26 januari 2010

Meet your new President: Herman Van Rompuy (Pieter Cleppe)

Since January 1st, 2010, the Czech Republic has a new President. Sure, Václav Klaus is still “President of the Czech Republic”, but as he rightly indicated himself, the Czech Republic ceased to be an independent state because he had to sign the Lisbon Treaty. Most people still think of the European Union as an “international organisation”, which it was, but few are aware that since the Lisbon Treaty has entered into force, one can easily argue it has become a “Sovereign State”, as Lisbon has conferred it with “legal personality” and therefore the full capacity to enter into relations with other states and sign treaties, which it lacked before.

Apart from a permanent population, a defined territory and a government, that is the fourth element needed to comply with the definition of a state, according to the Montevideo Convention, which is the codification of the declarative theory of statehood in international law. Not only legally but also in the facts should the EU be considered a state, given its large powers over almost everything. That 62.5% of all Czech laws are coming from Brussels is just one example. President Klaus is merely the President of one of the constituting elements of this newly formed federal State.

It was Herman Van Rompuy, the former Prime Minister of Belgium, who has been chosen to become “President of the European Council”. This “European Council” operates alongside the other branches of government of the European Union, which are the Council of Ministers, the European Commission, the European Parliament and the EU judicial branch. Van Rompuy’s European Council is the most important branch, as the EU Treaty notes it “provides political direction to the European Union”. Therefore, more than Commission President Barroso, he should be considered to be European President, presiding over all European citizens, including those in the Czech Republic. Wouldn’t it be relevant then for Czech citizens to know which plans Van Rompuy has for them?

There hasn’t exactly been a transparent process of selecting the new President, as the Latvian candidate Vaira Vike-Freiberga said the selection process is 'Soviet' and an Eastern European diplomat compared it with “decoding who was in or out in the Kremlin in the 1970s”. Therefore Van Rompuy didn’t really write a proper election program so one can only resort to what he has said in the past about the EU.

The first thing one can say is that he seems to have a preference for disclosing his plans for citizens on secretive gatherings. Just before he was elected, he explained his idea to finance the EU budget through direct EU taxes at a meeting of the Bilderberg group, an unofficial, invitation-only and very secret elite conference. Not that there is something wrong with going there, but it can only make one wonder whether he’s suspecting the public might not agree with him.

On a rare outspokenness, he was caught reacting on the no votes to the European Constitution in the Netherlands and France in 2005, reportedly being very relieved that there had been no referendum in Belgium. He told he hated the debates in France and the Netherlands, in which he discovered a sort of demagogy to which “even the calculating citizen lends a willing ear”. Also at that time, Van Rompuy gave a speech to the Belgian Parliament, in which he said: “We go on with the ratification of the European Constitution in all our parliaments, but we need to admit that for the moment the project is over. However, this doesn’t mean that we cannot continue to work in a creative way in the direction which the Constitution points. I don’t mind if we break up the Constitution into smaller parts, as long as we continue to work in the same direction: in the direction of more Europe.” And so it was. So much for his democratic credentials.

Another example of how he prefers to do things “through the back door” is how he said, back in 1989, as President of the Flemish Christian Democrat Party: “Once Economic and Monetary Union has been realised, the realisation of political union will get an extra boost as a logical and indispensable complement of EMU”. So translated to the current discussion on whether or not to bail out for example Greece, it leads no doubt that Van Rompuy will do everything in his power to abuse the situation when an EU country is in financial trouble by pushing for a federal EU budget to pay for the losses. The fact that taxpayers of other European countries would then have to pay for the mistakes of a government they didn’t vote for, will be of no importance.

Van Rompuy furthermore doesn’t want to let countries decide their own economic model. The Anglosaxon, Swedish or Eastern-European models should all disappear. In 1998, he wrote in a book: “The Rhineland model is limited to the Benelux countries and Germany. It needs to become the model of the whole of the Union.”

This is just along the lines of the manifesto of his Christian Democratic party, where he has always been one of the top figures. It calls for huge transfers of power to the EU, noting that "taking decisions by majority needs to become to rule, also in domains which are traditionally very closely connected with national sovereignty, such as justice, internal affairs, fiscal matters, social policy and foreign policy." It proposes that “apart from the euro, also other national symbols need to be replaced by European symbols (licence plates, identity cards, presence of more EU flags, one time EU sports events”. Being critical of some forms of nationalism is probably a healthy thing, but that shouldn’t mean one becomes a fanatic European nationalist.

If somebody would be still doubting whether Van Rompuy’s plans for a European superstate are just empty words, it might be good to take the word of French President Nicolas Sarkozy for it, who said the following at a press conference after his appointment: “I genuinely find that Herman's views reflect mine: he's a man who knows very precisely where he's going. And if people are criticizing him for not being determined and being too flexible, they risk having some rude surprises, some rude surprises. Don't confuse things, thinking that a tolerant man who's a bit reserved, perhaps a bit modest, can't have firm beliefs.” If that isn’t a credential...

Dit opiniestuk van Pieter Cleppe werd in het Tsjechisch vertaald en als coverartikel in het januarinummer van het ledenblad van het Centrum voor Economie en Politiek gepubliceerd. In dat tijdschrift vindt hij zich trouwens in het gezelschap van Vaclav Klaus zelf.


At 27/1/10 09:12, Anonymous Anoniem said...

See also www.FreeEurope.info


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