Among the EUtopians

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Hannan offers a few relatively familiar examples of just how undemocratic the EU is.  To begin with, the EU Commission, which wields formidable executive and legislative power, is unelected.  The French and Dutch votes against the European Constitution were “simply disregarded”; when the Danes rejected the Maastricht Treaty, and the Irish nixed the Nice and Lisbon treaties, they “were told to go away and try again.” But not only is the EU undemocratic; it also subverts its members’ democracies.  Vaclav Klaus in the Czech Republic, Bertie Ahern in Ireland, George Papandreou in Greece, and Silvio Berlusconi in Italy: in various ways, as Hannan details, all these elected heads of government “got on the wrong side of the EU’s hideous strength” and were punished for it.  As of 2011, Hannan notes, “[a]pparatchiks in Brussels now ruled direly through apparatchiks in Athens and Rome.  The voters and their tribunes were cut out altogether.  There was no longer any pretense.”

In his New York Times piece, Garton Ash offered what he described as a “new case for European unification.” That case was as follows: in the years to come, the economies of more and more countries around the world will dwarf even the largest national economies of Europe, so that if Europeans wish “to preserve the remarkable combination of prosperity, peace, relative social security and quality of life that they have achieved over the last 60 years, they need the scale that only the European Union can provide.” He repeats this argument in Foreign Affairs.  Hannan takes the opposite view, pointing out that centuries ago, when one would have expected China to dominate the world economy, “Europe’s disunity turned out to be its strength.” While a united China remained stuck in its ways and got bogged down in bureaucracy, Europe’s division into a multitude of duchies, principalities, confederacies, and so on sparked competition, innovation, and enterprise – as a result of which Europe became the planet’s powerhouse.  The EU, Hannan wryly observes, is determined to be a united entity taking orders from Brussels “at the very moment that the great nations of Asia have discovered the virtues of devolution and decentralisation.”

I thought I knew quite a bit about the EU, but Hannan taught me a thing or two.  Did you know its employees – in other words, those unelected bureaucrats who decide how to spend the tax money forwarded to Brussels from its member states – are actually exempt from paying tax in their own countries?  And how about this scam: “Virtually every field of activity has some approved, EU-sponsored pressure group to campaign for deeper integration: the European Union of Journalists, the European Women’s Lobby, the European Cyclists’ Federation.  These are not independent associations which just happen to be in receipt of EU funds.  They are, in most cases, creatures of the European Commission, wholly dependent on Brussels for their existence.” In other words, the EU lines their pockets, and in turn they speak up for the EU – supposedly on behalf of journalists, women, cyclists, whatever.  And on and on it goes: “The Commission pays Friends of the Earth to urge it to take more powers in the field of climate change.  It pays the WWF to tell it to assume more control over environmental matters.  It pays the European Trade Uunion Congress to demand more Brussels employment laws.”  Thus does the EU arrogate more and more power to itself, all the while claiming that it’s doing so at the behest of the people.

Hannan paints a vivid picture of EU power.  But “the real power of the EU,” he underscores, “is to be found in the wider corps of interested parties: the businesses which are invested in the regulatory process; the consultants and contractors dependent on Brussels spending; the landowners receiving cheques from the CAP [Common Agricultural Policy]; the local councils with their EU departments; the seconded civil servants with remuneration terms beyond anything they could hope for in their home countries; the armies of lobbyists and professional association; and…the charities and NGOs which, once they reach a certain size, almost always begin a financial relationship with the EU.” Then there are the Brussels politicos themselves.  Hannan recalls a February 2012 debate in which he told a Greek member of the European Parliament that “Greece wouldn’t begin to recover until it decoupled, defaulted and devalued.” His opponent was horrified: “But this wasn’t about the economics, he spluttered.  It was about the European ideal.” For Greece to leave the EU “would be a calamity for Greece and for Europe!” No, Hannan found himself thinking: “it would be a calamity for you personally.” Bingo.

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  • harrylies

    America lost hundreds of thousands of soldfiers in two World Wars. Spent billions in the Cold War. All because Europeans were idiots. The EU is twenty-seven countries, just like America is fifty States, andf most Americans would say the likes of Robert Lee were wrong for trying to breqk up America.

    This year, the people of Croatia voted to join the EU. Croatia is poor. They know the EU is not a dicatorship like Yugoslavia was. The people of Latvia know the EU is not the Soviet Union. A lot of Europeans know what dictarorship is. They lived it, and the EU is not it. Lots of people from Latvia work in Britain. Just like someone in New York moving to Texas.

    No, the EU is not perfect. Neither is America, but chances are a person in Texas who burns the American flag would not be respected. EU critics are like Southerners who want to leave America.

    • Banastre Tarleton

      Comparing the artificial and recent EU to the political union of America is a bit of a stretch ….no common culture or language …the EU is a transplant not a natural evolution like the Colonies were ……it's like press ganging the countries of S America into a political union with the US and then hoping it would work

    • Paul Weston

      In the U.S. you get to vote for representatives who actually represent the electorate. You also get to vote for the President. This is not the case in Europe. I did not vote the ex-Maoist Barrosso into supreme power and I certainly cannot vote him out. This is not democratic, which is the only point that needs be made.

    • NoIslam

      I'm croatian and most croatians did vote to join the EU but only because the EU propaganda machine did it's job. There was nowhere in the croatian media anything/anyone against the EU because everyone who was against it got shut down by our government (EU puppets). So most people were ignorant in that matter. The EU is not democratic but not yet totalitarian. They are working hard to become a totalitarian regime though. EU must be stopped and decentralized. Europe must not be a union but some kind of confederation, to keep peace but also to keep the individuality and autonomy of all it's countries.

  • Niels Th. Riisgaard

    EU never secured peace, Nato did. And only after US- soldiers and other allies fought to liberate Europe. EU has gone ideologically crazy about demonising nations and national feelings. EU is forcing us into another disastrous ism, multiculturalism, letting in hostile unskilled illiterates by the millions. EU is an experiment doomed to go wrong. It makes me sad and angry to think of the future for my children and grandchildren.

    All the best
    Niels Thyge Riisgaard, Danmark

  • dieterdohmen

    You're absolutely right, Mr. Bawer. It is even worse. I come from Berlin, Germany. Unfortunately my English is much too bad, otherwise I would add many additional aspects to the discussion. But I don't want to frighten off anyone.
    I have my own trading business and I work very hard to get a foot outside of the EU.
    Although many people here in Germany blame the EU, they do nothing against it. On the contrary they rather demand a government that cares about every aspect of their lives. They are like children. They want daddy and mommy to take care.
    Watch out, dear Americans, because Obama tries to change your beautiful country into something similar, I think.
    Frontpage is excellent and I also like to read the comments

  • Drakken

    What the EU leadership and minions will live to regret is, the natives are becoming restless. You have a hostile muslim population that grows by the day, EU minions that rule by fiat instead of democracy, economic policies that are going to drive the EU off the cliff, nationalism that is on the rise and it scares the EU minions to death because they will bear the brunt of the natives wrath. It is a complete recipe for diaster. plus we have the added benefit of the EU not making any far reaching decisions until the US election. This will not end well at all.

  • jemaasjr

    My namesake ancestor was a German from Prussia. By blood I am about half German but I tend to think of myself as German. When I start reading about modern Germany what I notice is that the German population seems to have a collectivist mentality that I do not share. Under Hitler they went too far to the right, and now it is too far to the left.

    • PAthena

      Hitler was LEFTWING. The Nazi party was the National Socialist Party, Nationalsozialismus, following Benito Mussolini's Fascist Party, a nationalist socialist party Mussolini founded in World War I, after having been a leader of the Italian Socialist Party and editor of the Socialist newspaper, Avanti. The Italian Socialist party had not supported Italy in World War I on the ground that wars were between capitalists, and that socialism was internationalist. When Mussolini changed his mind and supported Italy in the war, he invented nationalist socialism – fascism.

    • Banastre Tarleton

      Germans make fine americans .. but they just make lousy Germans