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The European Union Question

David Cameron was on one screen, and CBeebies was on another. I was on the treadmill at the gym, interval training, pacing at the same rhythm as the blaring RnB, and reading the teletext translation of the Parliamentary debate.

I smiled at Ed Miliband’s nasally-charged bluster. I rolled my eyes at the interventions from the Conservative dinosaurs.

The Tories are the living example of the Bad Apple Theory, I thought to myself. One bad apple, or in their case, a clutch of Eurosceptics, spoils the crop.

The Conservative Party of the United Kingdom harbours a number of corporatists and the stooge friends of corporatists, and this is their basic argument – deregulate and private companies will be more productive and save the economy from implosion. It’s the same argument that nursed the financial services market that went ahead and created derivatives of risk, and produced toxic credit progeny in abundance and caused the collapse of the banks which caused the current economic doldrums. Great job !

We’ve got the Coalition Government’s Red Tape (Cutting Of) initiative in full-swing, as well as the Eurosceptics. Their argument is – the European Union is a hyperquagmire and over-regulates and stifles business and innovation, so the United Kingdom should secede. What they fail to acknowledge is that European Union legislation and regulation have created excellent conditions for trade, unifying the standards of production across the Common Market, and drawing on skillsets and technologies from across the region, has advanced productivity and standards of living for all.

The United Kingdom is actually a major contributor to the development of the European Union, including social and economic progress, and it would be unhelpful to pull back from wielding that kind of influence – we could lost out if we don’t have a say in European-level policy development.

There’s no valid reason for the United Kingdom to leave the European Union. Europe as a zone is the largest trade partner with the United Kingdom, for example. In, or out, the United Kingdom and the Eurozone depend on each other.

The die-hard Eurosceptics are also frequently against renewable energy. Their argument is that European Union rules on increasing the levels of renewable energy are putting a strain on energy companies, and ruining the economy. Actually, I think the casino banking ruined the economy. But renewable energy can only secure it.

Renewable energy is why we need Europe. With a pan-European supergrid, making use of all renewable electricity generation, the United Kingdom can both contribute and receive benefit. When our wind stops blowing, we will need Spain’s solar juice, for example.

But there’s another key reason why the United Kingdom needs Europe. Trees. Or more precisely, usable fuelwood, energy crops and agroforestry waste. Biomass is going to play an extremely important role in the future of energy, and that’s not because of the European Union renewable energy targets.

With North Sea oil and gas production taking a dive, and no clear picture on if this can be offset in any way, the United Kingdom will be forced to increase the proportion of renewable energy in our economy, target or no target. And that’s because of the cost of importing fossil fuels.

In the near future, there may well be global energy price controls placed on Natural Gas because it’s such an important fuel, particularly as we are at Peak Oil. But even if Natural Gas prices stay level, or even level-ish, since we will have to import progressively more Natural Gas, the country will start to feel a big fat pinch. We will start to feel penniless without a biomass energy strategy – and that means trade with Europe – because we haven’t been growing enough of our own trees lately.

It’s true that oil and gas companies and coal-burning power stations will lose out from increasing renewable energy penetration into the United Kingdom’s energy sector, but they are not the businesses of the future. If their shareholders are worried, they should jump ship to wind power and solar power investment.

Somebody has to tell the Conservative Eurosceptics to quit whingeing and accept the inevitable – European and renewable, or poor. And while we’re at it, we should join the Euro.

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