Steve Forbes explains in the latest issue of Forbes magazine why he opposes a proposed British exit from the European Union.

A MOMENTOUS REFERENDUM will be held on June 23 to determine whether or not Britain will quit the EU. A vote to pull out would be a catastrophe, ultimately imperiling all the post-WWII political and security structures that enabled a shattered continent to recover rapidly from the war’s physical devastation and to miraculously banish the murderous rivalry between Germany and France to history’s dustbin. Today war between these two countries is utterly inconceivable.

The EU–despite flaws that have helped bring us to a potential precipice–has been a remarkable success. Barriers between once wary states have been largely obliterated. Intra-European trade has blossomed. Thanks to a common currency, capital now flows unimpeded among the 19 countries that have adopted the euro, just as capital flows among the states in the U.S.

Since the fall of the Berlin Wall the EU has been a tremendous force for liberalizing and democratizing eastern Europe’s once Communist states. It has provided the impetus for these countries to make major reforms over the potential opposition of entrenched domestic special interests.

There is much to dislike about how the EU has evolved. Headquartered in Brussels, its bureaucracies are repeatedly beset with corruption scandals. The EU has been a volcano of petty, intrusive and ridiculous regulations, down to defining what constitutes a banana. The British, especially, resent judicial rulings that rudely fly in the face of British common-law tradition. And the EU’s antitrust actions have been routinely and stiflingly anti-innovation.

Too many European political leaders and bureaucrats are addicted to higher taxes. A constant EU theme, especially from high-tax France and Germany, is “tax harmonization”–newspeak for obligatory higher tax regimes for all 28 member countries. …

… Why, then, should Britain remain in the EU?

A British exit would stoke the forces of disintegration now threatening the EU and would have ugly political and economic consequences. A bust-up would fan the flames of protectionism and extreme nationalism, forces that are once again stirring and gaining strength. The 1930s are proof of where all this can lead.