France - European Union - US\EU Relations - Britain
"Democracy is under attack, with Belgium’s
largest political party, the Vlaams Blok, banned last week. Attracting
a quarter of the vote in the Flemish region, the anti-immigration separatist
party was disbanded because it fell foul of anti-racism laws; unable to
beat it in public debate or at the polls, its left-wing opponents killed
it in the supreme court. In western Europe in the 21st century, the Left
is getting courts to ban political parties because they are too popular.
Repellent though much of Vlaams Blok is, the bigger threat is from courts banning democracy. Democracy works because it is a valve for people’s concerns. What do the Belgian elite want the Flemish to do — overthrow the state in violent revolution?"
- Anthony Browne, "The Spectator"
"At least, though, the Left in the Netherlands
has seen that there is a clash between liberal democracy and cultural relativism;
that some cultures are simply not compatible with Western traditions of
freedom and tolerance. What angered them all — van Gogh, Hirsi Ali and
Fortuyn — is the way the intolerant left-wing hegemony of political correctness
was strangling free speech and democracy — not just causing the problems
in the first place, but trying to destroy those who discuss them."
- Anthony Browne, "Speak Your Mind, Lose Your Life", "The Spectator"
Across the EU (Norway and Switzerland don't
have this problem) people feel let down by the political process. Turnout
at elections is falling, and those who do vote are abandoning the established
parties. Voters complain that, however they cast their ballot, nothing
changes. And they are right: depending on how you measure it, between 50
and 80 per cent of national laws now emanate from the European Commission.
On the rare occasions that national electorates get the opportunity, they
tend to vote against closer integration; but their votes are ignored, which
serves to increase their frustration.
- Daniel Hannan, UK Conservative MEP
What we see in Eastern and Southern Europe
today are the consequences of the EU’s transformation from a union of democratic
countries into a sort of supra-national financial empire in which the most
important decisions affecting EU citizens are no longer subject to democratic
control. In Italy the Government is on the brink of collapse because of
Signor Prodi’s insistence on implementing tax increases and budget cuts
demanded by Joaquín Almunia, the EU Economic Commissioner, under
the terms of the Maastricht Treaty. In Hungary, the riots began a month
ago because the Prime Minister showed his contempt for democracy by publicly
admitting that he had "lied, morning, noon and night" about the tax increases
and public spending cuts that he had promised Señor Almunia before
a recent election — and after the election was over, he naturally felt
that his promises to Brussels were far more important than the ones he
had made to Hungarian voters. At some point the people of Europe will realise
that there is something rotten in a political system that leaves them forever
in the world economy’s slow lane — and which cannot be changed by any democratic
process, regardless of how people vote.
- Anatole Kaletsky, "The Euro is Slowly Killing Half of Europe", "The Times"
One of the reasons that the three left-of-center
parties aren't expected to form a coalition is because of genuine differences
between opportunistic anti-Americans, principled anti-Americans, and deranged
- Jim Geraghty, covering the German election for "National Review"
"My idea is that there are two types of people:
those who like differences and those who do not. I think that the Austrians
do not like differences."
- Turkish spokesperson, discussing Austria's opposition to Turkey joining the EU
"The new Europe is straight out of Medieval
history. Why are we English always arguing with the French? Why are the
Austrians opposing Turkish membership of the EU?"
- David Starkey, historian, on BBC Question Time
Ypres, Petrograd, Versailles; Guernica, Munich;
Dunkirk, Vichy, Stalingrad, Auschwitz; Budapest, Prague, Gdansk; Maastricht,
Srebrenica: it's striking how much of the history of 20th-century Europe
can be conjured up just by a list of place-names.
- Noel Malcolm, "The Telegraph"
Is the enlarged European Union really a union,
in the sense that the United States or the United Kingdom are, or something
more like a Eurabian Disunion? The more one considers the way the EU works
— not with the new, rationalised constitution it was supposed to have,
which was killed by the French and Dutch referendums, but with the makeshift
arrangements cobbled together at Nice in 2001 — the less Napoleonic it
looks, and the more it resembles the dear old Holy Roman Empire. At best
it is a confederation. At worst it is a car-boot sale of overlapping treaties
and jurisdictions. Who, I wonder, will be the next Napoleon — the one who
rides into Brussels to sweep away the Holy Roman Empire of our time?
- Andrew Roberts, writing in "The Telegraph"
It is the military in Turkish life which
protects the country's secularity: without the robust interference of the
most powerful army in NATO in the internal workings of the state, then
the Islamic caliphate might well have been restored long ago... In other
words, the values which we hold dear in western Europe - a secular, tolerant
society with freedom of religion - are only possible in Turkey because
of the army... It is the Turkish army which makes Turkey safe: to demand
its removal from political life is like saying to the Dutch that they are
welcome into the EU - but they must remove their dams first.
- Kevin Myers, "The Irish Independent"
Turkey's scheming at the Strasbourg summit
proves it doesn't belong in the European Union... President Obama's emollient
gifts were on display at the NATO summit, where he eventually persuaded
the Turks to withhold their veto on the appointment of Prime Minister Rasmussen.
Accounts differ as to the price of this deal, but a number of plum jobs
and positions now appear to have been awarded to Turkish nominees. Much
more important, however, the foreign minister of France has reversed his
previous position and has now said: "It's not for the Americans to decide
who comes into Europe or not. We are in charge in our own house." Put it
like this: Obama's "quiet diplomacy" has temporarily conciliated the Turks
while perhaps permanently alienating the French and has made it more, rather
than less, likely that the American goal of Turkish EU membership will
now never be reached. And this is the administration that staked so much
on the idea of renewing our credit on the other side of the Atlantic. This
evidently can't be done by sweetness alone... Turkey wants all the privileges
of NATO and EU membership but also wishes to continue occupying Cyprus,
denying Kurdish rights, and lying about the Armenian genocide. On top of
this, it now desires to act as a proxy for Islamization and dares to waste
the time of a defensive alliance in trying to censor the press of another
- Christopher Hitchens, "MSN Slate" (Apr'09)
If these tiresome regions cannot live with
their neighbours within the same state, how do they think that they're
going to live with one another in the EU? For whatever else it does, the
EU does not defuse local tribalisms. Northern Ireland has been in the EU
for over 30 years. So has the Spanish Basque territory. So has Italy, where
the north detests the south more than ever. So has Britain, now — under
Tony Blair's ruthless ineptitude — systematically undoing the Scottish
Act of Union. The EU could halt the Balkanising of the former Soviet Union
by insisting that breakaway regions of anywhere will never be admitted
to its (admittedly gruesome) embrace. But that would deny the reality that
the EU is simply addicted to unprincipled enlargement: given the chance,
it would add Chad and Paraguay to its ranks. And behind this addiction
is the sad and hopeless belief that one day the USE will one day rival
- Kevin Myers, as smaller and smaller regions seek independence, "The Irish Independent"
Belgium is coming apart at the seams. For
four months, its 11 political parties have been unable to form a national
government because the Dutch-speaking regions want greater autonomy, or
even outright independence... But it isn’t a mini-Iraq, and not just because
they’re not killing one another. It’s more like a mini-European Union.
In fact, that’s the one thing everyone can agree on. No country is more
invested in the EU experiment than Belgium, whose capital, Brussels, is
also the capital of the EU. If Belgium falls to sectarianism, what does
that say about prospects for making Europe into a super-Belgium?
...But here’s the hilarious irony of all this: The European Union is in effect subsidizing nationalism in Belgium and across the Continent. As the EU assumes more of the responsibilities of states — regulations, the economy, currency, possibly even defense — the cost of independence becomes lower. Look at Scotland. The Scots are moving, perhaps inexorably, toward national independence from Britain. A referendum on breaking away could take place as early as 2010 and would likely pass. And why not? Scotland didn’t formally become part of Britain until 1707, when it caved in to English threats to its trade and the free movement of people across the border. Now, thanks to the EU, such threats are illegal. And it’s hardly likely that England would declare war on secessionist Scotland... In the past, ethnic enclaves probably couldn’t make it on their own. But now the EU provides a safety net. Countries such as Slovakia get to trade on their votes in the EU and the U.N. They get their own anthems and sports teams and get to teach their own language and culture. It’s like a McDonald’s franchise. You man the register and keep the bathrooms clean, but the folks at corporate HQ do the heavy lifting. That’s why the Basques, Scots and Flemings are looking to open their own franchises. The question is whether the nationalist hunger of such McNations can be satisfied by just the symbolism of autonomy... the EU project has always been predicated on self-serving myths. Another is the idea that with greater “understanding” comes greater peace and comity. The Walloons and the Flemings understand each other; they just don’t like each other very much.
- Jonah Goldberg, "National Review" (Oct'07)
The ever-recurring danger, as Robert Conquest
makes clear, springs from a natural human tendency, to which idealists
are most prone, to feel so strongly about present evils, the evils which
are to be seen before their eyes, that their brains entirely fail to register
the potential evils — so much less easy to discern — of the panaceas being
peddled to replace them. Thus it was that so many of the West’s best and
brightest between the wars, horrified by the evils of American capitalism
in the Depression, refused to recognise the far worse evils of their favoured
cure, Soviet communism. European federalism also falls into the same category
in Conquest’s book. For it was because European idealists after the second
world war had their minds full of the vices of the nation state that they
entirely lost sight of its invaluable virtues.
- Peregrine Worsthorne, reviewing Conquest's "Dragons of Expectation", "Spectator"
The new government
of the vulpine Dominique de Villepin is trying interventionist means to
get France’s three million unemployed back to work. It looks and smells
like Britain under Heath and Wilson, and it won’t work for France any more
than it did for them. France’s commitment to the CAP may seem an act of
self-interest of a Bush-like variety. Mr Bush’s self-interest, however,
is self-financed; France’s isn’t. The average African, if he knew anything
about it, would be horrified by the sight of exceedingly rich countries
donating huge amounts of cash to the land of Dom Perignon, Chanel, Louis
Vuitton and the Plâce Vendome. The anarchist plonkers would no doubt
also say that this proves their case against capitalism. Of course, it
doesn’t: it proves the case against welfarism in all its forms. Meanwhile,
you can almost smell Mr Chirac decomposing.
- Simon Heffer, "The Spectator"
The protests are significant
because they show the future of economic reform in Old Europe. Today’s
French lesson: You cannot take back entitlements from people who have been
told they’re entitled to them. The problem is that no matter how people
vote in regular elections, the ruling élite puts its own self-interests
ahead of everything else, including ideology. Therefore, if you want to
your vote to mean anything in France, you don’t cast a ballot, you cast
a cobblestone. So what we’re seeing in Paris isn’t a demonstration. It’s
more like a bad election.
- Denis Boyles, on the French student riots, "National Review"
The funny part of France's
latest round of riots is what they're rioting about. These rabid rebels
smashing their way through people and property alike, shouting revolutionary
slogans and playing Robespierre in a FCUK hoodie are demanding... continued
job security with paid vacations. Gone are the days of tearing down the
system. Now is the time to burn a car for better dental benefits... They're
the rebels with a clause.
- Jonah Goldberg, "National Review"
Social housing, in
modern societies at any rate, means antisocial behaviour.
- Theodore Dalrymple, on Muslim riots in France, "The Spectator"
Rosa Parks would have
been depressed to note that even on the extremely crowded double-decker
commuter trains which scurry between Grigny and the Gare de Lyon, blacks
sit next to blacks and whites sit next to whites and if there’s no room
for whitey except next to a black, he’ll stoically stand instead. And,
natch, vice versa.
- Rod Liddle, reporting from France for "The Spectator"
You know, we kept hearing
all this stuff ever since September 11th, you know, the Muslim street is
going to explode in anger. Well, it finally did, and it was in Paris, not
in the Middle East.
- Mark Steyn, on "Radio Blogger"
"There's an old, cynical
formula for the weight accorded different disasters on American TV news.
It runs something like: one dead American = 10 dead Israelis = 100 dead
Russians = 1,000 dead Bangladeshis. But 10,000 French can die, and even
the French don't seem to care - or not too much, and not with any great
- Mark Steyn, as French people stay on vacation rather than bury their relatives
"It is acceptable in
the secular state to send a girl to school looking like a hooker, because
that doesn't affect the spiritual conviction of teenage boys — and besides
hookers aren't nuns. But there is a great fear here that if you send your
Muslim daughter to school looking like a character from a Laura Ingalls
Wilder book, it will drive others to fall on their knees before Allah...
perfect example of how the French attack a critical, complex social issue
by focusing on the most superficial aspect of it."
- Denis Boyles, "National Review", as France considers a ban on religious symbols
Apart from the pomp
and legitimate perquisites, Mr Chirac has another incentive to cling to
power. It enables him to avoid prosecution. Over many years he was guilty
of large-scale corruption. During the inevitable argument over America,
one French journalist insisted that George Bush could not be a candidate
for the French Presidency; he was too stupid. I retorted that Jacques Chirac
could not be a candidate for the US Presidency; he would be in jail.
- Bruce Anderson, "The Spectator"
Did you see the story
about President Chirac walking out of the room, at an EU meeting, when
a French businessman said he would speak in English, "the language of business"?
Yes: President Chirac could not abide to hear English words, at least out
of a Frenchman’s month. But never, ever forget: It’s America that is chauvinist,
ethnocentric, insular, xenophobic, intolerant, and just plain bad. Never,
ever forget that.
- Jay Nordlinger, "National Review"
"When I hear the slogans,
'Le Pen racist or xenophobe,' I want to laugh. It is true that I say, 'I
love my daughters better than my nieces, and my nieces better than my cousins,
and my cousins better than my neighbours.' But I never said I hated my
- Jean Marie Le Pen, French Presidential Candidate
"The electoral success
of Jean-Marie Le Pen comes as a blast of invigorating Arctic air in a hall
where the bien-pensant have been suffocating in the fug of self-congratulatory
eurosmugness. He speaks the truth of a darker side not just of Europe,
but of mankind. We need these reminders of reality, especially in the media,
where we tend to babble comforting inanities about the world, while forgetting
that this a world of Srebenice, Auschwitz, the Twin Towers.
It is simplistic nonsense to say that Le Pen is a Nazi. The only people in history who have been Nazis were the Nazis. Even Mussolini's fascists weren't Nazis. Yet right across Europe the media have been using terms such as "Nazi" and "fascist" to decribe Le Pen. This is typical: the liberal-left traditionally tars any right-wing phenomenon it seriously dislikes with outdated terminology, as if by corralling what you don't approve of into historically discredited categories, you can somehow or other make it easier to defeat."
- Kevin Myers, "The Irish Times"
missing the point, which is that it's hilarious."
- Megan McArdle
"You'd have to have
a heart of stone not to be weeping with laughter at the scenes of France's
snot-nosed political elite huffily denouncing Sunday's result as an insult
to the honour of the Republic. Somehow events have so arranged themselves
that... the French people have taken to the streets in angry protests against
the French people!
Europe's ruling class has effortlessly refined Voltaire: I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death my right not to have to listen to you say it. If the political culture forbids respectable politicians from raising certain topics, then the electorate will turn to unrespectable politicians, as they're doing in France, Austria, Belgium, the Netherlands, Denmark and elsewhere. Le Pen is not an aberration but the logical consequence."
- Mark Steyn, "The National Post"
"I resent the characterization
of M. Le Pen as 'extreme right'. I'm an extreme right-wing madman myself,
and it takes one to know one. M. Le Pen is an economic protectionist in
favour of the minimum wage, lavish subsidies for France's incompetent industries
and inefficient agriculture; he's anti-American and fiercely opposed to
globalization. In other words, he's got far more in common with Naomi Klein
than with me."
- Mark Steyn, "The National Post"
On the one hand, France
is still in many respects a more pleasant and civilised country to live
in than Britain... On the other, France’s problems are deep and intractable.
Under Chirac, its public debt has doubled, and the money borrowed has been
used solely to pay for les acquis, the social and economic privileges that
have been granted to large numbers of workers, especially in the swollen
public service, such as long holidays, the 35-hour week, early retirement
(at age 50) on three quarters of final salary, generous unemployment pay
and prolonged sickness entitlements. No wonder three quarters of young
Frenchmen say they want to be public employees. The problem with these
privileges is that, once granted, they immediately achieve the metaphysical
status of inalienable rights, and any attempt to rescind them becomes a
matter of violent contention and confrontation. Arrest without trial would
probably cause less disruption in France than a rise in the retirement
age of train drivers.
Though we in Britain like to think of France as a very different country from our own, as the French think of Britain (when they think of it at all), many of the questions confronting the two countries are very similar. Will any of our politicians have the courage to face up to the wealth-consuming vested interests that they themselves have created, or will they just speak hard and carry the small stick?
- Theodore Dalrymple, "The Spectator" (Mar'07)
France has now become
the most conservative major country in Europe, where different defenses
of the status quo are at war only with different forms of nostalgia and
even outright reaction.
- Christopher Hitchens, "Slate Magazine" (Apr'07)
The National Front’s
Jean-Marie Le Pen used to be the unrespectable champion of these issues
— crime, immigration, the Muslim challenge, loss of sovereignty to
supra-national bodies, the divisive failure of multiculturalism, and the
crumbling of national identity. He lost ground yesterday precisely because
other parties have now recognized their power and legitimacy and moved
in on his territory. But they do so shamefacedly and without conviction.
No major French politician has yet found the civilized and liberal language
to discuss these issues intelligently without arousing fear and distaste.
- America's "National Review" on the 2007 election
At one point, as they
disagreed on the facts of the mainstreaming of exceptional children, Ms.
Royal accused Mr. Sarkozy of "the height of political immorality" and of
"lying." She said she was "scandalized" and "very angry." She meant to
show her steel, puncture his imperturbability, and reveal his rumored dark
temper. Look what happened:
Sarkozy: "Calm yourself, Madame."
Royal: "No, I will not calm down."
Sarkozy: "You need to be calm to be president of the Republic..."
What Mr. Sarkozy had going for him in the debate is that he was not afraid of Ms. Royal because she was a woman. He was not undone by her femininity. American candidates seem much more awkward in this area. When up against a strong woman, male candidates don't know what is appropriate and standard political aggression and what is ungentlemanly bullying. Mr. Sarkozy was not afraid or tentative. He was poised. He seemed to think he was facing a formidable adversary, and it didn't matter whether it was a man or a woman, it mattered that she was a socialist and socialism isn't helpful. And so he approached her as a person who is wrong.
- Peggy Noonan, "Wall Street Journal" (May'07)
A month ago Ségolène
Royal, the socialist candidate in the French presidential election, made
one of the most disreputable remarks uttered in recent times by a leading
mainstream Western politician when she implored the French to vote for
her or, in the event of a Sarkozy victory, face the prospect of seeing
their country explode into anger and rioting. Fortunately, in the event
her implied threat not only backfired on her: her prediction failed to
- Ross Clark, "The Spectator" (Jun'07)
Preoccupied with French
standing in the world, he deployed his energies to build a coalition with
Russia, Germany, and the Arab world. Opposition to American foreign policy
was the sole feature common to these powers, but that was enough, and Chirac
gloried in it. No amount of murder and terror could disturb his support
for Saddam Hussein and Yasser Arafat. Essentially an unimaginative man,
he left urgent domestic issues to take care of themselves — politics for
him has been all about intrigue and place and money. Thus a miasma of corruption
at home and abroad envelops him, all the more putrid since he had the law
changed to remove himself beyond the reach of accountability. No previous
President, not even de Gaulle, has been so thoroughly Bourbon.
- David Pryce Jones, assessing Jacques Chirac, "National Review"
"Oh, yes. It’s true.
Don’t torture me. I confess. Here is a country, one of the few across the
world apart from Poland, with which we have never been at war. It is really
not a reason to hate each other."
- French President Nicholas Sarkozy, responding to accusations of pro-Americanism
"Britain has been making a gesture because,
over the past 10 years, even with the British rebate, we have been making
a contribution to Europe 2½ times that of France. Without the rebate,
it would have been 15 times as much as France. So that is our gesture."
- Tony Blair, rebutting French President Chirac over EU Budget
"The most stupid immoral, state-subsidised
policy in human history, give or take communism."
- Charles Crawford, UK Ambassador to Poland, on the EU's Common Agricultural Policy
Far from being "sharp differences of opinion",
the vision of Europe offered by Britain and by France are wholly different
and wholly incompatible. Most reasonable people in Britain see no harm
and much good in a social safety net that allows workers down on their
luck to live decently until they are able to find work again. However,
most would question the sanity of hugely protective schemes in France,
where unemployment sits at ten percent (22 percent among the young) which
prevent jobs being created in the first place. As France's president Jacques
Chirac said last week, France would never accept the British social model.
Britain has rejected France's. These models cannot be combined: To build
a new Europe, one has got to go.
The architects of the
single currency hardly helped their cause when they agreed the Stability
Pact. When a country joins the euro, it necessarily gives away two of the
three mechanisms with which it might have tackled a downturn: its exchange
rate and its interest rates. The one tool it has left is its budget: it
can still fight recessions by pursuing what economists call a counter-cyclical
fiscal policy - spending more, or cutting taxes, or both. Under the Stability
Pact, however, this option is also closed.
People have noticed, too, that enforcement is arbitrary: when Ireland or Portugal are in breach, they are promptly ordered to amend their behaviour; when France positively swanks that it does not intend to comply, no action is taken. Voters may even have been struck by the curious fact that, when Portugal was held to be growing too slowly, it was told to raise taxes, whereas when Ireland was deemed to be growing too quickly, it was also ordered to raise taxes.
- Daniel Hannan, Conservative MEP, "Britain Will Never Join The Euro", "The Telegraph"
and direly unimaginative, the commission is the very antithesis of Ryanair.
Janus-like, they are the two faces of the EU: one embodies the high-tax,
low-growth model that has caused chronic stagnation across mainland Europe;
the other represents the small-government, low-taxation principles that
transformed the once-risible economies of Britain and Ireland. So the issue
is not just about Michael O'Leary and his millions; it is about all our
- Kevin Myers, "Swift, smart Ryanair is everything the EU isn't", "The Telegraph"
"For Americans, one
of the eye-openers of this war has been just how huge the gulf is between
the U.S. and the EU, especially in the latter's indifference to liberty
and accountability. Because Texans, Vermonters and Georgians all agree
that they're Americans, they're happy to go their own way in matters of
capital punishment, income tax, gay civil unions: that's a dynamic, creative
federalism. Because Greeks, Scots and Austrians still regard each other
as foreign, a European identity has to be imposed from top down, as if
by harmonizing tax codes and passport design you can harmonize a bunch
of foreigners into one nationality, regulate a European consciousness into
being: that's not federalism, but a stagnant over-centralization."
- Mark Steyn
"The unspoken assumption
by federalist proponents of Europe that "he who is not for their view of
Europe is against Europe itself" is, I think, unconvincing, unhistorical
- Michael McDowell, Attorney General of Ireland.
"Our collective and
individual liberties and rights are not necessarily available for experiment
on the test bench of enthusiasts who do not command the confidence, yet
alone the imaginations, of the peoples of Europe."
- Michael McDowell, Attorney General of Ireland.
The same British Labour
government that advocates joining the Euro is the one that decentralised
Scotland and Wales, on the grounds that people should have more local control
over decisions that affect them.
- Carol Vorderman, "The Sunday Telegraph"
"More people in Britain
voted on the popular TV show 'Big Brother' than bothered to turn out for
the European elections... the ungrateful people, it appeared, were loving
the wrong Big Brother."
- Nigel Farage, MEP for the UK Independence Party
BBC2's "How Euro Are
You?" attempted to discuss the European Union without getting involved
too heavily in politics. Which is a bit like discussing childbirth while
skirting around the difficult business of mothers. Time and time again,
it made the mistake of thinking a vague liking for Chianti and a second
home in Spain were significant aspects of the European debate. As a nation,
we’re quite fond of a chicken tikka. Does that mean New Delhi should have
more say in the way we’re governed? The whole point of the European debate
is political, not cultural: how much control do we get, or feel we get,
over our own affairs?
- Roland White, from his TV review column in "The Times"
"It is better for Germans
to be ruled by Germans, and Italians by Italians, than that Tony Blair
and his friends should go on pretending that the peoples of Europe have
identical needs, temperaments and economic interests."
- Tom Utley, "The Daily Telegraph"
The real threat to
peace and democracy in Europe comes from the European Union, not from Austria's
pocket führer, Jörg Haider.
- Peter Hitchens, "The Express"
The prospect of Fianna Fail examining the impact of the Maastricht Protocol on the Irish Constitution is like a chimpanzee with a screwdriver at the back of a television set.
"The Euro is a money
fit for shady double-dealers, rip-off merchants, criminals and cheats."
- Unknown German commentator
Canada's ability to
thrive with an independent dollar is the best single argument I know against
British europhiles who insist that their nation must join the European
Monetary Union or die.
- Paul Krugman, "O Canada - A Neglected Nation gets its Nobel"
Germany got a dreadful
deal out of the euro. The D-mark was fixed against the franc and other
European currencies at a rate that reflected its pre-unification glories
but was, economists say, overvalued by 10%-20%. Monetary union thus gifted
France a permanent competitive advantage against Germany, which is unlikely
to have come as a surprise to Paris.
- David Smith, France muscles Germany Aside, "Sunday Times"
"Germany has become
the sick man of Europe because it is suffering the consequences of entering
EMU at a vastly overvalued exchange-rate, exactly the mistake made by Britain
when it rejoined the gold standard after the First World War and when it
pegged to the dollar at Bretton Woods."
- Anatole Kaletsky, "The London Times"
Denmark was far too
canny to link its fortunes to the ailing euro. The result was conclusive.
No, as they say, means no. The only people to have been allowed a referendum
have cast proxy ballots for the millions who have not. They may try to
talk it down in Brussels and in Downing Street. But the message is unmistakable.
What part of No don't they understand?
- Daniel Hannan, Conservative MEP, after Danish rejection of the Euro.
in the euro zone is now six times higher than in America, where only 13%
of unemployed workers are unable to find work within 12 months, compared
with 21% in Great Britain, 42% in France, 52% in Germany and 50% in Italy.
- from "The Business" (April'06)
All this week, Athens
has been wracked by the worst mob violence since the advent of Greek democracy
in 1974. Riots are the work of idle young men, and Greece has plenty of
them: Youth unemployment is 19% and rising fast. The Greek state cannot
do much to help them. Greece already runs a huge budget deficit -- in fact,
Greece's public debt is the highest in Europe, 91% of GDP. At that level,
bond buyers begin to whisper aloud about the risks of default -- and charge
commensurate interest rates.
Before joining the euro, Greece had an additional policy lever: monetary policy. Greece could cut interest rates and allow its currency to decline. As the drachma fell, so too would the real wages of Greek workers. Greeks would bid for more work by working for less. Under the euro, though, this option is foreclosed. Greece no longer has its own central bank. The euro is governed by a European Central Bank, which has to balance the interests of the whole continent. The ECB has to weigh Greece's desire for cheaper currency (and its willingness to risk more inflation) against, say, Germany's need for lower inflation (and thus a stronger currency). No prizes for guessing who wins that contest.
- David Frum, "Euro Breakdown", "National Review"
There are precedents
for the collapse of a monetary union. One is almost eerie — the Latin Monetary
Union, established in 1865. It was composed of France, Italy, Belgium,
Switzerland, Austria-Hungary, Greece, and Spain — today’s Euroland without
Germany, essentially — and collapsed in 1927. Its collapse, however, seems
to have been relatively peaceful, even uneventful, because it had gradually
been eroded by the dramatic political events of the early 20th century.
The euro’s collapse would be nothing like that.
It would have been far wiser if the European political elites had embarked in more tranquil times on one of two reforms — either a liberalization of Europe’s economic and political structures that would return power and decision-making to national governments while maintaining Europe’s “four freedoms” in its single market, or the open establishment of a political union that could take the decisions needed to make a monetary union work. But they regarded the first kind of reform as anathema, and they lacked the guts to present the second kind of reform candidly to Europe’s various peoples. Now such decisions will be hammered out on the anvil of crisis. In that crisis, Europe’s political establishments will accept almost any cost rather than see their dream of a European political union, resting on a European monetary union, evaporate and disappear. They will fight with all the reserves they have to stop such an outcome. But will they have enough reserves — either of money or of determination?
- John O'Sullivan, "National Review" (Mar'09)
The 'Financial Times'
is passionately Europhile and in favour of early entry into the Euro, as
are most of its readers in business and finance. The 'Times' is strongly
Eurosceptic and opposed to membership of the single currency, as are many
of its readers. Can they all be right to support Mr Blair?
- Geoffrey Wheatcroft, following the second Blair landslide, "Irish Independent"
The French commander
of the 'peace-keeping' force in Bosnia, General Janvier, would not authorise
air strikes on the Serbs threatening Srebenica because the Dutch general,
Karremans, 'used the wrong request form'. Mladic’s massacres followed five
- Philip Bobbitt, "The Shield of Achilles"
As former Servicemen,
we wish to voice our concerns at the manner in which the ability of our
nations to protect our vital interests is being whittled away. First, by
penny-pinching, cutbacks in procurement and in force strength. Second,
by overstretch, by committing reduced forces to increased global peacekeeping
commitments, with disastrous effects on retention and morale. Third, and
most important, by forging a common pseudo-identity in EU defence and foreign
policy. The actions of federalist politicians and technocrats playing at
armchair generals, building a fictitious paper army, will only serve to
weaken even further our national capabilities to the detriment of our own
security and world stability.
- Letter to the Daily Telegraph from 11 senior British and French Generals
France assumes the
EU presidency July 1, 2008, and wants to lay the groundwork for an ambitious
upgrade of the Union's defense policy, one that includes the creation of
its own military command headquarters, a more efficient procurement process
and a commitment by the 27 EU members to increase and share defense spending,
- from "The International Herald Tribune"
"I hate the European
Union, Jim, but I love Europe. I love visiting it, I love eating its food,
and looking at its art and listening to its music and sometimes even reading
its books. I just want it to stay where it is, on the other side of the
channel, and keep its nose out of our business."
- Baroness Troutbeck, heroine of "Carnage on the Committee" by Ruth Dudley Edwards
Loyalty is one of the
defining emotions of any institution. This is why monarchs deliberately
inculcated this quality amongst their citizens. The great multi-ethnic
emperors - the Hapsburgs, the Romanovs, the Saxe-Coburg-Gothas - created
an exotic panoply of imperial loyalty which tried to transcend nationality.
The Indian nationalist Gandhi first fought for the British empire, and
the communist Croat Tito for the Hapsburgs. But this abstract thing called
Europe . . . no-one feels genuine empathy with it. To be sure, we feel
empathy with its component parts, not merely our own countries, but with
other members and their component parts - Frankfurt and Florence, Paris
and Pisa, Lisbon and Lisburn, Heidelberg and Hull (all right, not all of
the above). But they don't form a whole; they are distinct and different;
and no more vehemently so than when the Benelux kingdoms of Holland and
Belgium, or the Scandinavian kingdoms of Sweden and Norway, play one another
at soccer. No overarching sense of broader identity mollifies their regional
- Kevin Myers, "The Irish Independent"
We are in a historically
new situation, unthinkable even 50 years ago. Short holidays or shopping
trips regularly take us quite nonchalantly over borders that our fathers
would only ever have crossed under arms.
- Umberto Eco, on Europe's evolving 'identity', writing in "La Repubblica"
"Let’s talk about football
and women. Gerhard, you’ve been married four times, why don’t you start?"
- Silvio Berlusconi, killing time at an EU summit with German PM Gerhard Schröder
Better a parliament
of sackable elected fools than an administration of arrogant unsackable
- Robert Salisbury, on the future of the EU, "The Spectator"
Unlike many British
Euroskeptics, I am both a francophile and a germanophile. I think and hope
Eurofederalism will succeed for those countries with an aptitude for it
but I don't think Britain is one of them, nor do I think it is in the U.S.
national interest for Britain to try to become one of them... The French
and Germans, for notoriously well-known historic reasons, have social safety
nets that have effectively become hammocks... None of the continental European
countries has a particular affinity with the United States and Canada or
anything slightly comparable to Britain's dramatic modern historic intimacy
with North America. British trade patterns are also clearly distinguishable
from those of the other EU countries. Almost twice as much of Britain's
trade, as a percentage, is with North America than is the case with other
EU countries as a group... Over the last ten years direct net investment
in the United Kingdom from the United States and Canada has been 1.5 times
the corresponding figure for EU investment in Britain. And British net
direct investment in North America has been more than double UK investment
in the EU. These trends are continuing, impervious to EU preferences.
- Conrad Black, speech to the Nixon Center (2000)
"Like generals who
are fighting the last war, the architects of the European Union were determined
to preserve the conditions of the last peace. Transcending national loyalty
and identity was to be exalted for ever as the goal of enlightened peoples.
But it was not national identity itself that caused the monstrous crimes
committed in its name, or the two world wars. It was totalitarianism and
economic insecurity. It is not necessary to supersede every country's unique
institutions, and drive a stake through the heart of its historical character,
in order to preserve the peace. What is necessary are reliably responsive
democratic governments, and free market economics that permit every citizen
to feel that he owns a stake in the future.
Prosperous, stable democracies do not go to war with one another. What the EU is doing, perversely, is creating forms of government that move away from this direct, transparent democracy, in favour of impenetrable bureaucratic agencies that make people feel powerless and politically dispossessed. And so the extremists are on the march again, showing just the ugly face that this whole project was supposed to render obsolete."
- Janet Daley, "Peace In Europe Could Cost Too Much", "The Telegraph"
"If you add up all
the - to use the technical term - unrequited transfers that Germany has
paid through the European budget since its inception, one of the most striking
facts that I can offer you is that the total exceeds the amount that Germany
was asked to pay in reparations after the First World War. It is more than
132 billion marks, the sum that the Germans in the 1920s insisted would
bankrupt them if they paid it. Well, they finally did pay it. They paid
it not as reparations, but as net contributions to the European budget...
Today, Germany accounts for around a quarter of the combined GDP of the entire European Union. It accounts for just over a fifth, 22 percent, of its population. It accounts for 16 percent of the seats in the European Parliament, and around about 11 percent of votes on the Council of Ministers, though that process of voting is, of course, under a process of reform. But if you look at net contributions to the European budget in the years 1995 to 2001, Germany contributed 67 percent. "
- Niall Ferguson, "The End of Europe", "American Enterprise Institute"
Forty-five years after
the Second World War, continental Western Europe could plausibly claim
to have created a kind of postmodern nirvana — a half-continent-wide zone
of unparalleled prosperity, cushioned by an apparently permanent peace
among some of the most historically murderous peoples on Earth. Under its
expensive welfare programmes, paid for by a high level of productivity
in traditional manufacturing industries, Europeans enjoyed a pampered life.
With the Soviet threat gone, this accelerating prosperity further encouraged
them to renounce the idea of war and military coercion, and they settled
down to enjoy an assured future ascendancy. By the beginning of the 1990s,
with America in apparent decline, it seemed a reasonable bet that this
extraordinary model of economic and political success would become an example
to the world. But external and internal forces were already undermining
this paradise. In economics, the forces of globalisation unleashed by an
emergent Asia and an information technology revolution were reviving the
American eco-nomy and giving birth to new, dynamic competitors. The Anglo-Saxon
economies, in response to their own economic crises of the 1970s, had prepared
themselves for this new world with painful but necessary reforms. In the
political field too, even at its zenith, Europe had been surrendering the
tools that had given it peace and harmony. It owed its years of peace not
to some solemn intra-European comity but to the hard steel of US firepower,
primed to defend Europe from the Soviet Union. But by the early 1990s,
having shed its bloody past, Europe had lost the moral will as well as
the capacity to face down new threats at home and abroad to the freedoms
it cherished. European governments cut defence budgets and embraced peace
as a strategy. This malaise was clearly evident in the Balkans in the early
1990s, where murderous inter-ethnic strife was cheerfully tolerated for
years. When its American ally was attacked in September 2001, Europe gamely
offered to reciprocate for US protection in the Cold War, but most European
nations lacked the military resources to turn that promise into anything
more than tokens.
- Gerard Baker, "The Times"
The point about European
Union is that when it was set up, it's founders, going back to Monnet in
the 1950's, they designed it basically to be insulated from popular opinion,
because their feeling was that it was the European people who were crazy.
The European peoples had loved Hitler and Mussolini, and caused all the
problem on the Continent, for the first half of the 20th Century. So they
designed a system that's very unresponsive to popular opinion. And I think
that's one of the disasters of it, that it's run by this kind of remote,
unrepresentative, unaccountable clique. It would be unthinkable in the
United States to have a system where basically you cannot remove these
people. The European Union is surrounded at all levels by bureaucrats that
you just have not way of knowing how it is you get rid of them, even if
you wanted to.
- Mark Steyn, on "The Hugh Hewitt Show"
"She opposed the tyranny
of over-regulation. She showed how free enterprise could stimulate initiative
and promote independence. She was an icon for emerging economies in the
east, as their governments set about building free markets in a free world.
Few leaders transform their time. She did. Many member states in Europe
today need leaders like her, and I hope before long they will get them.
Soppy words, soothing sounds and weak action won't turn bad, or incoherent,
policy into a better future. There have been far too many soppy words and
soothing sounds over the past decade. And in many Member States there has
been too little decisive action to bring about the inevitable changes we
- Charlie McCreevy, EU Commissioner, on the legacy of Margaret Thatcher
"There is intolerance
and there is intolerance. There is the dumb intolerance of the religious
right and there is the new, vaulting, even more suffocating intolerance
of the liberal left. Which is more dangerous? Here, by way of an answer,
is another guess: Buttiglione and his supporters would not attempt to disbar
from office a politician on account of that politician’s homosexuality,
no matter how much they objected to it. Has Buttiglione yet registered
a complaint about that exciting Bruxelles arriviste, P Mandelson? But the
left, well, the left has taken intolerance to a whole new level. Transgress
the narrow boundaries of the left-liberal manifesto on a whole bunch of
issues — race, gender politics, human rights, overseas aid and so on —
and you will not be argued with, your views will not be challenged. They’ll
simply stop you trying to have your say, insisting your point of view is
not merely wrong, but “unacceptable” and therefore should not be heard.
Even, or maybe particularly, if the majority of the electorate agrees with
- Rod Liddle, "Intolerance is at its Most Dangerous on the Left", "The Times"
Quite why NATO-members
such as Germany or Italy would otherwise have declared war on one another
in the last half-century is never explained.
- Noel Malcolm, on the argument that the EEC\EU brought peace to Western Europe, "Telegraph"
According to the official
mythology of the EU, the EU has provided the continent with peace and prosperity.
It transformed a stricken and war-torn Europe into the present glittering
colossus. Alas, these justifications cannot withstand examination. Consider
the dates: What is now the EU was established in 1957. Europe's economic
recovery, fueled by America's Marshall Plan, was then in full spate; the
world was admiring Germany's "economic miracle"; an election in Britain
(still outside Europe) was about to be won on the slogan: "You've never
had it so good." Since 1957 the EU has indeed prospered. But so has almost
every other nation. How well each nation has done is far better explained
by its domestic economic policies than by its membership in the EU. Britain,
for instance, languished in its first decade as an EU member state. Its
sharp economic recovery since then is the result of Margaret Thatcher's
economic revolution. Europe was similarly at peace in 1957 owing to the
presence of the United States as a European power in NATO. Everyone knew
that no European power need fear its neighbor as long as America remained.
In ironic contrast to the myth, it was the European peace provided by America
through NATO that was the pre-condition for the establishment of the EU.
Such fantasies are a recurring feature of EU politics at the highest level.
- John O'Sullivan, "National Review"
"Our constitution is
called a democracy because power is in the hands not of a minority but
of the whole people."
- Thucydides, considered for inclusion in the opening preamble
"Instead of a vision,
there are 460 prosaic regulations signifying the ways and means by which
even more regulations to augment the existing 80,000 pages of regulations
could be forthcoming. Maybe they could call the thing "The Regulations
of Man" and get a little mileage out of it."
- Denis Boyles, on proposed EU constitution, "National Review"
"We the people agree
to leave it to you the people who know better than the people."
- Mark Steyn, on what the first line of the EU Constitution should be
"It is clear that the
real reason for the constitution, and its main impact, is the political
deepening of the Union ... the convention brought together a self-selected
group of the European political elite, many of whom have their eyes on
a career at the European level, which is dependant on more and more integration,
and who see national governments and national parliaments as an obstacle
... none of the existing policies were questioned."
- Gisela Stuart, Labour MP, UK representative on Constitution convention
"Until now, the EU
has been an association of nations bound by international treaty; once
the constitution comes into force, it will be a single polity, deriving
its authority from its own founding charter. The constitution to which
Mr Blair has just put his name gives the union legal personality, creates
a single EU jurisdiction, establishes a European criminal code and provides
explicitly for the supremacy of EU law over national statutes. 'This constitution,'
says Article I.5, 'shall have primacy over the laws of the Member States.'
If this is not a federal state, what is?
- Daily Telegraph Editorial, "This Is What It Means", 20.06.04
"Claims that the ratification
of the EU constitution will of itself represent the creation of a European
superstate are overblown. It won't, but it will be another step in that
direction, and, based on past precedent, we can be sure that the EU's fonctionnaires
will use the vacuum created by all those helpful ambiguities in the constitution's
text to push forward the federalizing project as fast and as far as possible."
Andrew Stuttaford, "National Review"
"A big change from
the basic concept of nation states, a change of centuries."
- Romano Prodi's description of the proposed Constitution
"It’s quite right to
call it a constitution, it is more than a treaty: it is the capstone of
a federal state."
- Guy Verhofstadt, Belgian Prime Minister, quoted in "Wall Street Journal", 2003
"It is not possible
for anyone to understand the full text."
- Valéry Giscard d'Estaing, architect of the consitution, in "The New York Times"
If little Switzerland,
surrounded by EU territory, is able to provide her citizens with the highest
standard of living in Europe, surely this country, 60 million strong and
linked to every continent, has nothing to fear. We do not want to leave
the EU, but if the worst Eurocrats can threaten us with is being like Switzerland,
the richest and most democratic state in Europe, then roll on the referendum.
- Daily Telegraph Editorial, "There are worse fates than being like Switzerland"
I can completely understand that a practising
Christian would like to see mention of their faith in an EU Constitution.
After all, nobody would deny the fact that Christianity has been the driving
superstition on our continent for millennia. But have we not reached an
evolutionary point where one's faith/religion/safety blanket is one's private
business and has no place in such a document?
- Ian O'Doherty, "The Irish Independent"
Quite the most preposterous remark of the
week was made by Margot Wallström, a European Commissioner from Sweden,
who accused Euro-sceptics in Britain and elsewhere of risking another Holocaust
by arguing against the European Constitution. I don't know quite where
this ridiculous woman picked up the idea that large conglomerations of
disparate nations necessarily treat their citizens more humanely than do
nation states. But it certainly wasn't from the history books. Stalin's
Soviet Union was hardly a happy precedent. Nor, come to think of it, was
Hitler's Third Reich. I would have thought that the lesson of history is
that it is a jolly good idea for Britain, with its quaint and irrational
unwritten constitution, which always has and always will make a Holocaust
unthinkable here, to remain semi-detached from continental Europe. That
way, there will always be a launch-pad available to free nations, from
which to mount another liberation of Europe when the next Hitler or Stalin
comes along. I just wish that Mr Blair would stop mucking about with the
constitution that has kept us free.
- Tom Utley, "We keep mentioning the war because we treasure our freedom", "Telegraph"
"There are those who want to scrap the supranational
idea. They want the European Union to go back to the old purely inter-governmental
way of doing things. I say those people should come to Terezin and see
where that old road leads."
- Margot Wallstrom, Sweden's European Commissioner, speaking at Terezin concentration camp
So the choice for voters on the Euro-ballot
is apparently: yes to the European Constitution, or yes to a new Holocaust.
If there's a neither-of-the-above box, the EU's rulers are keeping quiet
about it. The notion that the Continent's peoples are basically a bunch
of genocidal whackoes champing at the bit for a new bloodbath is one I'm
not unsympathetic to. But it's a curious rationale to pitch to one's electorate:
vote for us; we're the straitjacket on your own worst instincts.
Insofar as the past 60 years in Europe have been comparatively non-bloody, that's surely due to NATO and the American military presence, both of which your average EU apparatchik would scrap in an instant without worrying about Theresienstadts looming round the corner. The nearest to a latterday Theresienstadt was Yugoslavia and that didn't exactly reflect well on the EU... a couple hundred thousand corpses later the EU was only too grateful for the Americans to butt back in again.
- Mark Steyn, "The Telegraph"
Europeans live in harmony, spending so much
on cradle-to-grave welfare that their decrepit militaries couldn’t invade
each other even if they wanted to, which, given that it would cut into
their two months’ paid holiday a year, they don’t. True, the Germans are
now as obnoxiously pacifist as once they were aggressively militarist,
but who can argue that if one has to err in one direction or another, today’s
That’s what the European constitution boils down to — an attempt to freeze the moment, to make time stand still in a permanent EUtopia so fair it should be constitutionally required to linger eternally... In 1914, they thought the Habsburgs and Romanovs were for ever. Seventy years on, the experts insisted the Commies were likewise here to stay.
- Mark Steyn, "The EU is a Solution to Yesterday's Problems", "The Spectator"
"The principle of democracy runs through
the US Constitution: its first words are 'We the people' and it requires
that the House of Representatives, like our House of Commons, shall be
elected by the people at regular intervals. The principle of bureaucracy
runs through the European constitution: the government is based on the
Commission and Council, neither of which is elected. Both will gain powers
under the constitution. The European Parliament is secondary, and the national
parliaments, although given a weak advisory role, are subordinate. If Britain
ratifies the treaty, we shall cease to live in an independent democracy,
able to elect and dismiss governments. We shall live under a Brussels government
which British voters on their own cannot change. The sacrifice demanded
is to hand over our democracy, independence and law to the European Union."
- William Rees Mogg, "The Times"
Take the critical term “subsidiarity,” with
which the constitution promises to protect the vestiges of national sovereignty.
This term invariably occurs in the vicinity of a seriously damaging question,
namely: What remains of the democratic forms of government achieved by
the nation-states when the EU takes charge of their legislation? The answer
is that we must apply the “principle of subsidiarity,” according to which
decisions are all to be taken at the “lowest level compatible with the
project of Union.” What is this lowest level, you may ask, and who decides
which decisions are to be taken there? The only possible answer to the
second question — namely, the EU apparatus, including the European Court
of Justice — removes all meaning from the first. To say that the nation-states
have sovereignty in all matters that they are competent to decide, but
that the EU apparatus decides which matters those are, is to say that the
nation-states have no sovereignty at all, since all their powers are delegated.
In other words, “subsidiarity” effectively removes the sovereignty that
it purports to grant.
- Roger Scruton, "National Review"
Europe exhibits more signs of failure than
of success. First, there is the constitution itself. Nobody is quite sure
whether the new blueprint is an Anglo-Saxon Trojan horse or a device to
enshrine high taxes and inflexibility across the continent. The lack of
clarity suggests a dearth of vision and a surfeit of fudge. Second, there
is a reality gap between what people want, hope and expect Europe to deliver
and what it is actually delivering. The acid test of social democracy is
unemployment, because if you are out of work you are far more likely to
be poor and marginalised. In the 1960s, unemployment in France and Germany
was around 2% - half the US's. Today in the eurozone's two biggest economies
it is above 10%, while America's unemployment rate is little changed. High
and persistent levels of joblessness have proved fertile breeding grounds
for the extreme right: fascism is now more evident in Europe than at any
time since the second world war. As for the argument that Europe will be
a cuddlier, gentler superpower, that doesn't appear to be the message from
the one area where Brussels does punch at the same weight as Washington
- trade. Despite all the pro-development rhetoric, Europe has the same
self-interested, mercantilist view of the world as does the US.
- Larry Elliott, "The Guardian"
"Alas, the stupidity of the people is an
abiding problem of democracy. Fortunately, the EU has come up with a set
of institutions all but entirely insulated from it. At least for the moment...
The knuckle-dragging ignoramuses have figured out that, if this new body
is full of offices and institutions - president, foreign minister, citizenship,
etc - traditionally reserved for states, it's a reasonable supposition
that a state is what it intends to be.
If you believe in the British nation state, you should oppose this new constitution. If you believe in a viable European federal state, you should also oppose this new constitution."
- Mark Steyn, "Vote 'No' for a federal Europe", "The Telegraph"
"1. The Union's competence in matters of
common foreign and security policy shall cover all areas of foreign policy
and all questions relating to the Union's security, including the progressive
framing of a common defence policy, which might lead to a common defence.
2. Member States shall actively and unreservedly support the Union's common foreign and security policy in a spirit of loyalty and mutual solidarity and shall comply with the acts adopted by the Union in this area. They shall refrain from action contrary to the Union's interests or likely to impair its effectiveness."
- Article 15 of the draft Constitution, "The common foreign and security policy"
Alarm bells should start ringing by the third
page. ‘This constitution,’ says Article I-5a,
‘shall have primacy over the laws of the member states.’ Ah yes, say the
Europhiles, but there’s nothing new there: the superiority of EU law was
already established when we joined in 1973. Oddly enough, I can’t remember
them saying this at the time, but we’ll leave that aside. The doctrine
of the supremacy of EU law is an invention of the ECJ. It has never been
recognised in a treaty, and has been rejected by most national supreme
courts. Germany ruled in 1992 that EU law had force in that country only
to the extent that it complied with German Basic Law. The French justice
minister made the same point in 1996. Two years ago, in the metric martyrs’
case, our own Court of Appeal ruled that EU law could not override parliamentary
sovereignty. Yet, in a little-noticed declaration tacked on to Article
I-5a, EU governments have effectively sided with the ECJ against their
own judges, recognising its claim to supremacy, not only over parliamentary
statutes, but also over national constitutions. In legal terms, this makes
the EU a state.
- Daniel Hannan MEP, writing in "The Spectator"
When the Prime Minister claims that there
will be 'no federal superstate', he is half right. It will be a superstate
all right, equipped with every attribute of statehood that international
law recognises: a defined territory, common borders, a citizenry, a legislature,
a legal system and supreme court, a constitution, treaty-making powers,
a head of state and a defence capability. But Mr Blair is right to say
that it is not federal. In federations, there is a clear demarcation between
central and state authority. Under the proposed constitution, by contrast,
the EU can itself extend its jurisdiction without reference back to the
nations. Once it comes into force, the nations of Europe will in many ways
have less freedom of action than, say, US states, which can decide such
issues as indirect tax rates and whether to retain the death penalty.
- Danniel Hannan MEP is a member of European Parliament’s constitutional affairs committee
In each case, Euro-integrationists pursue
a well-tried four-stage strategy. Stage One is mock-incredulity: "No one
is proposing any such thing. It just shows what loons these sceptics are
that they could even imagine it." Stage Two is bravado: "Well all right,
it's being proposed, but don't worry: we have a veto and we'll use it."
Stage Three is denial: "Look, we may have signed this, but it doesn't really
mean what the critics are claiming." Stage Four is resignation: "No point
complaining now, old man: it's all been agreed." It has been a besetting
British vice that we ignore what is happening on the Continent until almost
too late. But, when we finally rouse ourselves, our resolve can be an awesome
thing. I sense that this may be such a moment.
- Daniel Hannan, Conservative MEP, on common European policies, "Telegraph"
On February 20, Spain held its referendum
on the EU Constitution. Only around 14 million bothered to register for
voting and only 41.5% of these bothered to actually vote. The result was
a 78.5% 'Yes' to the treaty, with 16.2 percent voting 'No'. This means
that of the total population of over 40 million people, only around 4.6
million (or 11.5%) voted in favour of the Constitution. Days before the
Referendum, Spanish polls showed that between 70 and 85 percent of Spaniards
had no idea what the Constitution was about.
Yet, the outcome of the referendum is illustrative. Replace 'Spain' with 'U.S.', and 'Constitution for Europe' with the 'presidential election', add the small turnout and great ignorance and what we have is something that Europeans like to accuse the Americans of: politics dominated by a minority clique in the hands of powerful interest groups.
- Policy Watch, from the Open Republic Institute (of Ireland)
Many of us feel about the future of the European
Union like the mythical Irishman who was asked for directions. Like him
we’d say: "I wouldn’t start from here in the first place". But if the Irishman
made that comment in today’s Europe, he would be told to go away and not
come back until he had changed his mind.
- Minette Marin, in Britain's "Sunday Times"
It has often been pointed out that the reason
why many French dislike the constitution is the opposite from the "no"
camp here in Britain. The French, it is said, hate the thing because it
imposes "Anglo-Saxon" free-market ideas on them and undermines their "social
protection", whereas British nay-sayers want to be free of all those social
chapters and maximum working weeks. True, in part, but not contradictory.
What voters resent, in both cases, is being forbidden by people they did
not and cannot choose from organising themselves as they would prefer.
Jean may want to knock off on Friday morning while Jack may want to work
all Sunday: both agree that they should be able to make up their own minds
- Charles Moore, "The Telegraph"
What people are voting against is not just
one or other particular clause of the constitution, nor even its general
tenor, whether this is too liberal or insufficiently so. The real bugbear
is the idea of any unified constitution that attempts to impose a single
system of government on the whole of Europe and purports to harmonise away
the political philosophies, economic preferences and social traditions
developed in different nations over hundreds of years.
- Anatole Kaletsky, "The Times"
When voters express unease about the direction
of the EU, the worst motives are attributed to them - they are racist,
xenophobic, selfish. But those who vote in favour of the EU are only ever
altruistic and not in the least influenced by all those subsidies and grants,
and the general promise of prosperity.
- David Quinn, "The Irish Independent"
French President Jacques Chirac forgot the
first rule of European Union politics: “Don’t consult the voters (it will
only encourage them).” For that, he suffered a crushing defeat on Sunday,
when 55 percent of French voters delivered a stirring “non” to the proposed
new EU constitution, potentially ending the EU project as we have known
it. See what mischief comes from allowing pesky public opinion to have
too large a say in EU affairs?
The German playwright Bertolt Brecht once wrote a poem mocking the Soviets for complaining about the skepticism with which East Germans regarded them: “Would it not be easier for the government to dissolve the people and elect another?” Surely that is the option that the EU masters would prefer in the wake of the French vote. Democracy will take some getting used to.
- Rich Lowry, "National Review"
The rhetorically deranged
Prime Minister of Luxembourg continues to stagger around like a college
date-rape defendant, insisting that all reasonable persons understand that
“Non” really means “Oui”. The most his officials are prepared to concede
is that they may have to go through the motions of respecting the will
of the people by slowing down the timetable for totally ignoring them.
- Mark Steyn, "The Irish Times"
I remember a French embassy official during
Britain’s last referendum on the EU in 1975 (when only the Shetlands voted
no). He warned me that “France will be European as long as Europe is French”.
When that ceased to apply, “France will dispense with Europe. It will destroy
I heard a Eurocrat and a Finnish MEP claiming on the radio that, despite all this, ratification should proceed anyway, a view shared by many stunned European leaders. They might have been on the moon. The argument was that a majority of EU governments were for the constitution and a minority should not be allowed to “get in their way”. No American senator would dare speak that way of states’ rights, even within the US. The conversation showed the mindset of thousands whose careers must now depend on the Brussels gravy train moving forwards. Ever closer union had distanced them from their home countries and, fatally, from their electorates. Europe is not a majoritarian state but a treaty-based collection of free countries.
- Simon Jenkins, after the double rejection of the consitution, in "The Times"
The message is slowly striking home, that
a wider union cannot mean a deeper one. Brussels was an empire too big.
Enlargement was an empire too far. As both Napoleon and Hitler discovered,
when European imperialists march to the east they eventually lose in the
west. The elastic is overstretched. This past week has seen democracy explode
its most dangerous weapon, a referendum. The release of energy was awesome.
Power asked a question of freedom and was given a punch in the face. Such
moments are rare and they are beautiful. They are also menacing and full
It is now inconceivable that the French will ever tolerate 70m Turks as common citizens of Europe. It is inconceivable that the British will tolerate France’s rampant protectionism. It is inconceivable that anyone will tolerate Britain’s budget rebate. New and variable relationships must be forged.
- Simon Jenkins, in "The Times"
The two votes also marked, definitively,
the end of a particular way of doing things in European politics, and the
absolute obsolescence of a particular generation of the European elite
- a generation that spoke of "destiny" not the daily lives of EU citizens,
that led by fiat rather than argument, that dismissed every sceptic as
a xenophobe or a racist, and dared, most shamefully, to invoke the spectre
of the Holocaust to discredit the "No" campaigns. That generation has failed
utterly, and bequeathed to its successors the formidable task of salvaging
that which is still good in the EU: namely, an enlarged single market,
expanding eastwards to embrace the new democracies.
- Matthew d'Ancona, "The Telegraph"
"To all French crypto-communists, syndicalists,
Marxists, Trotskyites, Leninists, Stalinists, national socialists, socialist
nationalists, primitivists, Trade Union dinosaurs, student activists, greenie
nutters, neo-fascists, old fashioned fascists, quasi-crypto-troglodyte-
Pol-Pottist-year zero-flat-earthers, looney tunes and enviro-goons . .
. Merci Beaucoup."
- David Carr, on "Samizdata.Net", after France rejects the treaty
"What have Jean-Marie Le Pen, Ian Paisley,
Sinn Fein and the Daily Mail got in common? They are all united in one
project, and that is to defeat the European Union."
- Alban Maginnis, addressing Ireland's Forum for Europe, on strange bedfellows
The document itself is impenetrable and you
can hardly blame voters for erring on the side of caution. You don’t roll
the dice when you might potentially be voting away your sovereignty and
- Jonah Goldberg, "National Review"
With a cast of leaders carrying this kind
of baggage, it's no wonder the European public has sniffed suspiciously
at their efforts to sell them the Constitutional Treaty. Few would buy
a second-hand car from some of them, never mind a weighty legal tome.
- Conor Sweeney, covering the 2005 EU Summit in "The Irish Independent"
"It had all the attraction of the European
Sheep Meat Directive."
- Graham Allen, UK Labour MEP
There is a deep error in the Europhiles’
excuse that the referendum results were really a popular protest against
globalisation: the vision of Europe as a bastion against globalisation
and Anglo-Saxon economic liberalism is not only a political fantasy, but
also an economic pipedream. Europe is more dependent on foreign trade,
investment and capital flows than America. Europe’s businesses and banks
are more vulnerable than America’s to currency movements and global capital
flows. There is no alternative to the capitalist system of economic management
which could secure the survival of Europe’s labour-intensive industries
against Chinese competition or make its state pensions, welfare benefits
and short working hours affordable in an era when pensioner numbers are
soaring, while working populations are in decline. The idea that closer
political integration could somehow turn these self-indulgent dreams into
a new European “economic model” has been the dirty little secret of the
EU project. Of course the citizens of Europe would like ever-rising incomes
and ever more job security, in exchange for doing less and less work and
retiring earlier and earlier — and they might be tempted to vote for a
constitution which guaranteed these fantasies as fundamental human rights.
On closer inspection, however, the citizens have begun to realise that
their politicians have been selling Europe on a false prospectus.
The single market and the merging of foreign trade policies did genuinely create prosperity, but every subsequent project of European integration not only failed to deliver the results politicians promised but also made conditions worse. The single currency has been the most egregious. In exchange for giving up the basic tenet of sovereignty — the right to mint a currency and thereby manage the national economy — the EU promised economic prosperity and full employment. Instead the single currency has condemned the eurozone to stagnation and mass unemployment.
- Anatole Kaletsky, "The Times"
"They haven’t changed the substance; 90 per
cent of it is still there."
- Bertie Ahern, Irish Prime Minister, on the Constitution-in-all-but-name treaty
US & EUROPE RELATIONS
"America and the nations
in Europe are more than military allies, we’re more than trading partners;
we are heirs to the same civilisation. The pledges of the Magna Carta,
the learning of Athens, the creativity of Paris, the unbending conscience
of Luther, the gentle faith of St Francis - all of these are part of the
The New World has succeeded by holding to the values of the old. Our histories have diverged, yet we seek to live by the same ideals. We believe in free markets, tempered by compassion. We believe in open societies that reflect un-changing truths. We believe in the value and dignity of every life."
- President George W Bush, address to the German Bundestag, May 2002.
You'd think that, if
Europe were really serious about avoiding the horrors of the last century,
they might learn from the most successful and enduring forms of democracy
in the world - the Anglo-American systems. Instead, these are precisely
the forms the EU is most determined to avoid. The EU sees itself as the
answer to the problem of Le Pen, Haider, Fortuyn et al. Le Pen, Haider
and Co. see themselves as the answer to the problem of the EU. The correct
answer is probably "Neither of the above", but, as usual, there'll be a
lot of blood on the floor before they figure that one out.
- Mark Steyn, "The National Post"
A great majority of
Europeans (71%) would like to see the EU become a superpower on a par with
the U.S., but this enthusiasm drops by half when it's explained that this
would involve a higher level of military spending.
- Le Monde
Stop using force to
solve problems! Listen to our diplomats. Promote international courts.
The world no longer works according to your silly laws of military power
and deterrence — but don't dare take any more American troops out of Germany.
Cease militarizing the globe! See instead the world as an interconnected
family of liberal societies that is trying to settle differences by reason
— but stop trying to prevent us from selling hi-tech arms to big Communist
China to threaten tiny democratic Taiwan. What are we to make of this strange
- Victor Davis Hanson, "Eurospeak - Europe is like a Grumpy Teenager", "National Review"
Even if the Kyoto accords didn't deserve dumping in and of themselves, it would have been worth doing just for the pleasure of watching Europe go bananas.
"If present trends
continue, the American economy by 2050 should be twice the size of the
total economy of the EU. At present it is roughly the same size. In other
words, the US is set to dwarf the EU in every measurable way in not much
more than a generation. Europe is a continent that has essentially lost
belief in itself. It rejects its own history because it deems it to be
imperialist. It will not project its power abroad because it thinks reason
alone can solve all problems. It will not defend itself against external
threats either, relying instead on the US for that, and then condemning
it when it does so."
- David Quinn, "The Irish Independent"
Our troubles with Europe
are said to arise from differing views of the world order and an imbalance
in military power. Yet these new tensions cannot truly be understood without
the appreciation that there are no longer 300 Soviet divisions poised to
plow through West Germany.
With a common and deadly enemy nearby, Western Europeans had no utopian illusions that the United Nations, rather than NATO and America, could stop an aggressive Soviet premier should he choose to fire up his tanks.
Our own senators and representatives do not engage in German bashing while the Luftwaffe has 100 jets parked outside of Washington protecting our eastern seaboard.
- Victor Davis Hanson, "National Review"
"So remember, this
August Americans lost 100 brave soldiers fighting selflessly for the liberty
of others while thousands of Frenchmen perished through their children's
neglect and self-absorption.
Modern Germany... is a nation that was created by American arms, rebuilt by American money, protected for a half-century by American tanks and planes, and unified only through American encouragement and support, and with the danger past reelected its present government by virtue of its public anti-Americanism."
- Victor Davis Hanson, "National Review"
America is not Europe.
America was created as an escape from, and antidote to, Europe. American
"unilateralism," as its critics call it, has not produced anything like
perfect leadership. But there are worse "isms" than unilateralism, and
three are imperialism, fascism and communism. A century of American resolve,
often in the face of European disdain, created a continent where not one
of these lives as a serious force. Not bad.
- Michael Kelly, "The Divided States of Europe," The Washington Post, 13/6/01
"I think a world operated
by the French, the Germans, and the Russians would have a kind of realpolitik
that is more of the seventeenth century than the twentieth century. It
would be so cold-blooded, and yet it would be dressed up with self-righteous
moral statements, like the 'world community' and 'every country is sovereign.'
The result would be that some horrible dictators would flourish.
If you look at how the French have operated in sub-Saharan Africa, how they operated supporting the Serbs in the Balkans, you will see that despite all the statements, their actual operations on the ground in many parts of the world have been, by any moral standards, worse than ours."
- Robert D. Kaplan, "Atlantic Online"
One cannot deny the
grim litany (of American aggression), but the fundamental truth is that
the world without a democratic superpower, crude and wrong though it may
be in so many of its actions and deliberations, would be a much more chaotic
and violent place. Every time we criticise the US, it's well worth us Europeans
examining our own past actions or, crucially, in foreign policy, lack of
- Henry Porter, "The Guardian"
"On his first diplomatic
journey to the land of cafe society and unused euros, President George
W. Bush is being patronized for the many things he does not know about
Europe and about his mispronunciations of various European words and names.
Doubtless, he will take the sophisticates' jibes cum grano salis, as they
say back in Texas. After all, what do his European opposites know about
America? Is there one leader in the European Union who can correctly pronounce
Oolitic, Ind., or explain why Bull Snort, Ga., is so named? Or even spot
Bull Snort on a map?"
- R Emmet Tyrell
"The EU has embarked
on a unique scheme for world domination dependent on hectoring the rest
of the planet into submission."
- Mark Steyn
"The reason European
nations eschew the death penalty isn't that they're more civilised, it's
that they're less democratic. Large swathes of the European public actually
support the death penalty. The real continental divide is noblesse oblige
- in Europe, elites are united against the death penalty, and parliamentary
systems allow them to ban it even in the face of the popular will. Ex-Trotskyites
in France consider us barbarians for imposing the death penalty on a mass
murderer, though more prisoners in French jails committed suicide in the
past year than were executed in the US."
- William Safire, "The New Republic"
"Despite European protestations,
American ecological standards are far more strict than European rules,
and have been for 20 years or more… Paris today has worse smog than Houston;
water quality, especially of rivers, is lower in Europe than in the United
States; European Union nations like Greece, Italy and Portugal still discharge
huge volumes of untreated municipal waste water, a practice all but banned
in America. The forested percentage of the United States is higher than
the forested percentage of most European countries, while America has fewer
threatened species than Europe."
- Gregg Easterbrook, "The New Republic"
"The Middle East? Shame
on you, not us, for financing the terrorists on the West Bank. The Palestinian
Authority and Israel? You helped to fund a terrorist clique; we, a democracy
- go figure. Racism? Arabs are safer in America than Jews are in Europe.
That 200,000 were butchered in Bosnia and Kosovo a few hours from Rome
and Berlin is a stain on you, the inactive, not us, the interventionist."
- Victor Davis Hanson, "European Paradoxes", National Review
"I’m not going to be
the man who started the third world war."
- General Mike Jackson, UK commander in Kosovo refusing order from SACEUR Wesley Clark
"The technical superiority
of America’s weaponry is now so overwhelming that the rest of the western
alliance may no longer be able to fight alongside the United States in
future military actions."
- Lord Robertson, NATO Secretary-General
"If a person who refuses
to lock his door at night starts complaining about the only cop on the
beat, sane people should wonder what has happened to his grip on reality.
Does he actually want to be robbed or murdered? Similarly, it is one thing
for Europeans to say that they are ceding all military responsibility to
maintain international order to the United States. It is quite another
for Europeans to then object when the United States takes the Europeans
at their word and acts to defend that world order.
Grow up and join in - or pipe down and let us do it. That's the message America is now sending to Europe. And it's a message long, long overdue."
- Andrew Sullivan
Twenty years ago Europe
was still a main center for pharmaceutical R&D. Today more than 70
percent of all new medical patents are filed in the U.S... no less than
400,000 European scientists currently live and work in the U.S. Of those,
less than one in three will eventually return to Europe. This brain drain
not only deprives Europe of many of its finest research talents, thereby
severely limiting its ability to carry out fundamental research, it also
robs European patients of the chance to participate in clinical trials
of new, potentially life-saving (or at least quality-of-life enhancing)
The risk-avoiding tendency in (West) European business culture makes the continent less suited to play a leading role in today’s high-stakes pharmaceutical industry. With nine out of ten new medicines never making it beyond the testing phase, and total R&D costs per successfully launched new medical product estimated at $800 million, this is no place for the fainthearted. Extra bureaucracy in the R&D phase on the European side means it now takes European pharmaceutical companies one year longer than their American counterparts to bring a new product out of testing to market.
- Joshua Livestro, "The Transatlantic Innovation Gap"
Consider the case of
Yassin Abdullah Kadi and the al Barakaat International Foundation. A United
Nations Security Council resolution has ordered nations to freeze the assets
of Mr. Kadi, a resident of Saudi Arabia, and the foundation, and to take
other sanctions against those suspected of financing al Qaeda and related
organizations. On Sept. 3, the European Court of Justice ruled that the
Security Council resolution was invalid. The duty to comply with the U.N.
Charter, it declared, "cannot have the effect of prejudicing [regional]
constitutional principles." In doing so, the ECJ followed its advocate
general's argument that "international law can permeate [the European Community]
legal order only under the conditions set by the constitutional principles
of the Community."
In other words, European countries must disregard the U.N. Charter -- the most fundamental treaty in our modern international legal system -- when it conflicts with European constitutional order.
This is the third time in a decade that Europe has defied the U.N. Charter. In 1999, for example, European nations participated in NATO's bombing of Kosovo without Security Council authorization. There was much hand-wringing in Europe at the time, but in the end other concerns trumped legal niceties. Similarly, when nations led by Europe created the International Criminal Court (ICC), they purported to limit the Security Council's power to delay or halt ICC trials, also in disregard of the U.N. Charter, which states that Charter obligations trump the requirements of any other treaty.
It is not just the U.N. Charter that European nations and institutions brush aside when convenient. The most fundamental human-rights treaty is the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. European governments, like the U.S. government, have declined to give effect to provisions of that treaty with which they disagree on matters ranging from immigration to hate speech, emergency powers, criminal procedure and more. European courts, too, have ignored provisions and interpretations of this treaty that deviate from European law...
Why, then, do so many people believe the U.S. and Europe have different attitudes toward international law? Partially this is because American politicians frequently express their skepticism about international law, while European politicians loudly proclaim its central role in their value systems, even when they are defying it. This difference, in turn, is grounded in differing historical experiences. America sees itself as an exceptional nation, not bound by the rules that bind others. On the other hand, the enormously successful, decades-long process of treaty-based European integration has led Europeans to identify peace and prosperity with a commitment to international law. What is overlooked is that the treaties that established the European Union created institutions that jealously guard the interests of Europeans when these interests conflict with an international law that reflects global aspirations.
- Jack Goldsmith, "Does Europe Believe In International Law", "Wall Street Journal"
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