As you will know, your humble Devil is not in favour of the Lisbon Treaty; I am, like Timmy, a EU-nihilist—I believe that the EU should not exist. Given that it does exist, however, I do not believe that Britain should be part of the EU.
I have written very many articles about the subject, but probably the most comprehensive was that which I wrote (some years ago) for citizen journalist site, Wanabehuman.
Essentially, I believe that the EU and Britain are incompatible—not simply economically, but legally. That I believe that economies are better when more flexible and with fewer regulations should surprise no one: that I believe that the EU is the antithesis of this should also come as no surprise.
However, it is in the area of law that I really object to the EU. I think that our Common Law and the Roman legal system are fundamentally incompatible, and it is our system that is being subsumed.
Truly, this would not bother me too much, were I not convinced that the Common Law—wherein, broadly speaking, everything is legal unless specifically prohibited—creates a freer people.
The Roman system—whereby everything is prohibited unless specifically allowed—is fundamentally more disctatorial, for reasons that should be obvious.
Quite apart from fundamentally changing the nature of the relationship between the citizen and the state, there are practical problems too—one of which Timmy highlights.
But I would go much further about how and why bribery takes hold and the most important thing we ought to be doing at home to make sure that it doesn’t. It’s about the amount and detail of regulation.
There was a day when there was little detailed law in the UK. Little detailed regulation of the everyday that is. What law there was was either criminal law which (with some grating errors, like the criminalisation of consenting adult buggery and such) almost all supported or Common Law which again almost all supported. Other countries were not so lucky: they had the imposition from the centre of detailed laws, rules and regulation about what you could or could not do in matters of daily life. Perhaps my favourite example is the one that until after WWII you had to have the permission of Paris for a club which had any more than 25 Frenchmen in it. Yes, for anything, sports, debates, cookery, anything. We in England had been free of such since the 1650-1700 timescale.
So there was no point in bribery here in the everyday while in other societies it was not possible to do anything without it.
Yes, I’ve lived and worked in a society where bribery is commonplace and yes, I’ve done my fair share of it. From $100 to get a falsely accused driver out of a police cell through a few hundred to smooth over an expired visa all the way to handing over wedges of cash in “commissions to agents”. That’s just the way certain places are (although I would note that all such were entirely legal under UK law when I was partaking of such activities).
What worries me about the UK, a country in which I’ve never even considered paying a douceur for anything, not even an “advance tip” to book a restaurant table, is that now we’re moving to that more Continental system of law, where everything is regulated, from what light bulbs you can use to how you can sort your rubbish, is that we’re creating the same breeding ground for corruption.
Not something I consider an advance in our civilization, let alone our freedom and liberty.
Having our society run by the clipboard wielders will inevitably lead to our bribing the clipboard wielders to leave us alone.
Quite. And the EU is a perfect representation of the endemic corruption inherent within that system: even the pro-EU Nosemonkey would pause to argue with me on that point.
There are many, many good arguments to be used against the EU. Scores of them, in fact. In places it’s massively inefficient. In places there are strong indications of what seems like systemic corruption. Some of the policies it has introduced have been hugely harmful to both people and the planet.
There are more than a few areas where the EU is not only systematically corrupt, but where it is determined to remain corrupt. Take the report into MEP expenses that was not allowed to be viewed by anyone, for instance, or the unprecedented measures to block of Marta Andreasen MEP.
Unless you've been living in a box or only read the mainstream media, Marta Andreasen used to be the chief accountant of the European Commission but because it was as bent as a nine bobo note decided that she should say something about it. And so that ghastly fool Kinnock decided to sack her for 'failure to show loyalty and respect'.
Now she's a UKIP MEP in the South East Region - not that you'd know that from the newspapers because only Ambrose Evans-Prichard in the Telegraph bothered to mention the importance of it - the EU are shitting their lacy bloomers. Andreasen has been appointed to the Budgetary control committee of the European Parliament where Monday they were voting for the Chairman and Vice Chairman.Mrs Andreasen was blocked by Christian Democrat and Socialist MEPs from becoming vice-chairman of the European Parliament's budgetary committee on Monday.
The centre-Right European People's Party and the Socialists broke parliamentary convention on the allocation of committee posts by demanding a vote by secret ballot to block Mrs Andreasen, who was elected as a Ukip MEP for South East England last month.
I don't quite know how to go overboard with expressing the seriousness of this. I know that for many people the centre of politics is still Westminster and the EU is just some silly distraction. But it's a distraction which costs far more money than we can afford, takes away our civil liberties, ensures people in the developing world are kept in poverty and tramples over democracy as well as damaging our businesses and jeaoprdising our jobs.
They don't even try to pretend. A group of socialist MEPs realised that someone who actually knew the level of fraud and corruption in the EU was about to be appointed to a senior position (she was unopposed) and so took a decision to block her by secret ballot. They are so underhand and wicked that they don't even have courage in their convictions to be honest about how much they hate people trying to speak the truth.
So, that's the EU: corrupt.
And trying to impose a system of Roman Law, a system under which life becomes more expensive and more corrupt: how could it be otherwise when the people mandating what is allowed are expensive, corrupt politicos?
We are already seeing a gradual—and not so gradual—move towards the Roman system of law, and it worries me a lot. The economy will continue to grow under the EU—maybe not as fast as it could do, but there is an argument to be had there.
But if the economy is slowed we lose only some money: with the transformation of our legal system, we lose something far more valuable—our liberty.
Unfortunately, I fear that—for far too many of our fellow countrymen—liberty is less important than having the requisite pieces of silver.
UPDATE: a scholarly commenter takes me to task over the accuracy of my nomenclature.
One small point: the issue you identify between the legal systems of the UK and the EU is not fundamentally about the difference between the Common and Roman (or Civilian, as it is known to lawyers) systems.
Fundamentally, the great difference between Common and Civilian Law is merely in the fact that the entirety of private law is codified in the Civilian tradition (being based on the Code of Justinian) while the Common Law tradition places infinitely more emphasis on law as established by cases and precedent.
The point you make about the Continental system, whereby everything is illegal unless specifically made legal by statute, is not a component of the Roman system but of the Napoleonic system.
The enemy of Common Law is not the Civil Law but the Code Napoleon. And Napoleon was, of course, the first person to use the phrase "United States of Europe".
Quite right, of course: thank you for that. It's not the first time that I have made that mistake...