When is invasion not invasion? When it's 'non-imperial,' of course!
'Sometimes I like to compare the EU as a creation to the organisation of empire. We have the dimension of empire. But there is a great difference. Empires are usually made by force, with a centre that was imposing a dictate, a will on the others, and now we have what some authors call the first non-imperial empire'
A speech by President Barroso, or should I call him emperor? With no trace of irony, that was his address to the Strasbourg Parliament three years ago, when the electorates of various European nations - seven, in fact - were up in arms over the refusal of their national governments to hold referendums on their country's assimilation into this 'empire,' a process which Barroso himself carefully supervised as the unelected head of an unelected executive. Oh, how times have changed.
The last two rotating presidents - the national leaders who hold the Presidency of the Council of Europe (note: not to be confused with the President of the European Council) for a sixth-month term of office - have had eastward expansion on their minds. The outgoing rotating president, Hungary's Viktor Orban, has been working on the assimilation of Croatia and Macedonia for some time, and has made the accession of the former one of the top priorities of his presidency. But his successor has far more ambitious plans.
He is Poland's Donald Tusk, the fiercely anti-British and anti-French federalist who wants to march the EU borders beyond the eastern steppes of Ukraine. No, don't worry, not Russia - although his plans will infuriate the Kremlin. He actually wants six countries to join the EU, or start the integration process, during his time in office - Albania, Croatia, Macedonia, Moldova, Ukraine, and Georgia - and to restart negotiations with Turkey. Over a hundred and twenty million people and seven developing economies who will doubtless be the recipients of tens of billions of pounds of public money, much of it from Britain, and also gain the right to live and work in the UK. Not the most desireable outcome for Britain's creaking infrastructure and overcrowded cities, or its over-burdened taxpayers who already have to carry the weight of almost twenty other countries on their shoulders (which costs each household in the country £937, according to Open Europe, based on analysis of what each country pays and receives on an individual-by-individual basis). So, those of you whose taxes, gas, electricity, and VAT just shot up might like to know that the first step on this plan for eastern expansion has hit a brick wall, courtesy of the Croats.
You have to do a bit of digging to find this site, but it's well worth a read. It seems that the Croatians didn't like the EU - or their national government, for that matter - demanding the arrest and trial of two former generals as a precondition of membership, and, following the sentence of Ante Gotovina and Mladen Markac to twenty-four and eighteen years for war crimes, respectively, a decision which 95% of them oppose, they took to the streets. It's one thing to call your government leaders 'traitors' on the pages of a newspaper comments thread. It's quite another to do it to their face. And the Croats have done exactly that. As the government there is committed to holding a referendum on the subject, the fact that only a quarter of the population support EU membership will hold back the expansion plans, at least until the EU can get its propaganda machine in place - otherwise known as EU Information Centres - and tells them to vote again. The Croats will need convincing before the EU can cast its gaze further east - thirty out of thirty-five chapters in the negotiation process are complete, and the EU simply cannot afford to abandon it now. This will render impotent any expansionist tendencies in the next two rotating presidencies.
So, for the second time in a week, the small nations of Europe have shown us how it's done. If the Croats can stand by the legacy of those who, in their eyes, fought for freedom, why can't we, a much larger nation that is actually in the EU, stand by freedom itself? Britain has grown out of empires; the EU has not.