Ukrainians know more about democracy than van Rompuy. Picture by the European People's Party
Why do we have to go to Arabic and Russian media to find out what our European leaders are doing? They've obviously taken time out from their important schedules - which include sorting out major economic upheaval, revolutionary fervour brewing in Spain and Greece, and defending challenges to their power from elected national governments and 'populists.' Why? To hold a meeting with representatives from the world's major religions in Brussels, that's why. The meeting was so that they could talk about how to 'share democracy' between the European Union and its neighbours. Yes, it was another one of those meetings, where two unelected individuals - or, in Barroso's case, secretly elected individuals who just happened to be the only candidate on the ballot sheet - look interested as someone else tells them about the merits of 'rule by the people.'
I assume the Arabs had quite a lot to teach their European counterparts, so the meeting lasted quite a while. Van Rompuy seemed more than satisfied when it finished, and, feeling himself enlightened on the subject of democracy, proudly declared that it was not incompatible with Islam. 'These revolutions are not the work of fanatics or extremists. On the contrary they prove that there is no contradiction between Islam and democracy.'
I'd just like to point out, before anyone talks him too seriously, that he owes his position as President of the European Council, the chairman of meetings of elected heads of state, to a secret deal made over dinner, and no-one ever elected him to that position at all. He can't really sound off about democracy. He can't really sound off about the Arab Spring, either, as Nigel Farage brilliantly showed an indigant European Parliament.
And if you think van Rompuy was hypocritical enough, then wait until you hear Barroso. 'Our task and ambition is to promote democracy, pluralism, the rule of law, human rights, and social justice not only in Europe but also in our neighbourhood.' As the chief executive of the European Union, Barroso's only experience of democracy is a secret ballot in the European Parliament where he was the only candidate. The executive as a whole isn't much more democratic, either, with each of the Commissioners nominally answerable to the European Parliament and approval of elected heads of state, but in practice very difficult to remove from office, and completely unaccountable to the people themselves whose laws they are solely responsible for proposing and repealing.
As for pluralism, Barroso has consistently derided 'populists,' and has - along with elected heads of government - disregarded every referendum that's ever been held on EU integration, preferring instead to do as he pleases regardless of the result. The rule of law has also been abandoned, with the European Union retrospectively changing treaties to make bailouts legal - after they've been agreed.
Then comes what is perhaps the most hypocritical part of the whole thing: van Rompuy heaped praise on the Arab rebels, saying that 'Arab people are liberating themselves. These are their revolutions and we have common values.' This came a few days after he warned Greece to pledge new austerity measures, and made no comment whatsoever on the popular 'Greek revolution.' I hope that he is actually aware of what's happening in Greece - I assume he is, but given the apparent lack of ability of accurate information to penetrate the Belgian bunker, who knows?