Think Tanks

Bruges Group

23 Mar 2011 06:18:06

Bruges Group paper proposes that Britain leave the EU and join EFTA instead

By Jonathan Isaby

Picture 10 The Bruges Group has just published a paper by Hugo van Randwyck which explores the idea of the UK leaving the European Union and rejoining the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) - of which we were a member from 1960 until joining what was then the European Community in 1972 - whilst remaining inside the European Economic Area (EEA).

Van Randwyck claims that his proposal could create 1 million new jobs, see a 70% reduction in regulations the UK would have to implement which emanate from Europe, and take just "weeks" to implement. He stresses that the UK would have the benefits of the single market, but without the "political controls of the EU", covering such matters as Agriculture, Fisheries, Justice & Home Affairs and Foreign Policy.

Here's how he summarises the benefits of EFTA over the EU:

  • Financial i):  Switching from EU/EEA to EFTA/EEA means a reduction in financial contributions from £6 billion+ to around £3.9 billion a year. The EU contributions are expected to rise, whereas Norway, an EFTA/EEA member, has agreed a fixed annual contribution. This in effect, is a reduction in the ‘tariff’ the UK needs to pay for free movement of goods/services/capital and people.
  • Financial ii): Since Britain sends £15 billion to the EU and £9 billion is returned, and spent according to EU guidelines, this spending would now be determined by Westminster MPs. 
  • Employment: There would also be a reduction in regulations from 1000+ a year, to around 300 a year with EFTA. Reducing regulations is similar to a tax cut for businesses, so helping job creation. A move to employment rates at EFTA levels would result, providing sensible economic policies are also followed, in an additional 500,000 to 1 million jobs. 
  • Improved fishing and agriculture polices: fishing quotas/policies would be sensible to maximise the income of fishermen and maintain fish stocks, with a massive reduction in fish thrown away. Agriculture policies would similarly benefit from UK oriented policies. 
  • Re-implementing democracy: policies in other areas are designed and modified to suit UK citizens, and help to return respect for our political process. 
  • Lower taxes: with faster economic growth and rising employment, the government will receive more revenue from income tax, corporation tax etc. thus helping pay off the deficit. 
  • Reducing income gaps: help with reducing the gaps between high income and low income, allowing low income people the dignity of paying their way, with less need for benefits. 
  • Better MP performance: Other benefits not so obvious, include, since around 50% of regulations come from the EU, a 70% reduction would mean 85% of regulations originate in the UK, and that MPs in Westminster have more time to listen to voters here, and have less distractions and will be overruled by Brussels less. 
  • Quicker evaluation of policies and fixing: since more policy areas will be UK run, any problems can be quickly addressed and new ideas tried. 
  • Using what works/reducing duplication: no need to waste resources on a European Army, when there is already the UK Armed Forces and NATO. 
  • More integrity: EFTA accounts are signed off annually, so taxpayers have the assurance that their funds are being used transparently. 
  • Low staff costs: EFTA has only around 90 people on its payroll, which is significantly less than the 30,000+ of the EU. 
  • Releasing value and energy: by freeing organisations from central planning, the entrepreneurial spirit is released, so allowing better team working and performance, thus helping job creation. 
  • Liberty and pro-democracy: justice would be from UK legislation, without being overridden from other legal systems. Also, currently at general elections politicians can only speak for half the regulations that will be implemented, since the other half are made in Brussels – these overseas regulations would fall by 70% if we joined EFTA. You live in a democracy when you can: make, amend and repeal laws – switching to EFTA is a pro-democracy change.

To download the whole paper as a pdf, click here.

17 Feb 2011 07:22:17

Bruges Group report says that Germany has benefitted most from the Euro

by Paul Goodman

Screen shot 2011-02-16 at 21.54.21 The evidence for its claim is set out in a research paper called German Economic Policy and the Euro 1999-2010It claims that since the launch of the Euro -

  • The German economy has grown faster than any other country in the Eurozone;
  • Germany has been by far the largest exporting nation within the Eurozone;
  • In the last three (recorded) years alone, Germany has run up massive trade surpluses with the other Eurozone countries averaging €100 billion per year;
  • The ECB’s exchange rate policy favours German interests;
  • Germany entered the euro at too low a rate of exchange, cementing its historic economic advantage and to the disadvantage of countries with smaller economies such as Greece and Ireland;
  • The siting of the ECB in Frankfurt enabled Germany to influence policy regarding the Euro in its own interest.

Robert Oulds, Director of the Bruges Group, said -

“The Euro has effectively become a German currency empire which is draining the resources of the Eurozone’s smaller economies.

“The harm that German policy is causing is so severe that the Mediterranean-Rim countries are caught in a debt trap where their economies are suffering, they are incurring debt and must then impose austerity measures which further weaken their economies. Yet their economies will not grow so long as the Euro helps German manufacturers dominate the Eurozone.”

6 Nov 2009 13:06:00

Cameron's failure to call referendum on Lisbon will add to cynicism towards EU

Bruges Group

"Tory "renegotiation" is a slogan not a policy" (PDF)

Author: Gerry Frost

Publication date: November 2009

The author claims that David Cameron's decision to rule out a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty was not a surprise and will only increase the level of cynicism with which the British public view the European Union and politics in general.

30 Sep 2009 13:52:00

The undemocratic European Union

Bruges Group

"Our Fight for Democracy - The United Kingdom and the European Union" (PDF)

Author: John Strafford

Publication date: September 2009

The author argues that the EU is profoundly undemocratic with the European Parliament being little more than a sham and the real power resting in the hands of unelected and unaccountable political elites. The paper notes that as an estimated 65% of UK legislation emanates from Brussels it is time the British people had their say on our continued membership of the EU.

31 Aug 2009 13:30:00

EU rail legislation on the wrong track

Bruges Group

"On the Wrong Track - the impact of European Union legislation on Britain's railways" (PDF)

Author: John Petley

Publication date: August 2009

The paper contends that there is an ever-increasing volume of legislation emanating from Brussels in relation to the operation of railways. The author argues that this legislation is being used to undermine nation state railway operations and is another reason why the UK should withdraw from the EU.

31 May 2009 14:03:00

Roger Helmer MEP blasts EU's policies on climate change

Bruges Group

"Cool Thinking on Climate Change - Why the EU's climate alarmism is both mistaken and dangerous"(PDF)

Author: Roger Helmer MEP

Publication date: May 2009

Conservative MEP Roger Helmer argues that governments should be focussing more on energy security and less on climate change which the author argues is consistent with natural long-term climate cycles.The paper claims that the EU's alarmist actions on climate change are damaging prosperity and obscuring the more important issue of securing the energy supply network.  

31 Mar 2009 14:43:00

How sustainable is the euro?

Bruges Group

"Is the euro Sustainable?" (PDF)

Author: Richard Conquest

Publication date: March 2009

The report argues that while the euro was supposed to bring about economic convergence to the members of the Eurozone in reality it has actually brought about greater divergence. The author predicts that these economic imbalances and distortions will continue and that the euro may not be sustainable in the long term.