Chapter 1: Introduction, the UK’s relationship to the EU, the aim of this book and policy conclusions
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The central theme of this book is that the European Union has developed economic policies in trade and regulation that do not conform to the liberal model of free markets under the rule of law. Instead they are protectionist and interventionist because of the pressures of political preferences and vested interests. The European Union Treaties proclaim with great clarity that the EU is a political project whose ultimate aim is complete political union and whose journey is guided by the process of ‘ever-closer union’. While UK politicians have from time to time thought that it was a project for a single market moving towards full competition internally and full free trade internationally, this has not turned out to be correct. Instead the EU has introduced extensive social regulation, has attempted to integrate legal processes across borders, has intervened heavily in fiscal decisions of euro-zone governments, has pursued aggressive policies on climate change without attention to cost effectiveness, and has done much else – overall going well beyond and often in contradiction to that free market programme. As part of these efforts the EU has worked untiringly to create political allies in all EU states within their business, personal and regional structures – in no country more so than the UK. Thus the business beneficiaries of EU protectionism are vocal in their support of the EU, whether in agriculture, manufacturing or services (such as the City).