We didn’t expect any startling declarations or ideas for reform and the Declaration lives down to our expectations. The theme is Unity, though what this means is not defined, or even made clear. Only by leaving it as a slogan could it be accepted by all member states, or at least by their leaders. Defining it would probably break it, whatever it is.
It won’t take long to pick out a few non-nutritious tasters to illustrate the non-event. Or, more to the point, public relations event.
“We, the Leaders of 27 Member States and of EU institutions, take pride in the achievements of the European Union … the construction of European unity is a bold, far-sighted endeavour”.
What else could they say? And best to keep the meaning as far out of sight as possible. After that we have the usual mix of undeniables, half-truths and lies:
“We have built a unique Union with common institutions and strong values, a community of peace, freedom, democracy, human rights and the rule of law, a major economic power with unparalleled levels of social protection and welfare.”
“Unique”, “common institutions”, “the rule of law”, “a major economic power”. All true, if not quite as they wish us to understand these claims. How could it be other than unique, just as the USA is unique? All nations and federations have common institutions. The rule of ECJ law is largely an imposition on member states, overriding their own laws. The EU is a major economic power merely in the sense that it contains, for a little longer, some 500 million citizens. Apart from that and the common market, which isn’t in the list, the EU’s economic power is notable mainly for its absence.
But they have to keep reiterating “democracy”, which is the biggest lie of all. The only intelligible form of democracy is one in which a system of government can be replaced by a majority vote of its citizens. This is specifically and permanently excluded from the EU.
“Europe became one again. Today, we are united and stronger: hundreds of millions of people across Europe benefit from living in an enlarged Union that has overcome the old divides.”
Outside such declarations, the EU’s leaders plead for unity and the strength they believe this will bring, if ever they achieve it. Perhaps the “old divides” have been overcome, in which case they have been replaced by new ones (e.g. Germany v. Greece, France v. Poland, EU v. UK, among many others).
“We will make the European Union stronger and more resilient, through even greater unity and solidarity … Unity is both a necessity and our free choice. … Our Union is undivided and indivisible.”
There’s that word again, twice, backed up by “solidarity”, “Union”, “undivided and indivisible”. Say it often enough and we’ll be stunned into submission – or not. While we freely choose the necessity.
But it’s not only an implausible claim, it’s also a desperate plea: “Taken individually, we would be side-lined by global dynamics. Standing together is our best chance to influence them, and to defend our common interests and values.”
And then some confusion, or contradiction, peeps through: “We will act together, at different paces and intensity where necessary, while moving in the same direction, as we have done in the past”.
Who could argue with “different paces … in the same direction”? Except perhaps those, such as Poland, who see different paces as implying different directions. And if that “direction” is still towards a single state it is not in fact agreed; this is a pretence.
Then there’s a list of what “we want”, such as motherhood and apple pie, which no one could resist.
The “Rome Agenda” has four items: a safe and secure Europe, …a prosperous and sustainable Europe, …a social Europe, …a stronger Europe on the global scene. Each of these is accompanied by a list of things to be achieved, despite the claims that they have already been achieved. As Jean-Claude Juncker himself has said, “When the going gets tough, you have to lie.”
Or at least obfuscate, which is what this declaration is about; pretending there is unity and pleading for it at the same time, claiming achievements and promising to achieve them. Here are three of the more absurd ambitions: “a Union promoting sustained and sustainable growth, through … working towards completing the Economic and Monetary Union”, “a Union where economies converge” and “a Union … promoting stability and prosperity … in the Middle East and across Africa and globally”.
As usual, economic and monetary union is simply juxtaposed with “promoting sustained and sustainable growth” in the hope that we will believe in a casual connection that doesn’t exist. Economies won’t, and can’t be expected to, converge under the present regime. As for Africa, it can be kept as a supplier of raw produce rather than value-added manufacture, via the protectionist CAP.
As we would expect, the Declaration has been reduced to the lowest common denominator; perhaps that is all that can be expected from ‘unity’.