The European Union has historically attempted to engineer a Single Market with free movement of labour which pleased capitalists, counterbalanced by the Social Chapter to give a standardised level of protection for EU workers across EU member states which largely satisfied social democrats and socialists.
As the UK has slid further and further to right over the past 37 years, a process only slowed rather than reversed by 13 years of Blairite government, our Government has become determined to ‘renegotiate’ our terms of EU membership before putting the ‘reformed’ EU to the UK people in a Referendum. As ever, for the Tories, the term ‘renegotiate’ is a euphemism for ‘retain the Single Market, restrict freedom of movement and jettison the Social Chapter’ – the neo-liberal’s dream. A huge irony is the Tory Government bleating about the centralisation of EU power while it relentlessly sucks more and more power out of the regions and into the Whitehall / Westminster bubble.
For Greens, the EU is a really mixed bag. Most Greens are instinctively internationalist, embrace cultural diversity, welcome international co-operation and believe that the founding objective of the EU is commendable – i.e. to minimise the risk of conflict in post WW2 Europe. The big downsides are its focus on the Single Market to encourage traditional economic growth, its failure to practice what it preaches in terms of subsidiarity (decision making at the lowest possible level) and its undemocratic structure where the real power resides with the unelected Council of Ministers.
Since joining the EU, the UK has formed a political and economic bridge between the US and continental Europe and benefited from remaining in that semi-detached position, 22 miles off Calais. When the UK joined the EU, it largely burnt its bridges with its former commonwealth trading partners who changed their focus by necessity e.g. Australia looked to Asia. For an increasing number of people in the UK, only detached would do as far as the EU is concerned.
I too would welcome EU-wide renegotiation of the Treaty to democratise and socialise Europe, rather than Cameron’s idea of ‘renegotiation’ which is to enjoy free trade with the Eurozone but little else. The Overton Window is currently lodged to the right of centre of our UK home. As long as that remains the case, a BREXIT would not only cause considerable social and political instability in the UK and most likely precipitate a second Scottish independence referendum and probable break-away, there would be no brake on the UK’s policies moving closer and closer to the US model and a set of completely alien social values.
For this reason, and possibly this alone, I am intending to vote to remain in a deeply flawed EU although I know a lot of my fellow Greens who will vote the other way.