LAST MONTH Switzerland withdrew its official application to become a full member of the European Union. Elitist Swiss governments had been attempting for no less than twenty-four years to persuade their voters that full membership rather than the existing ad hoc, bilateral agreements would be in their interest but without success. The Swiss have the highest standard of living in the world, apart from the Norwegians, and want to keep things that way. (The Norwegians, by the way, have never ever shown the slightest desire to join the EU, the last opinion poll showing a majority of 72% against membership.)
In any case, why would Switzerland or Norway want to exchange their status as independent democracies with the highest standards of living not just in Europe but in the entire world, to become provinces of a corrupt, economically crisis-ridden, bureaucratically governed European Union? Unemployment in the EU is 11% on average but between 11% and 25% in Southern Europe, with youth unemployment there ranging from 25%-55%. In Campagnia in Italy adult unemployment is 53%, in Sicily it is 56% and in Calabria it is 65%. Italy’s growth rate has averaged only 0.2% per year since 1999 when the euro was introduced; her banks are on the brink of collapse and threaten to pull down the Eurozone with them, if not the entire world economy. Yet Italy is almost as large a state as the United Kingdom and not so long ago boasted as big an economy as our own. Greece is in an even worse position than Italy having lost 25% of her GDP since 2007 and being told what laws to pass to get rid of her national deficit of 180% of GDP by Germany which now controls the EU. Other EU member states today also have dreadful economic profiles. Who indeed would wish to be part of this mess?
The proud Swiss decided last month then that enough was enough, that if their government would not withdraw the application to join the EU, then the Swiss Parliament would force it to. This is what happened and in the Lower House, the main arguments given for withdrawal were first, Switzerland wished to remain an independent country and second, Swiss law should not be subordinate to European law. Common sense prevailed.
But just as Switzerland was withdrawing its application to enter the EU, Turkey, who, likewise, has been a candidate for decades, made a deal with Angela Merkel, that in return for stopping the flow of migrants from Asia to Greece, not only would she receive six billion euros from the EU but that visa-free travel for her 79 million citizens would be granted (the Commission indeed extended it to 50 million more citizens from Kosovo, Georgia and Ukraine) and that the process of EU membership for Turkey would be accelerated.
Now there can be little doubt that millions of Turks will want to come to the EU. The agreement limits their visits to 90 days for tourism and 180 days for business but there is no way of tracking or identifying them once they enter. The EU Commission’s efforts since 2012 to construct a super-computer to log entries into and exits from individual countries in the Schengen Area have still not been approved and it will take years to legislate and implement them. (A recent article in the Guardian by a German journalist pointed out that 400,000 of the 1.2 million migrants who came to Germany have still not officially applied for asylum, meaning that the German authorities have no idea who they are or where they came from.) So there is the likelihood that huge numbers of Turks will simply spread around the EU and stay for as long as they like. The economic incentives will be immense. The net average income in Turkey is £5,148. The net average income in the UK is £28,980 and is similar in France and Germany. Moreover, Turkey has a flourishing forgery industry which can produce forged passports for anybody who wants one. Hence, the fact that the UK is outside the Schengen Area will not be an insuperable barrier to mass immigration by Turks.
Some of these ‘Turks’ coming to Europe, moreover, will most likely be terrorists. Turkey has a porous border with the IS Caliphate and the Turkish government has been accused of double-dealing the West by buying oil from the terrorists and cooperating with them against the Kurds. Certainly, the Turkish security services until very recently allowed IS to operate quite openly in Turkey.
The real problem concerning Merkel’s deal with Turkey, however, is not the visa-free travel but German approval for accelerated Turkish membership of the EU. Turkey is not a European country. Europe does not have borders with Syria and Iraq. Moreover, Turkey is not a democracy. Its autocratic Islamist leader, President Erdogan, imprisons anyone who he feels has insulted him, defines journalists and academics as terrorists, says that democracy and the rule of law are not Turkish values, has stripped opposition MPs of parliamentary immunity, has closed down opposition newspapers, radio and television studios, and has started a civil war against Turkey’s Kurds for electoral purposes. Yet so desperate is the EU to solve its migrant crisis that the Commission has overlooked this Turkish neo-fascism and backed the deal for accelerated Turkish entry into the EU. And David Cameron has given the deal his blessing.
The democratic Swiss as a result are very pleased that they are no longer candidates for EU membership. Instead, they look on in amazement as the EU gets ready to welcome undemocratic, Asiatic Turkey into its fold. We should heed the words, therefore, of the Swiss MP whose motion heralded the end of Switzerland’s EU membership application. He included in his speech the following appeal to the people of Britain: "This is a clear and historical message from the Swiss Parliament to British voters. We wish you the best of luck for Brexit. These days Switzerland is called Britzerland because Swiss people support Brexit." We should take his advice.