25 juni 2016

Brexit onwards: a vision for a new European project

On 23 June 2016 the British people voted in favor to leave the European Union with a minor majority (51.9% in favor) despite a large voter turnout (72%) [BBC, Results in full 24/06/2016]. There is a clear distinction in voting between Northern Ireland, Scotland and the remainder of the United Kingdom (Wales and England). It would seem the more ‘Protestant’ regions of Northern Ireland voted in favor of leaving the EU, whilst more ‘Catholic’ regions voted in the opposite direction. In Scotland a clear vote in favor of remaining in the EU (62%) is visible and is oddly enough already forming the basis for a renewed call for a referendum for Scottish independence. For a population anxious to regain its own proper sovereignty boasting its capability for independence based on oil revenue and its own smart they are quite willing to turn over their sought sovereignty back over to the Eurocrats in Brussels.

Unbelievably, just before the referendum took place threats were issued about economic loss, loss of access to the European market and such. Whilst a Brexit has repercussions on EU member states as well. Nobody can accurately predict the effect of the Brexit for the United Kingdom, nor for the European Union. Already European politicians are stating that the ‘European Union’ has issues with selling itself to the public, problems with proving its positive effects…this is exactly why the EU has launched several communication campaigns in the past decade. The European Union has a severe legitimacy issue due to its democratic deficit, which clearly Eurocrats and Eurofederalist do not wish to understand.  A renewed European project is necessary as it can bring advantages and improve our lives, however it must have legitimacy.

A prelude to the liberation of Europe, anew?

The British European referendum was clearly a battle on matters of sovereignty and current institutional evolution of the European Union (towards a more federal entity). One could perhaps go as far as say that a new Battle of Britain was won, not in the skies above the United Kingdom but in its voting stations against a European Continental foe, the mainly German dominated French-German European Union axis supported by the Brussels Eurocrats. The question rises wether this ‘victory’ is a prelude for a new course in history as was the Battle of Britain back in 1940.

Will the Brexit lead to a change in the European Union, whereby dissent (resistance) will force the EU’s undemocratic hand towards a more democratic solution? For those that cannot or will not understand, I quote Margaret Tatcher: ‘Our choice is clear. Either we exercise democratic control of Europe through cooperation between national governments and parliaments which have legititmacy, experience and closeness to the people. Or we transfer decisions to a remote multilingual parliament, accountable to no real European public opinion and thus increasingly subordinate to a powerful bureaucracy’ (Benjamin Grob-Fitzgibbon, 2016: 462pp.*).

The new ‘Blitz’ has already started with the Jean-Claude Junckers (President European Commission/ The Guardian, 24/06/2016) demanding a swift and fast ‘fait accompli’ of the Brexit. As expected European Federalist guru Guy Verhofstadt (ALDE) already admitted that the current European Union doesn’t work, mainly because of the cumbersome decision process involving 28 member states… he doesn’t advocate a ‘superstate’ but his proposition for a 12 member ‘government’ with a European Coast and border guard as well as a defence community does sound much like his beloved United States of Europe (HLN, 19/06/2016).

It is time again for the allies of the United Kingdom to stand up for a new liberation of the Europe, side by side in rank and file, against the Eurocrats and their ‘Blitz’ as Brexit punishment. As historic allies, Flanders should be at the forefront to keep an open trade route between the United Kingdom and the European Union, and seek continued deep relations despite the Brexit. Fear has struck the Eurocrats which leads them to charge forward, yet again. Fear of a ripple effect amongst member states with a growing number of dissent towards the European Union. The momentum has been set, it is time a different European project. A new Winston Churchill is needed to lead the way, whom else than Boris Johnson could this currently be?

The (s)urge for a new European project.

During a recent trip to London I discovered and bought a very interesting book ‘Continental Drift. Britain and Europe from the End of Empire to the Rise of Euroscepticism’ written by Benjamin Grob-Fitzgibbon (2016,*). Most students who receive university courses on the history of the European Union will learn that it all started with the  European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC) established in 1951. Yet, rarely any of them shall have been taught anything about the immediate postwar period and the scramble for a renewed Europe leaving behind the rubbles of the second world war and facing  the communist threat as the Cold War resurfaced. Grob-Fitzgibbon’s book sheds an important light on this period and more importantly on the role of the United Kingdom in relation the France and Germany.

A long story short. A need arose for a new continental system whereby warring Germany and France could be controlled so as to not renew their hostilities and yet face the rising (and imminent) Communist threat emerging from post-war Soviet Union. The United Kingdom as well as Winston Churchill were in favor of a European system of cooperation, including a defence community, whereby the United Kingdom would retain its sovereignty (and empire) without being fully engorged into a federalist or even confederalist European system. The United Kingdom sought to accommodate both France and Germany, despite huge post-war French reticence and revanchism towards Germany. The Benelux was desperate for a British commitment and support. However, the United Kingdom was muscled out (if not betrayed) by France which suddenly raced for the ECSC with Benelux aid with a clear agenda to ‘dominate’ Germany. What started as the ECSC had grown in the European Union, founded and refounded as we know today (Maastricht treaty, Treaty of Lisbon). 

The French-German axis is the dominant European continental political drive within the European Union, with a slightly more dominant position taken by Germany. The clearest and most recent proof thereof is Angela Merkel’s unilateral ‘wir schaffen das’ asylum crisis in the wake of the Syrian Civil War. A crisis which the Eurocrats have failed to control going as far as to sell itself out to the Turkish President Tayyip Erodogan who sees himself as a neo-Ottoman Sultan. Whilst Eastern Europe remains politically too weak in Brussels. Time has proven there is no popular nor democratic support for the open flood gates policy unleashed by Angela Merkel nor the shabby EU policy. 

A new European institute does remain a necessity - preferably with the United Kingdom, but that clearly doesn’t mean it needs to be the European Union.
  •  A common European Defence in the form of a renewed (as initially thought of) European Defence Community integrated in the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) remains a necessity due to the resurgence of an ‘neo-Tsarist’ Russia and ‘Neo-Ottoman’ Turkey as well as the ongoing political changes (and conflicts) in the Islamic world [Maghreb, Mashreq] .
  • The common European market holds the value of standardization but can be replaced by a Free Trade Association such as EFTA. The Eurocrats can be replaced by representatives of member states that seek mutual benefits and cooperation amongst sovereign member-states on issues such as innovation & technology; economic development; education; labor…without the diktats from Brussels but with bilateral or multilateral agreements.
At heart the new European project must be a democratic one. 'Real progress comes not from more bureaucracy, but from the values and institutions of government by consent, through ministers seen to be accountable. These things are in tune with the instincts of the people. They are part of the heritage we have built up over the centuries.’ Margaret Tatcher (Benjamin Grob-Fitzgibbon, 2016: 462pp.*). Modern technology doesnt really need Eurocrats creating diktats in their own world to be unleashed onto the European member-states, this can be done under supervision of accountable ministers duly elected and truely accountable.

Whomever thought the basic principle of democratic Nation-States is dead, guess again. It is alive and has matured, without the burden of imperialism nor racial theory. For me personally, more than ever does John Stuart Mill’s ‘On Liberty’ hold truth and value. The Nation-State is the political entity built on a community that through democracy offers the establishment of true liberty. A European Union defaults on this by definition, an intergovernmental or confederal European project does not.

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