A familiar argument from the anti-Europeans is that Europe is the wrong choice, that the rest of the world is a better economic bet from Britain than the EU. For example, here is Daniel Hannan in this week’s Spectator (£):
In the year we joined, western Europe accounted for 38 per cent of world GDP. Today it’s 24 per cent, and in 2020 it will be 15 per cent. Far from joining a prosperous market, we shackled ourselves to a corpse.
But it is wrong to say that Europe is in decline, but rather that it is not growing as fast as the rest of the world. But that is expected. There is more scope for less-developed economies to grow more rapidly because they can learn from the experience of richer countries, adopting their technologies and their methods of organisation to catch up, economically. This is why so-called emerging markets are attractive to investors.
In particular, countries such as China and India have opened up their economies to market forces and international trade, and are growing very fast as a result. This is something to be welcomed, not criticised. As a result, we can say positively that it is a good thing that the developed world’s share of world GDP is in decline.
And let us go further. Look at things from the Indian or Chinese perspective. Not only is the western European share of world GDP in relative decline, so is the British share. It was 4 per cent in 1973, today it’s 3.5 per cent and in 2020 will be 2.5 per cent. Daniel Hannan is asking China and India to shackle themselves to the British “corpse”: why should they do that?