LAST week, the penny dropped on the EU’s true nature.
Those who have long sought Britain’s total extraction from the nettles of Brussels will not have been surprised in the slightest by the EU’s mafioso tactics that threatened to drag vaccine maker AstraZeneca, the United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland into a trade war that no one asked for, but one which the EU was happy to unilaterally declare.
To be sure, if a country in Asia or Africa behaved in the way in which the EU has done over vaccines, there would be entirely justified discussions about increased tariffs, sanctions and severe restrictions on the flow of goods as a form of reciprocal retaliation. Instead, Britain’s (still) star-crossed Europhile political class sat dumfounded by the fact that even those who voted remain began to realise that the EU is not a kind free trading group with the attitude of a friendly barman at a music festival. Instead, the EU is an anti-free market bully that is not afraid to tear up the rule book in pursuit of enhancing the power of its cartel.
We often hear about the virtues of the so-called “rules based” system of international trade. And yet, when the EU took what is widely regarded as an entirely bogus contract dispute with a private company and used this as a stick with which to pound the United Kingdom, one witnessed the full force of economic cronyism and its dangerous marriage with political power that seeks to meddle in the internal affairs of sovereign countries.
The unilateral threat to invoke Article 16 of the Withdrawal Agreement was an affront to the fundamental conditions that are requisite to free trade. According to the EU’s own prior assessment, such a move risked plunging Northern Ireland into chaos. The fact that the move was designed to “starve” the United Kingdom of Pfizer vaccines that had already been ordered and paid for, is something that would have embarrassed Saddam Hussein or Al Capone. Beyond this, the EU’s eye-watering threats made against a Belgian vaccine factory are more Hugo Chavez than Victor Hugo.
The only thing that prevented the situation from deteriorating further was AstraZeneca’s steadfast commitment to free market principles. As such, the company will produce more vaccines in order to fulfil the EU’s late order, without capitulating to the EU’s bullying demand to requisition and divert British vaccines.
There are deeper lessons to learn beyond the fact that the EU’s “kind and cuddly” mask slipped, thus revealing the monstrous visage that has long been known to supporters of Brexit. The EU has once again been exposed as a superstate that has not got much time for anything “rules based”. By ignoring referenda that go against the wishes of ultra-federalists, forcing alien economic regimes onto the poorest members of the bloc, renaming rejected legislation and then heaving it through the Commission without an ounce of democratic scrutiny and molesting the territorial integrity of the United Kingdom with an unjust Protocol separating Northern Ireland from Great Britain, it is clear that the only rules the EU plays by are the ones it makes up on the spot.
This is not to say that Britain should not desire trade with EU countries. However, because of the EU’s penchant to put an explicitly vengeful ideology before the realities of business, British businesses ought to look at creating new supply chains which take advantage of the multiple trade agreements now signed with pragmatic and friendly nations throughout the world.
Westminster’s elite ought to start defending British interests which incidentally coincide with a sense of fairness and realism. When one bends over for the EU, one is often rewarded by being kicked. Just ask the Dublin officials whose years of often embarrassing loyalty to Brussels was repaid with being totally jettisoned from the EU’s unilateral decision to shut the UK/Ireland border.
Sir Winston Churchill said during the war: “We shall never descend to the German and Japanese level, but if anybody likes to play rough we can play rough too”. Today, Japan is a friendly nation and multiple German businesses sincerely wish that the EU would let them get on trading with their British customers. But the EU remains an institution incapable of understanding anything other than strength when it comes to relations with external trading partners and rivals.
The EU’s entire approach to Brexit has been one of wishing to inflict pain on its own exporters in the name of punishing the United Kingdom. Such an attitude is entirely absent in discussions with Britain’s genuine friends in the Commonwealth, whilst it is also true in respect of Britain’s relations with Japan, South Korea and many emerging economies in South America. It is high time that those in Westminster’s political bubble wake up to these facts.
The EU cannot be appeased in the trade disputes that will surely arise in the future. Whatever one’s opinion on Donald Trump, he demonstrated that when dealing with obstinate trading partners, one must be prepared to walk away from the negotiating table without giving an inch nor revealing one’s cards.
If the EU wanted to be a friend, that would be a different matter. The EU is clearly incapable of friendliness and in this sense, it is also incapable of playing by the rules.