Zahradil storms it in Strasbourg!

Jan Zahradil MEP is the leader of the ECR Group in the parliament, and he’s proving to be a real star.  Speaking in the debate on Barroso’s “State of the Union” speech, Sept 28th, he took a robustly euro-critical line.  He said (inter alia) “Let’s stop thinking about Monet and Schumann — they were nice guys but their ideas are fifty years out-of-date”.  (Recall Hague’s comment: “The EU is a 1970s solution to a 1950s problem”).  Arguing forcefully against the prevailing wisdom that the EU needs more powers, he pointed out that the centralised institutions are simply unable to respond quickly enough to circumstances.

He broke a taboo by raising the prospect of Greece and other eurozone members leaving the euro, adding “The only thing that might destroy the euro is the ‘euro at all costs’ mentality that we have seen in recent months”.

Very bravely, and to some barracking from the left, he concluded “We need a new EU paradigm that fits the 21st Century — and unfortunately there is almost no chance that this new paradigm will be born in this building, in this current assembly.  The longer I am here, the more I feel that this assembly is part of the problem, not part of the solution”.

If we needed an explanation of why we Conservatives left the EPP and formed the ECR, this surely would be enough.  It is impossible to imagine any EPP member, or indeed former delegation leader Timothy Kirkhope, making such a speech.

Barroso’s speech had been eminently forgettable, long on aspiration and exhortation, short on concrete action.  But he did strongly recommend more powers for the EU, centralised economic planning and fiscal policy, and a debt union with “European project bonds”.

The leader of our former EPP group, Joseph Daul, was sycophantic, and mainly just repeated Barroso’s points, calling for more EU powers.

The theme was continued by socialist MEP Martin Schultz, who demanded an end to intergovernentalism — which he derisively called “Shuttle Diplomacy” (no doubt thinking of the Merkel/Sarkozy initiative on Greek debt).  He characterised it as the style of the 19th century “Congress of Vienna”, which he said was not a good model for the 21st Century.  He apparently overlooked the fact that national leaders can decide quickly, whereas the ponderous EU institutions, the Commission and the Parliament, take months merely to get to the starting gate.  In a modern, globalised world, markets expect action now, not next year.

Schultz was followed by Guy Verhofstadt (see my earlier blog), who demanded that Barroso repeat the same speech, calling for more “community method” and less intergovernmentalism, in Brussels in front of the Council of Ministers — they, he said, needed convincing, not the parliament.  He demanded that we improve decision-making by ending unanimity (in other words, denying veto powers to member states), and that we should mutualise debt in the euro-zone.

Nigel Farage was the penultimate speaker, and acquitted himself well.  He started by ridiculing the number of “Presidents” we have in the European institutions — “All the front row are presidents — including me!”. (Group leaders are called “President” in the EP).  And he suggested a new collective noun: “An Incompetence of Presidents”!  He pointed out that the “Community Method” deliberately denied democratic accountability to citizens, and pointed to “a wave of national democracy sweeping Northern Europe”, with election results in Finland, opinion polls in Holland and a surge of euro-scepticism in Germany.

And he concluded with a line that recalled Cromwell’s appeal to the Rump Parliament in 1653:  “You have sat too long for any good you have been doing … Depart, I say; and let us have done with you. In the name of God, go!”.  Farage’s version: “I’m sorry, gentlemen, but you’re yesterday’s men”.

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3 Responses to Zahradil storms it in Strasbourg!

  1. David W says:

    Sadly, the natural progression for the EU powers is to exert more and more control, choking the life out of the system until it dies. We’re suffering similarly on this side of the pond; an American central government that refuses to recognize that it’s a major part of our problem and, rather than relinquish control to those who can handle things on a regional and community level, they are now talking (the media says “joking”) about suspending elections for two years so they can focus on the problems rather than the elections.

    They won’t quit ’til it breaks.

  2. I think the one reason good to undertake insurrection would be to oppose a nominally democratic government which decided it would be good to delay the election. Two years? Make that three? How about ten?

    Remember those new democracies in Africa? One man, one vote, one election?

  3. Robert Darke says:

    It is damning for the European Parliament that Jan Zahradil, leader of the ECR group, who ably made truthful and relevant points in a pleasant manner, feels thats its futile because the parliament is part of the problem.

    It must be enjoyable listening to Nigel Farage cutting them down to size in an adversarial manner – they deserve it!

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