The EU is stoking nationalism, protectionism and racism
The fons et origo of the European Union, the Monnet-Schuman European Coal and Steel Community, was established in 1952 with the objective of ending two millennia of friction between the Germanic and Frankish peoples. It was to ensure, through the irrevocable fusion of the raw materials of warfare, that never again would the horrors of two world wars be repeated. Schuman declared: "Through the consolidation of basic production and the institution of a new High Authority, whose decisions will bind France, Germany and the other countries that join, this proposal represents the first concrete step towards a European federation, imperative for the preservation of peace."
And so, tired of centuries of invasion and occupation, Italy, Belgium, Luxembourg and the Netherlands flocked to sign up to this wonderful plan for harmony, peace and unity. At last, petty nationalism and ethnic rivalries were banished from the continent of Europe.
It is ironic, not to say tragic, that the political mechanism designed to usher in an era of lasting peace, great prosperity and perpetual enlightenment should now find itself the cause of all that it sought to eradicate. Two weeks ago, France gave six million votes to their National Front candidate Marine Le Pen, and has now returned to socialism after Hollande promised a raft of anti-EU (ie anti-euro) policies. And Greece has rejected both the mainstream socialist PASOK and the conservative New Democracy parties, who between them are responsible for abolishing the drachma and ushering in an era of austerity, poverty and humiliating bailouts.
The French flirted with racism and voted for protectionism; the Greeks for nationalism. If neither country fulfils its obligations to the euro – that is, keeping the money flowing through austerity measures to prevent default – then it’s game over. Greece has to find a further €11bn of cuts next month, while businesses are going bankrupt, salaries are cut, taxes rising, hundreds of thousands are losing their jobs, and the country is in the midst of strikes, riots and suicides. With unemployment at 22 per cent, the people are angry; very angry. They are disillusioned with 40 years of alternating socialist-conservative conspiracy, and have turned for salvation to the political extremes, including the neo-Nazi Golden Dawn and nationalist Laos parties.
Referring to the memorandum of understanding between Greece and its creditors, Alexis Tsipras, head of Syriza, a Left-wing coalition, said that Greeks ‘will send a strong message to the whole of Europe that the barbarism of the memorandum must stop. The people are ready to turn a page and after two and a half years of repression we will try untied to lead the country on a new course.’ New Democracy leader Antonis Samaras gained the greatest number of seats, but should the smaller political polarities unite in coalition to keep out PASOK and New Democracy and oppose more euro austerity, it will inevitably take Greece out of the eurozone. And then we will see the same in Ireland, Italy, Portugal and Spain. A Greek default and euro exit would place enormous pressure on those nations whose economic fates are intertwined, not to say ‘fused’ with that of Greece, which was the Monnet-Schuman vision. And we would see mass migration (‘free movement of peoples’) as the Greeks flood Germany and the French flood Britain. Driven out of their homelands by high taxes and unemployment, they are free to live and work anywhere within the EU. And then we will hear more of Sarkozy’s (yes, Sarkozy’s) desperate cry of ‘too many immigrants’ and ‘integration is not working’. There will be civil unrest, protests and riots. And there will be war and rumours of war.
His Grace casts his mind back five years to the election of President Sarkozy, who was l’homme de la nation, dubbed ‘Thatcher with trousers’. He promised to renew France and usher in an era of economic reform and national revival, as the Great Lady did for Great Britain. François Hollande has promised the same, but nothing will change. He will strut his stuff like Napoleon on the euro-stage, the German Chancellor will let him have his moment de gloire, there will be meetings and summits, and then it will be business as usual. We must pity those millions of French socialists who have fallen for the same lies. We must pity all those who vote decisively for change but see the EU juggernaut rolling on in the same direction it always has. We have not seen or heard the last of nationalism, protectionism and racism: they are Jean Monnet’s and Robert Schuman’s lasting gift to the peoples of Europe.