Europe’s dubious union and the democratic deficit.
On this side of the line, that separates us from nutsville we agree on certain postulates. One is that in the modern world large markets are advantageous. Another assumption is that national means provide less security than committed communities can. With this in mind, we turn to Prime Minister David Cameron’s recent analysis of the European Union (EU). In a letter, a German reader called him a “British hero” for his stand that recalls Churchill’s in 1940 during Western Civilization’s moment of peril.
To Europeans, regardless of whether they live in an EU state, as well as for America, the contours of the emerging European community are of concern. Clearly, EU members and the holdouts are economically, politically, and in their way of life affected by what the Eurocrats construct in Brussels. As for the USA, her defense partnership with Europe makes her an involved party. Existing relationships and the free trade zone Washington seeks, bolster the involvement in the emerging entity.
The critics of EU reality and of what the Union threatens to mute into should not be misunderstood. Even Cameron, in placing himself at the forefront of the wary, does not demand that the project be abandoned. The coordination of the parts that make up Europe is viewed as desirable. The tide of reservations that demand less a reform than a transformation of the erected structures, aims at a distortion. To correct bureaucracy, centralism, and not dissolution is the aim of the critics. They see the European idea as a speeding hijacked vehicle driven by its hijackers into a cul-de-sac. Reason demands not a slowdown but a turnaround.
The derailment began after a promising start as an “economic community”. Those that implemented it agreed upon cooperation but have pursued the wrong personal goal. Europe has no people of state that could unite politically what common language or ethnicity has predestined to amalgamate. To them the American model, having a common language, and a unifying common worldview, was irrelevant. Equally invalid were nation states of the 19th century that could enlist a common language, ethnicity and, and frequently an invented history. Often that “trend” had a motor. It was, as in the case of Sardinia or Prussia, an existing state with an army and an administration that discovered its interests in the “national” cause. In these cases, the absorption of related populations in adjoining territories extended power over compatible areas. Such precedents are not applicable; there is no single European nation and no common language. Most significantly, there is no unique European way of life. Therefore, a European national state in the form of a democratic Union is a fantasy as it lacks roots in sentiments and tradition. Any synthetic construct depends on compulsion and will suffer from a deficit of democracy. What Europe cannot be is, regardless of the centralists’ in Brussels, is a democratic national state. If freely given support from below counts, then Europe can only be a confederation. This being so, the demand that the EU shall “de bureaucratize” is a subversive idea in Brussels.
In the minds of numerous national leaders, there are plenty of muted reservations regarding the centralism of Brussels. The silence reflects not the lightness of the complaints but the sanctions applied by the center, which reminds one of Communisms “democratic centralism”. Among the extorted, Premier Orbán of Hungary has gone to the limits when he stated that his country wishes to revolve around its own axis as he tolerated marchers with signs that stated “we shall be no colony”.
But why does Europe’s political class support the EU that emasculates the entities they head? Mr. Klaus, the exiting Czech President has put it well. The EU protects national leaders from the revolt of their voters. Unpopular measures and failures that should lead to dismissal are overcome by claiming, “Europe wants it”. Absolute monarchies substituted “God” in the same excuse. Whatever the terms, the majority in Brussels is a majority of government employees, and not of the peoples on the leash by their elites.
The demand that integration should go to the extent endorsed by populations and not their governors is a disturbing proposition. As Peter Kazimir, in charge of Slovakia’s finances put it, the Eurocrats do not regard a British exit as a “catastrophe”. Thus, his ilk asks for more EU integration and fewer exceptions for the uppity. One respondent suggested that if the Brits leave, the red carpet should be rolled out for them.
Reservations that demand reform or threaten to leave the EU are growing. Therefore, the objections to that artificial state should be summed up.
A deficiency of the EU is that, to the extent that it replaces common nationality with bureaucracy, it is expensive. The continent is, besides the US, also in competition with East Asia. To measure itself against Africa does not remove the lack of competitiveness and flexibility. More power to lead the recalcitrant does not create more jobs only more bureaucratic restraints. This makes the directing governments stronger and society weaker. That deprives the EU of its motor of growth and sets up a system that penalizes success and performance. Protecting the mediocre and the outdated is a reflection of the fear from competition that demands a de-centralizing liberation of man’s activities.
Britain sees the EU not as a value in itself but as a tool that is valued according to its contribution to general welfare. The cleavage between the institution and its subjects express shortcomings. Unmasking these is not to be dealt with by claiming apostasy. The economic purpose of the EU is best served by enhancing competition through flexibility. The power derived from size to resist change hinders this. Considerations of utility should enable members to criticize policies and to take back surrendered powers. It is to be kept in mind that countries are different and that, therefore, not everything can be standardized even if the power center craves to create “order”. Regardless of that, the principle is to be upheld that legitimacy resides in national legislatures and is not created by Eurocracy. Accordingly, the confederation must respond to the wants of its members and to those associates that stay outside the union. The irritation caused by Brussels’ interference in daily life is not a reflection of “false consciousness” but responds to the disregard of this principle. As a result, multitudes consider EU reality to depart from what they would have approved of –if only they had been asked.
The “apparatus” drive toward political integration and its own sovereignty is a move of which the British insolently disapprove. Asking them to accept clandestine ties that are being smuggled into EU practice means requiring approval of something about which they have not been consulted. On this basis, the English question the institution. At the same time, Britain recognizes the importance of an access to a common market. Meanwhile, London does not consider following the Norwegian and Swiss example (they are not EU members) to be a preferred solution. Therefore, England, whether she continues as a member or departs the organization, is to demand EU reform. EU organs shall act not further centralism but are to respond to the divergent nature and interests of current and future EU members.
Accordingly, Cameron’s Britain will push for a turn-around in the EU. Should redirection fail, the continuation of membership will be put to the vote. It is indicative of the realization of the lacking legitimacy that, especially the international left, reacts to the plebiscite as though it would be treason. The reaction that, asking for the opinion of those that are officially beneficiaries equals betrayal reveals the real nature of what is being judged.