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The Orwellian nightmare that is the EU

A global government would be an Orwellian nightmare if not given legitimacy by nation states. And this is what is happening to the EU, with its 28 nations and growing

Nation states, are the EUs achilles heel. A country with a strong, confident national identity does not thereby solve all its social and economic problems but it has a template, an idiom, in which the discussion can take place and which assumes certain shared norms and common interests. (A confident national story is also a useful tool for integrating newcomers, a symbolic pathway to belonging that is usually welcomed by new citizens.)

Most people even in a noisily varied place like Britain still attach great importance to national symbols and feelings: consider the growing significance of Remembrance Day.

Such a policy requires a clear distinction between full and temporary citizenship with correspondingly different rights and obligations, something that is anathema to human rights philosophy.

The idea of freedom of movement is found in the original Treaty of Rome of 1957 but it was never envisaged as the mass movement that it became after 2004, with the accession of the central and eastern European countries with average per capita income about one quarter the average of the rest of the EU (it has also been substantially widened and extended by the European Court of Justice in recent decades).

Freedom of movement at moderate levels, like immigration itself, is a benefit both to the movers and the country they move to. But the liberal economists and politicians who dominate the EU debate gave little thought to large-scale movement nor do they seem to have realised the extent to which they were eroding national social contracts. 

For thanks to the principle of non-discrimination between EU nationals the British government has to treat a Spaniard or Latvian, so long as they pass a simple test of ‘habitual residence’, in all respects like a British citizen (except for voting in national elections). That includes labour markets, the welfare state and social housing. It is not even possible for national governments to offer special employment incentives to its own nationals in areas of high unemployment without offering them to all EU citizens.

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