Nosemonkey's EUtopia

In search of a European identity

So much for independence outside the EU…

One of the strangest assertions of the withdrawalist anti-EU camp is that if Britain were to pull out, she would instantly become independent and able to act freely, unhindered by legislation from Brussels that they see as damaging and unnecessary. (Which, to be fair, much of it is – but that’s beside the point…)

Of course, as long as the EU exists and dominates the continent, any other European powers – especially those, like Britain, whose trade is overwhelmingly with their continental neighbours – will find the EU shaping their economies whether they like it or not. Switzerland has to follow numerous EU laws and regulations (in which it has no say) despite not being a member; so does Norway, often hailed as an ideal model for a non-EU UK.

Often forgotten, however, is Iceland. Not a member of the EU, but still – with Switzerland and Norway – a member of the European Free Trade Area (EFTA), which many proponents of a British EU pull-out reckon we should join after severing links with Brussels.

And yet now Iceland is considering joining the Eurozone:

Richard Portes, author of an independent report on the Icelandic economy, said that unilateral euroisation was feasible and need not limit Iceland’s political independence. “Because of the exceptionally high degree of exchange rate passthrough into domestic prices and equally exceptional financial openness of Iceland, unilateral euroisation would not be sacrificing much effective monetary policy independence,” he told the Icelandic Chamber of Commerce.

In other words, as long as you’re a part of Europe and the EU exists, it’s going to have a major impact on the way your country runs. So surely it’s better to have some direct say in what the EU gets up to, no matter how limited? What’s the withdrawalist excuse for this one? I’m genuinely intrigued…

Update: Ah, it seems The Economist covered this a couple of weeks back. I really must get a subscription… (Oh, and on Certain Ideas of Europe too – that’s The Economist’s rather good Europe blog.)