Imagine if you will that your company was bought by a European conglomerate some years ago and that changes to technology, allied to its strong skill base of people, some of whom came from sister companies, have made it one of the strongest members of the group. Your CEO, let’s call him David, goes to Head Office for a strategic review, intending, he says, to get fuller recognition of the contribution that you have all made, especially in the international expansion of the business. You imagine that the culture of win-win and carefully targeted incentives will be examined and there may be opportunities for some colleagues to show other group members how you have done this.
You don’t hear from him while he’s away and when he comes back he’s smiling. “I’ve done it. They listened to what I said and I got what we wanted: lower management charges”.
Management charges have always been contentious, their effect on performance out of all proportion to their significance. But they’re simple to understand even if the understanding is flawed, and so reducing them often pleases those whose efforts contribute to them, even though they get some sort of centralised service in return.
It seems to me that this is how the EU negotiations have gone. A chance to fundamentally assess our relationship with the group of which we are part has been reduced to bickering over welfare benefits. And this is why I’m currently undecided about whether we should stay or leave. Not because I’m anti-European but because the debate is so feeble. I think that the dis-satisfaction among the British people is because we can’t reconcile our view of the EU with that fundamental British trait, a sense of fair play. I suspect most people in Europe feel the same (that’s MY fair play gene in action) and we could do everyone some good by leading with it: Ø
- Rather than harp on about threats to Financial services why don’t we ask for a level playing field in this AND the Common Agricultural policy, a taboo subject if ever there was one? Ø
- Why don’t we demand that the EU commission receives a clean audit report? Ø
- Why don’t we ask for a declaration that tariffs with all nations will become fairer? Some of you will recall the debates in 1973 about the loss of cheap New Zealand lamb when we moved into the EU and put UP a barrier.
As an entrepreneur, who is used to looking after himself and his colleagues, I’m not afraid of Brexit; and I find that preaching fear is an unsatisfactory sales technique especially when it comes to something as important as this. I think that GCHQ is more important to our security than combined EU armed forces. So please David, tell me that the EU is, or can become, a fairer place to live. If not, then like all relationships that don’t truly bend, one day it will surely break?