I love Europe. No, genuinely, I do. I drink German wheat beer by the gallon, enjoy Scandi-noir on a regular basis and am a self-confessed Eurovision obsessive. Hell, I’ve even become addicted to some Spanish television series – Locked Up (Vis a vis), watch it, it’s pretty great.
Living just a few miles from continental Europe puts me within reach of a vast land, teeming with different cultures, experiences and people. And hey, we don’t even go to war with each other anymore.
None of that, however, makes me want to vote to Remain in the European Union on 23 June.
I’ve bored those who’ve had the diligence to traipse through my ramblings for months – years, even – on the democratic failings of the EU, the organisation’s incompetence and its sheer wastage. Now it’s time to explain why any attempts to integrate these amazing countries – politically, economically and culturally – is foolhardy.
It’s because we, as a continent, are so different that it’s impossible to meld us together. For more than four decades until 1989, the European divide was a political, vertical one slicing through Germany. Now, there’s an economic, horizontal line cutting the continent in half.
In the north we have the Germanys and the Frances who, despite having their own problems are faring far better than the Spains and the Greeces, where unemployment runs rampant. What good has the Euro project done them? Instead of leaving the single currency last year and devaluing, the Greeks were imposed with more EU straitjacketing – not helped by the toothless Syriza government and its turncoat leader, Alexis Tsipras. Iceland, meanwhile, simply jailed the bankers and devalued its currency when their financial crisis hit in 2008.
Eight years on, Icelandics are doing well. Economic growth has returned and is steady, while unemployment has fallen to around 3 percent, just six years after it ballooned to nearly 10. Unsurprisingly, desire to join the EU club is low. Yet instead of returning to monetary sovereignty, Greece has been lumped with bailout after bailout and debts they’ll never be able to repay. And for what? Unemployment in Greece has remained at 25 percent or more for four years now, while youth unemployment reached a staggering 60 percent in 2013, and is still at more than 50 percent now.
For the EU, maintaining the dream of its founders is considered way more important than the welfare of the people. That alone rubbishes the Remain campaign’s line that Brussels bureaucrats are champions for workers’ rights. One can only be grateful that we have not, as yet, been dragged into the euro.
Yet a Remain vote on 23 June would be an implicit acceptance for further integration – nothing would be off the table long-term. There is no “new deal”. Special exemptions don’t work in federalism, and nor should they. David Cameron is selling the British people a dud. If countries started exercising vetoes left, right and centre, the EU would never get anything done.
Europe is much too brilliant and vibrant to be represented on the world stage by a bunch of beige, unaccountable politicians. That’s not to say we shouldn’t cooperate together – of course we should. After all, time spent talking is time not fighting. But the EU in its current state is not responsible for peace. If anything, it threatens it. Euroscepticism is rife across Europe, and while the rise of Right-wing (and in cases far-Right) parties is welcome in some cases, it is terrifying in others. The UK is lucky to have something of an alternative in the UK Independence Party, but other countries are deprived of a real choice.
On the continent we are seeing nationalism, but not as we know it. The ‘them’ in “us and them” is a group of unaccountable, unelected politicians; not demonised immigrants. The worse off a country is, the worse its democratic options become. Nearly one in 10 Greeks are now dabbling with neo-Nazism (Golden Dawn), while many have given up voting altogether – turnout at the last Greek general election was a mere 56.6 percent.
Britain is very fortunate. It’s not too deep into the EU that it’s beyond repair, and the exit door has presented itself after persistent knocking. The dangers of integration EU-style are clear, and next, it will be a military. I don’t just want the UK to get out; I want the other 27 EU nations to free themselves too. But if we choose not to walk through that door next month, we will have approved a failure and be solely responsible for our own demise.