David Davis - Brexit 4 February 2016
It has been over 43 years since Britain joined the European Economic Community. For all that time there have been calls for Europe to reform. For Europe to be more democratic, more competitive, more functional. And for Britain to lead that reform.
The result? If anything Europe has become less democratic, less competitive and more dysfunctional. And Britain has become more side-lined.
The EU has been in decline for some time now. There is no change of course in sight. The risks involved in staying are clear for all to see – low growth, high unemployment, and waning influence.
In 1975 the EU was the bright future, a vision of a better world. Now it is a crumbling relic from a gloomy past. We must raise our eyes to the wider world. The UK has been a persistent advocate of reforming and modernising the EU.
Even a decade ago there was hope of radical reform, as the EU expanded from 15 nations to 28. Some thought the new members, only recently independent themselves, would shift the EU away from its centralising, statist destination, and towards a more democratic, more trade-focussed direction. The hope was that Europe would become ‘wider, not deeper’. With hindsight, this hope now looks ridiculous. The siren calls for ‘more Europe’ have only increased.
The UK also proselytised for a ‘two-tier’ or ‘two speed’ Europe, with a loose decentralised group around a more centralised Franco-German core. With the Eurozone, we now have a de facto two-tier Europe, but one that works to the detriment of the non-Eurozone countries.