One reason why the UK joined the European Community in the early 1970s is because we thought that our sick economy would be lifted by its association with more successful continental ones. Iceland, where I was last week, now thinks the same. It's already part of the European Economic Area and some people think it would be but a short step to full membership. Except that the European Union which many people there want to join is now very different from the 'common market' of the early 1970s. Icelanders should ask themselves:
1. Do you really want to be part of an organization whose accountants annually refuse to sign off their accounts? Where millions is lost to fraud and corruption? Whose politicians regularly fiddle their expenses?
2. Do you really want to be part of a club that raises tariff barriers against the rest of the world – protecting its own producers, but at the expense of consumers at home and producers (often impoverished ones) abroad?
3. Can you really live with 16,000 pages of regulation, with more being added every year? Can your small businesses survive the economic cost of regulation?
4. Do you know how things are decided in the EU? Not on principle, that's for sure, but on horse-trading of national interests.
5. Do you really want large parts of your policy – foreign affairs, security, justice and more – put into the hands of a bunch of distant countries with quite different interest to your own? Do you think your voice would count?
6. Can you really defend an agricultural policy that prevents some of the world's poorest farmers from selling their produce inside the European Union, driving them to starvation?
7. Are you sure you want the common currency, leaving you unable to adjust when things go wrong? An interest rate that may be good for the big countries, but cannot possibly be right for everyone in the Union?