State of the European Union 2018 – 2

This post is the second part of our three-part review of Jean-Claude Juncker’s speech to the European Parliament. The full text of his speech can be downloaded from here:

https://ec.europa.eu/commission/sites/beta-political/files/soteu2018-speech_en_0.pdf

Unification

The Five Presidents Report [1] is not often referred to directly these days but its plan still underpins the economic activities of the Union and is implicit in many of the comments J-C makes in his current presentation. Far from dead, the Report is alive and still kicking. This is the heart of it:

JC2At the beginning of this mandate, we all collectively promised to deliver a more innovative Digital Single Market, a deeper Economic and Monetary Union, a Banking Union, a Capital Markets Union, a fairer Single Market, an Energy Union with a forward-looking climate policy, a comprehensive Migration Agenda, and a Security Union.”

Actually ‘we’ didn’t collectively promise; this was – and remains – the dream of the five presidents and their institutions, the would-be and almost-is government of much of Europe. And two members (UK & Denmark) have never agreed to join any of the three Unions he mentions, though all will be expected to, in the end; except the UK, we fervently hope. (Denmark has a permanent opt-out of the euro and others, as has the UK while still a member, but probably not if it tried to rejoin. Poland and six others are required to join eventually by the terms of their accession agreements; whether they ever will is doubtful.)

“…the Commission is proposing to move to qualified majority voting in specific areas of our external relations … I also think we should be able to decide on certain tax matters by qualified majority.”

They are not carrying everyone with them so they want to rise above the annoying minority who refuse their collective responsibility, as the EU sees it. We understand the reference to “certain tax matters” to mean their ambition to “harmonise” taxes across the Union which some nations might choose to resist, for example Ireland with its business-friendly tax regime, which gives it an unfair competitive advantage.

But we need to be very clear on one point: judgements from the Court of Justice must be respected and implemented. This is vital. The European Union is a community of law. Respecting the rule of law and abiding by Court decisions are not optional.”

Hardly anyone could disagree with respecting the rule of law, as a generalisation. But many would disagree, not least in the UK, that the European Court of Justice is the true target of such respect. [2]

There is strong demand for Europe throughout the world. To meet such high demand, Europe will have to speak with one voice on the world stage. … Europe diplomacy must be conducted in the singular. Our solidarity must be all-embracing.” So there.

Great HelmsmanQ1: “If I want to speak to Europe who do I call? A: The President, obviously. Q2: Er, which one? A: Good point, perhaps we need a Grand Mufti/Supreme Leader/Great Helmsman, or at least “that someone governs”. [3]

Deceits and Specious Claims

Europe is the guardian of peace.” Here is what he said and we replied, in 2016:

Above all, Europe means peace. It is no coincidence that the longest period of peace in written history in Europe started with the formation of the European Communities.”

This is outrageous and even the graphic that accompanies his claim gives it the lie. The longest period of peace in Europe started with the defeat of fascism in 1945, not with the “European Communities” of 1952. True, an early motive for the “Communities” was to ensure peace in Europe. But that motive has been subsumed, and lost, in the dream of a federal Europe. … [He] gets away with this claim, which could more fairly be made on behalf of NATO, by the sheer number of times he, and others, repeat it. [3]

It’s a standard trick of advertising, PR and fake news to keep repeating a lie until it becomes accepted by default. The EU does this a lot; recall how often you have read about ‘Europe’, ‘peace, ‘growth’, ‘stability’, and many other things that the EU wishes to claim but can’t do honestly.

“And then there is Greece: After what can only be described as some very painful years, marked by unprecedented social hardship – though also by unprecedented solidarity – Greece successfully exited its programme and is now back on its own two feet. … I have always fought for Greece, its dignity, its role in Europe, and its place inside the euro area.”

Jean-Claude Juncker, Alexis TsiprasAt least he noticed that some years were “very painful”. But then he has to pretend that the Greeks were united in support. And of course he offers no evidence (because there is none) that he had “always fought for Greece”. [4] Is it any wonder that politicians are despised?

Europe can export stability, as we have done with the successive enlargements of our Union. For me, these are and will remain success stories – for we were able to reconcile Europe’s history and geography.”

Europe” (he means the EU of course) exports stability? As in Italy for example? [5] Or Catalonia? Perhaps the Balkans? Wisely he doesn’t mention the instability and fragility internally.

European sovereignty is born of Member States’ national sovereignty and does not replace it. Sharing sovereignty – when and where needed – makes each of our nation states stronger.”

Once again “European” is substituted for EU. And “born of…” is meaningless; EU sovereignty is taken from its member states and the extraction is irreversible. This is among the most fundamental deceits; even the treaties are clear about where power to act (“competence”) should rest but in practice the EU takes whatever powers it needs and shares them only when they are unimportant. [6]

We all say in soap-box speeches that we want to be big on big things and small on small things. But there is no applause when EU law dictates that Europeans have to change the clocks twice a year. The Commission is today proposing to change this. Clock-changing must stop. Member States should themselves decide whether their citizens live in summer or winter time. It is a question of subsidiarity.”

Clock changeA whole essay about subsidiarity – and hubris – could be written around this one (we touch on it in [6]). First the EU decided, as it usually does, that changing the clocks should be unified. Then they noticed that no one applauded this decision. Next they decide that changing their clocks is an important issue that the member states can manage for themselves; it should be within their ‘competence’. Finally, to get the best juice out of this piece of patronage, they pretend that this is what they normally do.

By next year, we should also address the international role of the euro. The euro is 20 years young and has already come a long way – despite its critics. …It is now the second most used currency in the world with 60 countries linking their currencies to the euro in one way or another. But we must do more to allow our single currency to play its full role on the international scene.”

J-C is right that it’s absurd that the world must use dollars to buy oil. (Bretton Woods established the dollar as the only truly global currency, backed by gold at a fixed price. However during Nixon’s presidency America’s trade deficit was increasing and when the 70s oil crisis hit Nixon’s administration took the dollar off the gold standard and persuaded the Saudis to trade oil exclusively in dollars in return for military guarantees. That set and remains the trading standard for the whole market – petrodollars.) However, the US dollar has been around more than 20 times as long as the euro in a country that’s been politically and financially mostly reliable since 1865 (not forgetting 1929 and 2007). By contrast who would trust the euro to exist a few years hence? That’s despite the eurozone’s size being comparable to the US (population, GDP). In fact the euro now represents a smaller share of the world’s monetary system than the combined currencies it replaced in 1999; it’s far more likely that the Chinese yuan or some digital currency will displace the dollar than the “20-years-young” euro.

_________________________________________________________

[1]       Five Presidents Report

[2]       The World’s Favourite Law

[3]       State of the Union – 2 [Critical Examination]

[4]       Shorties-11 (Pigs can fly)

[5]       Italy Missing the Target

[6]       Subsidiarity and Competence

 

 

 

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