Which brings me onto the subject of Russia. By pulling those nations in, the younger reforming liberals, who are better at safeguarding their economies and their peoples interests then some of the older elite, are now going to be able to take bigger steps. If the expansion hadn’t happened, it is likely they would of been swept away and some eastern European nations might of slipped more into the orbit of Russia, which now sits and rattles us on the borders of the EU. The more stable these Eastern European countries become, the less likely there will be a surge of economic migrants heading towards countries like the UK. After all, is there any logic in travelling hundreds or thousands of miles looking for work, if you can do it in your hometown? No. The same when it comes to seeking refuge in countries which are more stable. If your own nation is stable then there is no need for you to seek asylum elsewhere.
Thinking of Russia puts in my mind the Marshall Plan, which was really the embryonic foundation of a unified, strong, liberal, free trade Europe; free also from the wars which troubled the continent, and free from domination by the USSR. That menace is now gone. Modern Russia is not the USSR, but like Russian governments in decades and centuries gone by, it is eager to control, and to demonstrate its power, in which case bringing nations into the EU weakens Russia’s ability to control them by the means it has available – namely covert intimidation, and its monopoly on hydrocarbons. The federalist dream of the EU may be passing us by, but that does not mean that we could go back to a minimalist system. Such a system of pan-continental government could not achieve all it has, could not safeguard freedoms, could not influence markets by reducing monopolies, corruption, improving infrastructure and sending money to deprived regions – thereby increasing stability. Nor could it so strictly strive to enforce environmental legislation.
Weakening individual sovereignty does not help its case either, nor does zealous red tape, or rules which make sense to some, but not too others (see my article: The End Of The Affair) for which the EU is most often known, but whilst the increase in members has managed to show some of the short fallings in national immigration policies, it has proved to be:
a magical tool for stabilising a whole continent, creating new markets and letting free trade and free movement build ties of interdependence. (The Economist, May 31st, 2008)
If you have guessed by now; I am not a Eurosceptic. I don’t consider myself to be someone who believes in a federalist europe either, but I am of the viewpoint that if a strong EU can augment and strengthen existing sovereign governments, and if this system can regulate and strengthen inter-european ties on grounds of trade, commerce, the courts, the flow of information, and yes, even the flow of people. Our Island Nation has not stopped when it comes to different flows of people, and if it ever did, I believe that would be more of a threat to one of the strongest traditions of the United Kingdom: diversity.
The EU represents the highest achievement of coherent, strong, and stable diversity, which confers benefits and obligations upon all its member nations, and its citizens. Like the Roman Empire, it certainly has its flaws, and maybe it will not last forever, but as long as it remains unlike an empire (not federalist), as long as it realises and respects differences, then the possibility remains for all member nations to benefit from this confluence of diversity for which the EU should strive to develop and protect.