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The undemocratic foundation of the EU risks corrupting representative government in Europe. As Delaume and Cayla recall, in 2008, three years after the French rejection of the Constitutional Treaty, more than three-quarters of French parliamentarians approved the Lisbon Treaty. Valéry Giscard d’Estaing candidly admitted at the time that Lisbon was essentially the same thing as the Constitutional Treaty. It is difficult to imagine, Delaume and Cayla point out, “representatives more disconnected from those they are meant to represent than these ones”. Delaume and Cayla correctly predicted that British MPs would not repeat the error of their French counterparts. Indeed, the Commons vote on Article 50 was almost a perfect mirror image of the French vote of 2008: more than three-quarters of MPs voted to uphold the will of the people rather than to overturn it.

The euro may have been the final straw for the EU. It increased the power of the technocrats, and exposed the impotence of national democratic governments. It even turned the EU against one of the central — possibly the central — raison d’être of the European project: the containment of Germany. Remember how it all began: the European Coal and Steel Community, established in 1951, was designed to place those strategic resources outside exclusive German control. The euro has, however, steadily amplified German power in Europe over the last two decades, in some ways in spite of Germany’s economic performance rather than because of it (British GDP was less than half German GDP in 1995; it is more than 80 per cent now). Far from being contained, Germany now exerts disproportionate influence over the fiscal, monetary and immigration policy of the rest of Europe. As Sir Craig Oliver’s account of the Cameron negotiations reveals, it was to Merkel that the British government would normally turn to find out if a particular proposal would be met with a Ja or a Nein.

That the euro would strengthen Germany should have been clear from the outset. It was to Denis Healey, Chancellor of the Exchequer in 1974-1979. He wrote in his diaries that he had been “fairly agnostic” about Britain joining the first step towards monetary union, the Exchange Rate Mechanism, until he discussed it with Manfred Lahnstein, the Permanent Secretary in Germany’s Finance Ministry. Lahnstein explained that he supported the ERM because it was in Germany’s national interest. “His argument was, as always, simple and powerful,” wrote Healey. “The mechanism would require the weaker countries to intervene on the currency markets to keep the stronger currencies down, and vice versa; this meant that France and Italy would have to pay to keep the Deutschmark lower than it would have been in a free market, thus keeping Germany more competitive, and other countries less so.” The euro removed the inconvenience of interventions in the currency markets to secure Germany’s advantage over the rest of the continent. But it still followed Lahnstein’s logic.

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Anonymous
April 19th, 2017
11:04 AM
Fantastic piece, very thought provoking. It is extraordinary that nowadays, national pride's chain of inference becomes descent into fascism. "Liberals" have been peddling this canard unopposed. As a result it has become generally accepted. Ironically, if legitimate concerns continue to go unaddressed, it will eventually come true. But so far there has been demonstrably very little appetite for it despite the best efforts of the police and their lobbyists (see Hate Crime statistics and how they are gathered and then used to peddle a false narrative). Finally here this author is highlighting the fact that the establishment has been so often on the wrong side of history. Does education immunize against common sense? is is used as a substitute for independent thinking? Is group-think unduly rewarded by the system? Clearly there is a problem there.

geomat33
April 2nd, 2017
11:04 PM
The alternative model to both neoliberalism and collectivism is emerging called cooperative liberalism or coliberalism. This development not only affirms that Brexit was the right decision, it also provides the economic pathway for doing so. This development, while exposing the EU as a well-intentioned but flawed experiment, offers a practical pathway to achieving the original goals of the EU. "Coliberalism affirms the long-standing belief that human progress is the result of cooperative effort based on trust and underpinned by an attitude of selflessness, grounded in empathy. It is a rejection of the neoliberal concept of trying to organize society on the principle of self-interest and enforced through the market by its monopoly on defining value, which it defines solely in terms of financial profit and loss. Coliberalism works by relegating the market to being a subset of society rather than being its central institution, as it is under neoliberalism. This has the effect of quarantining the broader community from the withering impact of self-interest while freeing the market to deliver economic benefits with minimum regulation and minimum taxation. Under coliberalism the traditional process of sharing wealth through salary, wages, taxation and redistribution is expanded to include human creativity and social capital as recognized by direct feedback through Trruster. Coliberalism frees the market to automate to improve efficiency while sharing the gains more equitably and more broadly on a global basis by rewarding human creativity, ingenuity and social capital building. While coliberalism is a rejection of the dominion of the market over the individual, it is also a rejection of collectivism in all its forms, which can be broadly defined as the dominion of the state over the individual. Coliberalism can be broadly defined as a system of social, economic and political organization based on individuals cooperating freely for mutual benefit, guided by online feedback and within the bounds of common law." http://bit.ly/2nMgSvT

Anonymous
April 1st, 2017
8:04 AM
Adolf Hitler was the biggest threat to democracy in the 20th Century The EU is the biggest threat to democracy in the 21st Century World War 1 was in the early 20th Century, and its now 2017 I hope that the 21st Century does not have to fight the great wars again to regain or maintain democracy

Democracy lover
March 30th, 2017
7:03 AM
Excellent piece. Thank you for this wake-up call article.

anonymous
March 29th, 2017
7:03 PM
If colonization and it's inherant threat to indigenous culture by military force is wrong then the same result through political peer pressure is just as wrong. If America or any other country wants to participate in the melting pot culture, let them. However those who desire to truly preserve indigenous cultural identity of a country by maintaining autonomy, that is their right as many of the countries have fought, loved, died and worked hard over centuries to create the country and the unique culture. Long live Brittain! Vive Francais! And for all those liberals giving lip service to diversity it is exactly that which you threaten in your demands to integrate. Especially when the demand is against the will of those experiencing forced integration. Trade cooperation should not require a loss of cultural autonomy.

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