EU enters new crisis: When will this house of cards come crashing down?
The end of open borders and likely Greek default mean that crunch time is approaching for a project which long ago lost democratic legitimacy.
“My message today is very simple: thank you, Ireland." Remember those words? They were uttered by a grinning Jose Manuel Barroso, president of the European Commission, in October 2009 after the Irish people had been bullied and cheated into accepting the Lisbon Treaty in a referendum which the previous year they had rejected.
For most democrats, it was the sheer brazenness of Barroso’s remark that sticks in the memory. In rape trials, juries are told that “no means no”. When it came to the rape of Irish democracy, the EU told the world that when someone says no to its wishes they are clearly not competent to make an informed decision, the EU will carry on regardless, and that it will then force the victim to say yes by whatever means necessary.
No one who supports democracy was fooled. But the smartest observers also recognised something else. For if ever there was an illustration of the self-destructive stupidity of those who have been ramming deeper integration down the throats of the people of Europe this was it.
And the kind of crises we now see in the European Union over border controls and the euro are the entirely predictable consequence. If people have been forced into doing something they really don’t want to do, sooner or later they’ll hit back.
That is exactly what happened last week when Denmark effectively suspended the Schengen agreement by reinstating checks at its frontiers. Danish concerns over immigration, dismissed by Brussels as the paranoid fantasies of racists, have given a major boost to the Danish People’s Party which made the reintroduction of border controls the price of its continued support for the country’s government.
The process is likely to be repeated across Europe with at least 15 countries thought to be considering following Denmark’s lead. Deaf as ever to the wishes of the European people, Brussels is now threatening legal action.
When you get to the core of it, the spiralling problems with the euro zone have arisen for the same reason. As even some of the more dim-witted euro-enthusiasts have finally realised in the wake of the debt crises in the peripheral countries, a successful currency zone can only work if fiscal policy is tightly coordinated with monetary policy. In effect, this means that you need a single European government to make the system work.
The EU understood that from the start but deliberately refused to tell people (let alone ballot them) because they knew that if the full implications for national sovereignty were openly talked about, it would have been politically impossible for governments to accept the euro in the first place.
What they now hope is that they can entrench the beloved “project” still further by drastically curbing the powers of national governments over their tax and spending policies.
The answer to problems is thus always to advance the powers of the EU rather than to retract them. But since many of these new powers are not supported by the public, Brussels simply makes itself ever more distant from the people of Europe. It simultaneously opens the space for parties of the far Left and far Right to step into the resultant gap by claiming to be the only representatives of what ordinary people want.
It’s going to end in tears.
The Commentator is not among those who will be gloating. The European Union could, and should be a vital strategic asset to the Western world locking down Europe itself in a zone of peace, prosperity and security, while also playing a supporting role to the United States in advancing and defending the cause of global freedom.
But it can be none of those things unless it is founded on the consent of the governed.
And if the EU does go down, the attendant mess will so discredit the continent’s ruling elites that some very unpalatable alternatives indeed will be well placed to replace them.
In sum, and as it turns out, the greatest threat to the EU does not come from the euro sceptics and the naysayers. It comes from the project’s greatest supporters who are priming the whole enterprise for an explosion. Unless there’s a drastic change of course, that explosion is definitely on its way. And it’s not going to be pretty when it comes.
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