My personal experiences of dealing with the EU on issues I am involved with have served to reinforce my view that the best decisions are those taken closer to where the real asset, person or community, actually is.
The higher up or further away the decision-making or legislation, the less likelihood of a fitting, nuanced and “true” outcome. Irrespective of history, local conditions and competencies, when something goes wrong there is a much greater risk that a mistake will be multiplied. Solutions prove elusive if attempted from a distance.
Several experiences have left me disillusioned about the EU’s approach to effecting change. --
I understand better now why the eurozone politicians are determined to defend the monetary union whatever the social cost in Greece, Portugal and Spain. While we always knew there was a very high level of political capital invested in the eurozone staying intact, more detailed personal experience of other policy issues leaves me concerned that the authorities’ desire to be proven right may well outweigh their motivation to do the right thing. --
As chief executive of a fund management company, I’m also exposed to the complex process for developing EU financial regulations.I believe in strong, effective regulation but more does not mean better. The power of the European Commission is such that it is relatively easy for it to create new regulations, often extending beyond either its expertise or the activities it ostensibly aims to regulate.--
The EU approach in these areas has highlighted something that has long been a focus for me. I am convinced that the tide of influence is moving away from the top down, command-and-control, one-size-fits-all approach to business and politics.
Supranational organisations, overly bureaucratic corporations and undemocratic political unions will struggle increasingly to achieve progress. Scale is often neither the best nor the most human way to operate.
Smart people of all political persuasions are starting to recognise that smaller scale, more collaborative environments with space for difference and discussion are more relevant. Where people have real responsibility and accountability for outcomes – when they feel they have a real part to play, not just carrying out orders – the results are better.
The engagement that results draws out the best. The obvious lack of flexibility and accountability within the eurozone is the opposite of this productive way of working and a whole generation of young people is paying a very painful price for this imperial, large-scale, flawed political agenda.
It’s too fundamental a flaw to try to renegotiate our position from within the EU – the “project” has a life of its own, above and beyond nation states and communities, as evidenced by Lord Lamont’s recent amusing list of 140 EU “embassies” and the not-so-amusing costs involved.--
I am certainly not a backward-looking “little Englander”. On the contrary, I have great confidence that Britain and the British people could thrive outside the EU.
I am not afraid that all will be lost. Indeed, I am confident we have much more to gain from the outward-looking, entrepreneurial spirit that has long defined us, than if we stay bickering, fighting and losing within a passé political structure that is wholly unnatural to us.