March 16, 2011
Having spent the last few weeks in the UK, I have had the chance to see the media in full force. When it comes to the relationship between the UK and Europe, it is not a very pretty sight.
News reports on television seem – to me at least – to be quite impartial. They tend to explain a few facts, cut to a shot of a government minister or two, perhaps interview a member of the public that may be impacted and then its, “Back to you, George”. I see very little that is untoward.
In contrast, the national daily papers seem to be frothing at the mouth!
The population of the UK is not exactly pro-European. I don’t think I need expand too much on that. Many British politicians seem to be less than enthusiastic too. Since they come from and represent that eurosceptic population, that should be no shock either. Therefore, it should come as little surprise that the UK print media uses those feelings to sell into.
However, I am forced to ask one question?
Why is every decision involving Europe viewed as being a threat to British national sovereignty?
It seems to me that there are a great many decisions made in and involving Europe that could be termed as ‘representing interests’. These are made all over the place in every policy area.
We have all seen these decisions before. Some countries defend their positions in an area because of the size and impact of the industry to their economy, historical precedents etc. They are defending their important interests, and in other areas, may have much less to worry about.
Being a relatively large country (in EU terms), the UK has lots of interests and lots of positions that may be helpful or harmful. I’m sure that this is much more pronounced than for smaller countries.
But for some reason, any and every decision that is less than 100% beneficial for the UK, or is just explained poorly to people, is taken as an affront to our very existence.
I wish I could explain why.
A few weeks ago the European Court of Human Rights ruled on gender issues in the insurance market. The UK press went crazy over this – Brussels imposing stupid rules on the UK. Were they stupid rules?
I’m not so sure.
But more than that, everyone that has spoken to me about it has interpreted it as being a life or death decision for the UK.
We all take for granted the idea that women should not face discrimination in the workplace. Gender equality is a very accepted fact of life in offices and factories across the EU. If we don’t like gender discrimination in the workplace, why would we be upset if it is tackled in the insurance market?
I personally believe that insurance should be purely numbers based, but I can at least understand why this has happened. And yet, a very large part of the UK population view this as being a terrible event.
I do not propose to understand how we got to this stage. But I would like to see politicians at least try and explain to people a little better whether something is in the British interest or not. That might help people to understand when they ought to be concerned about a new rule or directive.
Otherwise, it seems that the distancing that has passed in recent weeks between the UK and other major EU nations may continue. Perhaps this can broadly be defined as the ‘Eurozone’ group.
This distancing has been underway between the UK population and Europe for as long as I have known and long before me, and has come and gone at a political level. Yet the coalition government seems to be the most eurosceptic so far. If EU leaders add distance as well, it won’t be long and the UK will need to start thinking seriously about pulling out of the Union.
All this because we cannot tell the difference between an interest and a genuine threat to sovereignty? Surely not.financialguy