A daily blog on the thrills, spills, and frequent absurdities of the world's one and only 'non-imperial empire' - as Barroso himself called it - the European Union.

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Friday, 29 April 2011

Ever-Closer Disintegration

 Sarkozy doesn't even control the menu. Picture taken from the European People's Party

It's good to see the dual engines of 'ever-closer union' crumbling under the weight of reality. The eurozone is down on its knees and the integrity of the currency itself is under threat, with Greece and Ireland coming back to haunt the economists and officials who forged the bailout deals, and optimism over Spain fading as the markets close in on the heavily-indebted nation. The rescue package for its neighbour, Portugal, is not likely to escape a blow from the Finnish parliament and a newly-revived Euroscepticism in Scandinavia. The EU's expansion plans have been halted by fierce resistance in Croatia, where Eurosceptics form a 75% majority. And, now, the Schengen zone is under threat from an increasingly populist Sarkozy and Merkel, with other smaller countries, who normally would be almost irrelevant at the European Council or Commission, joining in the fray for their own reasons. The European Union has never been so vulnerable.

It's also fun to see Guardian contributors make thinly-veiled Nazi references in an attempt to keep the dream of a federal European state alive. Fortress Europe indeed. But, try as they might, they cannot hide the truth about the European Union, that is becoming ever more exposed as the organisation seeks to preserve and enhance its powers at a time of great internal crisis. Both Nicolas Sarkozy and Silvio Berlusconi, two centre-right leaders with a growing nationalist threat to their leadership and elections coming up pretty soon, have sent a formal request to two people in a bid to get the Schengen agreement radically altered. Those two people are Jose Manuel Barroso, the chief executive of the European Union, and Herman van Rompuy, the man who presides over our elected heads of state at meetings of the European Council. Both of them have never subjected themselves to a popular vote. This is Europe in the 21st century: two elected heads of state, representing over one hundred million people, have to appeal to two unelected individuals in order to regain control of their own borders. Neither of them want to do anything more radical than put border police along the frontier, and ask to see the passports of anyone crossing national boundaries. Confronted with twenty-thousand refugees arriving into a sparsely-populated rural area, what would you expect a national leader to do? And these two individuals - any one of them, in fact - still have the right to deny this. They, to put it simply, control the borders of any state within the Schengen area, and there is nothing to make them sit up and listen to the wishes of the elected national leaders that the Schengen Treaty effects, or their citizens.

As usual, the left-wing federalist commentators overlook the true cause of the problem to salvage what's left of their worldview. This has nothing to do with immigration. This is, again, about democracy. How did Europe get itself into such a mess? How can anyone say that democracy is not threatened when elected leaders literally have to beg an unelected beaurocrat to allow them to exercise some control over their own borders? How can any one unelected man deny the wishes of Italy, France, Germany, Denmark, the Netherlands, and other countries that had expressed disattisfaction with the current arrangement with a stroke of his pen?

The need to repatriate powers has never been clearer. Britain is, thankfully, not a signatory to Schengen. But the same unelected officials that have the power of veto over our elected heads of state rule us, too, and their contempt for the will of the people is apparent in their actions. We must free ourselves from their dominion and do as the French do, for once - put a Eurosceptic party ahead of our Prime Minister in the polls.


And, leaving the mucky world of politics aside for a second, I'd like to take the time to wish Britain's new royal couple and future King and Queen a long and happy life together. They're the first good news the country has had for a long time, and I for once will be joining in any celebrations that I run across in town.

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