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March 21, 2007

50 Reasons to Praise the European Union

The Independent runs a list of 50 reasons to praise the European Union.               

1 The end of war between European nations


2 Democracy is now flourishing in 27 countries

The fall of communism.

3 Once-poor countries, such as Ireland, Greece and Portugal, are prospering

So are S Korea, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Thailand etc etc.

4 The creation of the world's largest internal trading market

True. But what about the zollverein? Shouldn't we have free external trade too?

5 Unparalleled rights for European consumers


6 Co-operation on continent-wide immigration policy


7 Co-operation on crime, through Europol

The application of foreign laws in Britain, including such things as thought crimes (xenophobia), extradition without a court case, trial without jury....these are good things?

8 Laws that make it easier for British people to buy property in Europe

We need the EU for this? It's just as easy to buy in the US you may have noticed.

9 Cleaner beaches and rivers throughout Europe

Could have been done by national law.

10 Four weeks statutory paid holiday a year for workers in Europe

An outrage: contracts should be freely negotiated.

11 No death penalty (it is incompatible with EU membership)

Council of Europe, not the EU.

12 Competition from privatised companies means cheaper phone calls

The privatisation of BT came from the EU?

13 Small EU bureaucracy (24,000 employees, fewer than the BBC)

24,000 too many.

14 Making the French eat British beef again


15 Minority languages, such as Irish, Welsh and Catalan recognised and protected

We need a multi-national bureaucracy to do this?

16 Europe is helping to save the planet with regulatory cuts in CO2

Ho, ho. Let's see it work first, eh?

17 One currency from Bantry to Berlin (but not Britain)

A terrible idea, the EU is not an optimal currency area.

18 Europe-wide travel bans on tyrants such as Zimbabwe's Robert Mugabe


19 The EU gives twice as much aid to developing countries as the United States

Ah, no. The countries of Europe give twice as much in direct government aid as the US. Add in charity, people to people, and the figure is rather different.

20 Strict safety standards for cars, buses and aircraft

We need a multi-national....

21 Free medical help for tourists

We need a....

22 EU peacekeepers operate in trouble spots throughout the world

From national armies actually. NATO also does the same.

23 Europe's single market has brought cheap flights to the masses, and new prosperity for forgotten cities

Surely, boiling the planet?

24 Introduction of pet passports

We need a....

25 It now takes only 2 hrs 35 mins from London to Paris by Eurostar

Not an EU project.

26 Prospect of EU membership has forced modernisation on Turkey


27 Shopping without frontiers gives consumers more power to shape markets

Would if such freedoms were not stifled by regulation.

28 Cheap travel and study programmes means greater mobility for Europe's youth

Err, 7,000 students a year drinking in foreign bars is worth the rest of it?

29 Food labelling is much clearer

We need a....

30 No tiresome border checks (apart from in the UK)

We need a...

31 Compensation for passengers suffering air delays

An idiotic idea anyway and, note that the US also has this, so we need a...

32 Strict ban on animal testing for the cosmetic industry


33 Greater protection for Europe's wildlife

We need a....

34 Regional development fund has aided the deprived parts of Britain

A huge waste of money. Markets work better than bureaucrats.

35 European driving licences recognised across the EU

International driving licences are recognised around the world.

36 Britons now feel a lot less insular

We need a....

37 Europe's bananas remain bent, despite sceptics' fears

No, it is a criminal offense to sell one of excessive curvature.

38 Strong economic growth - greater than the United States last year

Give it time matey.

39 Single market has brought the best continental footballers to Britain


40 Human rights legislation has protected the rights of the individual

Council of Europe, not the EU.

41 European Parliament provides democratic checks on all EU laws

No, it doesn't.

42 EU gives more, not less, sovereignty to nation states


43 Maturing EU is a proper counterweight to the power of US and China

Power blocks now? A bit 1913 don't you think?

44 European immigration has boosted the British economy


45 Europeans are increasingly multilingual - except Britons, who are less so

We need a....

46 Europe has set Britain an example how properly to fund a national health service

What, like the French? 25% paid by hte patient. Yes, I agree, good system, but nothing to do with the EU.

47 British restaurants now much more cosmopolitan

This is from the beneficience of the EU? Bollocks!

48 Total mobility for career professionals in Europe


49 Europe has revolutionised British attitudes to food and cooking

As 47.

50 Lists like this drive the Eurosceptics mad

No, to despair. All we ask is that there is a cost benefit analysis. Is the above list, most of which is in fact nothing to do with the EU, worth the fishing out of the oceans (CFP), the rape of the consumers pockets (CAP), the continued immiseration of Third World farmers (CAP and the zollverein), well, you know the rest of the list.

BTW, do, if you have greater knowledge than I, run this list elsewhere with appropriate corrections.


March 21, 2007 in European Union | Permalink


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» 50 Reasons to Praise the European Union from TruePress
The UKs Independent has run a list of 50 reasons to praise the EU.  The Great Tim Worstal has reproduced the list with his comments.  When reading this list, I can clearly see the Eurosceptics case. In fact, I had to go back and check the so... [Read More]

Tracked on Mar 21, 2007 12:26:13 PM

» EU travel bans from Bishop Hill
Tim Worstall has conducted a thorough, and thoroughly admirable fisking of the Independent's risible 50 r... [Read More]

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» European Health Care Rankings from TruePress
Here is a newspaper article on a report that compares and ranks the various European health care systems.  The underlying report is here. (Page 12 of the report shows the criteria and page 19 has the comparison grid, 3 being the best and 1 being the... [Read More]

Tracked on Mar 22, 2007 12:05:55 PM

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How the Communist Party took over Hollywood in the 30s. View from 1776A victory for white, racist, capitalist, rapist, patriarchy: Duke lacrosse charges to be dismissed. Dr. Sanity slams the 88 profs.Was Houdini murdered? Mod. Voice50 reasons to praise [Read More]

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13 Small EU bureaucracy (24,000 employees, fewer than the BBC)

Standard disingenuousness. The EU outsources its bureaucracy. The real interesting number is the number of bureaucrats employed at national and local level that wouldn't be there without the EU. And that number is a hell of a lot more than 24,000.

Posted by: Thon Brocket | Mar 21, 2007 10:02:37 AM

Re: Item #38 (Strong Economic Growth)

Perhaps the 'EU' outperformed the US 'last year'. But in every year prior, the US has handily outperformed the EU; and as you are probably aware, US standards of living and per capita income are far higher than the EU average.

Sounds to me like #38 is an example of 'selective and misleading' statistics at work :)

Posted by: Eric Jacobson | Mar 21, 2007 10:13:33 AM

"47 British restaurants now much more cosmopolitan"

Does that mean we have to thank the EU for all the wonderful Indian, Chinese, Thai restaurants we now have - and which started to spring up long before Britain's accession to the EEC (European Economic Community) in January 1973?

C'mon. Some of us were around then and can remember the old days.

But I do agree with 46:

Europe has set Britain an example how properly to fund a national health service.

The trouble is that many - probably most - Brits are complacently unaware that there are efficiently functioning health services across western Europe structured and funded very differently from Britain's NHS. And those other health services don't put around leaflets claiming to be Europe's largest single employer with more than 1.2 million employees.

As best I can tell, France seems to have the best rated healthcare system in Europe. For the 2006 national assessments in the Euro Health Consumer Index compiled by the Health Consumer Powerhouse, a Swedish think-tank:

"The Euro Health Consumer Index 2006 identifies the most consumer-friendly health care system in the European union, as rated by 27 Index indicators. The 2006 Index includes all the 25 EU public healthcare systems plus Switzerland for reference.

"France emerges as the 2006 winner of the Euro Health Consumer Index, 'with a technically efficient and generously providing healthcare system'. France scores 576 out of 750 maximum points. 2005 years winner, the Netherlands, now takes the silver position, followed by Germany. Estonia and Slovakia gets the highest ranking in the category 'value for money'."

For details of country marking in the index:

Posted by: Bob B | Mar 21, 2007 10:34:49 AM

#39: even if you did care about football, you'd know that importing a bunch of continentals into the English top flight has just meant a dearth of English talent for the national team. The other perennial underachiever at international level is Spain, and guess which other country has about as many foreign players playing in its top league as England? That's right, Spain.

Posted by: sanbikinoriaon | Mar 21, 2007 11:17:21 AM

What about GSM? The EU made a single interoperable standard mandatory, leading to the creation of GSM by the industry.

In the US, despite a strong desire to interfere (Ms. Jackson's nipple, for example) nothing was done and so the country is blighted with incompatible systems that lock customers in to the incompetent service that comes with near-monopoly status.


Posted by: Kay Tie | Mar 21, 2007 11:36:58 AM

From the GSM Association www.gsmworld.com history of GSM

1982 - Groupe Speciale Mobile (GSM) is formed by the Confederation of European Posts and Telecommunications (CEPT) to design a pan-European mobile technology.

From CEPT www.cept.org
Article 2

Relations with International Organisations

1. CEPT is an independent organisation which cooperates with the European Union, the European Free Trade Association and other relevant intergovernmental organisations as well as with other organisations concerned with posts and electronic communications.

So no the EU was not responsible for GSM

Posted by: Steve | Mar 21, 2007 11:47:43 AM

There's a slightly extended version of this over at Party Reptile by the way...

Posted by: Timj | Mar 21, 2007 12:09:10 PM

The arguments are so feeble, inaccurate or dishonest that the case agin the EU is thereby proved.

Posted by: dearieme | Mar 21, 2007 12:18:30 PM

I like the one about 'pesky' borders. Schengen doesn't work. Border checks mean a risk for illegal immigrants.
Of course, schengen was supposed to deal with this with much tighter external borders but no-one bothered.

Posted by: Tim almond | Mar 21, 2007 12:24:45 PM

"6. Co-operation on continent-wide immigration policy


No, not true. Ask the French.

"12 Competition from privatised companies means cheaper phone calls

The privatisation of BT came from the EU?"

Used to work in carrier pre-select services - not sure if that was an EU directive, but that, rather more than BT's privatisation per se, is what's really pushed down the cost of calls, and hapened nearly 20 years after the privatisation.

"15 Minority languages, such as Irish, Welsh and Catalan recognised and protected"

Who gives a toss?

28 Cheap travel and study programmes means greater mobility for Europe's youth

Err, 7,00 students a year drinking in foreign bars is worth the rest of it?"

Quite, and just why hypermobility is so bloody important to these people is mystifying. Are they all natural born vagrants? Don't they have homes to go to?

"39 Single market has brought the best continental footballers to Britain


Crowding out good British players in the process. Argentina '78 - those were the days...

"44 European immigration has boosted the British economy


To the grand tune of a per capita GDP growh equivalent to the price of two cigarettes a week, meriting it the description of 'True, but needing qualification".

"45 Europeans are increasingly multilingual - except Britons, who are less so

We need a...."

Agreed. The foreigners all speaking English means that's another culture war in the bag.

Rule Britannia.

"48 Total mobility for career professionals in Europe


Fee, fi, fo,fum, I smell the global labour arbitrage...

Posted by: Martin | Mar 21, 2007 12:32:07 PM

#18 Err, no. Not true


Posted by: Chuckl | Mar 21, 2007 12:46:22 PM

"So no the EU was not responsible for GSM"

Sigh. The EU was responsible for demanding a single standard across Europe. Directive 87/372/EEC did this.

It tasked the industry with the technical details of the standard, but directed each member state to reserve the spectrum.

Posted by: Kay Tie | Mar 21, 2007 12:48:16 PM

The fact that this paper needs to run a fatuous article like this shows a certain desperation. We wouldn't get such articles if the EU was popular or obviously a good thing.

Posted by: pete | Mar 21, 2007 1:15:56 PM

Obviously, I had to have a go at this...


Posted by: Devil's Kitchen | Mar 21, 2007 1:35:37 PM

Scott Burgess also does a hilarious send-up of this list over at The Daily Ablution, under the heading "50 Ways to Leave Your Journalistic Credibility":


Posted by: beloml | Mar 21, 2007 1:40:51 PM

Concerning #1 - The end of war between European nations

Given that the EU and its EEC predecessors have only been a subset of Western Europe, we must acknowledge that the Soviet Union (as well as NATO) played a key role in stopping war between european nations. Is the EU claiming to have taken over the role of the Soviet Union in this respect ? If so, are there any other aspects of the Soviet Union that it has adopted, or seeks to adopt ?

Posted by: Steve Roberts | Mar 21, 2007 4:10:01 PM

29. Is untrue, with their ban on manufacturers adding supplementary measurements to make things clearer.

23 which was more to do with individual entrepenuers like Christy Ryan and Stelios Haji-Ioannou, is about to be destroyed by 31

45 nothing to do with the EU, a lot to to with American TV

Posted by: chris strange | Mar 21, 2007 6:04:20 PM


23 is something which the EU did which was good. Before that, there were bilateral agreements that generally resulted in a cosy tie between 2 national carriers on the route (eg London to Brussels was Sabena and BA only).

If that had not been done, people like Ryanair and Easyjet would probably not even exist.

Posted by: Tim Almond | Mar 21, 2007 8:20:08 PM

#1: Ummm, the Balkans?

#14: The EU halted the export of British beef in the first place.

#18: Didn't Robert Mugabe and Yasser Arafat enjoy invitations to Paris?

#22: LOL. The "EU Army" exists mainly on paper; troops are supplied by national governments, and then mainly through NATO.

#24: The EU budget is 130 billion euros a year . . . and *pet passports* make the top 50?!

#37: But it's still a criminal act to sell bananas by the pound.

#38: 2006 %GDP growth was 3.3% for the US, and 2.9% for the EU -- and only because the A10 brought up the EU15 average by about 1.5%.

#41: The European Parliament gives citizens the right to vote for people they've never heard of, to run the weakest of all EU institutions, in numbers that decrease every election cycle.

Indeed, if this is the best they can do, that's pretty telling.

Posted by: Sympathetic Yank | Mar 21, 2007 10:45:50 PM

SY: Damn I was going to say that. They always seem to forget the Balkan war when it comes to "peace" in Europe.

Posted by: Andrew Ian Dodge | Mar 22, 2007 9:32:35 AM

Which of the belligerents in the Balkans was a member state, Andy?

BTW, the answer to all the items given as "we need a.." is "yes". We didn't have them without it. Yeah, in handwaveland it could all have happened by voluntary cooperation. And a pony.

Posted by: Alex | Mar 22, 2007 4:21:48 PM

The same applies to 9.

Also, are you really sure the evident prosperity of western Europe had nothing to do with 2 above?

4: Ah, German words are scary. Look! Nazis! Anyway, if we did have a common zero external tariff, what would you do if state X decided to have a nonzero tariff, without some kind of enforceability...like a Common Zero External Tariff Commission, that could be overseen by, hey, a parliamentary assembly from the whole zone...

7: I am not aware that anyone has been tried without a jury in the UK as a result of anything EU-related. I don't think the EU had anything to do with Diplock courts, for example, nor with Blair(and Michael Howard)'s various wheezes. You appear to be making this up. Further, if it exercises you so much, why do you live in Portugal?

12: You know, there are some other people in Europe. Telecoms deregulation has been pressed forward by the Commission in most of the member states. Its current vitality is measured by the anger the carriers demonstrate towards Viviane Reding.

I see that someone else has already delivered the fisking re GSM, so I'll pause only to remark that the only way we'll get WiMAX rolled out is when the EU makes the carriers disgorge the 2.5-2.69GHz band, 'cos nobody else is going to do it.

13: Tim, if you're going to quote my all-purpose shorter you, can you at least attribute it?

14: Because the rules are legally enforceable without the use of bayonets. It's an example, see? We use examples when we wish to make an argument.

22: NATO peacekeepers? Whoops... There are none outside Afghanistan.

25: No, but it was gabbled about from the 1850s onwards without anyone ever doing anything. Then, 10 years after membership, suddenly things started happening. Coincidence, no doubt.

27: What does this actually mean? Which "regulation"? In what way does "regulation" here not equal "content-free rightwing handwaving"?

28: 7 students? Is that all?

31: And why does the US have this? Because of ponies? No, because of the federal government and the interstate commerce provisions. What, a body responsible for enforcing agreements among political units? Never happen!

41: In what way doesn't it? Yes, I know you don't like party lists, but if you are going to claim it doesn't count as democracy, you'll have to argue that Australia and Germany are actually tyrannies.

43: You are a conservative, no? You believe that national states attempt to pursue their interests? So - what is your point exactly? (It's also rather 1815 and quite 1945.)

50: See thread. Case proven.

Tim adds: "What, a body responsible for enforcing agreements among political units? Never happen!"

WTO maybe?

43. No, not a conservative. A liberal I am, as you well know.

Posted by: Alex | Mar 22, 2007 4:58:25 PM

Tim Almond:

Ryanair certainly would have existed without the EU regulations in question, because it did exist before said regulations.

Posted by: chris strange | Mar 22, 2007 7:22:31 PM


You are right.

But without deregulation, they wouldn't be close to their current size.

Posted by: Tim Almond | Mar 22, 2007 8:46:02 PM

Point 13 - The EU does not have 24.000 employees. Full Stop. Whoever did this research just got this number from Wikipedia (i know because I edit that page). It is the EC, the European COMMISSION, which has 24.000 employees.

The EU is composed of many other bodies (European Parliament, Council, Court of Justice, Court of Auditors, Central Bank, more than 20 agencies...)so we really have to count all the employees for which the salary is paid out of the EU Budget (which we pay via our taxes!!).

This figure is really difficult to obtain, for mainly two reasons:

1) The EU being a bureocracy it probably does not have a very good idea of how many people it employs

2) When it does know, it is trying to make life difficult for those researching this topic (check the website of DG Admin http://ec.europa.eu/dgs/personnel_administration/index_en.htm, last year it had tables with staff breakdow, now they have mysteriously vanished!!)

I calculation I had done in late 2005 put the number of total EU employees at around 43.000, almost double what the Independent claims.

In addition do consider that the new budget where Tony Blair surrendered half of the rebate for NO modification in the unfair CAP allocates funds for 500 new jobs in EU institutions every year up to 2013. so at least 3.000 more jobs from 2007 onwards are to be added.

Oh and then you have to take into account the two new member states (Romania and Bulgaria), which naturally need their fair share of staff....

Posted by: Joshua | Mar 23, 2007 11:35:18 AM