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Is Lack of Vision and a Democratic Deficit the Achilles' Heel of the EU?
by Dr. Emanuel Paparella
2013-09-24 09:30:33
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“My vision is one of political union ... We need to become incrementally closer and closer, in all policy areas ... Over a long process, we will transfer more powers to the [European] Commission, which will then handle what falls within the European remit like a government of Europe. That will require a strong parliament. A kind of second chamber, if you like, will be the council comprising the heads of [national] government. And finally, the Supreme Court will be the European Court of Justice.”

                                                                                                     --Angela Merkel

Subsequent to German Chacellor Angela Merkel’s recent re-election in Germany it may prove fruitful to reflect briefly on her above chilling vision of the EU largely accepted by the European political elite and ask this question: are the basic principles of democracy as conceived by the EU founding fathers being betrayed in the very continent where democracy was born? The question may sound impertinent but consider what follows.

Nowhere in the above quoted statement is the word democracy to be found, never mind solidarity and distributive justice. What is being emphasized rather are centralization of power; a strong federal super-state governed by Eurocrats from Brussels, never mind the will of the people.

We have already seen unelected technocrats take over the government of both Greece and Italy dispensing with any democratic mandate or accountability. The real power seems to reside in the finance ministers headed by IMF chief Christine Lagard, the European Commission and the European Council, Eurocrats and unelected technocrats seeking a radical federalization of Europe. In other words, what we presently have on the scene in the EU is a German leader, unelected by the 420 million non-German citizens of the EU, pushing an entire continent toward what would inevitably be a German-dominated federalized super-state. Opinion polls and referendums repeatedly show public opposition to such an authoritarian buraucratic super-state unaccountable to the people.

We are now at a point where the budget documents of countries such as Ireland and Greece are reviewed in the German Bundstag ahead of the Irish or Greek parliament’s elected representatives. This is a betrayal of the principles of subsidiarity and of the very founding vision of the EU which was intended to prevent exactly that sort of centralized super-state envisioned by Angela Markel and her cohorts. Here is what a committed EU-integrationist, German philosopher Jurgen Habermas, warns Europeans in his book On Europe’s Constitution: "the first attempt at a democratic, judicial supranational community may become an arrangement for the exercise of post-democratic-bureaucratic authority."

Should we be surprised? Yes and no. If we remember history, then we remember that Merkel only had her first taste of democracy in 1990 and that moreover democracy is a late-comer for many of the European nations comprising the EU; very few have a history of uninterrupted democracy. Here is a list of nations which were dictatorships before arriving at democracy and entering the EU:  Spain: 1982; Germany (West); 1952; Germany (East) 1990; Portugal: 1982; Italy 1946; Poland 1990; Latvia: 1991. Historically the norm seems to be dictatorships and monarchies, benevolent or otherwise.

The illusion within a delusion of Angela Merkel and other EU technocrats is that centralization will make Europe stronger. The reality is that without a vision, a cultural identity and a strong democracy, it will become progressively weaker, to wit the single currency which remains under constant threat and demonstrates the foolishness of pretending that the same laws and currency are good for Greece, Ireland and Germany.

This is all sad and tragic when one thinks that the EU began in the 50s as a bright promise of co-operation and peace in Europe and the world at large but -- like so many other utopian political visions -- it has now become dangerously anti-democratic. It has undoubtedly achieved many great things and it still has the potential to become an example of democratic ideals to the rest of the world, but it desperately needs to go back and submit itself to the basics of democracy: government of the people, by the people, for the people.

The lesson of history is clear: from the Austro-Hungarian Empire to the British Empire to the Soviet Union, centrally governed, authoritarian undemocratic multi-national entities have always failed, some sooner, some later. The urgent question remains: Without the democratic will of the people, of a people who know who they are culturally so that we avoid putting the cart before the horse, will the cradle of democracy soon become its grave? Time will tell. It always does. The omens do not seem to be favorable at the moment, but then hope springs eternal.


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Leah Sellers2013-09-24 17:13:55
Dear Brother Emanuel,
Insightful and well stated, Sir. Thank you.

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