Brexit, Schmexit, it’s globalisation rather than Brussels that squeezes national sovereignty…

Caroline de Gruyter is the correspondent for NRC Handelsblad in Vienna, and she makes an important point about the rather faux character of the debate on the EU Referendum, thus far…

A former village mayor conceded to me that Swiss locals had become rich by selling vineyards to multinational companies and by renting out houses to the new globalized middle class. Life was good, he said; the well-off immigrants Switzerland had managed to attract made other nationals green with envy.

“But we’ve sold our souls and destroyed our social tissue,” he added. Another official complained that the government was ignoring the Swiss refusal to join the EU: “It doesn’t matter how we vote. Every year, we get more EU regulation via the back door.”

So those who claim that certain EU member states should leave the union and be like Switzerland are deceiving the electorate. Switzerland has the same problem as EU countries: a considerable loss of sovereignty. The cause is not Brussels, but globalization. Quitting the EU is therefore a false remedy, and it is time those fantasists up north realized that.

That would be the political trilemma again, a matter already amply covered in Slugger’s archive

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  • Sergiogiorgio

    So what are we arguing about here? The UK having a democratic vote to leave the EU or the impact of globalisation or both. One we can, and should, do something about. The other we have or no control over. Switzerland would appear to me to be doing well out its current arrangements. Greece on the other hand is a financial basket case….you choose.

  • jonlivesey

    If globalization is the driving force, then the UK should represent itself in international forums instead of depending on the EU to do it. There is no way that the EU is ever going to put UK interests ahead of those of France and Germany.

  • Kevin Breslin

    It does. The big problem is the twin desire to be part of a common market but have absolutely nothing in common with it partially driven by xenophobic fears around diversities.

    Before joining the EC, the UK was struggling with unilateral “Take it or leave it” deals that were inflation rocketed, and manufacturing and trade declined, inconsistent with a post-colonial world where other nation states had freedom to compare trading partners. Sick Man of Europe, comparisons with Turkey who were following a similar our rules or no deal hard-balling approach with no compromise or partnership.

    There is no real constraint on bilateral relations with non-EU countries. The idea that every foreign tariff outside of Europe will go away is nonsense. UK has billion pound bilateral oil deals with Brazil that the Eurosceptics don’t want to admit exist.

    Every bilateral trade deal will be a give and a take, and I’m sorry but the Eurosceptics aren’t very vocal about the “Giving” part for some reason

    There is no reason to believe that the UK would get any better a deal from the Cricket Players than from the Ryder Cup partners.

    The economy of scale efficiency measures from the EU’s CAP and science programs will be lost. India doesn’t want the UK’s charity, China think it’s only useful for the Premier League and to Study in (both significantly will change leaving the EU) but they don’t want to be involved in cross-border European based EU funded science programs, in terms of diplomatic clout and flag waving getting a sweet deal with the BRICS is a dead-duck already.

    Instead they will put some trade barriers to European supply lines that will lose the confidence of indigenous industries. Loss of freedom of movement the most obvious trade barrier, but also non-conformist standards and loss of trade structures. At worse a bomb-fire of regulations and treaties merely validates a smash and crash approach to international relations and international structures.

    Given a £23 billion pound deficit with EU-27, and bigger deficits with non-EU countries playing “hardball” as UKIP suggest will only be responded in like. Trade in insults would be cut because they would lose a forum to air their spite in the European parliament.

    A protectionist UK driven by the far right will look at fracking, lignite mining and unsustainable fishing to drive its economy at the expense of the renewal and recycling of resources or the expansion of knowledge transfer.

    And Mick is right about globalisation, there is no such thing as “our own trade” any more, if not the EU, the UK would have to deal with massive international country blocks in other continents to get what it wants.

    The key question inside or outside the EU with low UK productivity, what exactly does the UK trade with the rest of the world? Boris put it best…

    Why are we still, person for person, so much less productive than the Germans? That is now a question more than a century old, and the answer has nothing to do with the EU.”

    Germany – that has all the disadvantages that UKIP moan about … being in the EU, having the Euro, open border with Poland, half post-Communist nation, Bailing out the Greeks etc. Same treaties and free trade issues, Same contagion effect from the Financial crisis.

    People need to realize that the real reason why the UK trades more with Ireland, than say China, India, Brazil combined, is that Ireland can get these goods cheaper from the UK than anywhere else, but China, India, Brazil have far cheaper sources to trade with so it is not the case for those three economies. It’s only high order manufacturing goods that are built by multinational joined up plants based in the UK for one part and in other EU countries for others that have demand, the other thing they want is food, which has been stabilized and subsidized by CAP. A third thing they would want is scientific networks, which would be reduced if the UK pulls out of Big Science European projects.

  • Kevin Breslin

    Switzerland’s problem has been reliance on a financial sector exposed by the Great Recession. To pick the struggler in the EU, you may as well pick non-EU nations within the EU who are struggling regardless, like the Ukraine or even Iceland both still with heavy IMF bailouts.

    Ukraine would love to be in the position Greece is debt wise or economy wise. But Switzerland is not all flowers and roses either: