The American Interest
Analysis by Walter Russell Mead & Staff
UK-EU Drift Update: Britain Audits Brussels

The latest in Britain’s drift away from the European Union is the UK Foreign Secretary’s announcement this week that each and every Whitehall department will be publicly “auditing” how EU regulations affect—and to some Britons, hamper—their work. The Telegraph reports:

The public audit could eventually produce a “shopping list” of powers that Britain would seek to repatriate [from Brussels] in exchange for agreeing to moves to create a more integrated eurozone.

Today’s announcement is the latest move from Conservative ministers to sound a more sceptical tone on Europe and seek a looser relationship with the EU in the wake of the eurozone crisis.

Convulsed by the crisis in the eurozone, the EU appears to be thrashing towards a tighter political and fiscal union. There is no place for the UK in this, and the consensus among mainstream British politicians has shifted toward looking for ways to distance Britain from the EU rather than trying to transform it or to integrate more deeply with it.

A lot of this is about the euro. The pro-EU lobby in Britain worked hard to get the country to drop the pound for the euro. That of course would have been a terrible disaster; the result has discredited many of the most pro-EU voices in the UK and tilted the balance of respectable opinion in a Euroskeptic direction.

Nobody knows what the new post-crisis EU will look like, so it is impossible to predict what kind of relationship the UK will have with it, but the English Channel separating Britain from the rest of the EU seems to be getting both deeper and wider these days.

Published on July 14, 2012 12:00 pm
  • http://pubsecrets.wordpress.com Phineas

    Audit is a good start and it should open some eyes there as to how much EU membership has cost Britain — and for what? But the governing coalition should follow through on the pledge all parties made in the last election to hold an in/out referendum.

  • http://wwrtc.blogspot.com Art Deco

    Free trade is a good thing; free trade in factors of production has agreeable and disagreeable aspects. The thing is, static and dynamic gains for such things (as is the case for any discrete economic characteristic) very modest and the bill in terms of the emasculation of democratic institutions and loss of autonomy in the realm of social policy has grown severe. Switzerland, Norway, and Iceland manage to maintain their affluence without EU membership. Britain should do the same. Repatriate all powers to its elected institutions and accept that its manufactures and its people will enter the continental market on the same terms with those from America or Russia.

  • Corlyss

    My God! An outbreak of sanity!!!! Trying hard not to get too excited about this, knowing how quickly sanity can evaporate . . .

  • Jacksonian Libertarian

    The wisdom of Margaret Thatcher in Great Britain rivals that of Ronald Reagan in America. She was the Euro Sceptic and kept Britain out of the Euro.

  • Kris

    Corlyss@3: There ain’t no Sanity clause!
    Ho ho ho.