As the EU celebrates its anniversary, The Independent looks at 50 benefits it has brought, and asks: "What has Europe done for us?"
1 The end of war between European nations
No need to comment, complete rejection of the NATO security blanket. When there was trouble and the EU announced, in the ineffably ridiculous form of Jacques Poos the Luxembourg Foreign Minister that the "hour of Europe has daned", the EU watched as thousands were massacred in Bosnia, until the Americans came and sorted it out.
2 Democracy is now flourishing in 27 countries
See above, and the way in which countries like Belgium use the courts to attempt to close down democratic opposition suggests that Democracy is not what they are after, but conformity to their own left-liberal agenda. The behaviour of the European Commission over the Bowland Dairy case suggests that they don't understand the idea of the rule of law.
3 Once-poor countries, such as Ireland, Greece and Portugal, are prospering
Funnily enough Greece and Portugal are not really prospering. Ireland on the other hand has been until recently. That was largely down to the unilateral decision to cut corporation tax and thus encourage inward investment. However in the last few months, due to a number of EU related problems many of the high tech companies that have driven the Celtic Tiger are retrenching, laying off workers and closing down.
4 The creation of the world's largest internal trading market
Yes true, but by building massive tariff barriers this has had appalling effects on the developing world, and of course actions of the main continental states have meant that the trade in services is hamstrung by European regulation and national economic champions.
Score draw, 4-1
5 Unparalleled rights for European consumers
The regulations that drive these rights have created the unparallel right to be unemployed in many EU nation states. Equally if it is consumer rights you want, these can be procured through national parliaments quicker, cheaper and with less distortion.
6 Co-operation on continent-wide immigration policy
Where, show me? If there has been any co-operation it has been the unspoken agreement via the Euromed partnership to encourage mass Islamic immigration.
7 Co-operation on crime, through Europol
There was plenty of cooperation on crime through Interpol before the advent of Europol. And since when did Britain ever give foreign police and their families' immunity from British law?
8 Laws that make it easier for British people to buy property in Europe
Up to a point Lord Copper, the behaviour of, in particular Spain gives the lie to this, in Western Europe it was never very difficult, in Eastern Europe, well see the answer to 1 & 2.
Score draw 8-2
9 Cleaner beaches and rivers throughout Europe
The blue flag scheme has been by and large a success. But it was a French national initiative that launched in 1985, years later it became something picked up by the EU and is now superseded by the UN Blue Flag Scheme. So an EU thing, nope sorry it doesn't stand up. You will be telling us that drinking wine is an EU success story, because it came from a European country, or television, or railways.
10 Four weeks statutory paid holiday a year for workers in Europe
Yes true, but again at some cost. Also this could and should be voted upon and decided upon by national governments. But I will give it
11 No death penalty (it is incompatible with EU membership)
This rather contradicts point 2 above. In a democracy their should not be areas of public debate that are off the counter.
12 Competition from privatised companies means cheaper phone calls
Privatisation was not a function of the EU. Indeed much of the efforts of the EU in recent years have made privatisation more difficult rather than easier. This is despite pressure from some member states particularly the UK. (And it is nice to see the independent supporting privatisation).
13 Small EU bureaucracy (24,000 employees, fewer than the BBC)
This canard just has to be shot. One this figure is patently untrue, the figures are well above 24,000, and also the EU bureaucracy does not provide HSE officers and so on in the nation states, but all their work is created by the efforts of the EU bureaucracy - along with plenty of others. Misleading and inaccurate.
14 Making the French eat British beef again
Why should they have to if they don't want to anyhow? Even if you do want to force them it took years to go through the courts. Hardly an advertisement for the efficacy of European laws.
15 Minority languages, such as Irish, Welsh and Catalan recognised and protected
Irish was protected by the Irish State before it joined the EU, as was Welsh by the UK, in the case of Catalan, it was well on its way to protection before Spain joined, it had only been discriminated against due to the Franco regime.
16 Europe is helping to save the planet with regulatory cuts in CO2
Oh for pities sake, where to start. This is such unutterable rubbish that it is hardly worth commentating. Suffice to say that the EU will hamstring its economy by following a distinctly unproven hypothesis on climate change.
17 One currency from Bantry to Berlin (but not Britain)
The benefits of which are distinctly unproven.
18 Europe-wide travel bans on tyrants such as Zimbabwe's Robert Mugabe.
Which are routinely flouted by European countries such as France and Belgium. Hot air, and duplicitous hot air at that.
19 The EU gives twice as much aid to developing countries as the United States.
Most of which is given by the nation states not the EU. The EU's record is diabolical leading figures such as former DfID minister Clare Short to call for the repatriation of aid to the UK.
20 Strict safety standards for cars, buses and aircraft.
21 Free medical help for tourists
This can and has been done on a multilateral level.
19-6 (Score Draw)
22 EU peacekeepers operate in trouble spots throughout the world
Ineffectual, expensive and hamstrung.
23 Europe's single market has brought cheap flights to the masses, and new prosperity for forgotten cities.
No Freddie Laker brought cheap flights to the masses, followed by Ryanair and other organisations. But I thought that the Independent was in favour of increasing air taxes at a European level thus restricting flight travel and damaging those "forgotten" cities along with the activities of the EU that has caused the operators of cheap flights to close some operations and threaten to close more.
24 Introduction of pet passports
An idea first suggested by the Official Monster Raving Loony Party, it was taken up by the British Government that agreed bi-lateral deals with some EU countries, it has now spread across the world to other countries such as Australia. A good idea, whose time has come does not need the EU to do it.
25 It now takes only 2 hrs 35 mins from London to Paris by Eurostar
Nothing to do with the EU
26 Prospect of EU membership has forced modernisation on Turkey
And the way in which the EU treats Turkey is driving it away from its secular history into the hands of the Islamacists.
27 Shopping without frontiers gives consumers more power to shape markets
Unless you want to buy things that the EU does not approve of, like tobacco and alcohol.
28 Cheap travel and study programmes means greater mobility for Europe's youth
Yes and no. Remember you don't approve of cheap travel.
26-7 (Score draw)
29 Food labelling is much clearer
It is, but not sure that this could not be done under national law. In France the EU rules has meant that food must be labelled in French, German or English, resulting in many food labels being incomprehensible to the consumer. They cannot force producers to label in French due to EU competition law.
30 No tiresome border checks (apart from in the UK)
Thus no control on immigration/drugs/people trafficking and other such stuff. A mixed blessing
28-8 (Score draw)
31 Compensation for passengers suffering air delays
True, but I have always believed that you pays your money you makes your choice. Thus those firms that charge more always had compensation schemes, budget airlines didn't. What this has done has to increase the average cost of flights, which rather defeats the points 23 & 28.
29-9 (score draw)
32 Strict ban on animal testing for the cosmetic industry
Was done at a national level first. No need for EU intervention.
33 Greater protection for Europe's wildlife
No there isn't. CITIES is an international not EU convention.
34 Regional development fund has aided the deprived parts of Britain.
But the money would be better spent by National governments, getting 50 pence in the pound (approx) is that is sent to Brussels is hardly a good deal.
35 European driving licences recognised across the EU.
They always were
36 Britons now feel a lot less insular
Evidence for this statement please. The history of the British people seems to suggest that we were never insular after all we travelled the world, in a way hardly matched by our landlocked cousins on the other side of the channel (France Holland and Spain notwithstanding). Balderdash.
37 Europe's bananas remain bent, despite sceptics' fears
And the tide still comes in. However, the regulation on the curvature of the banana stands.
38 Strong economic growth - greater than the United States last year
And a stopped clock is tells the right time twice a day.
39 Single market has brought the best continental footballers to Britain
And the Ivo Belet report will stop us bringing in the best non Continental players (including Norwegians and Icelandics. Also it is the money in the British (particularly English) game that has brought them in, not the EU.
40 Human rights legislation has protected the rights of the individual.
The car crash that is the Human Rights Act has devastated our ability to set law through Parliament. It is counter intuitive and damaging to human rights, such as the right to go about one's business unmolested.
41 European Parliament provides democratic checks on all EU laws
Have the author ever been to the European Parliament? The Parliament is not democratic in any meaningful way, it does not provide checks on "all" laws. The ignorance of this statement is astounding.
42 EU gives more, not less, sovereignty to nation states.
Eh? Does not compute - at any possible rational level
43 Maturing EU is a proper counterweight to the power of US and China
In what way does being part of an antiquated protectionist trading block with restrictive regulation, foreign policy inertia, and anti-western drivers help anybody?
44 European immigration has boosted the British economy
Evidence please. There is masses of counter evidence to this statement that suggests that the opposite is true.
42-10 (score draw, jury still out)
45 Europeans are increasingly multilingual - except Britons, who are less so.
Yup they are all learning English. How this fits the "What has Europe done for us?" title defeats me. You must be scraping the barrel.
46 Europe has set Britain an example how properly to fund a national health service
The thousands of French who were left to die during the heat wave the other year begs to differ. Oh yes and the working time directive screws the ability of the NHS to operate. That being said there are some interesting ideas on running a health service on the continent and elsewhere. But they involve the patient paying up front. Something I would love to see the Independent support.
47 British restaurants now much more cosmopolitan
All those Indian and Chinese restaurants have been a blessing haven't they? That barrel again.
48 Total mobility for career professionals in Europe.
There was always mobility for professionals in Europe, and across the world. Though mutual recognition of qualifications has had some beneficial effect. (though patchy)
46-11 (score draw)
49 Europe has revolutionised British attitudes to food and cooking.
Nothing to do with the EU. Scrape, scrape, scrape.
50 Lists like this drive the Eurosceptics mad
At last something I agree with wholeheartedly
47-12 is hardly a score that would encourage anybody to think that the benefits outweigh the negatives.
Can we leave yet?
Oh and I see Timmy has his own version