Europe’s Authoritarian Future

Are you Europeans ready to give Brussels even more power over your lives? Well, that’s what is coming down the pike, according to a story in British quality newspaper The Telegraph:

A campaign for the European Union to become a “United States of Europe” will be the “best weapon against the Eurosceptics”, one of   Brussels’ most senior officials has said. Viviane Reding, vice president of the European Commission and the longest serving Brussels commissioner, has called for “a true political union” to be put on the agenda for EU elections this spring. “We need to build a United States of Europe with the Commission as government and two chambers – the European Parliament and a “Senate” of Member States,” she said last night.

That is not a “United States of Europe”. The EU Commission, which Reding carelessly refers to as the “government” of her envisioned USE, is already the executive branch, and would continue to be so. But it is not an elected body: by the U.S. Constitution, in case Commissioner Reding had missed it, the chief of the executive branch – the President of the United States – is elected every four years. (He is also banned from serving more than two terms, a restriction I doubt any EY Commissioner would ever accept…)

There are two ways to copy this into the EU: by having direct elections in each country for one Commissioner, or by replacing the Commission with one person, i.e., a president.

As for the two chambers – the legislature – the “Senate of Member States” could actually be modeled after the erstwhile U.S. Senate, where members were appointed by the states. But even if that is what she has in mind, the two-chamber legislative body would only resemble U.S. Congress if it held the exclusive legislative power for the EU government.

The only exception to the executive-legislative dichotomy in the U.S. Constitution is the power of executive orders that Congress granted the presidency a long time ago. It has been abused from time to time, and it is likely that there will be revisions to that power once the Obama era is finally over. Nevertheless, even with the executive order exception the U.S. Constitution is comparatively firm in its emphasis on separation of powers.

This is not going to happen in Europe. On the contrary, what Commissioner Reding seems to have in mind – and you can be a nice steak dinner that the rest of the Commission is behind her “vision” – is something entirely different than a constitutional republic. The Telegraph again:

Mrs Reding’s vision, which is shared by many in the European institutions, would transform the EU into superstate relegating national governments and parliaments to a minor political role equivalent to that played by local councils in Britain.

That alone is a violation of the U.S. Constitution. The federal government’s powers are enumerated, and even though Congress and the President sometimes behave as though there was no enumeration, court battles and state legislation constantly keep the enumeration principle alive. Two recent examples: states have started rolling back or exiting Obamacare, and a growing number of states say completely no to the new, idiotic federal attempt at creating a national school curriculum (known as “Common Core”).

But wait – there’s more:

Under [Commissioner Reding's] plan, the commission would have supremacy over governments and MEPs in the European Parliament would supersede the sovereignty of MPs in the   House of Commons. National leaders, meeting as the European Council, would be reduced to consultative, second chamber role similar to the House of Lords.

Fat chance this would work in the United States. Ask any governor of any U.S. state if he has just a “consultative” function vs. the federal government, and you will get a long, passionate lecture about how he is elected by the people of his state and how he is accountable to them alone. And again – the lawmakers in Congress make federal laws, but state legislators make state laws, and the distinction is vigorously maintained. And fought over, which keeps the constitution of this great country alive and well.

While Commissioner Reding’s vision comes nowhere close to resembling a United States of Europe, it does serve another, for Europe more healthy purpose:

Nigel Farage, the leader of Ukip, said that Mrs Reding had revealed the true choice for British voters to make at polling stations. “For people in power in Brussels that is the only choice on offer, no reform just a United States of Europe. On 22 May the British people must ask themselves if they want this and vote accordingly,” he said. “I am sure people will say no to this centralist fanaticism.”

The only point of disagreement between me and Mr. Farage – whose political mission I respect and strongly support – would be, again, that whe Commissioner Reding is creating is something far more centralized than it is presented as. By letting the Commission supersede national governments and the MEPs supersede national legislators, Commissioner Reding is de facto envisioning a traditional European nation state, elevated to govern half-a-billion people.

It was the traditional nation state that American pilgrims left behind, and European emigrants to America sought to get away from. Even as Europe’s nation states created national parliaments, they never got very far with democratizing their governments. Legislative and fiscal powers have remained heavily centralized, and with very few exceptions – Britain being one – the European standard is the unhealthy proportionate, entirely party-ruled election system.

What is truly frightening about Commissioner Reding’s vision is that actually would create an even more un-democratic Europe: more laws would be made, and more executive power would be concentrated, to fewer hands, farther away from voters. Especially frightening is the vision of a Commission that would supersede national governments – without even being elected!

To make this vision even more nightmarish, consider the fact that there are no rigorous boundaries between legislative and executive powers in the EU. During the current economic crisis the Commission has effectively served as a legislative body for the national budgets in austerity-hit member states such as Greece, Italy and Spain. With more powers, and an even stronger formalized role as the supreme institution of the EU, the Commission would effectively be the unelected dictatorial power over 500 million people.

Luckily, there are brave freedom fighters like Nigel Farage out there trying to stop the Monster State of Europe from happening. But we must not forget that others are also capitalizing on the reckless pursuit of that same monster state, such as Golden Dawn in Greece, fascists in Spain and half-baked nationalists like Front National in France.

Those parties send echoes from history into our time. As if to amplify those echoes, The Telegraph reports:

In the run up to the springtime pan-European vote, the EU is gearing up to mount an unprecedented campaign for the hearts and minds of voters. Speaking in Athens, José Manuel Barroso, the commission president, signalled that the EU would use the centenary of World War One to warn that Euroscepticism, far-Right and populist anti-European parties could bring war back to Europe.

And the answer to that risk – if it even exists – is, according to Barrosso and his Commissioner buddies, to put even more faith, trust and power in an un-elected body of bureaucrats:

“No other political construction to date has proven to be a better way of organising life to lessen the barbarity in this world,” he said. “It is especially important to recall this as we will commemorate this year the start of the First World War. We must never take peace, democracy or freedom for granted. It is also especially important to remind this as in   May the peoples of Europe will be called to participate in European elections.”

This is a clear case of self-gratulatory political delusion. When did Mr. Barrosso last visit the street level of the Europe he so eagerly tries to govern? When did he witness the barbarity of youth unemployment across the EU? When was the last time he bothered to notice the 20 countries with more than 20 percent youth unemployment under his jurisdiction? When was the last time he even cast a glancing eye at the barbarian austerity disaster in Greece?

If the EU Commission gets its new nation-state monstrosity, the people of Europe can wave democracy and liberty farewell for decades to come. The Commission has already proven, during the current economic crisis, that it is ready to rule Europe with dictatorial powers. While those powers have thus far only been put to work on a limited scale, the fiscal dictates from Brussels to Athens, Rome, Lisbon, Madrid and Paris have shown that the Commission has nothing but disrespect for parliamentary democracy.

The only reforms to the EU that the Commission would accept are those that gives it more power. That is why they will ask for those reforms.

Whenever a politician asks you for more power to defend “peace, democracy and freedom”, you should run the other way.

And take your freedom with you.

One comment

  1. Phill

    Thank you for your posts, I find them excellent and very on the money. I have been digging as deep as I can on what the EU hopes to achieve by the TTIP and I can’t help but see the interconnect with the TPPA and many of the other EU FTA’s signed over the past couple of years. I get the feeling strong GHG controls with ISO and MEA’s will be built into the these trade deals as the EU/UN S.I have been banging that drum for many years with little attention paid, and with ISDS built into the deals it will force compliance or Nations will run the risk of oneway trade. Not sure how much the US would suffer but I think a lot of Aus SME’s would struggle.