Responses to Brexit, and the Groucho Principle

Without the massive —and completely shambolic— immigrant influx through Greece, perhaps Brexit would not have triumphed.

The result of the British referendum was not what I had hoped for. But I won't go out of my way to speak ill of those who want to leave the European Union (EU). Reforms are needed, and they are needed soon. Prime Minister Valls put it clearly: the issues highlighted by Brexit are real. It is less important to get involved in all the nonsense and more important to act on the problems at hand (“L’Europe est envahissante sur l’accessoire et absente sur l’essentiel ”  "Europe is stuck on the accessory issues and absent in the essential"). I suggest analyzing the problems presented by the British from the same perspective with which Catalonia denounces the Spanish problem. Otherwise, if we adopt the same attitude towards the British as the President of Andalusia has towards Catalans, we might as well forget about the whole thing.

Immigration. In Catalonia we speak about it too lightly. It is fantastic to call for the free circulation of people within the EU from a country that is dedicated, in a structural way, to exporting unemployment. Last year Great Britain received 330,000 immigrants. Despite everything, without the massive —and completely shambolic— influx of refugees via Greece, Brexit probably wouldn't have triumphed. Because among the one million refugees there were all kinds of people. Even, as has been discovered, terrorists. That doesn't mean that we shouldn't accept refugees. Or immigrants. But with approved quotas. And all of them must be supervised, just like you and I. They cannot abolish internal borders (Schengen), if the external borders are not secure.

Waste of resources. The EU squanders what little budget it has. Not only by paying bureaucrats to live magnificently, but also by throwing economic resources willy-nilly at many countries. Shall we mention the AVE, Spain’s fast train network? Subsidies for useless projects? Or aid for governments that maintain unproductive farm laborers who remain, nevertheless, loyal voters?

Security and defense. Perhaps you haven't noticed, but the West is at war with radical Islam. A war that is fought here, on European soil. And there are others being fought in the Near East, in Central Africa, and in the Maghreb. Some haven't noticed this last one, however. A lot of money is earmarked and soldiers are sent off to die: France, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Belgium, Denmark ... in addition to Canada, Australia, the USA ... Meanwhile, others benefit while comfortably contemplating it all from the sofa of pacifist populism. Either we all muck in or there there will be no game.

Institutional quality (including the press). Certain countries strive to be well-governed, protect the freedom of the press, and fight corruption. Others bribe media with subsidies, allow corruption, and do nothing to improve governance. Shall we talk about our country, Catalonia, corrupt to the marrow? Of our press? Of public sector productivity? Would you consider belonging to a club that tolerates it when a degenerate Interior Minister conspires against democracy with impunity?

Stability of the euro, deficits, and banking. There was a moment when Spain was on the verge of needing a bailout. And as it was unsalvageable, everything was on the brink of collapse. They had to bail out Greece. Even countries that were not part of the Euro had to chip in. And while some countries have been rigorous, others have played fast and loose. They continue cheating with their budgets before elections and —with the money from the banking bailout— they have helped to create a local oligopoly made up of the four banks that remain (BBVA, La Caixa, Santander and Sabadell).

European integration, above all. There have to be various levels of European integration. Many countries don't want any more. Spain (a net exporter of unemployment) is interested in the top tier. Logically. We are addicted to suckling at the teat of perks. But citizens of the advanced countries in the EU know that the excesses of "solidarity" and "social policies" are practised by some but paid for by others. To force more European integration without implementing a standard to measure the meritocracy of states (benefits received versus efforts made) could lead to a chain reaction of Brexits.

Conclusion. The citizens of certain countries in the EU don't want to overlook all of these irregularities without wondering if some of their partners are actually worth it. It's logical to ask the questions that Brexit has raised. I'm doing it myself. I hope that the EU finds a remedy, urgently. From Southern Europe I ask for an EU that helps me to improve, not a club that allows itself to be influenced and misshaped by our vices. To paraphrase Groucho Marx: I'm not interested in belonging to a club that accepts countries like mine. Not without, at least, imposing some strict rules of conduct.