Friday, 11 March 2011

The "europeanization" of the US

British conservative member of the European Parliament, Daniel Hannan warns Americans about president Obama´s plan to "europeanize" the US. In an article published in the Wall Street Journal Hannan describes what Obama is trying to do:

He is not pursuing a set of random initiatives lashed arbitrarily together, but a program of comprehensive Europeanization: European health care, European welfare, European carbon taxes, European day care, European college education, even a European foreign policy, based on engagement with supranational technocracies, nuclear disarmament and a reluctance to deploy forces overseas.

The difference between the traditional American way and the European approach is according to Hannan this:

The critical difference between the American and European unions has to do with the location of power. The U.S. was founded on what we might loosely call the Jeffersonian ideal: the notion that decisions should be taken as closely as possible to the people they affect. The EU, by contrast, was based on precisely the opposite ideal. Article One of its foundational treaty commits its nations to establish "an ever-closer union."
From that distinction, much follows. The U.S. has evolved a series of unique institutions designed to limit the power of the state: recall mechanisms, ballot initiatives, balanced budget rules, open primaries, localism, states' rights, term limits, the direct election of public officials, from the sheriff to the school board. The EU, by contrast, has placed supreme power in the hands of 27 unelected Commissioners, who have been made deliberately invulnerable to public opinion

The will of the people is generally seen by Eurocrats as an obstacle to overcome, not a reason to change direction. When France, the Netherlands and Ireland voted against the European Constitution, the referendum results were swatted aside and the document adopted regardless. For, in Brussels, the ruling doctrine—that the nation-state must be transcended—is seen as more important than freedom, democracy or the rule of law.

Hannan concludes his article with the following words:

Throughout my career in politics, I have campaigned to apply Jeffersonian democracy to British political conditions, to recover those British freedoms that have flourished more happily in America than in their native soil, to repatriate our revolution. So you can imagine how I feel when I see the U.S. making the same mistakes that Britain has made: expanding its government, regulating private commerce, centralizing its jurisdiction, breaking the link between taxation and representation, abandoning its sovereignty.

You deserve better, cousins. And we expect better.

Read the entire article here.

Having observed the development of the Europaen Union from different angles for quite a few years now, I must say that Mr. Hannan´s description is very much to the point. Fortunately, more and more Europeans have began to understand the reality, too, and the support for eurocritical views is increasing in several countries. Take for example Finland, where the parliamentary elections in April may lead to a major victory for the True Finns, a party that favours withdrawal from the EU, restrictions on immigration and the abandonment of the Kyoto Protocol. The Financial Times describes the leader of the True Finns, Timo Soini (MEP) in a recent article:

But by this time next month, Mr Soini could be the new face of Europe. True Finns, the party he heads, is within striking distance of becoming Finland’s largest bloc in national elections on April 17 – using a potent mix of economic populism and anger at recent EU bail-outs.
“We have been doing our homework: we don’t have a budget deficit, we have done quite well tackling unemployment,” says Mr Soini in his spartan Brussels office, whose walls are adorned only with a Christian cross and a photograph of his young children. But nations such as Greece, whose previous government falsified economic data, had not. “Now [we must help] those people who have lied – this is the suspicious mind up north, because quite many people think the south is milking our cow.”
Much has been made about growing public anger in Europe’s periphery over Brussels-imposed austerity measures, from rioting in the streets of Athens to the overthrow of the long-ruling Fianna Fáil party two weeks ago in Dublin. But less well documented has been the seething bitterness in the eurozone’s fiscally prudent north that Mr Soini represents.
That public resentment is threatening to destabilise governments in Germany, Finland and the Netherlands just as the EU enters the final stretch of negotiations over a much-touted “comprehensive package” of reforms aimed at, once and for all, putting an end to the eurozone’s debt crisis.

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