We in the United Kingdom are not the only people to ‘bang on about Europe’ or so it seems. ‘Strong views by consumers’ across Europe and insufficient support forced the EU’s Agriculture Commissioner, Mr Dacian Ciolos to ‘withdraw’ his plan to ban olive oil jugs from restaurant tables.
That Mr Ciolos is unelected goes without saying and needless to say, he does not say it. Nor does he add that pressure is mounting across the EU against the grand project, and greater distrust even in the founder countries, Germany, France and Italy. A recent EU ‘barometer’ of trust, showed popular mistrust had risen dramatically in the five years ending in 2012. In Italy it rose to 53 percent – from 28 percent. In Germany, the figures are also up, to 58 per cent (from around 37 percent). And even in France things do not look rosy for the Euro project – with around 56 percent now eurosceptical (from 41 percent) euronews. (Source: EU, Barometer)
The Euro crisis has certainly prompted greater euroscepticism. But the collapse of some Euro economies and their bail-outs is part of a wider economic doubt which all countries share when it comes to resolving their futures. Countries, whether in or out of the Euro, recognise that their economic well being is largely being determined by the project. In this country, all except the most ardent Europhiles, now recognise that the founding aim of free trade and greater economic prosperity can now only be recovered with a seismic make over. The matter is urgent if Britain – or indeed any other – economy is to grow. Our own financial sector is increasingly stymied by thousands of pages of legislation unsuitable for an industry which has long been made up of many parts, small and big, from investment funds to global insurance companies. In a relatively technical area such as this, the evidence is of a collapse of the principles on which the rules governing free trade in a market system under the rule of law are based.
So when it comes to renegotiation, Britain will not be alone. Though Italy and Germany do not come from the same side of the Eurozone battle, the established parties are now losing out to the Euroscpetics. In Italy, the populist Five Star movement won almost 27 percent of the vote, just under the ruling centre left coalition’s tally and that of Berlusconi’s People of Freedom. Germany’s brand new party, Alternativ fur Deutchland (AFD), not only calls for an exit from the Euro, but for powers to be brought home from Brussels. New members are flocking in: one tally suggested around one fifth are fleeing established parties, such as Mrs Merkel’s CDU and its Coalition partner, the business oriented FPD, but from the Social Democrats and even, if it’s to be believed, from the Greens.
Whatever their politics, those now against the European project recognise that success begins at home. Indeed they are convinced that economic well being must be recovered if they are to survive in a global market. For such national success, or indeed if the European Union is to survive as a trading area, there must be a different system to encourage strong, prosperous, businesses, big and small, and healthy competition. For that the fundamental principles of law making must change.
Every sector has its olive oil jug history. Most are too ‘technical’ or consist of unspeakable acronyms, to have hit the headlines. Yet the cry to repatriate powers will chime with many sectors, in many countries where politicians have not shown the will, or had the power to stop laws damaging to national economies. It is this that the people of Europe can sense and why they no longer believe in the European project.