to do so. In my opinion most arguments against a EU membership are simply naïve and presuppose that external non-membership countries would retain the benefits without having to burden any of the liabilities. This is not how politics work in practice. There are a lot of more or less hidden benefits of being member in the EU that, in my opinion, are orders of magnitude larger than the price even a country like Germany is paying for the membership. But this is just how I see it (and I suppose how most UK businesses see it?) and I know that's certainly not a popular position, neither in the UK nor in Germany. While I'd subscribe to the view that the EU also makes Europe a safer place I'm looking at this much more from a practical/utalitarian point of view.

 

And just to be clear: I'm not talking about the euro zone. As much as I like the abstract idea of a common currency, the euro has been a flawed construct from the beginning. This is just about the EU (You, as a European, know that but many non-Europeans confuse these two institutions.). The "Greek tragedy", I would argue, is a direct result of this failed construct and not a result of EU regulations.

 

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Ni-co,

 

Thanks, useful post.  I actually think my first point is a key one, akin to starting with a blank sheet of paper with an investment portfolio.  There is literally no way you could persuade the British to join the EU today if we were on the outside - unless, of course, the EU had gone from strength to strength and we had suffered from being on the outside.  I don't think that would have happened, personally.

 

Your second paragraph, however, goes right to the heart of what I am trying to understand: the hidden benefits and costs.  I'll need to think about what you've said and read more.  My first reading if what you wrote is that mainland Europe has benefited more from Britain's influence than Britain has, but maybe that is arrogant. 

 

I also have a strong sense that I don't want to be part of a federalising Europe.  No European President for me, thanks.

 

Pete

 

PS and I totally agree about the Greek tragedy being a problem with the Euro and not the EU. 

 

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The EU 'idea' is a good one; but the EU-version 1.0 that we have now - is just a proto-type. It has worked very well as a proof of concept, but it needs a lot of improvement. EU-version 2.0 would be a lot easier to achieve as a new build, versus a refurbishment.

 

Our own thought is that EU-version 2.0 would be better served by fewer, bigger, & more like minded participants. The obvious initial participants are Germany, France, & the UK; once the infrastructure is sorted, broaden it via treaties versus membership.

 

A significant exit (UK), would most likely also start the process on the forced departure of the basket cases. It would also establish  precedent that would allow a Germany or France to leave, leaving a rump of smaller more equal players.

 

You don't have to marry them.

 

SD

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Your second paragraph, however, goes right to the heart of what I am trying to understand: the hidden benefits and costs.  I'll need to think about what you've said and read more.  My first reading if what you wrote is that mainland Europe has benefited more from Britain's influence than Britain has, but maybe that is arrogant.

 

Even if it was true that the EU has benefited more from the UK than the other way around, would this make for an argument against a membership? This is not the relevant question. What matters for GB is whether they benefit more from a membership than from being outside. I highly doubt that you'll find sensible economic arguments that show that being outside will be better. Also think about the fact that GB will face a far less liberal EU if it decides to leave, simply be because the EU would have lost its driving liberal force by then. The current issue of the Economist has a good summary of what is more or less my position, too. 

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Isn't the core issue is whether to choose liberty and freedom of action? EU is centralizing so now choosing to stay means giving up policies which has made London the financial capital of the world. Freedom of action is critical in the knowledge age where the traditional light hand of UK regulation will be an increasingly beneficial as against Statist regulatory regimes where the stupid rarely ends and bureaucrats rarely admit their mistakes.

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Your second paragraph, however, goes right to the heart of what I am trying to understand: the hidden benefits and costs.  I'll need to think about what you've said and read more.  My first reading if what you wrote is that mainland Europe has benefited more from Britain's influence than Britain has, but maybe that is arrogant.

 

Even if it was true that the EU has benefited more from the UK than the other way around, would this make for an argument against a membership? This is not the relevant question. What matters for GB is whether they benefit more from a membership than from being outside. I highly doubt that you'll find sensible economic arguments that show that being outside will be better. Also think about the fact that GB will face a far less liberal EU if it decides to leave, simply be because the EU would have lost its driving liberal force by then. The current issue of the Economist has a good summary of what is more or less my position, too.

 

I could argue that if the EU benefits more from the UK than vice versa, then the EU's influence on the UK must by definition be negative - for the reasons Aberhound proposes, probably.  I'm not sure I care very much if the EU becomes less liberal if we leave - in fact in the end I think that would be its undoing and I don't see the benefit of delaying that.

 

Thanks for the recommendation of the Economist - will find and read.

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Your second paragraph, however, goes right to the heart of what I am trying to understand: the hidden benefits and costs.  I'll need to think about what you've said and read more.  My first reading if what you wrote is that mainland Europe has benefited more from Britain's influence than Britain has, but maybe that is arrogant.

 

Even if it was true that the EU has benefited more from the UK than the other way around, would this make for an argument against a membership? This is not the relevant question. What matters for GB is whether they benefit more from a membership than from being outside. I highly doubt that you'll find sensible economic arguments that show that being outside will be better. Also think about the fact that GB will face a far less liberal EU if it decides to leave, simply be because the EU would have lost its driving liberal force by then. The current issue of the Economist has a good summary of what is more or less my position, too.

 

I could argue that if the EU benefits more from the UK than vice versa, then the EU's influence on the UK must by definition be negative - for the reasons Aberhound proposes, probably.  I'm not sure I care very much if the EU becomes less liberal if we leave - in fact in the end I think that would be its undoing and I don't see the benefit of delaying that.

 

Thanks for the recommendation of the Economist - will find and read.

 

If you argued this way you'd be assuming that it's a zero sum game where what the EU wins Britains have to lose. Highly unlikely that that's the case. Britain should care very much about other EU countries becoming less liberal. Germany becoming more mercantilistic would be at least as bad for the UK as it would be for Germany…

 

I really don't understand the British Brexit movement. What you want is having your neighbors freely trading with you. Leaving the EU is the best way to make this less likely and to give up all the influence and advantages the UK has been fighting for for decades. In my opinion, it's highly irrational and much more driven by emotions and an understandable hate for bureaucracy. But thinking that a formally more autonomous UK will actually be more autonomous and, above that, better-off when leaving is delusional.

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I could argue that if the EU benefits more from the UK than vice versa

 

And that's the nationalist egoistic argument to exit. "We would do better without EU". Maybe - although I think ni-co is right and you won't. But then let's split England from Wales, London from the rest of the England, and so on. Cause why support those less rich and less productive regions? They just benefit more from you than you from them.  ::)

 

The whole reason for EU is that it improves Europe on average. There are some benefits for rich countries, there are some benefits for poorer countries. There are benefits for well (or OK) governed countries, there are benefits for less well governed ones. But yeah, the benefits are not equally distributed and some of them are not even acknowledged as benefits by some (like internal job migration).

 

It's an easy and wrong solution for rich country/region/etc. to leave just because they are presumably getting less than they are putting in. In my opinion both sides lose from this decision. But even if only the "poorer" or "more bureaucratic" side lost, the decision would still be wrong.

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Jurgis why would you not, then, unite the entire world under one government?

 

I actually agree with your moral argument on the face of it.  But I worry that:

a) the bigger the unit of democracy, the smaller the power of the individual area/person to influence policy, meaning that you bottle up tensions everywhere that the government is influenced by them and isn't working for us, which historically is very dangerous.

b) the more the poorer countries are bailed out by the richer ones the less incentive they have to sort out their poor policies - so your moral argument could perhaps be turned on its head.

 

I realise I'm sounding like a diehard "out"er - I am not, I'm merely offering the counterarguments to the tone of this thread.  I'm genuinely undecided, although I lean towards out for political, not economic, reasons.

 

P

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Jurgis why would you not, then, unite the entire world under one government?

 

I would. But it would depend on the government - and that's clearly your chance to say "Aha, EU is not the good government" - and I may partially agree. :)

 

And, yes, I might be biased, because I believe that EU government is better than Lithuanian or Hungarian governments. In case of UK, my guess that there are parts of EU rules and regulations that are better than what UK has had, there are parts that are bad and negatively impacting UK. IMO, pro-exit'ers are closing their eyes on benefits and perhaps some pro-EUers are closing their eyes on negatives. I don't know exactly what the balance is for UK, but even if the balance is somewhat negative (not overwhelmingly negative), I'd stay with pro-EU.

 

BTW, I may be exaggerating, but a lot of arguments for Brexit sound like arguments that could be used to argue about splitting USA or Canada into pieces. I don't think that would be a great idea either. ;)

 

Edit: BTW, I should acknowledge that there is some reason in your 2 counterarguments. I don't think I agree with them completely - my counterargument to a) would be USA, my counterargument to b) is that I am not talking about bailouts but rather about rules/laws and moral/ethical/philosophical influence. IMHO, young generation of Eastern Europeans benefited a lot from the EU values, rules and laws, even if sometimes there are countermovements against them. 

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Trying to think of historical examples of countries being better off after breaking up from a formed union. Can't think of any.

 

Leaving would be like giving up in a marathon because you have signs of cramping. Hydrate and take some salt instead.

 

The EU has flaws that need to be fixed, but what is the evidence that it's so flawed it won't be fixed?

It's much easier to come up with examples where incremental improvements turned a so-so thing into something great.

 

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