This is a very informative study of the EU. In our great debate about Britain’s future, it is excellent that we have so many publications helping us to decide what to do for the best.
Heartfield points out that the more the EU fails, the more powers it takes. The answer to failure is always ‘more Europe’. The more it fails, the more it fuses. Jacques Delors said, “Our only choice is between a United Europe and decline.” We got both.
Angela Merkel said, “The debt brakes will be binding and valid forever. Never will you be able to change them through a parliamentary majority.” Her finance minister Wolfgang Schäuble said, “I would be for the further development of the European Commission into a government.” As John Major said, “What you’re now seeing out of failure, not success, is the euro core integrating further.”
The arguments for the EU are the same as the arguments for globalisation – that sovereignty is out of date, reactionary and dangerous. The NATO governments also attack the idea of sovereignty, in order to justify NATO’s wars of intervention. Both the EU and NATO claim the moral high ground to try to justify their selfish aims. As Canadian politician Michael Ignatieff admitted, “When policy was driven by moral motives it was often driven by narcissism. We intervened not only to save others, but to save ourselves, or rather an image of ourselves as defenders of universal values.”
In 2005 the TUC passed a motion from the Rail, Maritime and Transport union rejecting ‘the increasingly neo-liberal policies emanating from Brussels’ and denouncing the EU agenda as ‘elitist, militarist, corporate and anti-democratic’. Heartfield explains, “In real terms, the European Union did not have that much to offer trade unions …”
Happy to get Common Agricultural Policy funds were Tate and Lyle - £227 million - and Dutch airline KLM whose runway qualified as ‘rural restructuring’.
The European Commission gives more than 1,000 million euros a year to several hundred ‘NGOs’ including Greenpeace Europe. The EU financed half the costs of Friends of the Earth’s Brussels office. It also gives money to Amnesty International and Medicins sans Frontières.
Labour MP Stephen Twigg argued that “Europe should welcome the Turks” because its ‘accession would be a dramatic step in European multiculturalism’. EU trade commissioner Pascal Lamy disagreed: “It’s classic US diplomacy to want to put Turkey in Europe. The further the boundaries of Europe extend, the better US interests are served. Can you imagine the reaction if we told the Americans they had to enlarge to Mexico?”
Heartfield concludes that the EU is ‘fundamentally hostile to democratic control of political power and that “Reforming the Union is not an option, because the Union exists to suborn the popular will.”
Excellent account of the complicated and complex world of EU technocracy and its evolution in post-war Europe. Heartfield draws out how technocratic and transnational governance undermines national sovereignty and popular democracy. What is particularly galling is how contemptuous the European Union is towards voters. For example, the EU's refusal to accept the Irish electorate's rejection of the Lisbon Treaty. Many pointless and unnecessary bureaucratic rules and regulations are also passed above the heads of governments and voters. However, Heartfield doesn't let national governments off the hook, arguing that they are happily complicit when it suits them and on the other hand quick to scapegoat the EU. This book argues for a reimagining of Europe as an idea and a polity that can be realised through fuller democratic participation and the removal of the bureaucratic and psychological grip of the EU and its mandarins on the peoples of Europe.