Open Europe Blog

In today’s Daily Mail, Max Hastings makes a self-described recantation of his formerly “pro-European” stance:

“After much agonising and hesitation, I adopt the conclusion that many of you probably reached years ago: that the EU in its present form has become a disaster, which threatens the future of its major members, unless its terms and powers are drastically recast.”

His argument for the change of heart is powerful – although we would argue that pointing out the failings of the EU doesn’t mean that Hastings can no longer describe himself as “pro-European”, just that he is now a “pro-European” of a different sort.

He cites a long list of burdensome EU regulations, such as the Temporary Agency Workers Directive and the Resale Rights Directive, which are holding back the UK and other EU members from competing with the world’s emerging economies:

“At a time when we face a historic challenge from Asia, the EU makes it almost impossible to adopt measures essential to strengthening its members’ competitiveness, above all the relaxation of employment law. This has become, for practical purposes, unemployment law.”He lists other failures too. The lack of a meaningful foreign policy, the corruption of the European Parliament and, of course, the failed Single Currency, whose perceived success, in Hasting’s words, “was an illusion created by smoke, mirrors, prodigious subsidy and reckless borrowing.”

For Hastings, “membership of the EU in its present form has become a blight, imposing unacceptable social, cultural, commercial and industrial burdens and constraints” but the option of outright withdrawal is rejected, which he suggests would quickly lead to “lonely isolation”:

“I realise that quitting Europe would engage us in a crisis that would sap the entire energy and attentions of any British government for years.

But it has become essential to repatriate powers from Brussels. This is not in furtherance of isolationism, but of the economic imperative to strengthen our competitive position in the world and repair our social fabric.”

It’s well worth a read in full.

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