Tuesday, June 28, 2005


Squabbling EU bureaucrats make Blair and Turkey the scapegoats

First, the EU constitution was soundly defeated in public referendum votes in France and the Netherlands. Then Britain cancelled their scheduled referendum on the constitution, calling it pointless. An I talian cabinet minister called for abandonment of the Euro, and growing sentiment in Germany favors a return to the Mark. Now, the EU is unable to come up with a budget, and the hunt for scapegoats for the EU's problems is on.

Recrimination among European Union leaders over their failure to agree on a long-term budget for the bloc escalated on Wednesday [June 22] with British Prime Minister Tony Blair under fire just before he takes the EU chair.

Outgoing EU president Jean-Claude Juncker squarely blamed Blair for the failure of last week's acrimonious summit and urged supporters of European political union to resist what he called attempts to degrade it to a mere free trade zone.

"Our generation does not have the right to undo what previous generations built," Juncker told the European Parliament, earning a standing ovation.

Yep, Jean-Claude, you are absolutely right: this generation is duty bound to make like euro-lemmings and follow the last generation right over the cliff into socialist economic stagnation!

There are a few major problems confronting the European Union, not the least of which is the massive bureaucratic monolith which has already been created, and which will surely fight furiously to defend its own continued existence. But the EU bureaucracy, much like the UN, is almost like a bunch of kids playing some kind of game where they pretend to be diplomats representing countries. The EU and its political and bureaucratic structures are removed from the countries, and very very far removed from the actual populations, they claim to represent. Consider that after French and Dutch voters rejected the EU constitution, the EUrocrats uniformly took the position that it mattered not one bit. After all, who cares what the commoners think?

And this illustrates another major problem: the EU is dominated by continental snobs from an assortment of socialist nanny-states. They are absolutely convinced that they know what is best for everyone, and what is best for everyone is the sharply stratified socialist society that has dominated much of western Europe since the end of WWII. And these enlightened individuals are not about to let a bunch of Eastern European peasants and the pedestrian British push them around. To their way of thinking, the insistence on including elements of free-market economics in the EU structure is nothing more than British hubris and Slavic ignorance, driven by “Anglo-Saxon” worldwide policies. The current point of contention is farm subsidies:

French President Jacques Chirac told his cabinet in Paris that "British intransigence" had sunk a compromise at the Brussels summit, plunging Europe into crisis.

Britain made clear it would use its presidency from July 1 to change Europe's agenda by pushing continental partners to emulate its economic reforms and move away from farm subsidies.

The nerve of those British! Just because theirs is one of few actual functioning economies in western Europe, they think they should give advice to the enlightened French and Germans, with their double-digit unemployment rates and all-but nonexistent economic growth. On the eve of Britain’s assumption of the rotating EU presidency, major differences in economic policy are straining the EU, and the newer Eastern European members, with their capitalistic leanings, are not the only source of contention. As the British see it, the protectionism of the socialist states, most notably France and Germany, is a relic of a policy unsustainable in a world economy:

Straw hammered home Britain's demand for a radical overhaul of the EU's Common Agricultural Policy in the 2007-2013 budget.

"The whole world these days is now moving away from agricultural subsidies, especially export subsidies, to a more open market, not least so that each part of the world trades to its competitive advantage," he said.

UK Foreign Secretary Jack Straw is neither the first nor the only one to note that the socialist Europeans have failed to make economic reforms which were pledged in the year 2000:

Foreign Secretary Jack Straw gave a foretaste of that [Tony Blair’s presidential accession] speech by criticising the big continental economies for failing to implement vital structural reforms despite pledges made at a Lisbon summit in 2000 to make the EU the most prosperous and dynamic of all the economies in the world.

"With some singular exceptions, of which the United Kingdom is one, that is not being achieved," he told reporters.

"The prime minister will set out the problem, setting out the need for the European Union not just in its rhetoric but also in the practical decisions that it takes ... to have a forward-looking agenda," Straw said.

Europe's lack of economic success lay at the root of its current problems, including the rejection of the EU constitution by French and Dutch voters and the budget failure, he said.

But while Jacques Chirac in France blamed the British for stubbornly demanding agricultural reform and forcing the current budget crisis, European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso was looking elsewhere for scapegoats for the current raft of problems plaguing the European Union:

But Barroso said EU leaders had agreed unanimously in 2002 to peg agricultural spending at its current level until 2013 and insisted deals should be respected.

He also said the EU needed to conduct a serious debate over its future ties with Turkey taking account of the message sent by Europe's electorates, sowing fresh doubts over Ankara's prospects of joining the EU.

He said the European Union should discuss the signal French and Dutch voters sent about Turkey's accession. But he stressed it should still open membership talks with the Turks on Oct. 3.

Ah, so that’s it, the French and Dutch voted against the EU Constitution because they want Turkey kept out! Well, that sure explains it all, doesn’t it? Barroso was not the only European official laying blame for the problems of the EU at Turkey’s door:

Chirac called last week for a debate on expansion, and former Commission President Romano Prodi, said on Wednesday Turkey had no chance of joining in the foreseeable future.

Well, Turkey’s potential membership may in fact be one of the issues making Europeans restive with the EU, but it certainly isn’t the only issue. In fact, at the time of the French referendum, most Frenchmen probably hadn’t gotten around to even thinking about what Turkey’s membership might mean. Leftists, trade unionists, and the young unemployed (and 25-30 % of the young workers in France are unemployed) made up the left-leaning block voting against the EU, and those people seemed to be mainly concerned about the economic competition the document promoted, limiting French government protectionism, and the loss of employment to the well-educated, trained workforces in the former Soviet Union – Czechs, Slavs, Hungarians. Also opposing the EU was the French right, which furiously objected to the loss of national sovereignty represented by the EU constitution.

The Dutch, who live in a society much less economically protective than France, seem to have rejected the constitution out of a different combination of reasons: anger over the replacement of the Guilder with the Euro, the failure of their own national government to control immigration, the likelihood that the more capitalistic members will end up providing funds to keep the socialist members afloat, and the loss of national sovereignty.

But to the Eurocrats, it’s all very simple: Britain is being stubborn and pushy, demanding economic reform, and the fear of Turkey resulted in the loss of referenda in France and the Netherlands, and the cancellation of the British referendum.

I think the EU has other problems, problems the Eurocrat class isn’t about to acknowledge.

First, as I started out saying, there’s already a huge, bloated bureaucracy in existence, and it isn’t going away. The EU bureaucrats need the EU to succeed, it’s the reason their whole class of “diplomats” exist. They don’t care that the referenda failed, they point out that the European nations, not their citizens, have the right of approval.

Second, the social, economic and political views of the proposed EU states really vary widely. It isn’t just a question of degrees, “which European nation is the most/least socialist?” Many of the former Soviet block countries want nothing whatsoever to do with socialism in any form.

Slovakia has even scrapped it’s “social security” program of government managed benefits for an entirely private system which, unlike the collapsing French and German systems, is robust and healthy in a climate of economic expansion. Britain has already “been there, done that”, and has “de-socialized” large chunks of the economy which were socialized after WWII. In France, on the other hand, following the referendum, Chirac announced that the government was putting on hold plans to re-privatize large chunks of the French economy.

And finally, we have the people of Europe themselves. Why weren’t the Eurocrats expecting the people to disapprove the constitution? Well, how about, because nobody ever asked the typical European what he thought about the whole thing? The EU has been cobbled together by the governments of Europe, and in Europe there is still a pretty darn strict class society: those who rule and those who are ruled. There are occasional exceptions, but by and large there is still a “ruling class” in Europe, although no longer strictly hereditary. So how could the governments have been so wrong about what the people of Europe would go along with? Those who rule never thought to ask those who are ruled what they thought about the whole idea! Why should they?

Well, now they’re beginning to see the results of not feeling the need to listen. The Eurocrats, and certain national governments, too, are clearly out of touch with the people of the European nations that make up the Union. And those European nations don't appear to all be on the same page.

What will come of all this remains to be seen.

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