George Monbiot writes: Had I been asked a couple of years ago how I would vote in the referendum on whether or not the UK should stay in the European Union, my answer would have been unequivocal.
The EU seemed to me to be a civilising force, restraining the cruel and destructive tendencies of certain member governments (including our own), setting standards that prevented them from destroying the natural world or trashing workers rights, creating a buffer between them and the corporate lobby groups that present an urgent threat to democracy.
Now I’m not so sure. Everything good about the EU is in retreat; everything bad is on the rampage.
I accept the principle of sharing sovereignty over issues of common concern. I do not accept the idea of the rich nations combining to crush the democratic will of the poorer nations, as they are seeking to do to Greece.
I accept the principle that the EU should represent our joint interests in creating treaties for the betterment of humankind. I do not accept that it has a right to go behind our backs and quietly negotiate a treaty with the US – the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) – that transfers power from parliaments to corporations.
I accept the principle that the EU could distribute money to the poor and marginalised. I do not accept that, as essential public services are cut, €57bn (£41bn) a year should be sloshed into the pockets of farmers, with the biggest, richest landowners receiving the largest payments. The EU’s utter failure to stop this scandal should be a source of disillusionment even to its most enthusiastic supporters.
While these injustices, highly damaging to the reputation of the EU among people who might otherwise be inclined to defend it, are taking place, at the same time the EU’s restraints on unaccountable power are in danger of being ripped away. [Continue reading…]