Reference to ‘Brussels’ is directed at the resident political establishment and not the people of Brussels, who are dealing with so much at the moment and to whom I extend my deepest sympathies and support. J T Coombes
As the 23rd June hurtles towards us I become increasingly convinced that the people of Britain now face a similar challenge to that which they faced at the outbreak of World War II.
Once again Britain stands against an invasion from Europe. Not this time the armed might of Nazism but rather the financial might of Neoliberalism. Something significantly more powerful that is seeking to rob us of our freedoms and democracies by breaking down all of the moral rules that have previously held Society in place.
I have heard many people say that they don’t have enough information with which to make such an important decision as to whether we leave or stay in the EU. In these three pieces therefore, I am writing, not about the many (spurious) issues being bandied about by each side to divert our attention from the real issue but simply the facts.
They are what I consider to be the most important aspects of our experience during our membership of this constantly changing union, starting with its evolution and up to the present day.
It was in 1944 that the groundwork for the EU was laid, when the Allies convened the Bretton Woods conference to decide how the world would be run in future.
The British Empire relinquished its position to America, as the global super power, which heralded the birth of Neoliberalism. (Privatisation, fiscal austerity, deregulation, free trade and reductions in government spending in order to enhance the role of the private sector in the economy – Wikipedia.)
The foundations of this ‘new world order’ were laid with the introduction of the International Monetary Fund and the International Bank of Reconstruction and Development, which morphed into the World Bank and then, within a few years, the birthing of the United Nations and NATO.
We have since come to realise that all of these supposed ‘international’ bodies were simply tools for the development and implementation of American foreign policy across the globe. (Indeed NATO’s credibility came into question just 6 years after its inauguration!)
To this end we have seen the stealthy pursuit of a United’ Europe, which can be controlled by a central government and single currency.
It began with the formation of the European Coal and Steel Community in 1951, which provided the platform for the European Economic Community, comprising just six countries in 1958 with which to begin the ‘economic integration’ of Europe.
As new member states joined, 1993 saw the establishment of a ‘single internal’ market renamed the European Union. Underwritten by the Maastricht Treaty, it expanded the original remit beyond ‘economic integration’ by introducing European citizenship.
This neoliberal ‘stealth attack’ was stalled when attempts to institute a Constitution for Europe, viewed as “an enhancement to the efficiency and democratic legitimacy of the Union”, were defeated in 2005 by French and Dutch voters who feared a weakening of national democracies.
Undeterred by this setback further expansion took place in 2009 when the agreement was amended yet again by the Treaty of Lisbon. Fundamental changes were made to the previous agreements by including ‘qualified majority voting’ to replace unanimity voting on a wide number of policy areas and a more powerful European Parliament.
By 2014 this ‘growth by stealth’ from Brussels resulted in the EU covering 7.3% of the world population, generating a nominal gross domestic product $18.5 trillion representing approximately 24% of similar global GDP. A powerful global player indeed!
To cope with such a vast expansion, the infrastructure of the EU has become a ‘mare’s nest’ of 7 institutions:
The European Parliament, The European Council, The Council of European Union, The European Commission, The Court of Justice of the European Union, The European Court of Auditors and the European Central Bank.
Of all of this bewildering array of bureaucracies the most significant, by far, are the European Commission and European Council. Such is their power that former Belgium Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt suggested they be called the “European Government”.
An insightful claim, as they are responsible for developing medium-term strategies, drafting legislation, making rules and regulations, drawing up the EU budget and scrutinising the implementation of treaties and legislation it comes up with.
They do all of this whilst remaining independent from the influences of the governments that appoint their councils of members. It is also the only “government”, in a supposed democracy, that is not accountable to the people! Here we get to the heart of the unelected power of the EU and reason for its growing unaccountability.
It is the unelected technocrats within these bodies who have come up with the diversionary tactic of an ‘In/Out’ vote for Britain to counter the growing unrest of the people. Instead of a more democratic vote e.g. “on whether we have confidence in Brussels to continue running things”, this says, without any ambiguity whatsoever: “We’re not going anywhere – either you stay or go!”
This autocratic stance, I believe, has been adopted by Brussels to test the vast unaccountable power it has amassed and now wields, which is gradually deconstructing the democratic process across Europe to accommodate neoliberalism.
In the following two pieces I will try to cover how this is being achieved, with what I can only describe as Crimes against Democracy, to further the aims of a largely unelected bureaucracy.
Until the next time
Thinking from his Book: Global Magna Carta. Returning Power to the 99% . . . If They Want It! By J T Coombes