Donald Tusk, President of the European Council, issued a press release on 31 January which we should challenge.
“The challenges currently facing the European Union are more dangerous than ever before …”
Tusk outlines three areas of threat: first, external, from China, Russia, the Middle East and Africa, and the new US administration; second, anti-EU, nationalist, xenophobic sentiments within the EU; third, European elites losing faith in political integration, submitting to populism and doubting the values of liberal democracy.
“For the first time in our history, … so many are becoming openly anti-European, or Eurosceptic at best.”
Throughout his piece Tusk conflates the EU with Europe, as has become a habit with senior EU supporters. We challenged this in Europe versus EU. No one that we know of is anti-European, though increasing numbers are indeed sceptical about the EU. ‘Eurosceptic’ has always referred to the EU and not to Europe; perhaps we should restrict its use to those who question the purpose and value of economic and monetary union and its derivative currency, the euro.
“…what is needed is courage, determination and political solidarity of Europeans. Without them we will not survive. If we do not believe in ourselves, in the deeper purpose of integration, why should anyone else?”
We can offer an alternative spin on this by replacing ‘Europeans’ with EU-ers, after which we will probably agree that the EU will not survive. He appears to want us to align “ourselves” as Europeans with “the deeper purpose of integration”. We don’t.
Then more deliberate conflation: “…we must stand up very clearly for our dignity, the dignity of a united Europe”. No, this united Europe – the European Union – is not us, we or our.
“Therefore, let us have the courage to be proud of our own achievements, which have made our continent the best place on Earth. Let us have the courage to oppose the rhetoric of demagogues, who claim that European integration is beneficial only to the elites, that ordinary people have only suffered as its result, and that countries will cope better on their own, rather than together.”
How many Greeks, for example, would agree that their patch of the continent is “the best place on Earth”? Why would anyone take seriously anything from an author who peddles this sort of fantasy (and Donald Tusk is usually regarded as among the more intelligent of EU mandarins). We’ll ignore the “demagogues, who claim…” but will ask if “countries…on their own” is truly the only alternative to a claustrophobic, irrelevant and failing EU. And answer, NO, a ‘proper’ economic union without the federalist agenda is a realistic alternative, if it could be brought about only after the EU is done with.
As usual he wants us to recall and be swayed by the awful history of Europe in the first half of the twentieth century. As usual he doesn’t explain why this history requires a federal Europe rather than a Europe of distinct cultural entities, competing and collaborating economically for the betterment of their peoples.
“Only together can we be fully independent” Does this fall into the new category of ‘alternative facts’, or is it just nonsense?
“We must therefore take assertive and spectacular steps that would change the collective emotions and revive the aspiration to raise European integration to the next level.”
This is followed by a list of ‘must-dos’, perhaps aimed at the European Commission, perhaps at the member states; he doesn’t specify.
“…and last but not least fostering investment, social inclusion, growth, employment, reaping the benefits of technological change and convergence in both the euro area and the whole of Europe.”
Notice how he slips in “convergence” as though we should not need convincing that more of it will produce results that haven’t materialised so far. The Euro was intended to produce economic convergence – it’s done the opposite. EU growth is low, unemployment is high.
The picture is Jackson Pollock’s view of convergence, which sums it up nicely.