Happy Independence Day, Great Britain!

“When I came here 17 years ago and I said that I wanted to lead a campaign to get Britain to leave the European Union, you all laughed at me,” said British politician Nigel Farage in a speech to the European Union this week. “Well I have to say, you’re not laughing now, are you?”

They still were. The smug, smiling faces behind him told the whole story. The professional bureaucrats and Europhiles who make up the European Parliament are, as Farage put it, in complete denial over the increasingly failed project that is the European Union.

Even as the supranational organization crumbles around them, and member states begin looking for the exit door, they fail to realize that what they have created is a failure, and that they themselves are to blame for what happened in the United Kingdom last week.

The European Union began with a simple, rational dream. After suffering two devastating world wars that took place mostly on the European continent, leaders in the western world wanted to ensure that no such conflict ever happened again.

And so, after the war, attempts began to economically integrate western Europe into a free-trade zone. The European Economic Community (EEC) was therefore established to do just that in the Treaty of Rome of 1957.

The benefits of the EEC were obvious. It promoted growth and economic expansion, and increased trade and interdependence between nations drastically decreased the likelihood that another war would take place.

Free trade zones and common markets were not the ultimate dream of the architects, however. They hatched ideas of monetary union under a single currency, as well as political union into a European governing body, including a judicial function, a common security network, and the free movement of all peoples within.

It sounded good at the time, and the EEC formally transformed into a supranational political confederation, the European Union (EU), in 1992.

But as the EU moved the continent toward a federalized United States of Europe, many of the supposed benefits turned to ash, morphing into an unwieldy, uncontrollable bureaucratic monster.

The evolving EU, particularly after the 2002 introduction of the Euro currency, dramatically curtailed national sovereignty, and left a large, prohibitively expensive leviathan in its wake as a door prize.

The EU beast pursued a never ending parade of interventionist programs and central planning schemes in the areas of industry and agriculture, and promoted a continent wide welfare state that put America’s to shame.

John Nazca | Reuters

John Nazca | Reuters

Membership dramatically expanded, including a number of economically weak countries in eastern Europe. These countries have since been constantly propped up, subsidized, and bailed out by the EU’s more productive nations, incentivizing idiotic public policy and failing to make any of these countries more prosperous.

The single currency experiment has clearly failed, with the Euro generally regarded as a disaster.

And the free movement of people, a laudable and noble concept, has turned into a preposterous threat to all EU countries, as Europe has permitted an influx of millions of people from war-torn countries who cannot be vetted properly and now have free, unrestrained access to any EU country.

Concerned member states have no control over their own borders. Free movement within Europe is part of the deal.

Britain, tired of the loss of its sovereignty, tired of subsidizing failed states, tired of dealing with the avalanche of red tape that comes with EU membership, decided last week to say, “thank you very much, but we’ll be leaving now.”

Upon leaving, Britain should be able to negotiate a deal much like Switzerland, with participation in European free trade, but without the entanglements of the continental superstate.

Free trade is a universal, mutually beneficial system that requires no responsibilities of a nation, outside continuing to guarantee the free movement of goods and services. One need not participate in a political union to share in trade’s mutual benefits.

Yet German Chancellor Angela Merkel is already drawing a hard line in the sand, signaling her opposition to Britain leaving the EU without being punished for doing so, ironically proving exactly what the European Union really is — a corrupt cartel intent on full economic, political, and military unity.

Merkel’s threats, if realized, would actually hurt the EU more than Britain, essentially for no other reason than spite, and to bully the remaining countries into staying put.

But when you have to threaten countries to stay in, is your union really worth a damn?

What the remaining Eurocrats want is control. The British people have decided they would like that control back. Good for them.

Matthew Gagnon

About Matthew Gagnon

Matthew Gagnon, of Yarmouth, is the Chief Executive Officer of the Maine Heritage Policy Center, a free market policy think tank based in Portland. Prior to Maine Heritage, he served as a senior strategist for the Republican Governors Association in Washington, D.C. Originally from Hampden, he has been involved with Maine politics for more than a decade.