This article was first published on Comment Central.
In Greece last month, the EU’s Economy Commissioner, Pierre Moscovici, said the Commission would soon be coming out with a white paper for EU reform, which would include “ambitious ideas for the deepening of the economic and monetary union”. Two weeks later, the white paper came out as planned – but Moscovici’s “ambitious ideas” for the Eurozone were nowhere to be found.
Their omission, it emerged, was no mistake. The Commission’s plans for the monetary union were dropped from the white paper, and it is now believed they will be published in a separate paper in late May. This just so happens to delay the proposals until after the Dutch election, the 60th anniversary celebrations for the Treaty of Rome (the EU’s founding document), and both rounds of the French election.
This is, of course, no coincidence at all. The Commission has deliberately put back the proposals for one of the most contentious aspects of European integration until a quieter time – one when the proposals are less likely to have any impact on an election.
Of course, the Commission would not indulge in these delaying tactics if they thought these proposals would lead to an outpouring of pro-EU sentiment, and a rush of voters towards pro-EU parties or candidates. The only reason why they would do this is because they know these proposals will prove immensely controversial and unpopular, and could end up fuelling support for Eurosceptic parties.
This is not the first time the EU has behaved like this – preferring to delay controversial news until after any opportunities for the public to have their say on these issues. During the EU Referendum campaign last year, it was reported a new round of talks on Turkish accession to the EU were being delayed until the week after the vote. Likewise, new proposals leading towards an EU ‘defence union’ were kept even from the Member States until after June 23rd, for fear they would be leaked before the Referendum.
The Great British Public, of course, saw through this and voted for Brexit. They voted to be rid of an EU which behaves with such contempt for the people it claims to serve, and to reclaim their democracy. If anything, the EU’s efforts to keep its less popular plans under wraps until after Britons had voted backfired. It only served to prove the EU loathes public scrutiny and seeks to avoid it where possible.
What happened in the United Kingdom will happen across Europe. The EU’s clumsy attempts at pulling the wool over Europeans’ eyes will not work. Eurosceptics will rightly seize upon the fact the EU are keeping their plans under wraps to ensure voters do not get a say on them (at least until several months or years down the line, when they presumably hope they’ll have been forgotten).
If the EU wants to stop the constant rise of Eurosceptic movements across the continent, then they need to become more transparent. This current trend of keeping voters in the dark during crucial elections, is as counter-productive as it is blatantly dishonest.
At Get Britain Out, we believe the EU should summon up the courage to put their plans forward honestly and let the people of Europe have their say. If the plans prove unpopular – as they clearly suspect they will be – and Eurosceptic movements continue to rise, then that’s democracy. Perhaps the EU will then understand they need to reconsider their plans for an ‘ever-closer union’.