"Ten Questions to Ask Before You Give Away Your Country"
John Blundell's Open Letter to Croatia's Prime Minister, Ivo Sanader
As featured in Dnevnik, Croatia's Business Daily, Wednesday, March 2, 2005 with front page lead.
For those interested in the scanned copy of John Blundell's article via attachment or the Croatian version, please email:
2nd March 2005
Prime Minister Dr Ivo Sanader
Trg Sv Marka 2
Ten questions to ask before you give away your country
It was good to sit with you at dinner on my recent visit to Croatia. Your country is doing well and clearly has great potential.
However, I do worry about your headlong rush into the EU. Let me share with you ten questions every Croatian should ask and be able
to answer before you hand over your country and its governance to Brussels:
1. Why would you want to give control of your country away? After all, you haven’t had it very long. Of course, you’ll be told that
belonging to the EU in no way means giving away your country’s sovereignty. Sovereignty is a country’s constitutional independence, its
exclusive political authority. It cannot be shared or pooled. But consider this: once in the EU, your country will be subject to a higher
political authority – Brussels. The EU will overrule your government’s policies on foreign affairs, security, justice and much much more.
It is planning its own constitution – which will allow the EU to sign treaties without consulting your government. That sounds
uncomfortably like relinquishing your country’s authority. You can’t give it up and keep it at the same time. Being a sovereign nation is
like being a virgin – either you are one or you’re not.
2. Do you want more rules and regulations? The EU has a strong desire to “harmonise” in order to iron out the differences between
member states. The way it does this is by devising regulations. There are currently hundreds of thousands of them, covering areas as
diverse as pollution and how you hire and fire employees, with more than 5,000 new ones coming out of Brussels every year. It’s not
always easy for countries to meet these demands and for small businesses it’s sometimes impossible. If you think you’re regulated
enough already, you ain’t seen nothing yet!
3. Would you be happy joining a corrupt organisation? There’s no doubt that the EU is rotten to the core. In May 2004 Britain’s
National Audit Office (NAO) reported 10,000 cases of EU fraud in 2002 costing £700 million up from 5,482 cases costing £386
million in 2001 ie a doubling of fraud in just one year. But figures like this are the tip of the iceberg – they only relate to matters which
national governments know about and are prepared to divulge. A more damning estimate is that around five per cent of the
Commission’s budget - or almost £4 billion – goes missing every year. That’s your money, by the way. Disgusted? You should be. But
you can’t do anything about it. You can’t even vote the culprits out of office.
4. Do you think barriers to trade are a good thing? Well, you ought to, because that’s what you’re going to get by joining the EU.
There will of course be advantages when it comes to trading with other member nations, but what about all those other countries, the
US, for example? Croatia must be open to the world, not just its neighbours. You were locked into Tito’s socialism for a long time; you
do not need Brussels’ version of the same error.
5. Is high unemployment your idea of fun? If you enjoy the prospect of low growth, rigid labour markets, increasingly intrusive
regulation, high and rising taxes, and a high level of trade protection in some sectors, then the EU is for you. Oh, and for good measure
the result is the high unemployment which Europe has experienced for more than a decade. It’s not a coincidence that the two most
prosperous European nations, Norway and Switzerland, are not in the EU.
6. How do you feel about entering the most inefficient system of agricultural support ever devised? The Common Agricultural Policy
was a noble idea: subsidise farmers to keep farm wages high and stop people moving from country areas to the city in search of
better-paid jobs. But it has failed and it’s the ordinary citizens who’ve suffered –they’re paying more for food and more in taxes as a
result. And, guess what? Rural areas are still in decline.
7. Do you mind giving up democracy? Right now, you can express your views on what happens in your country by voting. But for
the EU to have a political democracy would mean having a European people, European public opinion and a chance to vote for what
happens in Europe. But Europe does not have a common people, nor does it have common bonds of allegiance and obligation, which
means that citizens would be unlikely to accept majority decisions which they believe discriminate against them or unfairly favour others.
That is precisely why Europe’s political elites and bureaucrats will decide on the really important European issues, which will of course
affect what happens in your own country. It’s simpler that way, even if the price is democracy.
8. How do you fancy being a very small fish in a very big European pond? Under the EU constitution, more voting power will go to
countries with bigger populations and there will be more majority decisions, rather than decisions based on unanimity. This means that
your elected representatives will have very little say in what happens in Europe. And, as we all know, the French and the Germans stick
together on many important issues. They are the big fish in the pond of Europe. Your country, I regret to say, stands to be one of the
9. Are you happy to give up your currency? A simple sentimental attachment to your own currency might seem a good enough
reason not to give it up, but there are better ones. If your country adopts the Euro, it loses control of its own economy. The European
Central Bank will make decisions about interest rates. No longer will your own financial experts and politicians be able decide what to
do with your money. Instead, your economy will embark on an impossible journey: it will leave the country and go north nearly 1,000
kilometres to Frankfurt, but be dragged rapidly southwards at the same time. Your economy will suffer because it’s impossible to find
one interest rate to suit all countries in the Euro. If you need more proof, bear in mind that the best-performing EU countries are those
which have not adopted the Euro.
10. Does it bother you that, after all you have been through, you will be entering a union that has uncomfortable parallels with the
former Yugoslavia? In recent times, you have become the citizen of an independent and democratic state. Before that, you were forced
to be part of a group of countries which threw together people of different languages and cultures. The only thing many of the peoples in
this federation had in common was that all this was imposed on you by an unrepresentative political elite. A bit like the EU really.
I look forward to hearing your answers. In the meantime I wish you all the very best as you wrestle with so many difficult issues.
Institute of Economic Affairs
John Blundell, Director General of the Institute of Economic Affairs, UK, serves as Director of Fairbridge, a Director of the International
Policy Network, Chairman of the Executive Committee of the Board of Atlas Economic Research Foundation, and a Board member of
the Institute for Humane Studies at George Mason University, Fairfax, VA, the Institute for Economic Studies (Europe) in Paris, France
and Vice President of the Mont PĆ©lerin Society. Blundell joined the Adriatic Institute for Public Policy's Founding Leadership Board,
Croatia's first independent free market think tank. John Blundell delivered the opening keynote address, "Waging the War of Ideas" at
the First International Leaders Summit, Nov. 5, 2004 in Zagreb, Croatia
John Blundell, Director General of the Institute of Economic Affairs delivers the opening keynote address, "Waging the War of Ideas" at
the International Leaders Summit (ILS), Zagreb, Croatia - 2004
Pictured from right: Dr. Daniel Mitchell, Doris Pack (MEP), Prime Minister Ivo Sanader, John Blundell, Natasha Srdoc and Joel Anand
Samy at the Adriatic Institute for Public Policy - ILS Dinner Event
For further information please visit www.AdriaticInstitute.org
The Second International Leaders Summit is scheduled for June 1 and 2, 2005 in Zagreb, Croatia. More details to follow.
Joel Anand Samy
President, World Development and Empowerment
Co-founder, Adriatic Institute and International Leaders Summit
WDE - International Leaders Summit
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