Control of Our Own Borders?
I shall be voting "stay" in the EU referendum (it sounds more punchy than "remain"). I don't much like the arguments of fear on either side; neither has a monopoly on that, despite the rather desperate cat calls. And I wish that those leading the "in " campaign would lay out more of an ideological mission statement. Haven't they learned from the Scottish referendum that those arguing for the status quo run the real risk of losing unless they have a messianic rallying cry too?
Part of my reason is gut. Over the last few decades, the truth is that I really have begun to internalise a dual identity: I feel BOTH British AND European, and I dont see any real clash between them (that's a bit like the Roman model, I guess -- so far as we can tell, most citizens in the Roman world felt they 'belonged' both to Rome and to wherever it was they came from. That's not to say that I don't see problems with the EU. I'm as dissatisfied as anyone with the "democratic deficit". I don't like the voting system for the European parliament. And I dont think that it is entirely my fault that I dont know who my MEP/S is/are. That said, it feels like these are problems that I have to "own" and that I have a responsibility to do something about from the inside. It's a bit like saying that I wouldn't decide to emigrate to (say) New Zealand because I didnt like the UK's defence policy and austerity regime; I'd stay here and try to do something about it.
I also have real problems with many of the main planks of the "out" campaign, especially the mantra about controlling our own borders.
That's partly, to put it a bit plonkingly, because so many of the big issues that the world has to deal with seem supra-national (certainly supra the size of small nations within Europe). I mean by that issues of defence or pollution or the refugee crisis. It doesn't take much to see that the simple fact that Greece happens to be geographically nearest Turkey should not mean that it should deal single-handedly with all the migrants that end up on its islands; it's an obvious example where Europe has to think together, as it has so far only partly done; closing borders doesnt get us anywhere.
I am none too convinced either by the security angle of the attacks on Schengen. True, it is clear enough to see that no border checks on the roads between (say) France and Belgium must make it easier to drive with a car full of weapons and explosives from Paris to Brussels (though I have to say that my memory of border controls on trains across Europe, back in the day, were that they were perfunctory at best and would have required a vast increase in manpower to make reasonably efficient). But the Brits tend to forget that these are mostly LAND borders we are talking about. Unless we are planning on erecting walls between these European countries, with search lights, dogs and barbed wire (and please let's not), then anyone determined to cross doesn't have to do more than nip through the fields (which is how plenty of ammunition went from the Republic of Ireland to the north during The Troubles, despite the border controls that there then were). It's less convenient, but it doesnt actually prevent much.
And, anyway, shouldn't the question be, how do we nip this kind of crime in the bud further up the foodchain than this?