Hit the Brakes

Automotive Honda Civic

Nick Timothy writes in the the Telegraph today of the hypocrisy of those who marvel at the wonders of the EU and berate the ‘beast’ that is the US. But when you look at the stats, he says, the US has done far more for international peace and the environment than Germany has in recent years, despite Trump’s apparently inward looking agenda.

He argues that Germany and the US both operate at a national level, and that their decisions are based on maintaining a balance between their own interests and relationships between countries, but generally will always put the former first. Neither countries, he says, is better or worse on it’s own merits that the other, and both are important allies to the UK.

The implicit argument is that national interests will usually trump the wider, international order, and so despite all of the EU’s calls for ever tighter integration, there is only so far people will allow it to be taken before they put the brakes on. The UK, never really part of the EU project in the same way as rest of the EU 27, hit the brakes early. But others will, sooner or later have their feet off the accelerator and hovering over the brake pedal.

To me, it feels like the European project is floundering, not because the dream is to be a United States of Europe, as was perhaps, I think, the original vision. If you look at how much more decentralised the US has compared to the way the EU is going, the vision, in reality is the giant State of Europa.

This is what, instinctively, the Leavers have picked up on and are balking at. Rather than finding the balance between national interests (like setting regional legislation that works for that specific country, much as each US state has its own legislature) and working together just on things that make sense to share, the EU wants a one-size-fits-all solution for everything.

There was plenty of talk at the time of the EU referendum around the fact that he US had been key players in getting the UK to join the EU back in the day (to point where De Gaulle kept vetoing our application because he suspected or knew this). But at some point, the goal changed, or at least the alleged US vision of a mirror to the USA, became something much bigger entirely.

I wonder if this was inevitable because in Europe we are so entrenched in our various diverse nationalities, that we naturally scale that national mentality upwards. We forget (or fail to understand) that the US was built by primarily libertarian thinkers from the top down, devolving power to the individual states.

Perhaps, if the EU had stuck more to the US model, we wouldn’t be in the mess we’re in now in the UK, and the dream may still be alive.