The EU: How could it go so wrong?

An EU flag burns in Athens

An EU flag burns in Athens

Personally, I am sick to death of Europhiles telling me that with all its faults, “the EU has at least kept the peace in Europe since the Second World War”.  Absolute nonsense.  The peace in Europe has been maintained by the Transatlantic Alliance, by NATO, by 100,000 American GIs in Germany, by nuclear deterrence and Mutually Assured Destruction.  The Cold War was won not by the European Commission of Jacques Delors, but by the courage and vision of people like Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher (and perhaps Pope John Paul).

Nonetheless, it must be admitted that keeping the peace in Europe was a genuine, early and honourable motivation for the European project.  The Coal & Steel Community was predicated on the proposition that if the sinews of war were jointly owned and administered, it would be that much more difficult for France and Germany to have a go at each other.  Again.  Though as William Hague memorably remarked, it was “a 1970s solution to a 1950s problem”, and of vanishingly small relevance to 2013.

If you read the propaganda, it is clear that reconciliation was at the heart of the European concept.  After years — and decades and centuries — of war and destruction, the vision of a Europe at Peace, marching forward hand-in-hand to the bright sunlit uplands of peace and prosperity, of reconciliation and brotherhood, had a certain resonance for the war-torn masses.

So it is bitterly disappointing to see that the dream has failed.  Peace, yes, of a sort.  But prosperity?  Europe is widely recognised as a low-growth (or perhaps zero-growth) region, while the USA, and Latin America, China and India, make progress (largely unaffected by the EU’s anti-energy posturing, which cuts to the heart of European competitiveness).  Even Africa, long regarded as a basket-case, is showing fitful but promising signs of economic growth and recovery, while the EU wallows in failure.

At the heart of Europe’s problems is, of course, the €uro.  Conceived as the triumphant key-stone of the glorious project of Europe Integration, it has turned into a Frankenstein monster, a nightmare Bankruptcy Machine, spreading poverty and unemployment, and hunger and despair, across much of southern Europe.  Superficially proposed as an economic measure, it was of course primarily political.  European politicians, dazzled by their own rhetoric, refused to listen to the professional economists who rightly predicted the inevitable dénouement.

And the impact on reconciliation and brotherhood has been precisely the reverse of what was expected.  Southern Europeans, feeling that intolerable austerity has been imposed on them by Germany, are understandably angry.  We’ve seen the Nazi symbolism emerging in anti-Merkel demonstrations and cartoons, the German and EU flags burned in the streets of Athens.

Meantime the Germans feel that they’ve gone the extra mile to bail-out the South, and are hurt and bewildered that their generosity has not earned them any gratitude, but rather opprobrium.  Germany’s commitment to the European project was grounded in post-war angst, and a determination never again to be seen as the dominant power in Europe, or as a threat to its European neighbours.  So the hatred and resentment they are facing now is doubly difficult to take, as from Berlin it seems wholly unjustified.

It is a bitter irony that a project that was designed to make war impossible, and to bring friendship and reconciliation, seems now to have had the opposite effect, creating division and rancour to go along with unemployment and hardship, and levels of devastating poverty not seen since the Second World War.

It is becoming increasing clear that we shall not be finally free of the legacy of World War II until we are also free from the EU.

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10 Responses to The EU: How could it go so wrong?

  1. B Hough says:

    Could the reason there has been no physical war in Europe be that it is being taken over by stealth?
    The British being the ones industrially at the bottom of the league, caused by extreme health and safety regulations, helpless when it comes to immigration and expulsion laws, plus many other obstacles to our progress.
    Supported I might add by British human rights lawyers like Cherie Blail and her associates, no patriotism shown here!
    Forced by our unpatriotic greens, who insist we support policies on wind power,using near useless wind generators , of course not made in the UK but Germany, also the re-cycling fiasco using milliuons of wheelie bins, again made in Germany.
    Once Scotland break away from the UK what voice will we have then?
    I only hope that if this catastrophe happens, we will see them paying their own portion of the 50 million + pounds we pay to the EU daily!

  2. Tom says:

    A very good article. You want to see neighbourly love? Be pragmatic and make sure that you have as many guns as he has pointing over the boundary fence so that each can live his own life. Want to see emnity? Force them to live together in the same house. For goodness’ sake, it is hard enough for a man and a woman of the same race and culture to live togther without the occasional harsh word, never mind forcing whole countries into bed together. It was always going to end in acrimonious divorce.

  3. G Morley says:

    Abandoning the Commonwealth for Europe always seemed to be a stupid move to me and now the government are trying to win back trade from around the globe. The recent Charter of the Commonwealth seems to be just another useless scrap of paper when they declare that there is no place for discrimination of any kind but the government continue to freeze the pensions of those who have retired to the likes of Canada, Australia, New Zealand S.Africa to name some which means that the taxpayers in some of those countries ( Canada, Australia and NZ at least ) are putting their hands in their pockets to assist those that are now in poverty as a result. Some are known to be receiving under 10 GBP a week which is shameful and totally dishonest when they have paid the same contributions as everyone else whilst working and this affects just 4% of all pensioners worldwide. Even the ECHR got it wrong when challenged and I suspect some underhand work there. It would take just 13 days payments to the EU to give pension parity worldwide. It would be interesting if Roger could find out if the other countries in the EU were duty bound to pay their pensioners any annual uprating if resident outside of the EU. There’s a challenge.

  4. Gail says:

    I think the reason that there has not been another World War is because Governments over the years have gradually given to Germany in Peace Time what they failed to take in War Time. Once Great Countries like our own. I also agree with B Hough that Scotland may very well feel the pinch when they have to start paying their own contribution to the EU. I thought that Von Rumpoy was supposed to be the head of the EU, try telling Angela Merkel that. She seems to think that she is (maybe she really is?).

  5. machokong says:

    Socialism only ever works in the small to medium term, it’s been stretched to its limit as it is and the global financial crash is just around the corner. But, we should be thinking about how to cope in the aftermath:

    The Commonwealth: reforgging/stregthening trade ties.
    BitCoin: to starve the government of money.
    Rescinding of ALL socialist laws passed over the number of decades since the 1930s.
    Pride back into the union, while respecting each country and their specific culture.
    Funding through local business for local services: the best form of advertising is if a local company paid into a pot for a local school!
    Adhering to our Constitution: the right to bear arms (if, you’re a Protestant that is).
    Enshrining the right to freedom of speech.
    Bring back the death penalty, especially for politicians!

  6. Mike Stallard says:

    Do you know what? The sheer naivety of our politicians over the centuries amazes me!
    French Revolution: we went along with it! Only when Napoleon got going did we have to pull ourselves together (naval mutiny included).
    The Indian Mutiny – taken totally by surprise!.
    First World War – a mistake of majestic proportions.
    But the growing menace of Hitler was met by – disarmament! Churchill was, as everyone in the 1930s knew, a nutcase.
    The threat from Russia was met by – CND!
    Now we have the ghastly dictatorship of Brussels which is, as you say, causing chaos and a likely war and what are we doing (again) but going along with it!
    We really do deserve the coming kicking!

  7. cosmic says:

    What went wrong?

    It was a big, top down solution to be run by technocrats assumed to be good and wise, and was anti-democratic, rather than undemocratic. It was attempting to meld together diverse nations and hugely different regional outlooks, (regional as in Club Med and the North of Europe) and this to be done by deceit and high handedness.

    How could it be expected to be anything but sclerotic, cumbersome and lacking popular consent and therefore legimacy? How could it be expected to be an economic or military superpower when it lacked the cohesion to be anything of the sort?

    Look at rubbish like the Lisbon Agenda (2000) designed to make the EU “the most competitive and dynamic knowledge-based economy in the world capable of sustainable economic growth with more and better jobs and greater social cohesion”

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lisbon_Strategy

    How can you create “the most competitive and dynamic knowledge-based economy in the world” with bureaucratic meddling and central diktat?

    I don’t think it’s particularly helpful to compare the EU directly with the USSR, (the EUSSR etc), but there are comparisons, and the Lisbon Agenda looks like a limp-wristed Soviet Five Year Plan

    Then of course there’s the shady industry lobbying, notionally on safety or environmental grounds, which has brought all sorts of market distortions, CFLs, Wheelie Bins, the banning of cheap, effective products and forcing us to buy more expensive subsitutes, a legislative burden which large companies can cope with but small ones can’t, thereby creating barriers to entry.

  8. Leo Smith says:

    The current weapon of mass destruction in the EU, is the bank, not the tank.

  9. Jeff Chipps says:

    The European Union is following the same path to self destruction as that other multi-national body – the United Nations.

    Among many other faults, both are severely inward looking and highly self congratulatory. Both are quite content to meddle in other nation’s affairs, but not to rectify any particular problem. Usually any attempt at help does exactly the opposite! Both preach about Human Rights, particularly the evils of discrimination, but close their eyes to it when it suits them.

    A glaring example of this was the European Court of Human Rights ruling against the UK’s frozen pensioners.

    If ever there was a case that should have been won on its own merit – this was it. Since then the European Court of Justice has made several rulings on discrimination, that – if they had been made before the ‘frozen’ fiasco, would I’m sure have resulted in a different result for the British frozen pensioner.

    Recently, a part time judge in the UK took his case for a pension equal to that of a full time judge to the UK Supreme Court, and won.
    The Supreme Court had earlier referred the case to the European Court of Justice for guidance. Guidance came in the form of a judgement, in which were written words of great wisdom …….

    “It must be recalled that budgetary considerations cannot justify discrimination”

    So even if a EU member country is flat broke, it CANNOT use this as a reason to discriminate against anyone! (Part of the UK’s defence in the ECHR was just this!)
    The UK Supreme Court found in favour of the part time judge (of course, it’s now JUDGES) and in doing so landed the country with an additional pension bill of up to two billion pounds.

    In a case of opposites, the so called ‘huge’ cost (650 million pounds) of up-rating the UK’s 530,000 frozen pensioners, is now the main excuse that comes from the UK Minister of Pensions Steve Webb, and from his boss Ian Duncan Smith.
    Again, as an opposite, more than one highly respected UK think-tank has said up-rating state pensions would financially BENEFIT the UK, as well as have numerous other side benefits – freeing up much needed housing being just one.

    So can anyone tell me how the ECJ manage to screw things up so grandly? They deny a fair judgement to the UK’s frozen pensioners, on a case that just screams discrimination. This tiny 4% of the UK’s pensioner population’s income from the UK state pension is now constantly shrinking. This after compulsorily contributing to the UK National Insurance pension scheme for anything up to 40 years.

    On the opposite hand, the very same ECJ, by giving ‘guidance’ to the UK Supreme Court, which allowed them to deliver a judgement that gives a very generous pension to the part time judges. A pension furthermore, that they do NOT need to contribute a brass farthing to. The part time judges in the main were in the law proffession before they became ‘judges’. Hardly an income deprived proffession!

    But – as it comes from the EU, they made sure it can’t be fixed – by themselves anyway!!

  10. Jane Davies says:

    Roger, we do not agree with each other about fracking but I know you have written a blog about the frozen pensions scandal and we are agreed it is the most disgraceful way to treat fully paid up contributors of the NI scheme. No other country with a similar state pension scheme freezes it’s own pensioners and the latest pension issue, the part time judges, that Jeff has alluded to had more success than the frozen pensioner. The injustice of treating these judges who have not paid a penny towards these pensions, and us who have paid in for up to forty years, more favourably just goes to show what hypocrites the judges at the ECJ are. As Jeff points out the part time judges are already millionaires, Cheri Blair is one of them. What a slap in the face for those state pensioners who struggle to survive on a frozen pension.

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