Where There is Darkness

There are fundamental design flaws in the European Union project, many of which are invisible to most of us and few of which will ever be addressed by EU leaders and supporters. Our blog has raised and walked around many of these issues, mostly by showing how they result in faulty performance, and dishonest propaganda. Here we offer updates on a few of the issues we have discussed earlier.

Saint Francis of Assisi declaimed in his prayer:

Lord make me an instrument of your peace; where there is hatred, let me sow love; where there is discord, union; where there is doubt, faith; …where there is darkness, light; …

With some reversals, such as darkness and light, we could imagine this as the form of grace given before the EU Commission or one of its councils settles down to one of its lavish lunches or dinners to decide what’s best for its citizens.

Expensives

Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) each get a standard monthly allowance of €4,500 which is not checked or audited; they are free to spend it as they wish and do not have to account for their spending. The annual cost to the EU budget is about €40 million—not a trivial sum. (We reported on this issue earlier in two posts—see Expensives-2). At that time (2018) the Parliament’s Bureau overruled a majority of MEPs, who argued that accounts of this spending should be made public.

EUObserver has picked up this issue again [1] and reports that the Parliament now claims, on dubious grounds, that proper oversight of MEPs’ expenses would require an additional 40-75 staff, which would go against sound financial management. However, a few MEPs have themselves paid to have their expenses verified and argue that the whole budget item could be properly audited for less than one-tenth of what the Parliament Bureau says the checks would cost.

Where There is Diversity, Make Them Conform

The EU declares that it respects the diversity of cultures (and other aspects) in its many member states. In practice however, the push towards uniformity and a federal government act against these diverse interests. As an example of the EU’s deeply ingrained preference for dishonest propaganda, here is an item from the Treaties [2]:

We the People of the European Union, united in our diversity, common history, and shared values and future, in order to form an ever-closer Union, ensure the fundamental rights of all, promote solidarity, development and the general welfare, and secure a free, peaceful and sustainable future for generations to come, establish and adopt this Constitution for the European Union.

One of the goals of the EU is to “respect its rich cultural and linguistic diversity”. In practice diversity is suppressed whenever possible, perhaps to promote “social cohesion”, another of the EU’s declared goals.

Diversity is not observed in the EU’s practices, which press towards conformity wherever they find diversity. EU mandarins find diversity to be dangerous and a threat to the success of their mission. Hence the emphasis on eliminating divergence and reducing historically diverse nations to a stale uniformity [3].

EU attempts to unify its member states cut against history, culture, language and instinct, not to mention the preferences of ‘its’ citizens [4].

As an example of the EU’s failure to suppress diversity and achieve uniformity consider the current vaccination programme, which show a disturbing range of outcomes, although overall EU figures disguise this. Malta, the member state with the smallest population, is approaching world-beating levels of inoculation; Bulgaria is lagging badly behind. The poorest member state, Bulgaria, has vaccinated 24 out of every 100 adults, about one-third of the EU average. Most of the backward vaccinators are in the poorer east of the EU. Two assumptions are evident in the EU’s ‘promise’: first, that each country would provide the same proportion of vaccine doses to its population; second, that all member states would have the same ability to manage vaccinations. Neither of these assumptions holds in practice.

Should Size Matter?

In a project such as the EU small member states risk being overwhelmed by larger members. To offset this risk the usual democratic idiom, “one person, one vote” has been replaced, so that, for example in elections to the European Parliament, Luxembourg has one MEP per 100,000 citizens while Germany has one MEP for every 864,000 of its citizens. Malta (6 MEPs), with a population of about 500,000, has an influence in decisions much greater than any other member state [5]. Small EU countries have more influence in practice than they would in unregulated competition.

The EU proposes to implement a more widespread use of qualified majority voting (QMV); this will go against claims made in the EU’s own Treaties [6].

From ex-Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker’s State of the Union presentation in September 2017:

When it comes to important single market questions, I want decisions in the Council to be taken more often and more easily by qualified majority…. We do not need to change the Treaties for this. There are so-called “passerelle clauses” in the current Treaties which allow us to move from unanimity to qualified majority voting in certain areas – if all Heads of State or Government agree to do so.”

In theory qualified majority support can be achieved more easily than unanimity, except that heads of state are senior to other ministers and can therefore command their votes, leaving the Council (of ministers) as powerless as is the European Council (heads of states); the European Commission is the government in practice, if not in theory in the Treaties.

Qualified Majority Voting (QMV) was agreed by the Treaty of Maastricht but there are still some areas where national vetoes can be used. From the TEU Article 7: “The Council, acting by a qualified majority, may decide subsequently to vary or revoke measures…in response to changes in the situation which led to their being imposed … The Council shall act by a qualified majority except where the Treaties provide otherwise.”

Many more decisions are now to be decided by QMV, through which the EU can get its own way more easily than the unanimity that used to be required. The EU believes—but dares not tell us—that the proper role of a federal government is to make decisions on behalf of its member states.

More on Democracy

The pretence covered by Treaty permission for QMV is illustrated in the undemocratic way in which the current President of the European Commission was selected. Start with the Treaty specification of the process:

Article 17: 7. Taking into account the elections to the European Parliament and after having held the appropriate consultations, the European Council, acting by a qualified majority, shall propose to the European Parliament a candidate for President of the Commission. This candidate shall be elected by the European Parliament by a majority of its component members. [7]

The European Council “shall propose…” and then the Parliament shall elect him or her, except in practice, when the Parliament’s declared preference, under the spitzenkandidat procedure, was overruled in 2019 [8].

Article 48: 7. Where the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union…provides for the Council to act by unanimity in a given area or case, the European Council may adopt a decision authorising the Council to act by a qualified majority in that area or in that case. [9]

Unanimity may be required, but if that proves impossible to achieve then it isn’t required. (Strictly, the TFEU only “provides” for the Council to act in unanimity if it wishes to, but if they can’t agree amongst themselves QMV may be imposed on the fractious ministers.)

[1] https://euobserver.com/democracy/152107

[2] Constitutional Deception

[3] European Values and/or Only Believe

[4] Union, Unity & Uniformity

[5] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apportionment_in_the_European_Parliament

[6] What About the Treaties? and/or Foundations, Governance & EU=Europe

[7] EU Treaties-1: Background & Membership

[8] See https://www.politico.eu/article/who-killed-the-spitzenkandidat-european-parliament-election-2019-transition/

[9] EU Treaties-8: Terminology


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