Tackling the EU Empire: basic critical facts on EU/Eurozone – a handbook for European Democrats

TACKLING THE EU EMPIRE    

Basic critical facts on the EU/Eurozone

handbook for Europe’s democrats, whether politically Left, Right or Centre                

“Sometimes I like to compare the EU as a creation to the organization of empire. We have the dimension of empire.”   –  EU Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso, 2007

Readers are invited to use or adapt this document in whole or in part for their own purposes, including changing its title if desired, and to circulate it to others without any need of reference to or acknowledgement of its source.

Contents

  • The EU’s myth of origin
  • EU ideology: supranationalism v. internationalism
  • A spin-off of the Cold War
  • The euro as a response to German reunification
  • The intoxication of Big Powerdom
  • EU expansion from six to 28; “Brexit”
  • The economic basis of the EU
  • The succession of EU treaties: the 1957 Treaty ofRome
  • The 1987 Single European Act (SEA)
  • The 1992 Maastricht Treaty on European Union
  • The 1998 Amsterdam Treaty
  • The 2001 Nice Treaty
  • The 2009 Lisbon Treaty: the EU’s Constitution
  • EU Powers and National Powers
  • The “doctrine of the occupied field”; Subsidiarity
  • More voting power for the Big States under the Lisbon Treaty
  • How the EU is run: the Brussels Commission
  • The Council of Ministers
  • The European Council
  • The European Parliament
  • The Court of Justice (ECJ) as a Constitution-maker
  • The EU Charter of Fundamental Rights
  • The extent of EU laws
  • Is Another Europe, a Social Europe, possible?
  • How the EU is financed
  • Why national politicians surrender powers to the EU
  • The EU’s assault on national democracy
  • EU Justice, “Home Affairs” and Crime; Migration, Schengen
  • The Common Foreign and Security policy: EU militarization
  • The euro: from EU to Eurozone federalism
  • The euro, the bank crisis and the sovereign debt crisis
  • Two treaties for the Eurozone: The Fiscal Compact and the ESM Treaty
  • No European people or demos to provide a basis for an EU democracy
  • How the Eurozone prevents the “PIIGS” countries overcoming the economic crisis
  • The benefits of restoring national currencies
  • Contrast Iceland
  • Tackling the EU Leviathan
  • Democrats on Centre, Left and Right for national independence and democracy
  • Conclusion: Europe’s Future
  • Ireland’s EU membership
  • Abolishing the punt and adopting the euro
  • Ireland’s experience of an independent currency 1993-1999
  • The 2008 bank guarantee and the 2010 Eurozone bailout
  • Reestablishing an independent Irish currency
  • Some political consequences of Ireland’s EU membership
  • An independent democratic future
  • Useful sources of information on the EU
  • Reference Notes
  • An invitation

 

THE EU’S MYTH OF ORIGIN:  All States and aspiring States have their “myth of origin” – that is, a story, true or false, of how they came into being. The myth of origin of the European Union is that it is essentially a peace project to prevent wars between Germany and France, as if a collective tendency to go to war were somehow genetically inherited.  In reality the EU’s origins lie in war preparations – at the start of the Cold War which followed the end of World War 2 and the possibility of that developing into a “hot war”, a real military conflict between the two victorious post-war superpowers, the USA and USSR.

Tuilleadh

What is the point of the 1916 commemorations?

One value of the 1916 Rising commemorations is to highlight the contrast between the aspirations of those who set out to establish an independent Irish State for the island of Ireland and the reality of what exists here today –  a partitioned country whose native language, Irish,  is on the verge of death as a cradle-spoken tongue, and in which  the  State that did come from the independence movement has been reduced to provincial or regional status in a supranational EU quasi-Federation that now makes most of Ireland’s laws. 

The Easter Proclamation read: “We declare the right of the people of Ireland to the ownership of Ireland and to the unfettered control of Irish destinies to be sovereign and indefeasible.” 

“Indefeasible” means  cannot be lost.  That right may notionally exist still,  but the reality of a sovereign State in which its own Parliament and Government are the sole source of the laws prevailing in its territory has clearly been lost through Irish membership of the EU – as indeed has happened with the 27 other EU States. 

Growing public awareness of this fact, in Ireland and other EU countries, is at the root of the current EU discontents.  

Article 29.4 of the Constitution, which was inserted by  referendum in 1972 to enable Ireland to join the then European Economic Community (EEC),  gives European law primacy over any countervailing Irish law. It reads: “No provision of this Constitution invalidates laws enacted, acts done or measures adopted by the State that are necessitated by the obligations of membership of the European Union, or prevents laws enacted, acts done or measures adopted by the said Europen Union from having the force of law in the State.” 

Realisation of the implications of supranational EU law being given primacy by this amendment over the provisions of the 1937 Irish Constitution that he had personally drafted led then President Eamon De Valera to say rather poignantly to his family on New Year’s Eve 1972, the day before this change took place: “I am the first and last President of an independent Irish Republic.” So Eamon O Cuiv TD, De Valera’s grandson, who was present on that occasion, told me. 

The loss of sovereignty has gone much further since. 

In 1999 Ireland abolished its national currency and joined the Eurozone, thereby abandoning control of  either  its rate of interest or its exchange rate – the former essential for controlling credit, the latter for influencing economic competitiveness. 

EU Commission President Romano Prodi underlined the political significance of this step when he said at the time, “The two pillars of the Nation State are the sword and the currency, and we have changed that.”

The 1987 Single European Act treaty, the 1992 Maastricht Treaty, the 1998 Amsterdam Treaty and the 2001 Nice Treaty saw further growth of EU powers and simultaneous diminution of national State powers. Ratification in each case  required constitutional referendums in Ireland.

The transfer of national legislative, executive and judicial powers to the EU institutions culminated in the Treaty of Lisbon. When Irish voters rejected ratification of that treaty in 2008, they were made vote on exactly the same treaty the year after to obtain a different result. 

In the Lisbon Two referendum the constitutional amendment permitting Lisbon’s ratification differed from that in Lisbon One in that it included the sentence: “Ireland affirms its commitment to the European Union…” 

This was one State affirming a constitutional “commitment” to another group of States – surely a remarkable development? Yet the Explanatory Handbook which the statutory Referendum Commission sent to all voter households at the time to inform them what Lisbon was about, did not refer to this change. Neither, so far as I know, did anyone in the Irish media.    

The Lisbon Treaty replaced the existing European Community with  a European Union which had full legal personality and its own Constitution for the first time. It  made citizens of the different Member States into real citizens of this new federal-type Union for the first time also. 

One can only be a citizen of a State.  Before Lisbon, citizenship of the then embryonic EU was stated to “complement”national citizenship. It was an essentially notional or honorary concept. The Lisbon Treaty (Art.20 TFEU) provided that EU citizenship should be “in addition to” one’s national citizenship, just as citizens of provincial states like California, Massachusetts, Bavaria or Brandenburg have two citizenships, for they are citizens also of their respective Federal States, the USA and Germany.

Lisbon also gave explicit primacy to EU law over national law for the first time in a treaty.  In most years the majority of laws that are put through the national Parliaments of the EU Member States now come from Brussels, although most people do not realise this. 

Eur-Lex estimates that there are currently some 134,000 EU rules, international agreements and legal acts binding on or affecting citizens across the EU. These include 1842 EU Directives, 11,547 Regulations, 18,545 Decisions, 15,023 EU Court verdicts and 62,397 international standards which the EU has signed up to and which are therefore binding on all its members.  If a Member States does not obey any one of these, the EU Court of Justice can impose heavy daily fines to enforce compliance. 

The EU Treaties prevent voters at national level, their parliaments and governments from amending or abolishing a single one of these laws or rules. Any move entailing changes to the Treaties requires the unanimous agreement of the governments of all 28 Member States. Any change to these other rules requires either unanimity or a qualified majority vote. 

This is the practical problem facing those who contend that “another Europe is possible” by reforming the EU at supranational level in the hope of making it more democratic, or who think that the EU can be transformed into a so-called “Social Europe”.   

The EU Treaties effectively shift power away from citizen voters in all EU countries and from small and middle-sized Member States to the larger ones and to the unelected Brussels Commission. 

The post-Lisbon EU now has its own government with a legislative, executive and judicial arm, its own political President (Poland’s Donald Tusk), its own citizens and citizenship, its own human and civil rights code, its own currency, economic policy and revenue, its own international treaty-making powers, foreign policy, foreign minister (High Representative), diplomatic corps and UN voice, its own crime and justice code and public prosecutor’s office. It already possesses such State symbols as its own flag, anthem, motto and annual official holiday, Europe Day, 9 May.  

As regards the “State authority” of the post-Lisbon Union, this is embodied in the EU’s own executive, legislative and judicial institutions: the European Council, Council of Ministers, Commission, Parliament and Court of Justice.  It is embodied also in the Member States and their authorities as they implement and apply EU law and interpret and apply national law in conformity with Union law.  This they are constitutionally required to do under the Lisbon Treaty, just as in any Federation. 

Thus EU “State authorities” as represented by EU soldiers and policemen patrolling Europe’s streets in EU uniforms, are not needed as such. Their absence makes it all the easier to hide from ordinary citizens the reality of Europe’s hollowed-out nation States and the failure of their own mainstream politicians to defend their national democracies.

Whatever this is, and whether one thinks it is a good thing or not, it is certainly not “the unfettered control of Irish destinies” which the men and women of 1916 fought and died for. 

The need to re-establish independent national currencies: Statement of the Athens EPAM conference

At a time when the Government is advancing the ridiculous proposition that the Irish State is “regaining its economic sovereignty” by leaving the Eurozone bailout, sensible people will be more concerned at the possibility of a Cypriot-style “bail-in” for the Irish banks, entailing confiscation of customer deposits over €100,000, as the euro-currency crisis continues and the planned EU “banking union” makes provision for such steps.

The continuing Eurozone crisis was discussed at the EPAM conference in Athens, Greece, last weekend week.

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At this event representatives of organisations from different EU countries agreed on the vital need for the Eurozone States to re-establish their national currencies and work towards the dissolution of the Eurozone, which is destroying the democracy of the peoples and States that use the euro and wreaking economic destruction and social misery on country after country.

Below for your information is a copy of the joint press statement that was issued after this conference on behalf of the participant organisations.

It was signed by Anthony Coughlan on behalf of the above organisation.

Tuilleadh

“Open Letter” to Stephen Collins, Irish Times political correspondent, from Anthony Coughlan

Dear Stephen,

I suppose that you would count me as one of “the usual suspects” whom you refer to in your Irish Times article of last Saturday (23 March): ”Cypriot crisis puts Irish experience into perspective”, as wishing “to make political capital out of the initial botched attempt to impose some losses on Cypriot depositors”.

While you make valid points in your article, its concluding thrust – that “the EU and its institutions have made Europe a far better place than at any time in its history” – sidesteps the question of whether adopting the Euro-currency and becoming a member of the Eurozone, which is currently a legal obligation on all EU members except the UK and Denmark, have really made Europe “a far better place”.

Do you really believe that Europe is a better place today than it was, say, twenty-five years ago?

As the Cypriots, Greeks, Portuguese, Spaniards, Italians – and we Irish – are discovering the hard way these days, the EU/EC of, say, 1988, before the euro-currency project was embarked on, was by any objective standard surely a better place than the EU of today, when tensions and even hatred are growing between creditor and debtor States INSIDE the Eurozone and when the peoples of the ten EU States which have decided to stay OUTSIDE the Eurozone and to retain their national currencies are thanking their lucky stars they did not join that crisis-racked entity.

This point is made strongly by Bernard Connolly in the introduction he has written to the recent new edition of his classic book, “The Rotten Heart of Europe:The dirty war for Europe’s money”, which I am putting a copy in the post for you today in case you have not read it.

Connolly knows what he is talking about when it comes to monetary matters and his book sets out clearly how the Euro-currency was envisaged by its progenitors from the start as a device for pushing the peoples of the EU towards a supranational fiscal and political union, a quasi-Federation which would be under Franco-German political hegemony and in which the Brussels-Frankfurt bureaucracy would have vast executive powers.

This development was meant to erode – as it has eroded – the democracy of the Eurozone’s Nation States without replacing this with any meaningful democracy at the supranational level.

The latter is indeed in principle impossible, for there is no EU/Eurozone “demos” or people who are willing to identify with and give allegiance to such a supranational entity as truly “theirs”, and such an EU/Eurozone “demos” cannot be artificially created.

In other words, contrary to what your article of last Saturday implies, there is a qualitative difference between the pre-Eurozone and post-Eurozone EU, just as there is inside the EU between the 17 countries which have adopted the Euro and the 10 EU Member States which decided to retain their own national currencies.

As former Commission President Romano Prodi exulted some years back: “The two pillars of the Nation State are the sword and the currency, and we have changed that.”

Maybe you would consider sometime addressing these differences between the countries INSIDE the Eurozone, which Ireland’s leading politicians were foolish and irresponsible enough to join in 1999 even though we do over two-thirds of our foreign trade outside it, and the ten countries OUTSIDE the Eurozone which are still members of the EU.

On a related point: as Germany uses the crisis of the Euro-currency in an ever more obvious attempt to impose its political-economic will on the 16 other Eurozone Member States, it may be worth reminding Irish Times readers that from next year, 2014, Germany’s relative voting weight under the new population-based EU-law-making system enshrined in the Treaty of Lisbon will increase from its present 8% of the total number of EU Council votes to 16%, the voting weights of France, Italy and Britain will increase from their present 8% each to 12% each, while Ireland’s relative voting weight in making EU laws will decline from its present 2% to less than 1%.

You will agree, I am sure, that this step, which most Irish people and indeed most Europeans are currently quite unaware of, is unlikely to make the rest of the Eurozone/EU look more kindly on Germany.

With best regards
yours sincerely

Anthony Coughlan
Director

PS. I am copying this letter to some of your fellow commentators in the Irish Times and other papers for their information, as doubtless they will have read your Saturday article also. The crucial distinction between the crisis in the Eurozone and the situation in the rest of the EU is too often not made by those who wish to divert attention from the historical catastrophe which the single currency is manifestly turning into.

Bernard Connolly: The Rotten Heart of Europe, revisted

Tackling the EU/Eurozone’s Assault on National Democracy

Where we are on the 40th anniversary of joining the EEC

The Political Basis of the EU:

All States and aspiring States have their myths of origin. The myth of origin of the EU is that it is a peace project to prevent wars between Germany and France – as if a tendency to go to war is somehow genetically inherited.

The actual facts are however that the first step towards supranational economic integration, the European Coal and Steel Community of 1951, was to facilitate German rearmament at the start of the Cold War with Russia and to reconcile France to that fact. The US wanted a rearmed West Germany inside NATO. This greatly alarmed France which had been occupied by Germany just a few years before.

Jean Monnet, who was America’s man in the affair, came up with the solution. To assuage France’s fears he drafted the Schuman Declaration proposing to put the coal and steel industries of France, Germany and Benelux under a supranational High Authority as “the first step in the federation of Europe”. A federation is a State, so the political aim of establishing a State or quasi-superstate under Franco-German hegemony has been there from the start. The EU celebrates 9 May, the date of this Declaration, as “Europe Day” each year. Monnet became secretary of the supranational High Authority, the predecessor of today’s Brussels Commission.

Thus historically the EU is in its origin an out-of-date legacy of the Cold War, pushed by the USA in the 1950s to provide an economic underpinning to NATO in Europe.

Simultaneously “Europeanism” became the creed of a legion of intellectuals across the continent, disillusioned by the failed ideologies of the 20th century. They provided ideological arguments in support of their assault on all things national. Their central assertion was that conflict between Europe’s States could be prevented by putting their national democracies under the control of a supranational high authority of non-elected technocrats – namely themselves or people like themselves – while trying to merge their peoples in a kind of jellybowl of nations.

They developed the doctrine that by “pooling” sovereignty small States increase their influence over bigger ones, whereas in practical reality it is the other way round. Classically, the concept of sovereignty means that a State is the sole author of the laws prevailing in its territory. For EU members however most laws now come from Brussels. Talk of pooling sovereignty is like referring to a woman as being half-pregnant. Sovereignty “pooled” is sovereignty surrendered.

Forty years after the 1951 Coal and Steel Community, and the 1957 Treaty of Rome setting up the European Economic Community(EEC) which followed, another shift in Franco-German power, Germany’s reunification as a side-effect of the collapse of the USSR in 1991, led these two countries to establish the European Economic and Monetary Union (EMU) and its single currency, the euro.

The big increase in Germany’s population and territory on reunification greatly alarmed France. However France had nuclear weapons, which Germany was precluded from having under the post-War treaties. The deal between the two of them was EU Monetary Union for Political Union or, put crudely, the Deutschemark for the Euro-bomb. Germany would give up its national currency, the symbol of its post-war economic achievement, and share the running of a new supranational EU currency with France, while France agreed to work jointly with Germany towards a supranational EU political union with its own common foreign, security and defence policy.

This would give Germany a central role in running a potential EU world power, with its finger on a nuclear trigger in due time. France in turn hoped the euro would give it a political lock on Germany. “The two pillars of the Nation State are the sword and the currency and we have changed that,” exulted EU Commission President Romano Prodi. A Franco-German army brigade with joint officers and a joint command was simultaneously set up as a symbol and prototype of the EU army of the future. Belgium, Luxembourg and Spain have since joined this as contributors to a common “Eurocorps”.

France and Germany are said to share a common interest in being joint engines of the EU integration project. The conventional wisdom has been that if they stay together they can push through the Brussels institutions whatever policy suits their interests, while between them they are strong enough to prevent any other group of EU States from adopting policies they do not like. The reality is somewhat different however, as Germany was always going to be the big winner in moves towards an EU monetary and political union.

The Intoxication of Big Powerdom: Tuilleadh

Lord Wolfson prize: How to escape the euro with the minimum of pain

  • Lord Wolfson prize (Daily Telegraph): How to escape the euro with the minimum of pain
    This summarises the entry to the Wolfson prize by Roger Bootle and a team from Capital Economics.

    There is no doubt that euro exit would be messy and – if handled badly – extremely damaging, not only for the country concerned, but also for the rest of us. But it needn’t be handled badly. Indeed, there are ways of dealing effectively with all the key practical difficulties.

    If handled well, euro exit could present weak peripheral members with a much better prospect than remaining in the euro. Moreover, their exit could enhance the prosperity of the rest of Europe – and the wider world.

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