State of the European Union 2018 – 3

This post is the third and final part of our 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

Responsibility: Swipes and Digs

JC4It is our Galileo programme that is today keeping Europe in the space race. No single Member State could have put 26 satellites in orbit, for the benefit of 400 million users worldwide. No single Member State could have done this alone. Galileo is a success in great part, if not entirely, thanks to Europe. No Europe, no Galileo.”

Galileo is a Union project; we wonder if the part that is not in the “great part” is the UK part and therefore should not be mentioned. The UK claims that it can do its own project but then the UK will be competing with the EU, which it has to as we will be excluded from Galileo.

Recent events have brought into sharp focus the need to deepen our Economic and Monetary Union and build deep and liquid capital markets. The Commission has made a series of proposals to do just that – most of which now await adoption by Parliament and Council.”

The proposals J-C refers to are recorded in the Five Presidents Report (5PR), among many other places. [1] He’s talking to the Parliament so this is a sly dig at them for failing to implement his proposals. But he’s assuming that they will, eventually, as completing EMU and other unions are central to consolidating the federal European government, the main point of the Project.

I cannot accept that the blame for every failure – and there have been a few – is laid solely at the Commission’s door. Our proposals are there for all to see. They need to be adopted and implemented. I will continue to resist all attempts to blame the Commission alone. There are scapegoats to be found in all three institutions – with the fewest in Commission and Parliament.”

EU CommissionNot “cannot” – will not. This is, among other things, a rather crude swipe at the European Council which, being made up of the heads of member states, is a bit of a nuisance. In Council meetings he probably says similar things about the Parliament. The Commission is the executive branch of the EU government and as such should shoulder most responsibility. But it’s his institution so it won’t.

We cannot allow ourselves to become unwitting accomplices because of our inability to cooperate.”

Member States have not yet found the right balance between the responsibility each must assume on its own territory; and the solidarity all must show…”

The only one of the three EU institutions on which the member states are directly represented is the European Council, so these remarks continue his downward delegation of responsibility (one of only a few things – others being costs and rules – that are delegated), through the Council, to the elected heads of governments, the nations that elect them and the citizens of those nations.

To love Europe, is it [sic] love its nations. To love your nation is to love Europe. Patriotism is a virtue. Unchecked nationalism is riddled with both poison and deceit.”

This is unadulterated puffery. We are supposed to be too stupid to spot the ill-disguised syllogism: ‘to love Europe is to love your nation; to love your nation is to love the EU; therefore to love Europe is to love the EU’. And it only makes logical sense if Europe and the EU are distinct but, as we have seen, repeatedly, he wants us to believe that these are the same thing, which makes his argument circular, as well as idiotic.

Brexit

Another issue where I see a strong need for the Union for leadership is Brexit. I will not enter into the details of the negotiations, which are being masterfully handled by my friend Michel Barnier. He works on the basis of a unanimous position confirmed time and again by the 27 Member States. However, allow me to recall three principles which should guide our work on Brexit in the months to come.”

We’ve pointed out often that the EU’s position has been confirmed many times and has not shifted even a little, hence what is going on is not a negotiation at all but an attempt to bulldoze the UK into semi-withdrawal: pay and obey but don’t play. And the UK government seems to be falling for it. [2]

We’ll summarise the “three principles”:

  1. Whatever privileges the member states have, an ex-member cannot have them;
  2. Brexit risks the Good Friday Agreement by threatening a border on the island of Ireland.
  3. The UK “will always be a very close neighbour and partner

We have to quote the third directly as it makes no sense, but probably this principle can be re-presented as, “The UK will never become a formidable competitor on our doorstep”, which is their main fear.

Brexit2In the past months, whenever we needed unity in the Union, Britain was at our side, driven by the same values and principles as all other Europeans. This is why I welcome Prime Minister May’s proposal to develop an ambitious new partnership for the future, after Brexit. We agree with the statement made in Chequers that the starting point for such a partnership should be a free trade area between the United Kingdom and the European Union. … the Commission’s negotiators stand ready to work day and night to reach a deal. We owe it to our citizens and our businesses to ensure the United Kingdom’s withdrawal is orderly and that there is stability afterwards. It will not be the Commission that will stand in the way of this, I can assure you of that.”

More untruths. [2] Britain has never been fully onside and has grumbled a lot and opted out of key features of the EU, notably the single currency. Indeed, the Commission’s negotiators do “stand ready”; they have never moved. And it is exactly the Commission that stands in the way of a fruitful future partnership, because it fears, not for its integrity, as claimed, but for its very existence if the UK can go it alone successfully.

Conclusions

His conclusion: “In short, we must remain true to ourselves.”

Our conclusions (from 2016 comments [3], but he hasn’t said anything this year to change our minds): We’re not anti-European, we’re anti-this EU. We’re against the complacent, misguided ideologists who can’t see its extreme failures, or can see them but think the present sacrifices are worthwhile. Not their sacrifices, naturally, with their high salaries, generous expenses and gold-plated pensions they’re all right (Jack). They have faith, but no evidence, that the troubles will pass and history will praise their foresight and vision.

(From 2017) [4]: Commentators have largely picked out the positive nuggets in the speech and either commented on them or quoted the comments of others. We have found little analysis of the speech as a whole and its relation to the history of the EU. We are surprised by how many people appear to interpret the speech positively, for which they have to swallow without thinking much that should alert them to what is evident after a quick look behind the sales pitch.

(And 2018): This whole speech is rather downbeat, unsurprisingly given the terrible failures and their effects on millions of lives. If only everyone would get behind the rubric ‘Ever Closer Union’ [5] they could double down on the solutions that have failed so far – clearly the patient needs a higher dose.

Humbug, self-congratulation, specious claims and plain lies characterise the speech. We can conclude this year by picking up and interpreting his “true to ourselves”. Of course he doesn’t tell us directly what this means but we have no difficulty in understanding that he is referring to the EU’s founding principles: there needs to be a federal government in Europe to oversee peace and progress; we cannot express this openly as voters will not accept a supra-national government that they cannot remove; but they will when this federal government is confirmed in place; we will deceive, disguise and do whatever it takes to get to that point; we will not let the people or their representatives stand in our way; in the end they will agree with us or put up with the outcome, because they don’t matter.images

The European Union is a good idea turned bad by those who have selected themselves to make it happen. A European union remains a good idea, but it could not be this EU.

_________________________________________________________

[1]       Five Presidents Report

[2]       Chequers White Paper

[3]       State of the Union – 1 (Summary)

[4]       State of the Union 2017

[5]       Ever Closer Union

 

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