Friday, 29 May 2015

Why there can be no EU Democracy

There is an honourable, pro EU position which holds that the European Union can be transformed into a large, democratic federation similar to the United States. Adherents believe that this will create a power bloc capable of dealing on equal terms with the US and other world powers. It is, so far as I can tell, a minority view in every country but it is an honest one and much more worthy of a considered response than the fudge and chicanery of politicians like David Cameron who still cling to the fiction that the EU can be a loose grouping built around trade and pragmatic cooperation without being a political union.

The trouble with the federalist position is that quite simply there is no European demos. There is no strategy to create one, and in my opinion no hope of doing so if there was. Even within the United Kingdom, the ongoing debate around Scottish independence shows a division which keeps resurfacing over centuries, amongst peoples who share a relatively small island, a common language, a land border, a shared history and centuries of political union with free trade and movement.

If such a scheme can only just be held loosely together within Britain then what hope for a union including countries as diverse as Sweden, Greece, France and Poland? What possible themes could bind Germans, Portuguese and Bulgarians to vote for a President who may be from Britain or Estonia or Italy? None what so ever.

This is not the United States, a vast, and until recently largely empty continent populated for the most part over the last 200 years by people seeking a new life. This is an old, settled continent with dozens of small countries speaking different languages, with vastly differing political traditions, and histories which could scarcely be less aligned. The idea that these hundreds of millions of people can be brought together in a single political entity is a dangerous utopian fantasy.

A working demos is something which evolves over centuries, an organic grouping of people who are bound together by language, history and trade. A people with shared values and culture. Attempting to create this sort of cohesion in a top down, bureaucracy is a monumental folly which can only be the product of an arrogance and vanity which beggar belief.

The federalists know this, and that is why, with a few honourable exceptions they have no intention of implementing this scheme democratically. Instead they insist on hiding this project as being about trade, or the environment or some other excuse which moves the decision away from democratically elected governments and pools it in the vast, remote and impenetrable bureaucracies in Brussels and Strasbourg. But make no mistake, the federal European Union is what they are building by hook or by crook, and so long as the United Kingdom remains a member then we are a part of it.