Britain's Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne (here he is being booed at the 2012 Paralympics) is about to give the European Union an ultimatum: either reform, or we're leaving.
There have been rumblings for over a year now that Britain could pull out of the EU. A bill to put Britain's EU membership to a public vote by 2017 is currently making its way through the Parliament, though it does not have universal support. Deputy prime minister Nick Clegg, for example, said such a move would be "economic suicide" and companies such as Goldman Sachs have said they would leave the country if it left the union.
But there's no denying that the Eurozone's economy, though rebounding, isn't doing so hot, and some Brits would rather not have their economy tied to that of, say, Greece. Others don't like the EU's open borders policy because of racism.
Make no mistake, our continent is falling behind. Look at innovation, where Europe's share of world patent applications nearly halved in the last decade. Look at unemployment, where a quarter of young people looking for work can't find it. Look at welfare.
As Angela Merkel has pointed out, Europe accounts for just over 7 percent of the world's population, 25 percent of its economy, and 50 percent of global social welfare spending. We can't go on like this.
Among the reforms Osborne will call for, per the Daily Mail: "introduce more flexibility in the labour market and cut back on bloated welfare spending." The Guardian also believes Osborne will ask for changes in voting rules so that the 18 member countries that use the Euro as currency won't be able to outvote the 10 member countries that do not.
Ah, well. If Britain ever should leave the EU, at least it still has Latvia.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.