Monday, 20 December 2004


EU leaders have agreed to begin membership talks with Turkey in october 2005. As I advocate that the EU shouldn’t be an interfering superstate, I have to fear that the EU will become less liberal after the enlargement.

The mistake of the ones who advocate EU-enlargement of Turkey as something which will bring EU-expansion of powers to a stop is that they underestimate bureaucrats. If we look what the EU-bureaucracy has achieved in building up their powers, we can only conclude they achieved the goal every bureaucrat is naturally trying to reach: to make his institution as strong as possible, and that there is no reason why they shouldn’t achieve this goal also in the future, if not stopped.

This is the case. Now the EU is the origin of 3 on 4 regulations, as Jacques Delors once predicted.

And when we look to the nature of these regulations, we cannot do something else than to conclude that they:

– EXTERNALLY: are obstacles to trade from the US, China, India, and the developing world. They destroy wealth there, and they keep competitors out of the European Market and destroy European wealth, as less producers are competing, which thrives up prices for consumer.

– INTERNALLY: regulate trade within the EU in a very centralist way (otherwise it wouldn’t be ‘EU’-regulations), and this in the name of freedom, as a lot of regulations are meant to ‘organise’ the ‘free market’. Like if a government should organise the free market, because the nature of the free market is lack of government and freedom to act. The EU uses the argument that if every memberstate could regulate its market, it would use this power to protect its own market, which is of course true. The EU therefore make rules to harmonise the levels of protectionnism, and of course, as one could expect, they harmonise at the most regulating level. Now politicians are attempting to harmonise taxes to tackle the interior competition from the ‘New Europe’ ? members.

True, there have been liberalisations, but they are driven by the pressure of peoples on their governments which has his origins in what is called the ‘market discipline’ of the expanding globalisation process, started up again after the failures of fascism, communism and the welfare state. Anyway the EU-balance of liberalisation vs. regulation is strongly in favour of the latter.

Moreover, the center of European decision taking, the European Commission, which has an almost monopoly to start EU-regulation, is hugely undemocratic, but of course democracy is not a question of freedom but the best form of being unfree.

When among supporters for the free market it has becommen clear that the EU is not a liberal achievement, strategies for trying to stop the EU-machine are being made.

A bad strategy is to expand the EU, in the first place for the candidate memberstates, but also for the existing memberstates, as what is typical for the EU won’t change by enlarging it.

You can’t stop a regulatory machine by giving it more people to regulate. Maybe, and hopefully, the EU-machine will come to a rest, but this will be despite a Turkish membership, and thanks to efforts of individuals to stop it. The individual is the cornerstone of the globalisation process, and a bureaucracy for regulating the lifes in the same way of half a billion people or more, is a threat to this individual. When the first French King had to be chosen, the French regional rulers chose with Hugo Capet the most stupid noble they could find. However the central institution was very unpowerful at the beginning, the sole fact that it was there constituted the origins of absolutism.

By Pieter Cleppe

Pieter Cleppe is former president flemish liberal students, University of Leuven, Belgium,