A European Singapore, if such an entity were even possible, might be hard for the EU to stop

RASHMEE ROSHAN LALL February 7, 2020

How will the European Union (EU) stop Britain from diverging from its rules here on in? How  can the EU do anything about British competitiveness, if indeed Brexit were to be managed in a way that prioritises the building of an agile regulatory system able to foster innovation and nurture efficiency?

There’s not a hope in hell, according to those who follow these things.

Consider the commentary offered by Poland-born German journalist Henryk Broder (link in German) in Die Welt on Tuesday (Feb. 3). Mr Broder addressed the remarkable comments of Manfred Weber, a leading conservative German politician: “We will not allow a European Singapore on our doorstep,” Mr Weber said.

To which, Mr Broder, responded with a pithy question: How? How will the “clapped-out” EU manage to stop a European Singapore on its doorstep? How, when the EU has already demonstrated that it’s incapable of solving problems such as the distribution of refugees. And that it is in possession of “a non-existent European army”, he added.

Mr Broder then went on to hurl the ultimate insult at the European bloc. All mouth and no trousers. Those are my words, not his, but he was pretty cutting too. Might the EU impose punitive costs on an incipient European Singapore by firing a few missiles from the history museum at Peenemünde in Germany Mr Broder wondered. (That’s where the Nazis designed rockets to attack southern England in WWII, by the way.)

Derisory or not, Mr Broder’s fulminations do illustrate a very basic problem in an age that regards war as a barbarism too far when it comes to trade.

The EU won’t go to war with Britain, can’t go to war with Britain, and truly, deeply, doesn’t want to go to war.

Enough said. And never mind the threats and imprecations.

In any case, the EU’s apparent dyspepsia over a coming Singapore-on-Thames may be too much heartburn over nothing.

It’s not clear a European Singapore is even possible. As I’ve said before, Singapore became a template for success because of the agility afforded by its size and location, as well as its technocratic and interventionist government.

Britain isn’t like that.