The President of the European Council, Donald Tusk, was probably right when he stated, in his 13 September 2016 letter to the members of the Council: “It would be a fatal error to assume that the negative result in the UK referendum represents a specifically British issue”. Instead, the British vote was a desperate attempt “to answer the questions that millions of Europeans ask themselves daily.” For example “questions about the protection of their interests, cultural heritage and way of life”. And: “Today many people, not only in the United Kingdom, think that a membership in the European Union was an impediment for stability and safety.”
In addition, Tusk wrote: “The migration crisis was the tipping point. Last year’s chaos on our borders, new images every day of hundreds of thousands of people moving across our continent without any control, created a feeling of threat among many Europeans. They had to wait too long for action to bring the situation under control, […]. Instead, all too often they heard politically correct statements […]”.
Tusk is a staunch EU European. But he does not see an EU with more powers as the solution: “It is a clear result of my talks with the [member states] that the transfer of more powers to the EU institutions is not the way to proceed. The electorate in the member states are demanding more influence on the Union’s decisions. Moving in that direction, however, requires a change of mentality in the national governments’ mentalities towards the European Union as such.”
The Council President’s letter was to prepare the Council’s summit in the Slovakian capital Bratislava on 16 September. The “Declaration of Bratislava”, however, hardly reflects these considerations. Other narratives and myths – sounding very German – are still dominating. For example that the EU has “secured peace and democracy, facilitating prosperity in our countries” or that the EU “was still indispensable for the other member states”, also after the British exit decision. Or that the EU was still needed “not only to provide peace and democracy but also security for our citizens.”
But the noncommittal manner of the text is surprising. The European Council has set itself three goals:
In a joint press conference together with the French President (also these two politicians are staunch EU-Europeans), the German Chancellor Angela Merkel said that she wanted “Europe to become a Future Workshop again”.
Pro memoria: Future Workshops are instruments of change management, designed to force through radical changes planned by the leadership with the help of numerous methods of mass manipulation in a top-down manner. Those affected are made to believe that they had been involved in all decisions and all was according to their wishes (just like the leadership had planned).
The “Declaration of Bratislava” is “psychologising” the citizens’ reaction towards the mass migration since the summer of 2015 and is speaking of a “perceived lack of control” and “fears related to migration” – there is no mentioning of a failure of politics. Thus the European Council is reacting towards these supposed “emotional problems” also not with rational and nuanced arguments but with slogans like “never to allow return to uncontrolled flows of last year and further bring down number of irregular migrants; ensure full control of our external borders and get back to Schengen” (italics by the author).
There is no convincing answer, however, to the question how this can be accomplished.
There is another point. The section on “External Security and Defence” states, quite vaguely: “in a challenging geopolitical environment, strengthen EU cooperation on external security and defence”. The concrete measures in this respect are demanding to “start implementing the joint declaration with NATO immediately”. This is directed against Russia.
After the summit, the German Chancellor has invoked the “Spirit of Bratislava”. Her demonstrative optimism of unity and a bright future of the EU, however, were not shared by all heads of state and government. The day after the summit, the Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi stated in an interview with the “Corriere della Sera”: “I have no idea what Merkel is talking about when she speaks of a ‘Spirit of Bratislava’.” The result of the Bratislava meeting was not more than a steamboat ride on the Danube. There had been no step forward in the question of the future of the EU; there had been no substantial agreements on economic or refugee politics. If things were continuing to develop in this manner, it would be better to speak of a “Spectre of Europe”. But also the Italian Prime Minister is a staunch EU European.
Also the governments of the four central and eastern European Visegrád states Poland, Czech Republic, Slovakia and Hungary have spoken out. Since a few months they have pursued a different roadmap than the German Chancellor and the EU institutions and, although they have approved the “Declaration of Bratislava”, they have come up with their own declaration for the future of the EU.
In their declaration they state that the EU could only be strong if the member states and their citizens had a “strong right of co-determination in the decision process”. For this, the “role of the national parliaments had to be strengthened and the principles of subsidiarity and proportionality respected”. The Visegrád group was rejecting further steps of integration which would not include all EU states (as is the case with the Euro). All EU negotiations should be open for all member states (which questions the numerous meetings of “selected” EU heads of government).
At the same time, the EU needed to respect the diversity of its member states. The EU rules, however, had to be applied in the same way in all states – a clear allusion to the large number of double standards in the EU institutions’ policies in dealing with the member states.
There should also be a chance of diversity regarding the states’ handling of migration. According to the statement of the four heads of state and government, the handling of migration “should be based on the principle of ‘flexible solidarity’.” This implied that the member states should decide on their own on their contribution to the solution of the migration problems and that “every migration mechanism [regarding migrants] should be voluntary.”
At the same time, however, they claim a strict implementation of the rules of the single European market which includes unlimited free movement of persons within the EU.
From the United States are meanwhile substantial voices to be heard that can imagine a different Europe than that of the EU. Foreign Affairs, the journal of the influential Council on Foreign Relations, published in its edition of September / October 2016 a long article entitled “The Return of Europe’s Nation-States. The Upside to the EU’s Crisis”. Author is Jakub Grygiel, a university professor at the Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies of John Hopkins University. He regularly publishes in neoconservative magazines and was an advisor to OECD and World Bank.
The Foreign Affairs article promises benefits from a termination of the EU and the return to the European nation-state – also for the United States. Although the US had relied on a united Europe as the best bulwark against communism in the Cold War against the Soviet Union, but today the United States requires “a new strategy”. More US-American pressure towards European integration, i.e. a stronger EU, could strengthen the resistance in Europe against the United States. Even today, the most successful protest parties in the EU would flirt with Russia.
“Washington need not fear the dissolution of the EU”. More then the EU as a whole than the nation states would sense the threat by Russia at their borders and take it seriously. The EU would have not more accomplished than sanctions on Russia and the vague calls for a continuation of the dialogue. The European states on the border with Russia had been little supported by the EU. Therefore, these states had called for the assistance of NATO and US troops. Thus applies: “Yet where the EU has failed, individual countries may fare better”. Because: “Only patriotism has the kind of powerful and popular appeal that can mobilize Europe’s citizens to rearm against their threatening neighbors”. And: “People are far more willing to fight for their country – for their history, their soil, their common religious identity – than they are for an abstract regional body created by fiat”.
The United States would need “a better partner in Europe than the EU”. If the EU would dissolve, “NATO’s function in maintaining stability and deterring external threats will increase – strengthening Washington’s role on the continent. Without the EU, many European countries, threatened by Russia and overwhelmed by mass migration, will likely invest more heavily in NATO, the only security alliance backed up by force and thus capable of protecting its members”.
The EU in its present state is not worthy of preservation. But on the alternative must be thoroughly reflected. Not everyone who opposes the EU position, has something better in mind. And not everyone who speaks out for the nation state, is a friend of freedom, democracy, the rule of law and peace. The spirit of discord that has been driven into the EU since a few years, resulted in that the friendship between the states and peoples of Europe has suffered and the focus of attention has been put on differences and conflicts of interests. EU Europe’s so-called elites and their mainstream media have no small share in this development – and think tanks on both sides of the Atlantic vigorously mingle in the background. Cui bono?
Europe really needs a new “constitution”, but a constitution which strengthens freedom and sovereignty of the citizens and their states, promotes peace and friendship in Europe and consciously ties in with the best European traditions of Europe and hereupon builds: natural law, Christianity and humanism, enlightenment and the state-building ideas of power separation, constitutional, social, subsidiary-federal and democratic constitutional state – as an equal member of a European community of peoples and states.
There also will be no way around the matter of a humane economic and financial order. It has to be put on the agenda. The model of the past decades has failed and has developed too many destructive forces, destructive forces that have burdened the social and political life immensely. The quest for an economic and financial order, that leaves the false concept of man – of the homo economicus – behind and focuses on the dignity of man and his social nature, is more relevant than ever.
To be sure about this, is not too early and not too late, even if Europe is currently far away from it. •
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