Tue Feb 3rd, 2009 at 05:19:21 PM EST
I have to tell you, it's hard to take Brussels seriously much of the time. Out of touch meddling bureaucrats, some populists in various official languages say, telling me my sausage or my cheese shouldn't be available for public sale or my cigarettes have too much nicotine in them. Ineffectual bureaucrats who do nothing for regular Europeans, are incapable of making Europe and the EU relevant for its citizens, and whose wooden language in PR efforts fail in all member languages. And economically-challenged, parochial tinkerers who never miss an opportunity to think small.
As we face a serious economic challenge, with member states Hungary, Latvia, Spain, Ireland, Romania and the UK (beyond the perennial economic basket case Italy) facing severe economic challenges causing hardship among our fellow European citizen, it's a fair question: what the hell good does the EU do? And what the hell good does the Euro do? (And, trust me, it's not a polite topic of conversation among "educated" Europeans, but listen closely at the market square...even the Euro is being called into question by those referred to by my president as the "gens d'en bas," the "little people," who have an unfortunate tendency to vote their own interests and worldview.
The more I think about it, I have to say, not a hell of a whole lot. After all, it doesn't take a genius to observe how easy it is for 1% of Europe to scuttle pretty much anything. And you may not like Lisbon or Nice or even Marseille (though I'll sternly take issue on this last one) but think about it...1% of the EU could be condemning praise of motherhood and your right to a decent blood sausage, and next thing you know it, what is important to you have been cluster-fucked by a well financed campaign in one of those tiny little English-speaking countries, where certain rich people tend to have lucrative contracts with the US military. And we, Europeans, are supposed to be ok with this, and think those 1% of people who stupidly are taken in by this (among other things) should be considered proper partners?
I for one have had enough of this shit.
Europe can only be strong if we are together. Not some bullshit customs union whereby the bosses use the lowered level of sovereignty to drive a race to the bottom to fuck each of the rest of us, but a real country, where we are all the same, all with the same rights in each place, same privileges, same opportunities for our children, and where you have a bad Spanish accent, Antonin has a curious french one, Jerome speaks english like an American and we don't mind.
This means three things. Economic. Cohesion. Diplomatic.
On economy, we are politically together, on matters of economic policy, of solidarity, of foreign policy. No social opt out. No exceptions. I am unemployed in France, I get those benefits in Poland and vice versa. Same general and largely progressive tax structure, same liveable minimum benefits, same educational opportunities for all, right to housing, et c.
We either stupidly follow the American to war together, or we don't.
On foreign policy we are on the same page. Either we all follow the Americans into their next stupid adventure, or none of us do. And if the English remain in Europe, they lose their vote on this for 50 years due to rank stupidity over the past 50 regarding their foreign policy.
Finally, on cohesion. This is where we fail miserably and where the Americans kick Europe's ass. It's not neo-liberalism that made the US strong in the post war era. It's cohesion policy. This means everyone is American, even the backwater morons who kiss their cousins in the South, and deserves investments, income transfers, infrastructure to help it grow and education to help it, via its children, out of collective illiteracy.
We now have two shining opportunities. Integration of formerly poor parts of Europe, in large part victims of our complicity in the proxy war waged by the US on the Eastern bloc. This takes investment. This requires money. These monies would be most efficiently managed by and transferred from Europe. And yet, Brussels expenditures account for less than one percent of EU GDP.
Compare with the US in times of proper investment, and laugh.
Second, we have a major economic crisis facing all of us, and yet, instead of acting together, as Europeans, making sure that the infrastructure development goes where it is most needed and therefore generates the most prosperity for all of is, we legislate so that the advantages of our initiatives fall only on our immediate neighbors and not our fellow Europeans.
This is where we most abjectly fail, and this is where the Americans have historically had the advantage.
It is for this reason, and not because I am some daily mirror reading racist as some have supposed, that I sincerely think Europe needs to get smaller. There are countries in Europe that are part of the EU but, via their political culture, of course driven by the elite (but also, of course, sanctioned over and over again by their electors), are not in the Europe I want to be a part of. This is a political preference of mine, of course, and I am not ashamed of it.
It's time to make Europe smaller, more focused, less distracted by the English-speaking countries with their special relationships across the globe which have the habit of getting the way of them being properly European. Let them have the customs unoin they thing the EU should be limited to, and let it be called the UK. And, Ireland, having rejected Europe not once, but twice, and bought in, election after election, to Anglo-American neo-liberalism, should be invited to join in.
Similarly, countries like Denmark and the Netherlands, also keen advocates of what Jerome calls anglo disease and in any event trojan horses against the Europe I want to see, should also be invited to join it...in both cases virtually no one in those countries does not speak English and small wonder since that's the world view to which they've married themselves.
And above all, spare us talks of early accession for more egregiously and chronically neo-liberal catamites like Iceland. We've had enough of letting in country after country to water down our own socialism. If you;re not ready for it, apply for membership in the US. They need the application fees, I hear.
After all, anglo is as anglo does. And in the anglo business world, when the shit hits the fans we talk of consolidation. This means closing down non-core businesses for that the rest becomes cohesive. Non-core businesses are those which don't fit with the rest of the company, which maybe have never really turned a profit or only recently have before going south quickly again thanks to crappy management.
Time for consolidation. The english, the irish, the italians, the dutch, the danes may not like it, but if we are going to make a go of this, we can't be wasting our time on branches that aren't part of the programme.
Two speed europe? Either that, or no speeds.