Still Pissed Off About the Hawley-Smoot Tariff

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Thoughts on the EU

I'm taking a class on EU law right now, and I've been trying to figure out since the beginning whether I think the EU is a good thing or a bad thing.

The text, "EU Law: Text, Cases and Materials" by Craig and De Burca, is hopelessly "rah rah" for the EU, sometimes sickeningly so. By way of contrast, a year ago I took a class on International Human Rights law, and although I imagine most people who take such a class are raging hippies, I found the text to be emminently balanced in its perspectives. Not so with my EU book, in which virtually everything the European Court of Justice (ECJ) does is a brilliant innovation, and Member States who gripe about intrusions on their sovereignty should just shut up.

To be fair, sometimes the Member States really should just shut up. France is one of the biggest offenders. The one major purpose of the Treaty was to allow the free movement of goods, and France is ever seeking for ways of interfering with the free movement of goods. They should just shut up.

But when the ECJ actually oversteps its bounds (as it does frequently), and the Member States raise legitimate objections to horrible ideas, the authors basically tell them to shut up. "It's the EU! We're all-knowing!"

Complaints about the book aside, I mentioned above that I'm not sure how I feel about the EU. The main goal is economic efficiency, and that is a good thing. Even if they get so efficient that American products lose comparative marketability, it's still a good thing, because I do not believe in maintaining the status quo just to protect national interests. Americans can (and will) respond to challenges with greater energy and efficiency. Competition is what made us great in the first place.

On the other hand, the EU seeks to achieve efficiency through the centralized direction of economic practices, which approach proves an utter disaster time and time again in socialist countries. To the extent the EU wants to become more efficient through increased regulation, they are morons with no sense of history.

On the third hand, the EU also has a significant de-regulatory effect. It's not simply a case of socialist EU versus capitalist nations, because what the nations are doing is not exactly capitalistic - they impose tarrifs at the borders, taxes within their borders, and other subsidies regulations, or marketing schemes that impede the smooth capitalistic function of the market. If capitalism is impeded by nation-state intermeddling, it stands to reason that a supra-national body which limites nation-state meddling is a good thing.

But I'm convinced that the EU goes too far in its deregulation, and it also seems EU oligarchs are trying to increase their power over social controls - not just market controls - and that is a recipe for disaster.

I've had this essay in my head for a while now, but I finally got around to typing it after reading this post at Kronology.