The Grumpy Old Man

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....An analysis of the EU and how its development inevitably lead to Brexit....

I have been requested by one of my readers to give my views on Brexit. I must confess, I have been rather reluctant to do this as I know that it is a hypersensitive topic on which everybody has their views and these views are not always shared by one's nearest and dearest. Brexit I know has caused rifts in families and lifelong friendships. It is for this reason I've been reluctant to give a point of view. Brexit, is all about politics and the "now". However, being pressed for a point of view, I will give one. At the end of the day, nobody knows what will happen until well after article 50 is activated but let's face it, when all the jawing has taken place and negotiations are complete, Planet Earth will still go round the sun. However, as the embryonic new World Order develops and gathers pace, it will be a completely different place politically, most of all in Europe.

In order to understand a little of how Brexit came about, you should look at how the EU started and developed to where it is now.

Briefly, the roots of the EU go back to 1951 when the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC) was established by the Treaty of Paris. Founding nations were Belgium, France, Italy, The Netherlands, Luxembourg and West Germany (at the time Germany was still partitioned from World War II into East (Communist dominated) and West Germany (" Parliamentary" democracy dominated). The founder's aim was "to make war not only unthinkable, but materially impossible". The Treaty created a "common market" for coal and steel among its members. Note: it was essentially a Market or trading agreement.

The European Economic Community (EEC) was established in 1957 by the Treaty of Rome. The founding members were the same as the ECSC. The aim of the EEC was to provide "economic integration including a Common Market and Customs Union" amongst its members.

These two organisations were merged in 1965 providing a single market allowing for free movement of goods, capital, services and people within the EEC. (The agreement forming this merger also extended the internal market to member states of the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) thus forming the European economic area.

That's all fine, and Grumpy likes it! However, he would point out that the foundations of the EEC were solidly based on "Trade". Grumpy has no doubt that in the minds of some of the founders, there was always the dream of political union as well.

The UK joined the EEC in 1973. It is of particular interest that at this time, the UK (by population) was the second largest member of the EEC. What is of interest, is that it took over 12 years for the U.K.'s application to be accepted. Without doubt, the main stumbling block was the French President; Charles de Gaulle. Grumpy recalls that he kept saying "non", claiming that the British were not "sufficiently European". Strangely enough, Grumpy believes that, in an obtuse sort of way, this was a fundamental "truth". It all depends on how you define "European". Charles de Gaulle clearly had much narrower views on what constituted a European! It is quite obvious to Grumpy that he was thinking of total political integration (like the USA) which had previously been attempted by King Philip of Spain, Napoleon and various other central Europeans. What Grumpy would say is, "come on lads, grow up, look at any map and you'll see the British Isles are part of Europe". But then so are large tracts of Russia and other States that Grumpy can never see being part of the European Union.

In 1993 with the Maastricht Treaty, the EEC became the European Union and the Treaty embraced a much wider range of matters other than basic economic policy. Maastricht and subsequent other treaties tended to go further and further into political and financial integration and it is this matter that Grumpy believes has ultimately resulted in the Brexit vote. I would point out that at the time of the Maastricht Treaty, I did see a copy of it. It was at least a couple of inches thick, and the British public were asked, by referendum, to ratify it in the space of, at most, a couple of months. Nobody, but nobody whatsoever, could possibly have read and understood it all. Personally, I doubt that many of the authors, (to write a document that size must have been a multi-tasked exercise), had a full understanding of all parts of the document. But it did start down the road of "political integration" and therefore the ultimate watering down of national parliaments, more simply National Sovereignty. (Grumpy's capitals, because he believes it to be supremely important and valuable)

The Lisbon (or Reform) Treaty reformed the political mechanics and structure of the now EU. By virtue of its alternative name, it clearly did more than admit accession states to the EU. The reforms changed the political structure and mechanics of the EU further reducing National Sovereignty by transferring many powers to the central behemoth, the unelected and largely unaccountable European Commission.

The Nice Treaty is also important. Although amending the Maastricht and Lisbon Treaties it further increased the powers of the EU (again reducing National Sovereignty) further illustrating the point of "who is in power". Most members of the EU were, constitutionally, able to ratify both Nice and Lisbon treaties purely through National Parliamentary debate and approval. Ireland, having a fully written constitution, felt that a national referendum was necessary. Press reports claimed the EU were horrified at the thought of this, as they were afraid that the electorate would say "no way Josť!". For once, the EU were right and both treaties were bounced by the Irish electorate. What really stinks about this is the EU refused to accept the democratic decision of the Irish electorate. Surely, it would have been in their best interest to ascertain why the electorate voted against these treaties. It smacks of dictatorship rather than democracy to rap the Irish over the knuckles and say "wrong answer, take a detention and answer the question again!" How arrogant, bossy and dictatorial can these people get? Mind you, I would observe that it is perhaps a great pity that the Irish toed the line second time round as the EU had no fallback situation in the eventuality of rejection.

The difference between "EU" or "National" jurisdiction is quite complex and detailed discussion of this can be found in Wikipedia. However, within the context of this Grump, two of the areas of jurisdiction which are defined by these treaties have a huge bearing on Brexit.

The treaties established that the EU has "sole" jurisdiction over

customs union
competition rules
monetary policy, it is much as it relates to members of the Eurozone
fisheries policy
certain international agreements, (trade is an example of one of these) By "sole jurisdiction" is meant that the EU sets the rules and member states must comply.

The treaties established that the EU has "restricted" jurisdiction over;

the internal market
agriculture (Common agricultural policy)
citizens freedom, security and justice
safety and public health "Restricted jurisdiction" states is that "member states "can" legislate if the EU "has not" done so.

The first thing to consider when looking at these two groups is the "authority" of those who take the decisions. And Grumpy must confess that this is one area about which he feels continually annoyed and disturbed. Exercising these jurisdictions in a huge number of examples seems to emanate from the "EU Commission". It is important to remember that members of the EU Commission are unelected, but nominated by member states. (There are now so many member states, that each state does not always nominate a Commissioner). The maximum number of commissioners any member state can nominate is one. Although some of the commissioners I am sure of very able, I am equally convinced that many are appointed on "a grace and favour" rather than "capability" basis. Such an appointment method is wide open to nepotism and cronyism. Whichever way you look at it, they are a totally unelected body. And here they are laying down the law to member states. To Grumpy, that smacks of the thin end of the wedge for a dictatorship. Whichever way you look at it, this is an erosion of the Sovereignty of member states.

It is this loss of SOVEREIGNTY that Brexit is all about. The economy is a consequence, not the basic reason.

Finally a quick comment on the actual mechanism for leaving the EU. This is covered in the Lisbon Treaty. In particular "article 50". In short, this states that any member state may activate the leave procedure by formally notifying the EU commission, in writing, of its intention. From that point, the treaty says, the two parties have a maximum of two years in which to complete an agreement on all aspects of the separation, unless an extension of this period is mutually agreed by both parties. Again, the script of article 50 is easy to find on the Internet.

Grumpy accepts that there will be financial ramifications of Brexit, but they are actually just a sideline. The main reason for Brexit is to make UK Sovereignty the jurisdiction of the UK Parliament and not some unelected, overpaid windbag in the EU.

To read more about Grumpy's views on much of what has been said about Brexit to see Big Bro 5-1 click here and to see bigbro5-2 click here