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Wednesday, 5 November 2014

Has the European Union, as we know it, passed its ‘Best before’- date, now that the UK has (definitely) fallen from grace? Perhaps, it is now the right time to build an ‘EU Next Generation’!

Germany, represented by Chancellor Angela Merkel, presented the UK a yellow card with a ‘reddish’ glow for its unilateral, hostile stance towards the EU immigration policy. Maybe it is time to think ahead of a Brexit and build upon the ‘EU Next Generation’.

It has been the ‘talk of the town’ lately: the unprecedented speculation of German Chancellor Angela Merkel upon a British exit – a so-called Brexit – from the European Union. The German weekly magazine Der Spiegel (i.e. the mirror) had the scoop for this bombshell, quoting sources around the Chancellor. 

Still, in spite of the unprecedented impact of a possible Brexit, few people will dare to doubt the truthfulness and correctness of this news item by this authorative German magazine.

This unusually straightforward expression of dissatisfaction with the British stance regarding the European Union, coming from the European ‘Leading Lady’, can best be compared with a yellow card during the final of the Champions League football. 

When such an event happens, the referee is clearly expressing an unambiguous message to one of the players at an extremely important moment. “Cross this line again and you will be sorry about it!”

According to Der Spiegel, this yellow card was NOT given for the British ‘whining and jawboning’ with respect to the considerable after-tax of €2.1 billion, that the United Kingdom had to pay to the EU. Chancellor Merkel could probably understand the British frustration about this colossal amount, seemingly coming out of thin air.

No, Merkel was infuriated about the translucent British attempt to deploy an ‘immigration  quota’ in the United Kingdom for labourers from Eastern Europe

Such a quota would violate one of the foundations, that are the bedrock of the European Union (i.e. ‘free traffic of labourers’) and it would send shockwaves through the whole community of member states; especially towards the populist, right-wing parties all over Europe, that would see this as their ‘Alea iacta est’-moment (i.e. 'the die is cast').

Perhaps, Merkel hoped that her ‘nuclear attack’ against the United Kingdom would spur Cameron to make the decision to either:
  • Finally start to firmly defend the foundations of the European Union against the UKIP and his populist Tory grassroots, instead of himself acting as a copycat of Nigel Farage, or;
  • Step out of the European Union immediately and put the United Kingdom ‘out of its misery’, instead of letting the whole EU wait for  the notorious referendum of 2017, which is hanging above the UK and the European Union as Damocles’ sword. 

Here are the pertinent snips from the Spiegel article (in English):

Approaching Brexit? Merkel Fears Britain Crossing a Red Line on Immigration

David Cameron is furious about the EU Commission's demand that the UK make a back payment of €2.1 billion. But it is the British prime minister's stance on immigration that has German Chancellor Merkel more worried. She fears he may be crossing a red line.

Two adjectives best describe the British prime minister in recent days: shrill and loud. Late last month in Brussels, an angry David Cameron vented over the surprise €2.1 billion ($2.62 billion) back payment being demanded by the European Commission. "I am not going to pay that bill on Dec. 1," he fumed to the press. The charge, he said, was "completely unacceptable."

Merkel was much more worried about a different development. For the first time, according to an assessment by the Chancellery and the Foreign Ministry, Cameron is pushing his country toward a "point of no return" when it comes to European Union membership -- a point at which Germany would cease doing all it can to convince Britain to remain a member of the EU.

Were Cameron to continue insisting on an upper limit for immigration from EU member states, Berlin sources said "that would be that." Sources say that Merkel left no doubt about where she stands on the issue during a private meeting with the British prime minister on the sidelines of the recent EU summit. The sources said that the surprise bill from Brussels was hardly mentioned.

It seems doubtful that Merkel's message has been sufficiently understood. Just days after he met with the German chancellor, a red-faced Cameron once again addressed the issue of immigration, this time venting his anger in the House of Commons.

In the 12 months ending in March 2014, Britain saw net immigration of 243,000 people and Cameron's government has pledged to drastically reduce that figure. But significant restrictions on immigration from non-EU countries could hurt the UK's economy. So Cameron is evidently considering rejecting the immigration of certain groups from within the EU's 27 member states. The plan likely calls for upper limits on the immigration of less prosperous, less educated migrants. And such a plan is one that Merkel finds unacceptable.

Should Cameron continue on his current path despite the resistance, sources in Berlin believe, he will unwittingly fulfill UKIP's greatest desire: Britain's exit from the European Union.

And that’s that from Der Spiegel...

There was not a single unclear word in the article: “Put a sock in it, David, or we will kick you out of the EU. And please don’t be so naive to think that Angela Merkel will not do that, when she deems it necessary for the future and unity of the Union!

For Germany, the United Kingdom is not France, when push comes to shove, and it can be missed with much less pain than Paris, in the axis of the EU. 
Since the seventies, the United Kingdom has been a pain in the neck for the EU on more than one occasion, with its stubborn politics and its special privileges and discounts.

Regular readers of my blog know by heart, that I see PM David Cameron mainly as a spineless rabble-rouser, who now in fact acts as a strawman for the UKIP. And the current United Kingdom acts as a ‘fission fungus’ within the EU: if you let it go rampantly, it will blow the whole EU to smithereens.

The country is not aiming at making the EU stronger as a whole, but it is only trying to achieve its own narrow-minded goals: a EU that solely fulfils the desires of the UK – by acting as a free trade zone alone – and does not ask for anything in return. No regulations, no commitment, no respect for the sheer foundations of the EU.

I, myself, am almost sorry that I have to write yet another critical article upon the United Kingdom in general and David Cameron in particular, but letting this loose cannon go, is almost the same as blowing up the EU with your own two hands.

To make things worse, he – and Top Gear’s Jeremy Clarkson too, to mention another (in)famous Briton – seems to represent a United Kingdom that searches for ‘splendid isolation’, out of a misplaced and arrogant feeling of utter superiority in comparison with the rest of Europe.

There is, however, something that both David Cameron and an imminent ‘Brexit’ could achieve within the European Union:

Often, people think only about painting and renovating their own house, when they see the dry rot emerge in their window frames and woodwork. In such situations, an indispensable painting job does not come one second too early. 

When we see the EU as a house, the Brexit could come as an unmistakable signal of dry rot in the woodwork, against which we should act, as a whole EU.

The barely prevented Grexit, as well as the countless arguments within the European Union about technocratic ‘baloney’, like:
  • additional austerity measures; 
  • stability and growth pacts;
  • untenable national deficits and; 
  • unbalanced balance sheets, 
were also signals of serious dry rot; especially when you put them on top of the general indecisiveness, which has clouded the atmosphere within the EU for such a long time.

The current European Union, with 28 members, has seemingly turned into an ungovernable monstrosity, in my humble opinion. In this EU, the European citizens live under a ‘de facto’ German/French impediment, as François Hollande, Angela Merkel and the Constitutional Court in Karlsruhe have the last word in almost every political decision, which is made within the EU. 

These are the unchosen leaders of an EU, for which 26 member states could not vote and probably would not have voted if they could. And when these two (Hollande and Merkel) would be brave and visionary leaders, with ideas that would improve the economy and general wellbeing within the EU, it would be OK. But they aren’t… to the contrary.

The current European Union has become an EU of stagnation and economic deterioration: 
  • An EU with bureaucratic and technocratic leaders in the European Commission itself, who don’t have any charisma and grassroots and lack even the slightest direct mandate from the European voters.
  • And an EU with generally weak and spineless leaders in the member states. 
    • Local leaders for whom the political position and status of the own European commissioners and MEP’s (i.e. Members of European Parliament) is much more important, than the quality of the integral European ‘government’ itself.
    • It is like having a football team in the EU with 11 forward attackers, no goal keeper and no midfield. 

Or could you think of a good reason for having a President Commissioner (Jean-Claude Juncker), a Senior Vice President for Bureaucratic Affairs (Frans Timmermans) and five Junior Vice Presidents for 'Miscellaneous, Unknown and Disguised Affairs' within the European Commission, other than keeping everybody happy with a so-called VIP: Very Important (Fake) Position?!

I cannot help, but call it ‘dry rot’ and we must be careful that the EU has not definitely passed its ‘Best before...’-date.

Now that a Brexit seems imminent, the remaining politicians should not continue as they were, by assuming the ostrich position and thinking that everything will blow over within a few years and a few rounds of Quantitative Easing by Mario Draghi.


Now is the perfect time to build up ‘EU Next Generation’: a European Union that is – even more – a home to everybody in the whole of Europe. 

A Union in which the good foundations from the first EU remain, but in which they are made complete with new foundations, emerging out of the mistakes and recognized ‘built-in’ flaws of the first Union.

And especially a Union that is:
  • Much more democratic;
  • Much more ‘one man, one vote’;
  • With more governance coming from all the European countries and not merely from the dominant ones: Germany, France, Italy and the United Kingdom;
  • With leaders that Europeans recognize and trust and for whom they can vote directly;
  • More decisive and unisono in its domestic, as well as its foreign policies;

Maybe this EU Next Generation will remain a mirage and maybe it is a nightmare for many people. 

However, if nothing changes within the current EU, it will collapse, as a consequence of the dry rot totally getting out of hand. And then we are much farther from home.

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