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Should Macedonia Really Join the EU
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It’s a question worth asking.  Speaking in June to the United Macedonian Diaspora in Washington, DC, Sally McNamara, Senior Policy Analyst in European Affairs at The Heritage Foundation's Margaret Thatcher Center for Freedom, told the gathering that she hoped one day Macedonia would be invited to join the European Union.  And that Macedonia would then politely decline. 

Why?  Partly because Sally is what we call a Euro-skeptic, which I am too, even though I am not European.  A Euro-skeptic is someone who looks at the EU project and says, “the EU wants too much of each country’s sovereignty and it is not worth it.”  Daniel Hannan, a British writer and journalist and former Conservative Member of the European Parliament, wrote this in the UK’s Telegraph on October 1: “However you measure it, British voters have seen through the Brussels racket. They understand that the EU has curtailed our freedoms, hobbled our democracy, emptied our seas, wrecked our countryside, prejudiced our relations with kindred nations in the Anglosphere, asphyxiated our small businesses, plundered our Exchequer, cheapened our name.”  That last statement of his should certainly be important to Macedonians.  Of course, the EU currently won’t even say your name so it’s hard to cheapen something you can’t say.  Daniel also writes that “Sooner or later, the issue (of staying in or leaving the EU) will have to be put to the electorate.” 

In his article he cites statistics showing that many Europeans are growing tired of the EU.  And the statistics he uses are impeccable: they come from the EU itself. 

For instance, a May, 2011 poll from the European Commission, “Eurobarometer 75,” provided some shocking numbers: 54% of the British public say the UK “has not benefited” from EU membership.  35% say the UK has.  24% of the British public “tend to trust” the EU. 22% of the British public say the EU has a “positive image” in their minds.  Fully 14 of the 27 EU members have majorities of 50% or over whose publics do not “tend to trust” the EU.  And 24 of the 27 have majorities of 50% or more whose publics do not have a “positive image” of the EU.   

The issue is that Europe is made up of distinct and sovereign nations and peoples with different languages, cultures, histories, even belief systems.  The EU seeks to subordinate those differences creating a “new European man”  for lack of a better phrase, one that knows no differences, one that is the same from north to south and east to west.  As I wrote last week, the EU fathers seek fiscal union completing the political union which is the EU.   

An October 3 New York Times article opined “In the longer run, most European policy makers see a need for significant institutional changes to make “economic governance” real — perhaps a European finance minister with power to oversee national budgets, coordinated tax and pension policies, and even bond issues backed jointly by member governments. That would require a new treaty and might mean a significant division between those European Union countries that use the euro and those that don’t.” The German Finance Minister, Wolfgang Schäuble, was quoted in that same article stating “In recent months it has become clear: the answer to the crisis can only mean more Europe.”  Well, judging by how Europe is doing today, “more Europe” will probably not improve things. 

If Macedonia ever gets into the EU all of your ability to control your own economic affairs will, by then, be dictated by unelected, unaccountable, faceless and nameless bureaucrats in Brussels who don’t know you…and don’t really care about you.  If you think bureaucrats from the leading capital cities of the world know nothing about you now and yet still make decisions affecting you one way or another, just wait until they have economic control of you! 

Macedonia has been doing rather well this year, judging by the economic news and certainly compared to the rest of the world.  New markets are opening up, current markets are expanding, more foreign direct investment is coming in and GDP will increase about 5% in the next two years before increasing 5.5 to 7% in 2014 and 2015, according to government statistics and assuming all goes well regionally and globally.  Of course money doesn’t buy happiness and Macedonia has a lot more going for it than simply that.  Look for that in a future article. 

And so we will see where this goes: Macedonia is not getting into the EU tomorrow or the next day primarily because of Greece which, ironically, whose self-created troubles will either serve to bring about fiscal union or will tear the EU apart. Assuming, say eight years from now, the EU is still around and with fiscal union and Macedonia is much better off than it is now, economically speaking, then why join?  Why not instead pursue a close relationship with the EU, like Norway?  Who knows, maybe the United Kingdom – and others – will opt out by then.  Stranger things have happened.

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Jason Miko
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