Gary's News and views

Gary Streeter MP for South West Devon

Gary writes a weekly article which appears in the Plympton Plymstock and Ivybridge News in South West Devon. The articles are published here.


Friday, 7 October 2011

Is European union an unrealistic dream?
Jan and I went to Portugal for 7 days last week and wherever we pottered I tried to extract from Portuguese shopkeepers, restaurateurs and business people how they were feeling about their economy. I have never encountered so much gloom! They were having a poor season as fewer tourists were travelling to their shores than normal. Few had a kind word to say about the Euro and they all expected a hard slog for many years until their economy clawed its way out of its debt-ridden despond.
I completely understand why European post war politicians embarked upon the European Adventure. The desire to tie Germany and France together to minimise the risk of future European wars was a commendable vision. It was not just the two great wars of the twentieth century that shaped their thinking, but the several centuries of conflict before that.
I also understand the thinking behind the single currency. If you are going to have a single market, it is much easier to trade and travel if everyone is using the same money.
But both of these ambitious ventures suffered from the same fatal flaw: the harsh reality of human nature. To succeed, these projects require a continuously unifying form of governance so that in the end the European Union effectively has only one government – a United States of Europe. The problem is, the peoples of individual member states do not wish to be governed in that way. The vast majority of us are wedded to the notion that the inhabitants of each individual country should elect their own government and make their own laws.
We have been a member of this club for nearly 40 years now and far from people gradually buying into the ideal of a European identity and central governance, the British people are less and less happy about European rule. It seems that most people groups throughout Europe feel precisely the same.
To save the euro, they must either ditch the debt-ridden basket cases like Greece or move towards a much more integrated system where the debts of the weaker are carried indefinitely by the stronger who also force their conditions on the ones they are bailing out. Ask any student of history whether this is likely to succeed.
As this unfolds in the next few years, we must seize the opportunity of renegotiating our relationship with the EU, to better accord with the wishes of our people.


posted by Gary @ 07:46