Should we Brexit? Perspective of a British Millennial living in Europe—you might be surprised
How is it that only a year ago we were celebrating the 800th anniversary of the Magna Carta—the first constitutional document recording the agreement of the ruler to be accountable under the law or be removed from the throne, the document that influenced many freedom-advocating constitutions around the world, the document that has come to represent opposition to the unrestrained and autocratic use of authority—and now we are seriously considering letting a set of people, who haven’t been voted in by the UK’s public, continue to hold an increasing amount of power over our lives—power that, to me, looks mostly unrestrained and autocratic—?
Haven’t you noticed—history has a funny habit of repeating itself because humans have a not-so-funny habit of getting greedy and power-hungry? Have you also noticed that even though the whole country parades around wearing poppies every November, being silent for two minutes, and chanting ‘lest we forget’, society has a neurotic habit of doing that very thing they preach against, and it forgets? Forget that between 1939 and 1945 roughly 383,600 UK soldiers died to protect our and our allies’ nations from unrestrained, autocratic rule? Forget what happens when power is kept in the hands of people who rose to it without being voted for by the ones they end up ruling, the ones that pay taxes. Forget what happens when these types of people have a lot to gain from the system that their legislation advances? Forget what happens when that kind of power operates behind closed doors?
Transparency and the influence of lobbyists
At a time when the opinion of the UK’s people counts, each one of us has a responsibility to examine both sides. Look in to where the EU came from and by what processes it has developed into what it has become today. This provides us with a context for the laws that have been passed up until this point. Before you vote in the referendum, look who actually holds the power inside the EU. Decide whether you think Juncker’s promises for further transparency are enough to undo what lobbyist’s weighty influences have achieved up until now, and whether they ensure our entrance into a fair EU future.
The EU Commission, the EU Council, and the EU Parliament
There are reasonable arguments for both ‘Remain’ and ‘Brexit’. After looking into the structure of EU, I’ve decided I cannot support a system where the European Parliament, whose legislation is proposed by the European Commission, only has the power to amend laws instead of having the power to propose or repeal laws. If an MEP wants to block a law, they must gain support from the MEPs of other countries, as one country’s total MEPs is not sufficient to block a proposal. If that proposal is passed, it will inevitably affect that single country in a unique way—some for better, a few, perhaps, for worse (hence where the majority lies). The European College of Commissioners consists of one representative from each country, and they are selected by the President of the European Commission after recommendation from the European Council (the Countries’ leaders), and not by the citizens of each country. How is it possible for one person from each country to represent the views of one country’s citizens in any circumstance? In Westminster, the Prime Minister is regularly challenged by the democratically elected number of MP’s from opposing parties. These voices are in general proportion to the citizens’ vote. (Yes, it’s still not a perfect system.) But in the EU, the President of the Commission can simply choose who makes up his government by following the suggestions from each country’s leader. This government’s legislation goes to a parliament that is reduced in power, and if it gets through the hole riddled filter that is the European Parliament, it becomes law in 28 countries—law that ranges from being concerned with fishing quotas to corporate regulations, from trading to immigration. In short, things that affect everyone’s lives.
Representing the people of the EU? Themselves? Or something else?
So, how is it possible for a group of people made up of 28 x 1 extremely well paid, not-voted-for-by-public, pretty-job-secure-for-five-years Commissioners to represent the view of their country and negotiate something that is suitable for each country represented? It’s not. The EU Commission states on its own webpage that the EU Commission, “represents the interests of the European Union as a whole (not the interests of individual countries).” Look where the quote ended. How can an institution that doesn’t represent the interests of each country propose and implement legislation that turns into or influences an arguably significant amount of UK law? (For facts, follow UK law: What proportion is influenced by the EU by Full Fact.) They can also decide what not to propose. The College of the European Commission are not voted in by the UK’s people. They cannot be easily removed by our elected MEPs, yet their decisions affect our lives significantly, and in what appears to be an increasingly detrimental way. Yes, being in the EU helps with problems we’re involved in, but many of these are global issues, not exclusively European ones. Contributing to the tackling of global threats should not be a privilege that belongs exclusively to EU states.
The EU as one country
Perhaps a more fitting question than ‘are we stronger in or out of the EU?’ is, ‘do you think that the 28 EU countries can be treated as one country?’ Is the difference in culture, value, belief, education, language and history of each country too insignificant to warrant the argument for each country’s sovereignty? And that’s not even considering countries that haven’t joined the EU yet. Does what benefits one country always benefit another? If you think these differences are not reason enough to oppose Europe being treated and ruled as one country, would you want it to be ruled in the way it currently is? And if not, do you think the UK will change anything by staying in the EU—even though United Kingdom-ers in the EU have been sticking their necks out from the start?
Is the EU democratic?
The syphoning off of sovereignty from member states is subtle. In fact, it’s so subtle and within such a complex system that it can be argued that the EU’s structure is democratic. It has a parliament. There is voting involved. The public can even read minutes (and minutes never leave out things, do they?). But there is also a lot that happens that we can’t see and can only be told from those on the inside. On that note, let’s get over ourselves; we’re all going to have to use secondary sources to make up our minds about this one. But at least we can weigh those views to make our own. On June 23rd, the only opinions that matter to the UK are those of each voter.
What’s the cost of sovereignty for the country we are citizens of?
What’s the cost of sovereignty? When our ancestors have faced that question, they have responded with their lives. Do you agree with them? What’s economic instability in comparison to a life lost? Are you ever actually economically stable in this life? Does being in the EU ensure our economy’s stability in the future anyway? Is it possible that we are capable of a lot more than we’ve been led to believe over the last 43 years? That’s down to us.