Neymar's leaving Barcelona: 'Bon Voyage' or 'Good Riddance?'

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Toggle display of website navigation Argument: June 19, , 2: The Chancellor of the Exchequer, Gordon Brown, is expected to announce whether Britain should enter the European Economic and Monetary Union, based on the five tests he outlined as being vital to Britain adopting the Euro.

The government is due to announce by June 7, , whether there will be a referendum on joining the single currency. Which is to say that Dutch feelings are not representative of European feelings more broadly — nor should they be considered flattering for Britain. It was the Dutch who, in the s, were already pleading for British membership in the Union, although the attempts of the Dutch Foreign Minister Joseph Luns at the time were blocked by French President Charles de Gaulle.

In Paris and Berlin, older notions about a socially responsible state still hold sway; in London, they were driven out thirty years ago, replaced by an ideology of privatization. For British governments, and for the Conservative Party in charge of the current iteration especially, the EU was never intended to be more than a distribution outlet for British exports — nowadays, mostly financial products.

This vision of Europe as mainly a trade market is also shared by a lot of contemporary Dutch politicians. Older, idealistic notions of a political union as a means to uphold internal European peace have been mostly replaced by materialistic ones.

Uri Rosenthal, the Dutch foreign minister from to and an ideological godfather to the current prime minister, once bluntly declared — to the astonishment of most of his own civil servants — that the main reason the Netherlands became an EU member state was to augment our rather modest domestic market — that is, to ensure more consumers for our cheese and tomatoes.

His view is shared by many of our compatriots. A Brexit would deprive the Dutch of an important ally in their desire to reduce the European Union to a simple business venture. Over the course of its 40 years as an EU member, London has consistently supported efforts to further enlarge the Union, for states ranging from Turkey to Ukraine.

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The result has been, in effect, a subtle form of sabotage: The bigger the EU, the looser it, by necessity, has had to become. If the British vote on June 23 for staying in the Union, they are expected to do so with such a small majority that, even afterwards, the discussion will not be over. Should London be asked to make some kind of new sacrifice for the common European cause, like contributing extra to the EU budget for helping Greece or having a proportional share in the reception of refugees, we might expect it to begin even sooner.

Europe, in the eyes of a large proportion of its inhabitants, has come to be regarded not as a shelter, but as a threat.

This is due in part to the work of Britain, which insists on dragging Europe in a free market direction that runs contrary to the instincts of most of its citizens. Most European citizens cherish the nationally organized welfare state. The European Union gradually has become the incarnation of the reverse — of flexibility, privatization, and deregulation, which together have resulted in the demolition of social security arrangements deemed essential by the lower and middle classes. Competing taxation policies have resulted in the reduction of state budgets for education, housing, health care, and other collective efforts; large gaps in both the wage levels and the welfare policies of EU member states have, thanks to open borders, resulted in large-scale migrations that have put the wages of richer countries in northern and western Europe under pressure.

To give just one example, in , during the French referendum on the European constitution, the management of a car factory in Mulhouse decided to outsource most of its manufacturing jobs to Romania, a soon-to-be EU member state.

They would be allowed to continue their jobs — as seasonal workers in Romania — if they would accept Romanian wage levels. There would be no such arrangement for the managers, of course, who managed to convince shareholders to in fact, pay them more as a result of the savings they generated.

It would be no wonder if most of those workers voted against Europe in the subsequent EU constitutional referendum. When Brussels has suggested potential measures to provide more economic protection to normal Europeans, it has been mainly — although not only — Britain, that, in the past, has stood in the way, the better to protect the financial interests of big business.

Consider the many proposals for rules that might discipline the financial markets that Britain has readily slapped down, as London regards the City as the core of its national revenue model.

Westminster wants unlimited access to the common market, but declines any fiscal or social obligations. It engages in unfair fiscal and social competition that results in tax paradises for the rich and low wages for the poor in Britain, and forces more civilized countries to follow it in this race to the bottom, leading them to dismantle, against the will of their own citizens, a welfare state model that has long assured security for all.

Thus, far from being the last straw for a struggling polity, a Brexit might be just what Brussels needs to reverse course and to gain back the necessary support of its own citizens again.

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