Britain and EU: Common problems but different solutions

If one thinks about Brexit and many of the problems faced by the EU, it could be said that they are in fact very similar in nature. Whether they are economic, often seriously aggravated by poor wealth distribution, to immigration and security, the problems faced are similar. Not only that but they are in fact common to many other countries including the USA.

But the way in which Britain and the EU has chosen to fight them is radically different. In Europe, this struggle for solutions has (as indeed in Britain and the US) manifest itself as a populist rise against authority and rebelling against tradition. Donald Trump's election in the US is a case in point; but that said it is not so different from Leo Varadkar in Ireland, Emmanuel Macron in France And Sebastian Kurz in Austria, all of whom are very young, under 40 years old.

The first of these has left-leaning political bent while the other two tend towards the right. But they have one thing in common. All of them seek to find problems to the solutions within the EU sphere and not try to break it apart. Between them they are pressuring the EU into change and mark my words, it is coming. From the economics of Macron, to the immigration policies of Kurz, the pressure on the EU is immense. If we add to this the loss in popularity in recent years of Germany's Merkel who is held responsible for the, (what some would call irresponsible) decision to allow over 1 million refugees into Europe back in 2015, the demand for reform is growing. But unlike Britain, its policy is to look to the future and not the past. Two problems are recognized. Their employment/ permanent residence and the entry points onto the continent. With unemployment being high in many of the poorer countries, the last thing they need is to have their own problems compounded by becoming the entry point of the illegals onto the continent. These of course are the countries bordering on the Mediterranean like Italy, Spain and also Greece. The solution: much more help will need to be given them (financial) by the richer countries - and this will happen.

Then there is the hole of €11 bn. left in the EU budget by the exit of Britain. First of all the hole represent only 11/157= 6.9% of he EU budget. A tightening of the administrative budget alone could account for most of it. Whether it's lower salaries for the higher paid officials (which would be very popular with the voters everywhere) or a high speed rail between Brussels and Hapsburg saving an additional €120 mn./ yr, the solution is relatively easy.

Then there are massive savings that could be made by moving some of the burden for competitiveness and growth onto the private sector. Policies such as penalizing corporations for sitting on their reserves instead of investing them, and treating tax cuts as windfalls rather than incentives for investment would go a long way towards alleviating this burden. It would also further boost the forecast growth for 2018 onward.

Also, closing tax loopholes, clamping down on tax avoidance could also help, especially if done as an entirety rather than on a country by country basis. Apple in Ireland is a case in point. It may be necessary to allow some disparity in order to give poorer and smaller countries an advantage, but overall it would be very beneficial to the EU. Any fears that corporations would up and leave is totally unfounded as the EU market is far too lucrative for outsiders not to take advantage of it. Anyway you look at it, the €.11 bn can easily be made up, and the very process of trying to make such savings would actually strengthen its cohesion (as long as it isn't done the UK way of austerity).

By contrast, the UK way is retroactive, choosing instead to turn the clock back two hundred years to the days of imperialism. Policies of divide and rule will no longer work in the EU, and reducing the power of the unions to complain, austerity and fiddling economic figures is not a sustainable solution. The ultra-right drivers of the Brexit movement cannot succeed, if for no other reason than these days, more than ever, truth will out. Trying to con people that the UK is doing great when it is falling further behind in the international tables will only work for so long. A crumbling, under-subsidized infra-structure, and an ever growing disparity between services London, and rural/ manufacturing north will eventually bring everybody down. Also, the outright lies and misdirection of the economy can only work for so long. Just how long can you keep telling somebody, you're not really hungry; after all we are rich?

That doesn't even take into account a government and Brexit policy hell-bent on driving a wedge between its own members, like Scotland, Ireland and even Wales.

In conclusion I want to share BBC's Norman Smith's commentary (he said tongue in cheek) on an event he was covering in Germany (Sorry-can't remember which one) but I do remember his response to a question from Daily Politics's Jo Coburn. When asked for the impact of the event on Brexit it was, it could be for or against us, or both or neither. Kinda sums it up doesn't it?

While you are here you might want to checkout our petition demanding the final decision be returned to the people and not left to parliament and the politicians. Whatever you point of view on Brexit, Do you really trust them not to mess it up?

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