23 June 2016. The vote, the decision, the history. Textbooks will spare a page or two for this date. And though some weeping Eurocrats will say the British are like selfish rats jumping ship at the first sight of stormy weather, I think they are like the smart investor selling before the stock’s value plummets.
The European Project is wonderfully idealistic and woefully impractical. To think that World War III can be averted and all of Europe’s problems can be solved by sitting around singing Kumbaya in Brussels is ridiculous and childish. To be frank, the EU is a complicated jumble of competing interests that simply cannot be reconciled: one nation wants this and another wants that, yet they have to collectively agree on trade deals as a unified block.
Freedom never looked so good
But let’s put the impracticality of the idealism aside and have a look at the structure of the EU. For starters, governments are notoriously inefficient. Now think just how inefficient the EU is: there is a European Parliament, a European Council, a Council of the EU (why on earth the EU needs two councils is as mysterious to me as what happens behind an event horizon), a European Commission, a Committee of the Regions, an Economic and Social Committee, numerous Agencies, the European Central Bank, the European Investment Bank, a Court of Auditors and a Court of Justice. Wow! I’m sure this all runs with the precision of a Swiss-made watch … oh, wait, the Swiss told the EU to bugger off. So much for Swiss precision. And, by the way, how are the Swiss faring outside the EU?
But there’s more! There is a President and I’ve currently counted 6 Vice Presidents. My word, how many Vice Presidents do you really need? Right, 6 VP’s aren’t enough. There is also a First Vice President. I guess you do need a VP to coordinate all the other VP’s. There is also a High Representative and a host of Commissioners.
But this is still not enough. There is also a wonderfully contradictory Bill of Rights, the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union. This is an astounding document. I don’t know whether I love it or whether it is a cancer! The budding lawyer in me would love it for it utter superfluity, but the common sense, logical aspect of my nature abhors its glaring contradictions.
Let’s have a closer look shall we. Article 5 prohibits slavery and forced labour. Nice. Can’t really argue with that I guess. Article 17, on its face, protects property rights. But, then again, it goes on to state that “[n]o one may be deprived of his or her possessions, except in the public interest and in the cases and under the conditions provided for by law, subject to fair compensation being paid in good time for their loss. The use of property may be regulated by law in so far as is necessary for the general interest”? Pray tell, what on earth is the “public interest” and the “general interest”? These seem to be very, very vague phrases that can be applicable to scenarios as wide as times of war to simply the proletariat revolting again. But I guess the bourgeoisie were also “fair[ly] compensated … in good time for their loss[es]”. So much for a prohibition on slavery and forced labour. Remember, the American slaves were also paid with food and shelter. Just curious, I wonder if the compensated party has a say in whether the proposed compensation is fair and in good time? I doubt it and I certainly doubt their ability to wield any real bargaining power against—not just a state—a collective of 28 states! Now I know that both the American and Australian constitutions have just acquisition clauses, but these types of clauses are, in my opinion, pernicious and should not be viewed as model clauses that ought to be replicated in other written constitutions.
The hour is at hand, rejoice!
Moving on to my favourite contradiction. Article 20 upholds the equality of everyone before the law. Nice. Article 21 prohibits discrimination based on sex and a whole whack of other grounds. Again, nice. Article 23, on its face, prohibits discrimination between the sexes in the area of employment and remuneration. But I thought that was protected in Article 21? (Oh, superfluity is thy name Charter of Fundamental Rights.) But hold on a tick, what’s this: “The principle of equality shall not prevent the maintenance or adoption of measures providing for specific advantages in favour of the under-represented sex”. So discriminatory policies on the grounds of sex are permissible. Well then what was the point of Articles 20 and 21? I guess the principle of equality is still upheld even if policies are enforced that separate the sexes through the conferral of specific advantages. In other words, they’ve resurrected and stolen the “separate but equal” doctrine from the Americans. I suppose the under-represented and over-represented sexes will now have their own water-coolers and lunch rooms, and the over-represented sex will have theirs at the back of the building. I’m reminded of a train in New Orleans in 1892. But who cares about those Americans, right? It’s not like they had a civil rights movement and ruled that the “separate but equal” doctrine is unconstitutional in light of the overriding principle of equality. Wait a second … yup … they actually did!
Alright, let’s just pause for a minute here to absorb what the UK actually did on this momentous day. THEY VOTED TO FREE THEMSELVES FROM THE CHILDISH NONSENSE THAT IS THE EU. If Rousseau is indeed correct—that “[m]an is born free, and everywhere he is in chains”—at least Britons are now chained with British steel or whatever steel they choose to import. And as for the EU, they may think themselves the master of other non-EU states, but they remain more of a slave than the others.
The door is shut on the EU