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Who are the real "Presidents" of Europe?
by Christos Mouzeviris
2012-02-16 07:40:45
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When we are talking about the "EU elites" you do realize that we are talking about our national elites, our leaders. All our national governments put together. Mr Sarkozy, Mrs Merkel and Mr.Cameron, together with all the rest of our leaders, their accolades, the people and lobbies who support them, finance their campaigns and so on. 

There is no separate "EU elite." The EU officials are mainly appointed and influenced by our governments and only the MEPs are directly elected by us. The problem is that we do not know what is being discussed behind closed doors in all those EU Council summits that our leaders attend. What deals are being made between them, what do they compromise without our permission of our national interests and sensitivities. Personally I want a stronger EU Parliament to take control. I say no to "inter-governmentalism" in EU and those agreements that we have no say at all. What I want is a transparent democratic union that listens to its people and serves their interests.

But that I am afraid is only going to happen through the EP. The Council that represents our governments is, as it stands right now, more powerful than the EP. Just look at how Merkel speaks about Europe and its future as if she represents us all. But no, she represents only the Germans that elected her surely, why she is taking the lead in Europe? Because Germany has invested so much in the euro project, more than others some will say. Yes, but they benefited the most as well, don't forget that. 

I would want an elected representative, or one of the already appointed officials like Mr.Van Rompuy, the Council's President to speak for me, not Merkel or Sarkozy. They have no legitimate authority to speak on behalf of all Europeans, never mind shaping their lives and dictating their future. So you see the problem lies with our national governments and the long ago established European elites that do not want to let go of their interests and influence on the continent and on other nations and regions of Europe.
Until the rich European powers lose their colonial and imperial complexes Europe won't be fair or equal. Instead of investing in the Greek economy to save it for example, they are forcing more debt on the Greek people. More bail-outs mean more debt that we will never be able to repay and of course more austerity and lowering of the living standards in Greece. We need growth and investments, not more debt! Especially when this debt is to save the German and French shares in our banking system! Why we should pay to erase their debts?

We need Greek companies to be allowed to flourish and develop, with EU funds and cooperation and partnership with other companies from all over Europe; not European companies to come and take over everything, leaving very little benefits for Greece and its people. Mass privatizations and sell out of every national asset; disgraceful! We should not turn Greece into Africa. We are supposed to be equal partners after all.

Recently I came across a comment on the Debating Europe website (www.debatingeurope.eu) from Mr. Alex Stubb, the Finnish Europe Minister, that said that when political pressure for reforms in Greece failed, we needed the pressure of the Markets to push for reforms in the country. If we allowed such development investments in Greece now, nothing would change, no structural reforms would take place; there would be more spending and thus we would be in a similar situation a few years down.

I agree that Greece needed reforms badly and it was about time. But not in such way, that a) the living standards of the Greek EU citizens became equal of a third world country and b) they turned the Greek public opinion against the EU and the European project (how this is of any good?) and allow nationalism and far right groups and parties to enter the political scene of the country.This destabilizes the whole social coherence of the country and that is dangerous; remember what happened in Germany between WW1 and WW2?

The reforms should have started since we entered the EU, but they did not. The blame should fall equally on the Greek political elite and of course the European. Because each country after it joins, forgets the reforming agenda and focuses only on how to spend (or waste) EU funds in the case of smaller, poorer countries, or how to increase their influence and power in the case of the bigger and richer countries.

Besides, if there was any real pressure for reforms on the states that needed to do so by any EU body, the same could apply for the bigger richer nations and they wouldn't like that. Imagine Britain approving something like that, EU interfering with its internal affairs. Never mind the fact that even the richer countries were not always playing by the rules, aka Germany in 2003 when it bend the eurozone rules for its benefit.

In the meantime it is the Greek people who must suffer harsh and humiliating austerity measures and there is no guarantees that if they grin and bare them, things would be better for them in the future. There are no plans for the future, there is no reassurance, no consideration of how the ordinary citizens must live with 500 euro per month, while in the eurozone and prices equal of those in Germany, Ireland, France, Holland and Finland!

If Mrs Merkel wanted to tell the Greeks what to do and how to do it, she should have bothered to try to understand how everyday life is in Greece, what difficulties do the ordinary Greeks have to face on a daily basis, the country's economy, culture, way of thinking. The historical and political reasons why there is so much corruption and political idleness in the Greek state, that actually is partly due to decades of European involvement and meddling in Greece's internal affairs.

But today's dominant northern European/Anglo-Saxon realpolitik attitude in politics doesn't help in all the above. Who cares about the citizens, this must be done! Muss, muss, as they would say in Mrs Merkel's language! Easier said than done, when it is not the Germans that must go through 500 € to 1000 €  cuts of their salaries Mrs Merkel. And why is that the Greeks must step in and save the euro, while they are not the ones who benefited as much out of it.

I understand the "much needed reforms" argument, but you can not turn all countries into Germany overnight. Besides that would mean becoming as industrial as Germany is and there is no plans for that..Yet. So where is all this austerity leading? If they gave us a clue, perhaps we would not protesting as much. Especially when in every crisis in the continent, Greece was one of the countries that sacrificed the most. Enough! We gave way too much to Europe. We want equal rights and opportunities with the rest of Europe on prosperity and development. If they guarantee us that after the austerity period, Greece will become a true European economy then I will say "yes, come on, let's get through this and shape a new future for our country and our continent."

But if what will happen is to have the European elites of the rich North, bully, exploit, dictate and the slander the rest of us, I will then say enough with this fiasco! We do not want any Merkel, Cameron or Sarkozy to promote their country's interests, we need someone who can understand the issues and problems of all EU states and speaks for them, promote solutions that are benefiting all. Not of the rich elites or the rich nations only. We have too many "Presidents" in EU and Europe that we pay fat salaries, but none of them seem to be allowed to do their job without interference from our national "Presidents."

"Where there are too many roosters clucking, it is slow to dawn," says a Greek saying! And that is exactly true for EU and Europe right now!


Christos Mouzeviris is the writer of the blog: The Eblana European Democratic Movement



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