Random musings on the EU

I was reading this article fairly recently, which talks about Britain and a "two-speed Europe" - apparently, George Osborne's flip-flopped around on the issue a bit. Now he thinks that although Britain has a strong interest in the survival of the single currency, bailing Greece out is off-limits and we should have a two-speed EU, with eurozone countries as some kind of inner circle and with us on the outside.

The article explains it better than I do. Hell, some of the comments (if you dare delve into the glorified insult-slinging which makes up a fair bit of the comments section) explain it better than I do, but these are just some of my random thoughts.

  • Firstly, a two-speed Europe is a bit of a moronic thing to do if Britain wants any influence in the world (which it should aim for if we're to get the economy back on its feet and if we're not to become totally irrelevant). We can no longer afford to isolate ourselves and hope that the colonies will prop us up - we have to work with someone, either America or the EU. America's out of the question - the special relationship doesn't exist any longer - so the EU is pretty much all that's left, and as some commentators have pointed out, we might be in quite the position to influence it if we so chose.
  • This isn't the same as supporting the single currency, which I don't - I think that trying to tie together several wildly different economies with one currency was a stupid idea, and it still is. Still, Britain should bail out the struggling eurozone countries, as if they default we'll also be affected - not just the eurozone itself, but also the EU and anyone who's had exposure to government bonds. This is quite possibly the last thing anyone needs.
  • In an ideal world, I'd very much like the euro to break up, but right now is not the time to do it. Actually, it's probably not a good idea at any time, so best to fix the problem by bailing out struggling countries. My preferred solution would be to not expand the eurozone at all, but given the political bitching one would get in Brussels (and probably also from some of the countries wishing to join the euro) I don't think that'll happen.
  • Rhode Island and the USA cannot be compared to Britain and the EU. Firstly, Rhode Island is a state and Britain is a country. Rhode Island does not have its own economy, while Britain does. Secondly, while the US states may have a fair amount of autonomy and they're all fairly different, they don't compare to the country-level autonomy of EU members (still quite a lot, despite what the Eurosceptics would have us believe) and they're not as different as EU members: hell, we don't even speak the same language, let alone have similar economies! There's no way that EU members could ever relate to the EU like US states relate to the US, short of an all-out war - which no-one's going to have right now.
  • For all the bad things said about the EU, I do think there's some potential in there. I personally am a fan of the Schengen Agreement, for instance, and I like what it's trying to do for education. I just think that some (OK, a lot) of the implementation is wrong, involving too much red tape and not enough transparency. Sometimes it's not even that - there are a fair number of sites out there, but I don't know how many people actually bother to check them instead of reading the Daily Fail. Most of the politics is done between leaders as well rather than involving the common people - granted, there are over 500 million people and it gets a bit complicated, but someone should have thought of that.