Europe is failing: But the cure is more Europe!

Europe is in crisis, and the internal contradictions of the failed euro currency project — described by Lord Lawson as “among the most irresponsible political initiatives of the post-war world” — threaten not just the EU but the global economy.

Schadenfreude is an ugly thing, but amidst the turmoil of the markets, eurosceptics are surely allowed a small pat on the back, for after all the euro project is following exactly the path that many of us were predicting a decade ago.  We could not know for sure when and how the breakdown would come, but we were sure it would come, and we were right.

Of course the whole idea of a single currency, single monetary policy, and single interest rate across Europe’s diverse economies was fundamentally flawed from the start.  But the incompetence of EU politicians — and their constant willingness to promote political ideology over rational economics — has been conspicuous.  They rushed to admit Greece to the euro (just as they are now rushing to admit Croatia to the EU), despite the obvious fact that its economy was not ready (and may never be).

Then when the crisis struck they tried a series of measures each of which was supposed to reassure the markets — but each of which failed.  And each failure raised the price of the next imitative.  There is now a consensus that a successful bail-out fund for the euro would need around €2 trillion.  But they don’t have the money, and Germany won’t pay up.

They face an impasse.  Solutions that would be politically acceptable will not deliver economically, while economic solutions which might work cannot be countenanced politically.  We used to hear a lot about the “political will” behind the euro project, but political will is currently achieving nothing more than a steadfast refusal to recognise reality.  It is keeping the euro on life-support long past its sell-by date.

Now, into this disastrous scenario, comes a call from the Union of European Federalists (yes, there still is such a beast!), for “Federal Union Now”.  This is the title of a new booklet by British Lib-Dem MEP Andrew Duff, a man of great intellect and considerable personal charm, but completely besotted by a European dream which is so — well — last century.

Europe’s failing?  Give it more powers and more money!

But hang on a minute.  Shouldn’t we look for evidence that it can manage what it has effectively before we give it more?  As the Good Lord said 2000 years ago: “He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much: and he that is unjust in the least is unjust also in much”.  Still true today, I’m afraid.

Not content with demanding more powers and more money for Brussels, Duff calls for more centralisation of “democracy”, failing to realise that democracy requires a demos, and that no such demos exists in Europe.  As John Stuart Mill put it “Where people lack fellow feeling, and especially where they read and speak different languages, the common public opinion necessary for representative government cannot exist”.  Now there’s a truth from the nineteenth century that still holds good in the 21st.

Duff actually wants a new class of Pan-European MEPs drawn from transnational lists, which he bizarrely thinks will make the EU system more responsive to democratic pressure.  But voters scarcely relate to their own national MEPs.  By what possible reasoning can Duff imagine that they will relate more closely to transnational lists, to MEPs owing no allegiance to any country or region?

As for responsiveness and accountability, hasn’t Duff noticed that the European project is characterised by a massive contempt for the voters and for public opinion?  Referendum results overturned, or referendums denied.  Promises of referenda broken (not least by the Lib-Dems).  If Duff hasn’t noticed, the public certainly have.  They know they’re being taken for a ride, and they’ve had enough — which could be why a recent YouGov poll showed a majority of UK voters against EU membership.

Duff’s document is surely the last shout of a dying dream.  It seems he went to Cambridge University (as did I).  Funny that.  I’d have expected Oxford.  It’s known as the home of lost causes.

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10 Responses to Europe is failing: But the cure is more Europe!

  1. Mike Spilligan says:

    Mr. Helmer, you’re incorrigible – at least, I hope so. You call Mr. Duff “a man of great intellect”, and then proceed to demonstrate why he has no intellect at all. Perhaps he’s just put it aside for a moment and can’t remember where.
    You certainly are “pulling your punches” in the matter of the European Project, but I know that time and space are always at a premium. I could have listed forty items concerning corruption, venality and not merely a deficit of democracy but sheer anti-democracy that the European Commission determines that we accept as the current standards of wise government. For forty years we’ve been promised “jam tomorrow”, but it looks now as though we’ll be lucky to be given a whole slice of dry bread. I remember Heath saying “…once more Britain will be at the centre of Europe” – and others are still saying similar things. Just one more capitulation and we’ll be there!
    Regarding EMU, I also remember that in mid-1998 the only nation to comply with the euro qualifying standards was Luxembourg, a rather special case, I think. Then there was a hurry to push as many others through in the six months remaining, with Greece being the last, requiring distortions to both the facts and the template. Once Greece had “passed” the UK was goaded and held to ridicule because “even Greece can meet the requirements”. How fortunate we were, especially as we heard of Blair’s impertinent presumption that it was”his destiny” to take the UK into EMU.

  2. Mike — I was writing about Mr. Duff’s booklet (and you shouldn’t make the mistake of underestimating our opponents). I was not trying to write a primer for eurosceptic activists! And I’m certainly not pulling any punches on Europe. Better Off Out. Referendum Now!

    • Will the real Roger Helmer please stand up?

      You write here in critical fashion of Andrew Duff’s reformist vision for the EU, with Britain staying firmly IN.

      Yet you have declared your support for the Whip inspired George Eustice and Chris Heaton-Harris group of MPs that has… a reformist vision for the EU, also with Britain staying firmly IN.

      None of Duff, Eustice and Heaton-Harris want Britain to leave the EU. So how can you support any of them when their aims run contrary to your stated aims?

      • My position has been absolutely clear and consistent for many years. You are assuming that the new CHH group is a creature of the whips and supports Britain staying in the EU. That’s your view. I think you’re wrong.

  3. Albert Einstein apparently said that insanity consists in doing the same thing over and over again but expecting a different outcome. A perfect description of the approach of Mr. Duff (and of europhiles generally) to the EU.

  4. Sue says:

    Mr Duff is obviously believes in his “eutopian union”, it’s a nice cushty number for him after all!

    That’s all well and good for him, but to foist his and his fellow eurocrats ideals onto an unwilling populus is not democratic. I really think that the Liberal Democrats ought to change their name. They don’t advocate liberalism not democracy! They actually seem more left wing than the Labour Party do.

    The Federal Union is not likely to happen for a very good reason.

    “The German Constitutional Court has already decided in its ruling on the Lisbon Treaty that this is not possible. A fiscal union would require a referendum, in which the German electorate would decide to abolish the sovereign German state, and transfer sovereignty from Berlin to Brussels”. Wolfgang Munchau FT (11th Sept 2011) (£) http://on.ft.com/ndlJ6A

    Likewise, if the German electorate require a referendum on a treaty change, so would other European countries. The atmosphere in the EU is extremely anti-EU at the moment and the majority would vote against a federal europe.

    I do hope that your belief in the new group is well founded Roger. We’ve had too many false flags and promises from the Conservatives and they have constantly let us down. I was a conservative most of my life until Cameron, so I feel especially let down by their lies.

  5. Pingback: Roger Helmer should oppose new ‘Eurosceptic movement’ or resign from The Freedom Assocation « Autonomous Mind

  6. Pingback: Verhofstadt’s Federalist Solution « Roger Helmer MEP

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