A strong and coherent European Union is part of the answer to the challenges Europe is facing today.

A strong and coherent European Union is part of the answer to the challenges Europe is facing today.

 

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2016/03: Stop the farce

Maarten van Leeuwen

Mr. Cameron achieved his victory last month. What kind of victory? One that adds further opt outs and “emergency brakes” to the already highly fragmented and hitherto powerless EU.

That I am not the only one who is frustrated – and more than mildly concerned – about the state the EU is in, is illustrated by the – must read – book by Guy Verhofstad: “Europe’s Disease”. 

Should you read the book, which I strongly recommend, you will find that Europe is even more fragmented and weaker than you probably imagined in your wildest dreams.

The latest Cameron scandal – because it is nothing less – is presumably caused by the migrant crisis. This is particularly bitter, as the crisis is caused primarily by the lack of a strong and unified Europe. Weakening Europe even further is going to do nothing to alleviate the problems. And the UK may do what they wish: history has amply shown that building walls ultimately does nothing to stop migration. If you doubt that argument, just think of the China wall, Hadrian’s wall and, much more recently, the Iron Curtain.

We need to wake up in Europe. The world is undergoing rapid and unstoppable change. China is obviously flexing its muscles and developing its own defense industry, building its own air craft carriers for example. Russia has outgrown the demise of the Soviet Union and is very clearly ready to reclaim its position as a global power. India is a country with a population of 1.2 billion, and Indonesia – yes, Indonesia – is a single and rapidly growing market where one language is spoken and with a population of close to 260 million. In other words, the population of Indonesia is close to that of the USA, and more than half of that of the EU.

Only, the EU cannot possibly claim to count: it does not have leadership to speak of (do you know the role of Juncker as opposed to that of Tusk, or of the 6 monthly President? I don’t nor does Guy Verhofstad seem to do!), it does not have a clear policy, defense force, currency or language. Whilst the world faces unprecedented challenges, we in Europe bicker about whether or not one of the member states may cut child support for “foreigners” or not, and have a parliament that first of all does not control the executive as it should, but instead commutes between Brussels and Strasbourg as part of a giant circus involving hundreds of trucks and scores of lobbyists.

Sadly, it seems there is little we as a citizen can do to stop this farce. There are plenty of Eurosceptic parties who seem more than willing to damage the EU even further. There do not appear to be political parties with an outspoken vision of European integration. Which is, come to think of it, not surprising as, in the current setup, parties with such a vision of positive integration would essentially run a self-effacing course. Should Europe start to exist, local parties would diminish and ultimately disappear.

We need leaders, leadership and vision. We need to stop the farce. We need people like Paul-Henri Spaak, Robert Schumann, Konrad Adenauer and Winston Churchill. We need people with vision and courage, willing to harness together and create a real, strong and unified Europe which we can adopt – or reject – in a referendum. Those countries which reject such a vision may do so and should leave – and leave us alone. Such countries – including the UK – will soon find out that they are out in the cold. The UK can keep its precious financial market, and withhold its child support for the odd Pole or Czech. On a standalone basis, it will discover that it means nothing in the now emerging world, and it will ultimately become a backwater.

Maarten van Leeuwen
Group Managing Director

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    A strong and coherent European Union is part of the answer to the challenges Europe is facing today.

    A strong and coherent European Union is part of the answer to the challenges Europe is facing today.

     

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