This article was first published on The Commentator –
It is easy to dismiss European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker as an anti-democratic clown. He is, but that is not the point, which is that he accurately personifies a failing project which is doing great harm to Europe. Thank goodness for Brexit!
Last weekend, Jean-Claude Juncker’s European Commission signed off on an agenda for a more unified and stronger Europe.
According to the plans set out in a paper entitled ‘The Future of Europe’, the EU will have its own Chancellor and be able to make structural reforms to individual EU nation’s budgets.
The paper also calls for an EU army by 2025, an EU-wide work permit, a pan-EU cyber security agency, and EU expansion to include Serbia and Montenegro.
Calls for an EU army by 2025 are particularly alarming. There are already measures underway to make this happen, such as The European Defence Fund (EDF), the European Defence Research Programme (EDRP), and the European Defence Industrial Development Programme (EDIDP).
These proposals are worrying because, in the defence paper published by DExEU, the Government implied we could continue to be a part of these policy initiatives after Brexit.
This would not only undermine the Sovereignty of the British Government in defence and foreign policy, it would also undermine the UK’s fundamental defence commitment in NATO. In other words, it would not be a real Brexit.
Should we be surprised? Of course not. The logic of the European Union has always been towards the creation of a Federal super-state. ‘Ever closer union’ wasn’t enshrined in the EU treaties for nothing.
Jean-Claude Juncker is the Europhile par excellence. His State of the Union address, which this new paper builds upon, confirmed what we already knew. Juncker outlined that all Member States should adopt, or prepare to adopt, the Euro; the EU should have its own common finance minister; and, of course, the EU budget should not face cuts.
Mr Juncker encapsulates everything that is wrong with the European Union as an institution and why the UK voted for Brexit: the length of time it takes to get anything done; its undemocratic fundamentals; and its unreflective and dogmatic nature, to name just a few.
Perhaps the biggest parallel is the total inability to sense danger and act to prevent it. And when danger is actually foreseen the wrong medicine is invariably applied. These failures are often the result of EU officials burying their heads in the sand.
Jean-Claude Juncker is applying totally the wrong medicine to the EU in response to the Brexit vote, as well as all the other troubles afflicting the Union at present from Central and Eastern EU Member States voting in Eurosceptic governments, incumbent governments in these regions rejecting refugee quotas, to the ongoing crisis in Catalonia.
The response to these troubles is not more Europe, it should, quite plainly, be less.
The events in Catalonia have much to do with Spanish history, and are not particularly the result of EU wrongdoing. They should be understood, however, as an indication of the general trend in the world towards smaller, self-determining, more numerous nations, and away from big empires and conglomerations.
However, events in Central and Eastern Europe are a different matter. Firstly, votes for right-wing, relatively Eurosceptic parties in both the Czech and Austrian recent elections, and secondly, the resistance to EU refugee quotas seen in Poland, the Czech Republic and Hungary. These are clearly reactions to EU incompetence and subsequent overreach.
Attempting to tie the EU knot even tighter will only serve to deepen these reservations on the Continent. Alas, Juncker is hell bent on forcing disparate states, with distinctly different histories and cultures, under one all-encompassing umbrella. This complete lack of political tact from the President of the Commission could have severe consequences for the Union in the not so distant future.
Juncker could be seen as an aberration; an extreme federalist, who many of Europe’s national leaders did not want to green light in the first place. This would, however, be mistaken. Juncker represents the fundamental logic of the EU.
EU institutions, as with all governmental institutions, by their very nature, seek to gain more power for themselves. Juncker himself, for example, was brought to power as a result of the European Parliament seeking to gain more powers for itself, via linking the Commission Presidential nomination to European Parliament election results.
This, with a little help from German domestic politics, forced reluctant European Council leaders into putting forward Juncker in the first place.
Juncker, and whoever succeeds him, will continue to attempt to try and sneak more powers towards the EU. This will carry on until member states resist and the EU starts to break up, or it reverts to actually being a free trade area (which is what the UK signed up for in the first place).
At any rate Juncker’s vision for the future of the European Union can only makes us more thankful we voted to Leave, and it emphasises why we need to Get Britain Out of the EU as quickly as possible.
Jack Tagholm-Child is a Research Executive at cross-party grassroots campaign Get Britain Out