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“Europe is in need of a new foundation that is moving into the future. The simple recourse to pre-EU times is no perspective. Nobody can seriously want to go back to the times before 1945. Why not work on a ‘Charter of Europe’ – similar to the UN Charter? A reformed Council of Europe could be the institutional framework. The ‘Paris Charter’ of November 1990, formulated after the end of the first Cold War, would be a good basis.”

EU vote in Great Britain Brexit opponents paint a picture of doom for the country

But there is an alternative to the EU

by Karl Müller

On 23 June, the British will decide if their country will remain in the EU. For the British exit from the EU, the term “Brexit” has become commonplace. The opponents of Brexit are countering this with an almost Manichaean picture of the EU.

It is interesting to see that the Brexit opponents have mobilised all the big names – from the world of the “elites”. Prominent figures like US President Obama and the director of the IMF, Lagarde, have pleaded against Brexit, painting a realm of economic darkness for a United Kingdom outside the EU. Since then, scientists are also speaking out. For example Stephen Hawking. His “argument”: “Gone are the days when we could stand on our own, against the world. We need to be part of a larger group of nations, both for our security and our trade.”

“Historians for Britain in Europe”

More than 300 British historians have also addressed the public with a short text in the Guardian, which earned their spokesman an invitation to speak at the Chancellor of the Exchequer’s office. These 300 historians who call themselves “Historians for Britain in Europe” are opposed to the “Historians for Britain”, who urged an exit from EU or at least a renegotiation with the EU. The “Historians for Britain in Europe” claim, that if Britain remains in the EU, it would “strengthen the cohesion of our continent in a dangerous world”. History teaches that “Britain’s future is in Europe”. The country would be stronger if “we look outside and become involved in the world”. An exit from the EU, however, would mean isolation, but not a splendid one – of course an allusion to the idea of Splendid Isolation which characterised the imperialist politics of Great Britain before World War I.
Now one might ask, how are the claims of Stephen Hawking as well as the British historians connected with being a part of the real EU? Have these “scholars” forgotten that the EU is equivalent with Europe? Have these historians thought carefully about the fact that this construct of a supranational apparatus of authorities and power which is today called EU, with its permanent infringements on sovereign states, is contradictory to past lessons learned from European history? The lessons are: The absolute striving for freedom, law and democracy and for a life in political entities which are able to support these – that is sovereign, liberal and democratic nation states of law.

EU against freedom and democracy

No reputable opponent of the EU objects to an equal and peaceful cooperation of European states or to a cooperation of all states in the world and the associated contractual agreements between sovereign partners. For this, the Charter of the United Nations has created the foundations which are still valid, even if some powerful states are not adhering to them. The EU, however, has, starting from its roots in the European Coal and Steel Community, decided deliberately against freedom and democracy and for an executive top-down approach including an obtrusive control of sovereign states and peoples. This did not happen because the peoples of Europe desired it, but because Western Germany was to be permanently contained and the part of Europe that did not belong to the Soviet sphere of influence, was to be kept under control and established as a bulwark in the Cold War. The driving and dominating force in this was the USA. The rest is embellishment and historical misrepresentation. The EU member states have in fact never been “masters of the treaties”. This has been attested in this newspaper and in many essays and books. And now, the goal is to position the 28 EU states once again in a cold and potentially even hot war against Russia.
Sometimes it is really surprising to see how we citizens are to be taken as fools. And it is even more surprising to watch who is willing to participate in this attempt at stultification – including more than 300 “historians”.

Cooperation in Europe is not the same as EU

It is true that Europe should not be a continent of isolated states which are busy with rivalry and competition. But does the real EU look like? Isn’t it such that the neoliberal principles dictated by the European single market and the Treaty of Lisbon and the euro have converted EU-Europe into an assembly of dog-eat-dog states which are disciplined collectively as soon as they want to strike out on their own – as it happened with Austria and now Greece? Isn’t it because of this EU that more and more people in Europe are searching for alternatives? Not because they want to isolate from Europe and the world, but because they finally want to live in freedom and democracy – equal to and in peace with all other peoples on the continent and the world!
Europe is in need of a new foundation that is moving into the future. The simple recourse to pre-EU times is no perspective. Nobody can seriously want to go back to the times before 1945. Why not work on a “Charter of Europe” – similar to the UN Charter? A reformed Council of Europe could be the institutional framework. The “Paris Charter” of November 1990, formulated after the end of the first Cold War, would be a good basis. It should be enriched in view of the cultural traditions of the continent. The US should not have a say in this. But within Europe nobody should be excluded.
The popular claim that the EU was the only possible form of structure for Europe that otherwise it would be threatened by decline and war, is absurd and recalls times bygone when the main goal was the retention of power. Thus the German baroque philosopher Gottfried Wilhelm Leibnitz was trying to present his world of absolutist rule as the best of all worlds. Don’t our current dominant politicians speak similarly about the EU – as the best of all worlds in Europe? And was absolutism in Leibnitz’ times without alternative? One thing is for sure: There are alternatives to today’s EU.    •