The simple truth is, as anti-EU campaigners have been pointing out for years, that the European Union is itself "fortress Europe"—a inward-looking customs union, designed as a protectionist barrier to trade, in order to protect big businesses based within it.
Anna Racoon helpfully provides some examples of how the EU's tariff barriers do this.
Enjoy your morning coffee today? Kenyan was it? ‘Fairtrade’ even? The EU is quite happy to see Kenyans out in the boiling hot fields harvesting coffee beans, but they are not so happy seeing them do something mechanised and clever with the beans, like roasting and packaging them. Any upstart Kenyan with fancy ideas like that will quickly find that the EU has slapped a 7.5% tax on them – not to protect the EU’s coffee bean growers, we don’t have any, but to protect the mainly German coffee bean processors.This is the organisation that we have just voted to leave.
How do the cocoa farmers in Nigeria fare? The EU allows them to earn a subsistence living so long as they leave their cocoa beans well alone. We have no plans to set up cocoa farms in Northumbria, so are quite content to let the Nigerians do it for us – but anything easy and profitable, like using machinery to process the beans and turn them into luxury bars of Chocolate…well can’t let them do that. Then the EU fines them 8.30%, and throws in an agricultural tariff of 18.70 % not to mention their latest wonder, the ‘sugar tax’. Why? Well there’s the American owned Cadbury’s for a start.
The Kenyans turned their hands to growing roses, that other European luxury staple. Since it had never occurred to anybody that they would do that – there was no tariff on fresh cut flowers. The industry thrived. Every night plane loads of beautiful roses arrived in Amsterdam and were sent out to flower shops across Europe. The EU demanded the right to flood the Kenyan market with tariff free EU goods in return. Can’t have Kenya developing its own mobile phone manufacturers can we. When the Kenyans refused to agree to this – the EU promptly slapped an 8.5% tax on those cut flowers; they only removed it when the Kenyans agreed not to try to make anything complicated and let the Europeans do it for them.
Back in 2009, the Archbishop of Canterbury was on the fashionable ‘carbon footprint’ bandwagon and urged us all not to buy Kenyan green beans – the following year, the UK’s Department for International Development gave Waitrose, yes Waitrose, £200,000 to swallow their fear of angering the Archbishop – and put Kenyan green beans on their shelves!
The beans are sent to Europe in 5kg boxes; once in Europe, they are repackaged in 120gm cardboard slips, given the names of fictitious farms where they have been grown, and sold onto the supermarket customers. Tescos undertake to send any ‘substandard beans’ onto frozen food manufacturers for inclusion in ready meals – good of them really, ‘cos if the Kenyans had any uppity ideas about canning their beans, the EU is ready with a tax of 12.8% to discourage them.
So, now that we are out of this shitty protectionist block, can we start helping the poorest people in the world now?
You know, by promising no tariff barriers against anybody, and thus enhancing the lives of millions of the world's poorest citizens...?