Keep pedalling


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In recent years the call for ever closer European integration has grown much quieter. Those in this country who argued that joining the single currency would lead to growth and economic stability have fallen strangely silent in light of events in Greece, Ireland, etc.

However, going back a few years, those at the heart of the European project used to use the analogy of the EU being like a bicycle and that if members stopped pedalling forwards it would fall over. This naturally begged the question as to what the ultimate destination would be. Single taxation system? Single legal system? Single language? Single country?

As an analogy it was never very convincing. If I use a bicycle, it is to get from A to B. When I get to B, I stop pedalling and get off. Call me old fashioned.

Whatever the valid arguments were in favour of closer EU integration, avoiding the total collapse of the EU has never been one of them.

In fact, whenever an argument for change is presented on the basis that we “must move forward” in a certain direction or such-and-such an organisation will “die”, you can be sure that you are being presented with a false choice and faulty logic is being deployed to seek support for the particular change of direction favoured by the proponents of that new direction.

This is the type of false choice much loved by politicians. “This reform is designed to help the poorest and most vulnerable is society”. Implicit in the statement is that those who want to help the “poorest and most vulnerable” will have to support the policy and that those who oppose the policy are cruel and wicked people who don’t care for the poor and vulnerable. It avoids having to engage in the arguments as to whether it actually is a good policy or whether it will even achieve its stated aims. It becomes a simplistic “good vs evil” proposition. Change for the good vs maintaining the evil status quo.

Naturally, all organisations must be willing to adapt to a changing world. This does not just mean being willing to move forward from where one was five years ago. It may also mean that sudden developments in the last year or two might mean it is appropriate to review the direction that was set out upon three or four years ago. To quote John Maynard Keynes: “When the facts change, I change my mind. What do you do, sir?”.

Changing times almost invariably bring difficult choices. But to suggest that the choice is always limited between choosing one direction or choosing total self-destruction is rarely true.

Sorry, I don’t know what brought this on. I usually try to steer well clear of discussing European politics on the Legal Costs Blog.


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