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Wednesday 16 January 2013

A Less Than Positive View Of The EU

Here are parts of an excellent analysis on the EU written by Anthony Coughlan, a retired Social Policy Lecturer, which forced the Irish Government to hold a national referendum on EU-induced constitutional changes; and is a must read if you want to fully understand the threat that the EU poses to our country and our democracy. 

A) That political realist, Germany's 19th century chancellor Otto Von Bismarck, once said: I have always found the word 'Europe' on the lips of those powers which wanted something from others which they dared not demand in their own names. The rhetoric of Euro federalism, talk of "the European ideal, the requirements of the EU project, the supposed necessity of Europe's unification and the like, is essentially political cover for the national interests of the individual States concerned, as mediated by their political and economic elites.

B) Different countries had their own motives for embracing supranationalism. Britain wanted to prevent the continent being dominated by the Franco-Germans. She sought either to prise them apart or else be co-opted by them in running the EU as a triumvirate. Both aims proved illusory, and this is at the root of British Euro-skepticism. Spain, Portugal and Greece saw the EU as guaranteeing democracy following long periods of dictatorship. The East Europeans saw it as a way of moving out of Russia's sphere of influence. Their representatives in the EU bureaucracy, the European Parliament, the Court of Justice, Central Bank etc. are paid salaries that are typically ten times higher than what they would get at home. This makes Brussels a specially attractive career prospect.

C) The Franco-German economic deal which was embodied in the original 1957 Treaty of Rome offered protection for French farmers in return for free trade for German industry. The Common Agricultural Policy(CAP) kept European food prices high for decades by reducing food imports from the rest of the world. Farmers like high food prices. As CAP supports were tied to volume of production, this benefited big farmers most, French ones particularly.

D) On the free trade side the EU, Treaties make it illegal under supranational EU law for governments to put obstacles in the way of the free movement of goods, services, capital and labour between the 27 EU Member States. National Governments are legally forbidden to discriminate in favour of their own citizens or business firms by adopting any such measures, whether liberal or restrictive, although the possibility of doing that if it is judged to be in the interest of a peoples economic welfare is one of the main reasons why countries wish to have their own governments in the first place.

E) From the standpoint of private capital it is normal to want minimal interference by the State with private profit-making activities. EU law drastically limits the possibility of such interference. Any national law which seeks to enforce a national common good in the economic sphere must give way to EU law in areas covered by the Treaties.

F) Most EU laws and court cases before the EU Court of Justice (ECJ) are concerned with enforcing these rules. The constitution of the EU, the Treaty of Rome and its amending treaties, is in effect the first State or quasi-State constitution in history to be drawn up entirely in the interest of big business, without the slightest popular or democratic input into its making. The EUs foundational four freedoms free movement of goods, services, capital and labour - enshrine the basic principles of classical laissez-faire as constitutional imperatives which no government or elected parliament may legally change or violate, regardless of the wishes of their voters.

G) Each successive EU Treaty was sold to the different peoples across Europe as a modest incremental step towards getting more jobs, growth and higher living standards. Yet each took powers away from national parliaments and governments and the citizens which elected these, turning the Nation States of Europe into provincial shells, subverting their national democracy and making their citizens subject to a supranational political and economic elite which runs an EU system whose workings most people poorly understand. This is the Great Deception of the EU integration project, a constitutional revolution by stealth.

H) The 2009 Treaty of Lisbon embodied the provisions of the 2004 Treaty Establishing a Constitution for Europe, which sought to establish the European Union directly on the basis of its own Constitution, just as with any State. When this was rejected in 2005 by French and Dutch voters in referendums its provisions were repackaged virtually unchanged and adopted indirectly in the form of amendments to the existing EU Treaties in the Lisbon Treaty.

Lisbon provided for the abolition of the European Community, which was the legal repository of supranational powers up to then, and its replacement by a constitutionally new European Union, with full legal personality separate from that of Member States for the first time. It made citizens of the different EU Member States into citizens of this constitutionally new federal-type Union for the first time also, giving them a real second citizenship in addition to their national citizenships, just as citizens of regional states like California or Bavaria are citizens also of their respective Federal States. EU law has primacy over national law and the claims of EU citizenship have primacy over the claims of national citizenship in any cases of conflict between the two.

I) For the past three centuries the separation of powers and functions between the Executive (Government), Legislature(Parliament) and Judiciary has been acknowledged as the necessary basis of democratic states and fundamental to maintaining the liberty of citizens. This principle goes out the window in the EU. There the exclusive power of proposing new supranational laws rests with the EUs Executive or Government, the Commission in Brussels

J) The EU Commission is more a government than a commission. Its members are nominated by national governments, not elected. Thus a condition for proposing supranational laws in the EU is that one should NOT be elected. Once appointed Commissioners' allegiance is to the EU, not their own countries. French President Charles De Gaulle described this body aptly as a conclave of technocrats without a country, responsible to no one.

As well as administering the existing EU rules and having the monopoly of proposing new ones, the Commission has quasi-judicial powers as well. It can adjudicate on competition cases and impose fines on EU members. Even though there may be an appeal to the Court of Justice, the Commission acts as if it were a lower court. It draws up and administers its own budget, with minimal democratic control. Its president can hire, move and sack individual Commissioners. It is supported by some 3000 secret working groups, whose members are not publicly known, where most Commission decisions are actually made and where corporate lobbyists wield their influence. Only 2% of Commission decisions come up at meetings of the full Commission.

K) The Council of Ministers is called a Council, but it makes laws just like a Parliament, on the basis of the Commission's proposals. It makes these laws in secret, often in the form of package-deals between its members, and it takes some executive decisions. Approximately 85% of EU directives and regulations are agreed privately in some 300 committees of civil servants from the EU Member States which service the Council and they are approved without debate at Council level. Only 15% of EU laws are actually discussed or negotiated at Council level. The formal adoption of these laws now takes place in public, although the negotiations leading up to them are private. The Council of Ministers is responsible as a collective to nobody and is irremovable as a body.

L) The European Parliament is more a Council than a Parliament. It cannot initiate any EU law although it can amend draft laws which come from the Commission and Council as long as the Commission agrees. If the Commission disagrees, all 27 Member States must agree to allow an amendment by the Parliament to be adopted. If the Parliament by an absolute majority of its members opposes a draft directive from the Commission it cannot become law, but this rarely happens. The Parliament has the final say over the EU budget except for agriculture. If it vetoes new budget proposals, the previous years EU budget is repeated.

M) The Court of Justice is not just a Court but is also a Constitution-maker, with constitutional powers similar to what some Parliaments have. It is hard to think of a single area of national life nowadays that is unaffected by EU law. In most years the majority of laws and statutory instruments put through national Parliaments now come from Brussels. There are over 100,000 EU rules, international agreements and legal acts binding on or affecting citizens across the EU. It is calculated that in 2013 there are in force 8,937 EU Regulations; 1,953 EU Directives; 15,561 Decisions; 2,948 Other Legal Acts; 4,733 international agreements; 4,843 non-binding legal acts, which may however bind if agreed; 52,000 agreed EU international standards from CEN, Cenelec, Etsi etc. and 11,961 verdicts from the EU Court of Justice. The EU Treaties prevent voters at national level, their Parliaments and Governments from abolishing or amending a single one of these legal measures.

N) Every time new EU treaties abolish further national vetoes and shift law-making for new policy areas from the national to the supranational level, national Parliaments and citizens lose power correspondingly, for they no longer have the final say in the areas concerned. Simultaneously individual Government Ministers, who are members of the executive arm of government at national level and must have a national parliamentary majority behind them for their policies, are turned into legislators for 500 million Europeans as members of the 27-person Council of Ministers which makes EU laws and rules. This body constitutes a committee of legislators, which is the classical definition of an oligarchy.

National politicians thereby obtain an intoxicating increase of personal power for themselves at the expense of their national Parliaments and voters, even though they may be open to being outvoted by a qualified majority on the EU Council. This is the reason Government Ministers tend to be so Europhile and to cooperate so willingly in denuding their own Parliaments and peoples of power.

The more policy areas shift from the national level to Brussels, the more power shifts simultaneously from national legislatures to national executives, and the more the power of individual Ministers and bureaucrats increases. Keeping on good terms with their fellow members of the exclusive Council of Ministers "club" of EU lawmakers becomes more important for national Ministers at EU level than being awkward in defence of their own peoples' interests. Increasingly they have come to see their function vis-à-vis one another as delivering their national electorates in support of further EU or Euro zone integration.

O) A Member State on its own cannot decide a single European law. Its people, parliament and government may be opposed to an EU law, its government representative on the Council of Ministers may vote against it, but they are bound to obey it nonetheless once it is adopted by qualified majority Council vote. This devalues the vote of every individual citizen. Each policy area that is transferred from the national level to the supranational level devalues it further. This reduces the political ability of citizens to decide what is the national common good and deprives them of the most fundamental right of membership of a democracy, the right to make their own laws, to elect their representatives to make them, and to change those representatives if they dislike the laws they make.

European integration is therefore not just a process of depriving Europe's Nation States and peoples of their national democracy and independence. Within each Member State it represents a gradual coup by government executives against legislatures and by politicians against the citizens who elect them. What were once national politics become provincial politics. Citizens more and more sense this and it depoliticizes them in turn. The EU has hollowed out the Nation State, leaving its traditional institutions formally in place but with their most important functions transferred outside, to the external EU level. It turns the State itself into an enemy of its own people, while clamping a form of financial feudalism on Europe.

P) From EU to Eurozone: Seventeen of the current 27 EU Member States have adopted the euro. Ten EU Members retain their national currencies. The Eurozone rather than the overall EU is now the main terrain of Franco-German ambitions to establish a European superpower with themselves in the driving seat although, as stated above, it is increasingly obvious that Germany is the real driver, with France occasionally helping with the steering. Their leaders are frank in stating their ambitions:-

Here is Germanys Chancellor Merkel on the current debt crisis: "We have a shared currency but no real economic or political union. This must change. If we were to achieve this, therein lies the opportunity of the crisis And beyond the economic, after the shared currency, we will perhaps dare to take further steps, for example for a European army" (Karlspreis speech, May 2010).

Here is French President Sarkozy a year later: By the end of the summer Angela Merkel and I will be making joint proposals on economic government in the eurozone. We will give a clearer vision of the way we see the Eurozone evolving. Our ambition is to seize the Greek crisis to make a quantum leap in Eurozone government. The very words were once taboo. (Now) it has entered the European vocabulary (Irish Times, 23 July 2011).

And Sarkozy again in November 2011: There are 27 of us. Clearly, down the line, we will have to include the Balkans. There will be 32, 33 or 34 of us. No one thinks that federalism, total integration, will be possible with 33, 34 or 35 states. Clearly there will be a two-speed Europe: one speed that moves towards a Federation for the Eurozone and one speed for a Confederation within the European Union.

Q) The project of EU/Eurozone integration is at bottom an attempt to overturn the democratic heritage of the French Revolution, the right of nations to self-determination, national independence and national democracy, across much of Europe in the interest of powerful political and economic elites. As the world moves towards 200 States and more, this collective right to democracy within a State is now accepted as a basic principle of international law and the foundational value of democratic States and democratic politics within them - but not by the elites of the EU, who have subverted their own national democracies.

R) The Euro-integration project therefore makes the classical national question, the issue of national independence, of who makes the laws and rules of a society, whether the elected representatives of Europe's different national communities, or un-elected rulers and elites from outside, the key issue of European politics in our time. This is true even for countries like France, Germany, Britain, Spain etc. which were imperial powers themselves not long ago, with centuries of history behind them in which they dominated and laid down the law for others.

The leaders of Germany and France, backed up by the Brussels Commission, speak of the current financial crisis as "a beneficial crisis" for the Euro federalist project and seek to use it to attain their long-nurtured dream of a United States of Europe under Franco-German hegemony, at least for the 17 Eurozone countries. The vision of the Eurocrats is that the 17 peoples of the Eurozone must completely abandon their national independence and democracy, reversing centuries of European history in the process, in order to save the ill-starred euro-currency.

S) The more the EU-elites and bureaucracy push ahead with the integration project, the more national voters everywhere dislike it and resent it. The more hostile will be popular reactions against its proponents when it implodes, as eventually it must. The ever-growing numbers of opponents of EU-integration across Europe now constitute an international movement in defence of national democracy and the Nation State as the locus of that democracy.

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