Published by Huffington Post UK
“I am more confident than ever that I will be the next European Commission President,” tweeted former Prime Minister of Luxembourg Jean-Claude Juncker on 4 June. Quite how he knew with such certainty so far in advance of the EU’s elected national leaders is something of a mystery. Until, that is, you consider the continuing dominance of the Franco-German axis in the European Union, and the historical absurdity of believing that a British prime minister could ‘take a lead in Europe’ or ‘grasp the agenda of reform’ – with or without a handbag.
The EU is a collective predestined toward ‘ever closer union’, and it is simply not possible to ‘grasp the agenda’ of a collective. The agenda of this particular collective is set by the Committees of Permanent Representatives serving the Council of Ministers, and also by the European Commission. The agenda cannot be hijacked by one member state, any more than one member state can insist on something with which the others do not agree.
Cameron’s demand for the renegotiation of Britain’s ‘relationship’ with the EU is based on a false premise – namely the belief that he can divert the Euro-locomotive from its single-direction track. But in a collective no member can re-orientate the direction in which it is travelling. A Europe of freer trade means a Europe without the Common Agricultural Policy, and Britain has been insisting for decades that this mechanism needs reform, entirely without success. In a collective, a member can argue, insist or demand until he is blue in the face, but if his arguments do not prevail, the only way forward is either to leave the collective or meekly accept its decisions, diktats and directives.
This has been Britain’s experience on many EEC/EC/EU issues over 40 years: insist; argue; jump on high horse; fail to convince the collective; then roll over and accept the collective’s decision, regardless of the adverse economic, social and political consequences for the United Kingdom. Jacques Delors was blunt in his abuse of those who oppose the Union: “There is no place in a democracy for people who call for a ‘Non’,” he said in 1992 to those who opposed ratification of the Maastricht Treaty. “For the sorcerer’s apprentices, for those who awake phantoms. I will say to them they should get out of politics,” he decreed.
The demos is obeyed by the elite only when they say ‘Yes’ to Europe and ever closer Europe. Every ‘No’ is met with kratos – the assertion of an oligarchical power, which Greece and Italy both discovered when technocrats were appointed to govern these once sovereign nations to avert economic disaster. An absolute ‘Europe’ can do no wrong: it alone chooses what liberties to grant the people.
The appointment of arch-federalist Jean-Claude Juncker as President of the European Council confirms that we are sleep-walking into a European superstate from which there will be no easy escape. We cannot, as some aver, simply repeal the 1972 European Communities Act and restore our national sovereignty with an assertion that ‘La Reyne le veult’. The EU has cumulatively procured the collectivisation of our national interests, and these are now enmeshed, knotted and tangled in a plethora of international treaties which cannot simply be unravelled by a sovereign vote of Parliament. It could take months if not years of incremental ‘ever looser divorce’ to separate ourselves from the collective.
The engine of ‘ever closer union’ is and has always been France and Germany. As French Foreign Minister Hervé de Charette observed in a speech to The European Movement on 26th June 1996: ‘The Franco-German axis must continue to fulfil its federating function… The single currency project is the principal and…only European federating project…the powerfully federalist character of this project has yet to be appreciated.”
We are now, of course, beginning to appreciate it. The ERM which spawned EMU logically demands economic governance over and above the democratically-elected governments of member states. The 28 can assemble and meet to discuss their concerns, but Germany and France are bound by the terms of their bilateral treaty of 1963 to reach ‘as far as possible an analogous position’ ahead of meetings of the Council of Ministers. And so the EU progresses teleologically in accordance with a notion of divine right which is accountable to no democratic urge, and certainly not to the mere domestic concerns of the British Prime Minister. It is a Franco-German theo-political doctrine which makes a nonsense of the British Government’s constant mantra that we should be ‘at the heart of Europe': its heart is occupied by Germany and France, and always has been.
If Chancellor Merkel and President Hollande gave the nod to Juncker a month ago, the King was chosen and the Crown of Europe bestowed. All that the people can do is await the public declaration and sacred anointing. And Cameron can like it or lump it.