One of the nice things about following the #brexit hashtag on Twitter is that you get pointed to all sorts of interesting pro and anti EU blogs, that you might otherwise not come across. The LSE blog I read today is titled ““Macron’s Presidency will not have a huge impact on Brexit per se, but [will] on the future of the EU”
Alexandre Holroyd knows what he is talking about as he is the En Marche! candidate representing the French living in Northern Europe. One sentence seems to have got kinda lost in translation. He says:
“Macron has developed a measure in his program called a ‘democratic convention’ that will be launched by the end of 2017 in all the Member States. The objective is to grasp what the citizens expect from the EU taking into account the coherence in different countries. It is similar to the way En Marche! program was developed by crowdsourcing in information from hundreds of local committees across the country and followed by experts working with the results to translate them into concrete policy proposals”
If I translate ‘measure’ into the Dutch meaning of ‘maatregel’ the sentence becomes clearer. It seems to be some sort of EU policy proposal to run a vast public enquiry to find out what people really want from the EU, especially when it comes to addressing the heartfelt democratic deficit that many leave voters seem to experience and complain about.
From personal experience living in France I have come across En Marche! researchers at my local Market at ‘Les Herolles’ and even though I pointed out I didn’t have a vote [yet], they courteously heard me out on all my bug bears and grievances with French bureaucracy as an EU immigrant. It was all noted in their little black book. This to me was a total new experience and made me want to vote for Macron and join his mouvement.
Anyway at the bottom of the blog post there was a comment section. In todays IdentitySpace post I want to share my comments and hope that I get one or two reactions from my growing list of subscribers.
The rest of this post is a straight copy and paste from the blog as commented by me. Why not hone your own comments= skills here here and then cut and paste the result into Alexandre’s blog in return? Who knows Macron will get to read them and act on them.
Now there’s a thought 😉
I would like to add as comments my personal view what the EU should do for it’s citizens.
Note I am Dutch from birth, a UK-expat of 30 years and have made full use of my EU freedom of movement by working in several EU countries.
In my world view there is nothing intrinsically wrong with a bit of EU protectionism if it protects our rights as EU citizens, consumers or workers. Some argue EU market entry rules are to the detriment of developing countries. Especially Africa is often mentioned with huge crocodile tears when discussing the benefits of #brexit, #frexit or #nexit .
I have a deep mistrust of the real motivation driving those save Africa arguments. The same people often lament the fact that EU rules stop protectionism at a National level. It is well documented that the British representatives in the EU council of Ministers were the ones determined to block any EU measures against Chinese steel dumping practices. After all they were Britain’s new friends financing a new nuclear reactor at Sizewell.
It’s just the fact that we in the EU practice this kind of sensible protectionism at a EU level, rather than a national level, that these Nationalist can’t get their head around. It doesn’t fit in their “them vs. us” narrative.
The very same people that shout we should give poor African Farmers a chance trading freely with them are the people that shout loudest we must do more to buy ‘British’ or ‘French’ etc. in other contexts. The main reason for a common agricultural policy is and always has been to give us food security at an EU level. If we have seasonal shortages in our common market we should use our common EU purchasing power in a responsible way. Not to buy up food stuff in Africa while locals go hungry (by pricing them out of local markets). The principle of the recent EU-Africa partnership deals seems to me exactly the right way to make our purchasing power a force for change for good on that continent. But of course it has to be monitored by ethical committees so it does not end up like modern slavery.
Free Movement of people
To illustrate my thinking here I would like to recall to you all a program shown recently on UK TV called “brexit wife swap” In it a fervent British white nationalist man takes his pro-EU partner for the week into an ethnic diverse community in East London. The camera zooms in on stall holders of Indian, Pakistani and Bangladeshi origin and then on the white man complaining he feels like a stranger in his ‘own’ country.
Wait a minute, is my reaction, aren’t these all immigrants from UKIP’s favourite ‘Commonwealth’? What on earth does that have to do with EU free movement or brexit? Yes, continues the man’s feeble argument, they all get here via Europe’s borderless Schengen agreement. It’s complete bullshit of course, but that’s how British uneducated minds work. They see brown faces in Calais camps and Farage posters. Next they see brown faces on a london market. Hence they must be the same people. It’s racism pure and simple. The government does not own up to the fact that most of these people fly in by passenger jet from the Asian sub-continent. Some Doctors, some nurses, some for family reunions, all perfectly legal. Nothing to do with EU or Calais refugees.
Later in the program the same ukip voting types are heard complaining that polish plumbers work hard for ten years only to save for a mortgage on a property back home. It seems the money they earned should all be spent in the UK. Don’t us British ex-pats buying our ‘place in the sun’ do exactly the same thing? You can’t complain about UK housing shortages in the same breath as condemning East Europeans returning home!
In conclusion the EU and member states have failed educating their people on the difference between EU protectionism (largely benign) and globalism (experienced as a threat).
The EU is always the easy scapegoat for weak national politicians and dubious tabloids playing on the fear of people.
What better way to present a new unpopular Westminster austerity initiative as something that is handed down by faceless bureaucrats in Brussels?
The only way to counteract this is by increasing the democratic mandate of the EU parliament and by holding our national representatives to the EU council of ministers more to account what they conspire in Brussels. This could be done by asking them to justify this in National Assemblies like Parliament in a special EU question time session once a week. Now that would make for an interesting EU directive!