National Sovereignty or EU Membership:
Which is the Least Bad Option?
A Lecture given in Bratislava on the 12th August 2014
to the Institute of Economic and Social Studies (INESS)
by Sean Gabb
The Institute of Economic and Social Studies (INESS) held its annual Sean Gabb Lecture on August 12, 2014 in Bratislava. Dr. Gabb is Director of the Libertarian Alliance and one of the leading advocates of individual liberty in Europe and also a renowned writer and author of several bestsellers, focusing on historical fiction (under a pen name Richard Blake).
The lecture was titled: National Sovereignty or EU Membership: Which is the Least Bad Option? Dr. Gabb introduced an inspiring alternative to the usual euroscepticism of British free-market advocates. They consider EU as a socialist, or at least a corporatist, project. They have focused on its liking for increased levels of tax and regulation, and its commitment to environmentalist untruths about global warming. There is, however, an argument against this hostility. The European Union is not, in itself, a liberal project. But libertarians have tended to assume that, free from rule by the European Union, the Member States would become more liberal. This may, in many cases, be an unrealistic assumption. According to Dr. Gabb, the threat to individual freedom coming from the local interest groups is often higher than the threat coming from Brussels.
It is a point of orthodoxy among British advocates of the free market that Britain should leave the European Union. This is an orthodoxy that, between 1999 and 2001, I did much to impose on the Conservative Party. It is, however, an orthodoxy that I no longer fully accept. I do accept that the freedom and prosperity I want for my country are incompatible with membership of the European Union. What I do not necessarily accept is that we should walk away at the earliest opportunity. There may, in the next few years, be a referendum on British membership of the European Union. If it happens, I am not sure how I shall vote in this. But, if it were to happen tomorrow, I know that I would vote against leaving. Continue reading