This is another in our series of posts reviewing our comments on major themes regarding the European Union. Each brief comment is followed by a link to the post to which we refer. Unlike the first theme post, this one presents the linked posts in chronological order.
A. In June 2015 the presidents of the five major divisions of the European Union, led by Jean-Claude Juncker, the President of the European Commission, published their report, titled Completing Europe’s Economic and Monetary Union. We analysed the report over three posts (linked below). We concluded that there is no evidence that EMU will deliver the declared outcomes and that the whole thrust of the report confirms that the purpose of EU/EMU is to govern its member nations.
In due course the theoretical and practical gaps will become evident, because the project won’t deliver the promised economic, democratic or social developments but, instead, will result in stasis – at best. Indeed, the demands of the project will obstruct the activities that would bring about desired developments naturally. This is already evident in the volume of unnecessary legislation to which member states and their peoples have to conform in order to participate in the union projects.
Five Presidents Report (30/05/2016)
B. In February 2017 Chancellor Angela Merkel was quoted as saying that “there will be an EU with different speeds [and] that not everyone will take part in the same levels of integration“.
In the same month, Netherlands’ Christian-Democrat MP, Sybrand van Haersma Buma said that “other countries will follow the United Kingdom out of the EU” unless the EU is “drastically” reformed. “If Europe continues on the same track, Brexit will not be the end of it”.
Although a multi-speed EU appears to contradict the main treaties, in March of the same year the European Commission published a white paper with several scenarios outlined for the future (see Our Commentary on the White Paper outlined next).
In the two years since the white paper was published little has been heard of it, and the EU has not yet collapsed; perhaps these are not coincidental.
EU in Disarray? (06/03/2017)
C. On 1st March 2017 The European Commission published a white paper on the future of Europe. As we surmised at the time, the exercise did not generate much debate and was probably intended as a distraction from the various crises of the time. The document was full of windy rhetoric, headed by the foreword from Jean-Claude Juncker, who was and remains for a few more months the President of the Commission.
The white paper offers five different ‘scenarios’ outlining possible futures for the EU. From the narrow and hazy vision presented in the White Paper we concluded that this was a paper exercise, not based on a recognition that the Project is flawed and fragile. The tone in which each scenario was written enabled us to interpret the Commissions’ wish to preserve the Union much as it is, perhaps allowing for some variation in the speed at which progress towards the true goal is to be managed.
Following publication of the white paper, differences quickly emerged between the Commission’s preferred scenario and the one preferred by some major member states, which in turn was opposed by other member states. We have not seen anything resembling a full debate on the proposals since.
Our Commentary on the White Paper (09/03/2017)
D. We continued, and concluded, our discuss of the European Commission’s white paper with their own summary, from their website. Here is how they presented the summary in their press release:
“The White Paper will serve to steer the debate among the 27 Heads of State or Government and help structure the discussion at the Rome Summit and well beyond. It will also be used by the Commission as the starting point for a wider public debate on the future of our continent.”
As we said in our commentary, we could detect no such debate.
We then looked at some background to the white paper and asked why it matters, with some possible answers, including a speculation on whether there is an alternative to the EU for European collaboration.
More on the White Paper (10/03/2017)
E. Before, during and after the Referendum those who were keen that the UK should remain in the EU put up many attacks on Brexit, claiming that it will be a disaster for Britain. One line they took, in a continuation of Project Fear, was to declare that no one would want to buy British goods. We pointed out, in the post below, that in recent years, while Britain has been a member of the EU, our economy has move significantly away from manufacturing and in favour of services.
We argued that Britain’s strategic advantage for services is due to our language, our legal system and our historic reputation but protectionist barriers in the EU prevent us exploiting it. The EU has shown consistent determination to thwart Britain’s ambition to promote its services, notably trying to impose post-Brexit barriers on our financial sector in the hope that much of it will transfer to France and Germany.
Service Advantage (03/08/2017)
F. In his annual state of the union message to the European Parliament, Jean-Claude Juncker continued to develop his views (or propaganda) on the future of the EU. Our post (see the link below) was accompanied by a more detailed analytical paper, in which we judged that it was a political speech, but it must have taken superhuman patience to sit through it, unless of course MEPs had swallowed the propaganda whole already.
In the main post we considered three characteristics of the EU: it’s central ambition (what we call elsewhere the ideology underpinning the project); the determined efforts of its leading figures to dissemble and lie to hide this central ambition; and the deep conviction that permeates everything it does that the peoples of Europe and their elected governments are of no account. These three themes are evident throughout the President’s speech and clearly reflect the continuing progress of the EU project itself.
Pursuing our theme of the future of the EU we quote J-C: “Now is the time to build a more united, stronger and more democratic Europe for 2025.” We note that he should say ‘Union’ not ‘Europe’ and that in fact he is firmly opposed to anything that might resemble democracy creeping into his project.
He is aware that Europeans’ hearts and mind have been lost. This despite the reams of propaganda, specious claims and lies. We doubt that he really feels that he or his Project need to take action to remedy this deficit. There is a large gap between what he feels he has to act on and what he feels he has to say. This gap, involving flat contradictions, characterizes the EU and the distance between its true objectives and its declared ones. Not to mention the distance between its peoples and its leaders. When you have supra-national governance you can’t have important decisions being made at a lower level – certainly not at the level of the people.
State of the Union 2017 (24/09/2017)
G. Predicting the future is an uncertain game but if we look at the past, the present, recent trends and current plans for the EU and our part in it we can make a few guesses. If we are guided by intended outcomes rather than actual ones our guesses are much less likely to be right. What is the Union like now and where will it end up?
Growth and prosperity for the people of Europe (or, better, the citizens of the EU) are among the intended, wished for and declared aims of the Project. So far the record is not good, and there is little reason to believe that the self-selected leaders of the EU will do much better in future. Excessive regulation by the EU has been the result of underemployed, over-eager bureaucrats and powerful lobbyists.
There is no reason to believe the EU’s malaise is temporary since the dangers are plain to see. The eurozone (EZ) is in trouble and does not have the means to get out of trouble cleanly, if at all. Economic divergence among members of the monetary union appears to be growing, while the EU declares that such divergence should be curtailed. Realistically, the divergence is unlikely to be narrowed; imagine the Greeks behaving like Germans, or vice-versa.
If the EU is not believed to look after the economic well-being of its citizens, as it claims to be doing, then its future is clouded and uncertain. It may fall apart – we hope it does, because it bases its survival on deceit.
All Our Yesterdays (10/09/2018)
H. The EU has faced, and continues to face, many problems (see, for example Collapse: Europe After the European Union – Parts 1&2). Most of its problems result from its rigid ideology and the need its leaders feel to lie to its citizens about their aim to complete its advanced progress towards governing large swathes of Europe by overriding the democratically-derived governments of its member states.
At the core of EU ambition is economic and monetary union, the practical expression of which is the vulnerable eurozone (EZ). This is a wild dream of the bureaucrats and recycled politicians who lead the Project, and a nightmare for the rest of us. Once complete economic and monetary union has been achieved (which we believe to be impossible) then only a few loose political ends need to be tidied away to achieve federal governance over half-a-billion people.
The EZ has forged links and created conditions that have bankrupted several of its member states. The wished-for unions (banking, fiscal, political) needed to complete EMU will not come about, if only because those states that are doing well will not provide the necessary – and risky – open cheques that such unions would require.
The EZ venture, which was meant to accelerate convergence, has actually driven its member nations further apart economically with high unemployment, low growth and huge debts in some areas, accompanied by their opposites in others. Not the least of the EZ’s problems is the intricate network of interdependence among European banks. The means do not exist to prevent a domino-style collapse of this network should a few heavily-indebted banks fail to pull themselves back from the brink of insolvency.
With low or negative growth, imaginary money and enormous debts everyone is going be unhappy as citizens discover that their hard-earned saving are not protected. Political instability will quickly follow economic instability.
Die Another Day? (19/03/2019)