Monday, 30 May 2005

They still don't get it

They still don’t get the point. It should be clear for the European political world that the European Union is a bad thing. It is centralised decision making in its most purest form, with all the overregulating, corruption and untransparancy accompanying that. Politicians and journalists, professors and students. Many of them present the eurosceptic wave coming over Europe as a problem of “image” Europe has. That there would be a core problem with it, isn’t even considered. Also now, after the “French Revolution”, little indicates that the minds are changing.

But there is light in the darkness. The Economist, the leading political magazine in the world, advised to vote against the Constitution Treaty, which is aimed at making the European construction more powerfull.

And yesterday, a French Revolution occurred. One from the bottom up, committed by normal, hard working people, feeling that their democracy is loosing decision power, not to the markets as the antiglobalists say, because that would be illegitimate decision power of a government, but to “l’Europe”. Feeling also that they are loosing it, that global competition is pushing for reforms that haven’t been made. For that they blame the highest hierarchical authority in Europe: the EU. They don’t trust something they don’t know. And with reason. The centralist inflexible Union is the main threat to prepare Europe for globalisation.

Until now, the debate has been left to the unrespectable extremes: to the extreme left and the extreme right. On the continent, eurosceptism hasn’t really been accepted into other fields of the political spectrum. But this might change rather fast. Several European leaders declared after the “Non”-result that the procedures will go on. This means that the European project will stay under fire in the upcoming referendums in Luxemburg (10/7), Poland (25/9), Denmark (27/9), Portugal (December 2005), Ireland (late 2005), the Czech republic (2006), and the UK (2006). The Netherlands have their referendum this Wednesday, and a “Nee”- vote is very likely. The process of fundamental critics to the Union was already very severe in the Netherlands, where the euro came under severe attack (Bolkestein already declared that the giving up of the stability pact means it would have been better not to join the euro). Europe is loosing legitimacy by the day.

It is time for mainstream politicians to consider that there is a fundamental problem with the Union, that there is something rotten in the state of Europe.

What will happen next? Unless the European leaders decide on their summit on the 16th of june that the Constitution project will stop, it will continue to undermine Europe’s legitimacy. At the end of 2006, there is a European summit planned which has to decide what will happen to the Constitution. Jean-Claude Juncker, the Luxemburg president of the Council of the EU declared that renegotiation is no option. It looks like the European Union will at the end have to give up the project and continue with the procedures of the Nice treaty.

But suppose the Eurocrats try to go on with the treaty, in an open or a hidden way. This could give result to a clash within the Union, between the leaders of the more supranationalist states, and France is one of them, as long as they can rule the rest, and the more intergouvernmentalist, such as Britain and the Netherlands, not to forget the Eastern European Tigers. It could maybe even be the plan of France, to try to get the British out, and by that trying to create a smaller Union in order to rule smaller countries, like Belgium. The Belgian people would have lost their very old British ally then? Like Holland and England managed to escape from the Spanish absolutist rule in the 16th century, the Belgian people would remain again deprived from freedom? And its elite would fled the country again?

No. If France would succeed in its plans, the smaller Union would experience the same protests as the big European Union now. The small countries at its borders would thrive up the costs of letting the centralism exist. Citizens and businesses in the Union would demand more and more the alternative, which is decentralisation. And that is what is going to happen also now.

By Pieter Cleppe