I have many friends who are European. I have even more friends who are pro-Europe. I too, am pro-Europe. I want the best for Europe, its people, and all its constituent economies.
Yet, as most of my European and pro-European friends know, I am vociferously anti-EU.
This might seem to be a contradiction to many people. But that’s only if you think that the European Union is the same thing as Europe. It shouldn’t surprise you that I don’t. Here’s the difference between Europe and the European Union:
Europe is a continent. Europe contains 48-51 countries (depending on how you count them), not all of them entirely in Europe.
The European Union (EU) is a bureaucratic supra-national institution. It is a political union of 27 countries, where laws, regulations, and treaties are created by bureaucrats and diplomats who are not politically accountable to a democratic process. In effect, it provides an avenue for the rich, powerful, and/or connected to exert their influence.
Opposition to the European Union is opposition to this lack of democratic accountability. And yes, it is also a rejection of the policy of open door immigration. But rejection of open door immigration is not the rejection of immigrants. Wanting a fair immigration policy is wanting to treat all immigrants fairly, rather than favouring immigrants depending on their country of origin.
Unfortunately, when one opposes the European Union, many immediately assume that it is because we reject Europeans.
Sure, I don’t deny that there are some who oppose to the EU and the policy of open door immigration on the basis of nationalism, jingoism or even outright racism. But it is extremely unfair to characterise everyone who opposes the EU this way. The evidence indicates that the vast majority of British people are accepting of immigrants and Europeans – racism is a relatively fringe phenomenon. Indeed, the popular opposition to racism is a powerful testimony to how opposed to racism the country is.
When a country which evidently rejects racism has democratically elected to oppose a political institution, please accept the simple evidence – it is NOT because of racism or hatred of Europeans.
I wonder how many of my European and pro-EU friends would even read this far…
There are of course other arguments for being a part of the European Union, namely economic and political reasons. I have of course considered these arguments already, but those are altogether separate subjects. Please do let me know if there’s any specific subject or argument you think I should explore.