While the European Parliamentary elections are vying (not very successfully) with Brexit and the French Yellow Jackets to catch the attention of European public opinion, the electoral debate centers around a choice between the aggressive stance of the fast growing Eurosceptic parties and the defensive campaign of the – still dominant – Europhile groupings that struggle to defend the achievements of the 70 year old EU. The polarization of the debate has largely killed any serious attempt to promote a vision capable of rekindling the citizen’s interest for the Union, as demonstrated by the expectation of establishing a new record of abstentions.
A particularly disturbing aspect of this state of affairs is that the Eurosceptics, which are – overtly or covertly – aiming at the dismantling of the EU, are being, knowingly or not, manipulated by foreign powers (USA – China – Russia) or private interests (multinationals) who believe that they will dominate a powerless and fragmented European continent, condemned to the status of a lucrative consumer market. Should these efforts prove successful, those who promote the supremacy of “national sovereignty” will be swapping unwittingly the still far too timid “shared sovereignty” at EU level, (exemplified by the shared “monetary sovereignty” between the 19 EMU Members as well as the limited powers of the European Parliament) for the complete vassalization of their respective “national sovereign States” to the main world political and economic powers.
This vassalization already exists in two specific areas:
First, defense where NATO, dominated by the USA, has provided a shield since 1949 against the Soviet Union, allowing its other members to neglect their defense spending in favor of financing their prized “welfare states”. The USA are no longer willing to foot the bill and the EU is the only level at which a credible alternative is possible. Sharing fairly the financial burden within NATO, will progressively reduce our dependence on the USA, giving ultimately the EU the option to follow fully independent policies and alternative alliances, if such are deemed in its best interests. It should also be clear that none of the 28 current EU members is in a position to chart a fully independent “sovereign” defense policy without submitting, through the web of necessary alliances, to the dictates of the dominant world powers.
The second area is the absolute subservience of the rest of the world to the US Dollar, expressed as the unrivalled reserve currency as well as the dominant international payment medium. This “exorbitant” privilege is well documented in the article published on April 26 in the F.T.(1) which, incidentally, names the renminbi rather than the €, as a future potential rival to the USD. While the potential use of the USD as a “weapon of mass destruction” has existed for a very long time (“The $ is our currency and your problem” expressed by Treasury Secretary Connolly in the 1960’s) it is only recently that it has been weaponized: first by Barak Obama in fining banks for violating US sanctions and more recently by Donald Trump in pursuing his foreign policy objectives of bringing Iran to its knees.
It has become evident that making the € a fully independent rival currency to the USD (it still benefits presently from many advantages over the renminbi), has to become an overarching priority if the European Union, its Member States or any “sovereign” country are to escape the American dictates. A global multi-currency payments system giving its users a choice is the only viable alternative to US unilateralism. Only the EU 28 have, collectively, the power to impose the € as a credible alternative to the USD.
It follows that, in order to escape from the subservience to the USD, the EU must urgently complete EMU, thus removing any possible doubt as to the long term existence of the €. This involves creating an Executive political Authority with the mandate to carry out, in coordination with the ECB, the monetary, economic and fiscal policies of the Eurozone. Putting this into effect is incompatible with the aims of national/populist manifestos but refusing it will necessarily bring about the implosion of the € and its catastrophic consequences.
The importance of achieving this objective should, in itself, be sufficiently persuasive to convince the great majority of citizens to reject the sirens of populist parties whose “nationalist” ambitions, if successful, would prevent realizing precisely the aims of “national sovereignty” they purport to pursue; these obvious inbuilt contradictions are not sufficiently made explicit by their opponents during the current electoral debate, though they constitute an irrefutable argument..
It also explains why Trump is so anxious to see the EU fail and how his support for the nationalists (through his tweets or the intermediation of Steve Bannon) constitutes an unacceptable interference in EU affairs, in the pursuit of raw American power (America first!). Ultimately, the populists, who accept the verbal, financial and/or digital support of major foreign powers, are flirting dangerously with conspiring against their national interests.
In a second stage, the Eurozone should encompass (as stated in the Treaty) all Member States who would exercise jointly the Union’s sovereignty, not only in the areas of defense and currency management, as discussed above, but also in those of foreign affairs, immigration, environment, etc., while devolving to its Members and their constituent parts, the powers more efficiently exercised at those levels, in the strict adherence to the principles of subsidiarity.
There is little doubt that aiming at making the EU a fully “sovereign” power on the world stage implies sacrifices that only a greater amount of solidarity between the EU Member States would make possible. The EU is however, the richest economic area in the world and, as such, should be fully capable of assuming its responsibilities in ensuring the protection of its citizens without subcontracting parts of its most vital sovereign attributes (defense and currency) to third parties, as is currently the case.
In conclusion, the stakes of the coming elections should not be viewed as a choice between an integrated EU in which real sovereignty is shared between its Members on the one hand, and a loosely coordinated Union of legally independent Member States, on the other, but rather, between a powerful integrated Union and the subservience of each Independent State to the dominance of foreign world political and/or economic powers. Seen in that light, there remains a broad choice between parties aiming at the creation of a vast European “demos”!