The EU – a stocktaking exercise 2019

How 512 million people are being managed

by Robert Seidel

There is a lasting silence in the Swiss media regarding the problems of the European Union, as Dieter Sprock had to state in Current Concerns No. 3 of 5 February. The problems of the EU do not concern small cosmetic developments, but serious, partly inherent systemic aberrations.
Many Swiss are currently wondering whether the problems of the EU have disappeared since the Federal Council negotiated about closer ties with Brussels as they can no longer read or hear anything about them in the media. The following is a brief reminder of some of the problems of this supranational construct.

In recent years it has become evident that in the EU the decisions are made within the power centres of individual powerful states (the EU states Germany, France and extrinsic by the USA) and the smaller ones have to defer to the decisions. These decisions are not brought about democratically, but are based on power and influence. If the course of an individual country doesn’t suit the more powerful, then massive pressure is built up (as on Austria in 2000/2001, Hungary since 2010, Greece 2010–2015, Italy since 2018, Poland since 2005, Great Britain since 2016).
80 % of the national laws of a member state are decided in Brussels. The only thing left for the national parliaments to do is to nod off these decisions from Brussels. A relevant influence of the citizens on their matters is becoming less and less at the national and member state level, and it does not exist at all at the EU level. The EU does not acknowledge any popular rights to be taken seriously.
The EU Parliament is restricted in its rights, its composition is not democratic, and in recent decades it has increasingly given the impression that it has degenerated into a self-service shop for its parliamentarians and their parties (cf. Hans Herbert von Arnim. Die Hebel der Macht, 2017, Levers of Power).
If national decisions are contrary to the EU, they are reversed by the European Court of Justice (ECJ) or by the own government on behalf of the EU, however democratic they may have been done. Through its conduct, the EU destroys remaining democratic decision-making leeway at national or regional level.

Undemocratic juggernaut

It is a truism that the EU is neither a democracy nor acting democratically. Not any citizen could in any way have a say in who becomes a member of the EU Commission. This remains reserved for the heads of government of the EU states (European Council). Perhaps 5% of the inhabitants of the EU may know its EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker or the “EU Foreign Minister” Federica Mogherini, but hardly anyone knows other commissioners like Frans Timmermans, Andrus Ansip, Maroš Šefcovic, Valdis Dombrovskis, Jyrki Katainen or Günther Oettinger. The “sciatica” suffering of President Juncker in July 2018 (gloria.tv/video/n7pCZZaEnTm72dN6bURXdD7PK) or his appearance in June 2015 (www.20min.ch/ausland/news/story/EU-Chef-Juncker-ohrfeigt-Regierungs-chefs-12300484) remains as a lasting memory of the qualities of this leadership. It probably also reflects the condition of the EU as a whole.
A normal citizen has basically no influence on the subordinate EU administration with its huge authorities, which hardly anyone knows – not to mention control possibilities. All the more vigorously Brussels regulates, bureaucratises and restricts the lives of the individual people. About the proverbial curvature of the banana to the forced feeding food contaminated with harmful pesticides, Brussels bureaucrats (32,000 employees, according to its own figures) decide.

Unscrupulous lobbying

One of the biggest problems is still and increasingly the uninhibited and comprehensive lobbying in Brussels. A large number of international corporations, banks and foundations with an estimated 25,000 lobbyists are active in Brussels in order to bring about decisions in their favour. Far away from any state control, not to mention any control by the citizen, possible decision-makers are pushed onto the right track in the conference rooms of hotels or in the branch offices of corporations. In this way, decisions that were or could be taken at national level and that are more factual and closer to the citizens are circumvented, anticipated or annulled. Of course, it is obvious that syndicates or criminal structures, such as the N’drangeta or Mafia, are also trying to expand their influence in this opaque environment.

State socialism à la Bruxelles

EU centralism promotes nothing less than corruption and nepotism through the massive redistribution of taxpayers’ money (EU funding programmes, but also the Cohesion Fund). The construction of motorways or railway lines with the help of EU funds is proverbial: motorways that end in nothing, railway lines and airports that cannot find passengers. The EU is thus a prime example of the opposite of meaningful, lean federalism and is more reminiscent of the planned and nepot economy of communist times.

Adventurous financial policy

The financial policy of the EU and the European Central Bank (ECB) has been a disaster from the very beginning. As a result of the forced binding of the individual national economies to the euro, the individual states are no longer in a position to conduct independent financial and economic policies. This criticism is not new, but was formulated before the introduction of the euro by renowned scientists (Hankel, Nölling, Schachtschneider, Starbatty, 1997). Not only Greece, Italy and also France’s economy suffer massively today from this forced connection. They are no longer able to devalue their currency sensibly in order to remain competitive. The creeping impoverishment of the population not only in these countries is a long-term consequence.
The money supply of euro money has risen irresponsibly since 2008 and continues to rise. There is no change in monetary policy in sight. Here, too, the warnings of renowned experts (e.g. Jens Weidmann, 2019) fell on deaf ears outside the gates of the ECB. How the exit from this “quantitative easing” can take place without an economic crisis, inflation or war remains unclear. Meanwhile, the rigorous zero-interest policy is melting people’s assets and pensions.
Is it because of ECB President Mario Draghi (whose reputation is more than doubtful due to his previous activities at Goldman-Sachs Bank in connection with Greece’s admission to the euro zone and the subsequent generous assumption of Greece’s sovereign debt by the EU – to the benefit of those very big banks) that financial policy tends to follow the interests of the global big banks?
The liability union (EFSM, ESM) is now forcing all EU states to shoulder the debts of one or more bankrupt Euro states. And this can happen very quickly these days. In the final consequence, the debts are paid off with the assets of the citizens – the saying of “deposit protection” becomes spoilage.
In budgetary terms, the EU remains a “black box”. While in the 2000s the missing millions or how taxpayers’ money disappears or is squandered were still criticised (Paul van Buitenen, 2004), it has become conspicuously quiet about this issue in recent years …

The citizen as a culprit – Orwell sends his regards

With regard to authoritarian and undemocratic action, the decisions of the EU, its guidelines and the rulings of the ECJ in the field of domestic policy are more than questionable: the EU is in the process of establishing and expanding a monitoring system that observes, stores and treats individual citizens like criminals. The entire collection of data, the creation of personality profiles – also within the framework of Schengen/Dublin – takes place almost unhindered. The situation is similar concerning access to the Internet and freedom of the press. Critical reporting on the EU is increasingly restricted by the term “fake news” or “hate speach”.

The legal system is being squandered

The EU suffers from an autocratic squandering of the legal system. One highlight was the German Chancellor‘s arbitrary decision to allow all migrants to enter the Schengen/Dublin area of the EU or Germany. This was contrary to applicable law and all legal treaties (Schengen-Dublin). All other EU states and also the associated states, such as Switzerland, had to succumb to their actions.
Otherwise too, the EU legal system suffers from lack of transparency and remoteness from citizens. The European Court of Justice, which has to decide in the final instance, is staffed by judges from 28 different countries from different legal systems and legal traditions, who hardly know the problems of the other states, but speak very far-reaching judgments about them. They regulate the daily lives of 512 million inhabitants – far from reality.

EU as a peace project?

The advertising message that the EU is a “peace project” can be assigned to the field of modern fairy tales with a brief look at its armament, its close connection to NATO (Pesco) and the many military adventures of its individual member states. Any military action by an EU state falls back on all member states. Keywords: Kosovo, Syria, Yemen, Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Ukraine, Mali. The neutral states inevitably lose their credibility (Sweden, Austria, Ireland). The aggressive approach also includes foreign policy conduct, which is closely tied to the USA and provokes a confrontation with Russia and China.

On the transatlantic leash

The US-American intelligence service NSA spies unhindered and end to end on the individual EU states and in particular Brussels. Political, military and economic decisions can never be made without a connection to the power centres in the USA. – These centres of power do not always correspond to the official government.
Werner Wüthrich describes in detail that “European unification” was not at all a European unification, but – contrary to the Brussels hagiography – corresponded to Washington’s wish after the Second World War to be able to control Europe via one telephone line, using the key person Jean Monnet as an example (cf. Current Concerns No. 31 2011, Current Concerns No. 4 2012).

No recovery in sight

The state of the EU and its impact on individual member states is worrying. This supranational entity develops into an autocratic form of government with a largely incapacitated population. Despite all assurances by the EU to introduce more democratic elements, these remained unfulfilled.
The facts collected here are publicly accessible and can be studied by anyone. They must be taken into account and included in any decisions that may be taken, such as closer integration into the European Union.     •

(Translation Current Concerns)