The EU, not as bad as it looks

EPA/SHAWN THEW

US President Donald J. Trump and British Prime Minister Theresa May participate in a joint press conference in the East Room of the White House in Washington, DC, USA, 27 January 2017. 

The EU, not as bad as it looks


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From a macro perspective, the European Union is a robust organisation, even though it is performing badly in many aspects. However, as the interests to keep it together are big, the Union will hold for a long time. Indeed, despite austerity measures religiously being imposed by the European Central Bank (ECB), which has tacitly assumed the role of the Bundesbank for Europe, has modestly broken the austerity rule and is printing notes worth some €70bn per month. This is a smart, controlled way to channel money into the markets and trigger a kind of moderate growth (in certain countries), thus reversing stagnation and creating hope. Markets are based on hope.

Europe has no leaders with the power to bring the changes our society needs to move forward. This is why we are losing our bright youth, the brilliant minds of our civilisation, to America and to East Asia. Our leaders are more like managers than politicians, capable of following instructions from the overlords and thus keeping ordinary people under control. Mainstream leaders keep in line with the “European doctrine”. Those who do not are marginalised (Viktor Orban), dismissed (Matteo Renzi), forced to compromise (Alexis Tsipras) or get stuck with big domestic political problems (Mariano Rajoy). As for the future, it belongs to the French model. The successor of  François Holland is highly likely to be Emmanuel Macron.

The preservation of the status quo is seemingly based on two issues that are purposely not being addressed. Immigration keeps ordinary people worried about their safety and forces them to accept suffocating security restrictions at the expense of their democratic freedoms. Unemployment keeps families in the belligerent South busy inventing ways to survive instead of fighting for income redistribution and the like.

This seems to be the pattern of the European progression over the next few years. Unless something really big happens, i.e. a world war, nothing will be able to reverse it.

At the micro level, President Jean-Claude Juncker is following a course difficult to interpret as he has the proven ability to hide his intentions. We should not lose sight of the fact that he is one of the longest serving prime ministers in Europe, in a country where he had to deal personally with all levels of powers. Every day, he had to meet with top executives of big business and financial conglomerates and at the same time with ordinary people. Indeed, Luxemburg is a country in which the economy is based on services, while each citizen is important as a few votes can determine the election result. This is a combination no other European leader has ever had the opportunity to experience.

Therefore, if he does not run for the EU Presidency again, as he has said – much to the relief of his adversaries, or if he changes his mind and opts for another term, it remains to be seen. As regards the rumours we hear in Brussels from time to time (health, alcohol and the like), maybe or may not, it is part of a game. Indeed, Juncker is running the most sophisticated and non-transparent administrative machine of the world and to do this, and to change things and survive, takes more than being an ordinary politician. One must have Ulysses under his skin.

Juncker was surprised by the British referendum result because he was badly advised by his communication team. Evan worse, none of his communication associates had warned him of the obvious, that Donald Trump might win the election, which he did. Not only that. On the night of the election, instead of taking a plane and go the same evening to the Trump Tower in New York with flowers and chocolates – showing EU’s solidarity to the president elect, he did not. Nigel Farage was first to visit the new American president, next came Marine Le Pen and after her was Theresa May. Also, Angela Merkel paid a visit to Donald Trump, but the European Union did not, at least not yet.

For months after the June 23 Brexit Referendum, both sides, the EU and the UK, were secretly trying to find legitimate ways to bypass the result and keep Great Britain in the Union. It was a matter that was keeping the Legal Service of the Commission seriously busy. The UK, being terrorised by the consequences of losing its last colony, was also working in a similar direction.

However, the missed visit of Juncker to Trump and the meeting of the US President with Theresa May resulted in the UK launching Article 50 of the Treaty on February 28. This was the end of UK membership to the EU. Now, we are officially EU-27, whatever this means.

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