Vaclav Klaus, Czech President and more or less the only East European politician with real vision and radical ideas, has been trying to explain the facts of EU life to Americans. While, as ever, he sounds a little too pessimistic, to a great extent one can sympathize with him. My colleague and I have also tried, at various times, to explain the truth about this benighted institution to well-meaning Americans.
Klaus may have better luck. He was speaking at the University of Chicago and said, among other things:
“I am afraid that the Americans do not see the EU's accelerating drive towards a social-democratic, more social than democratic, European superstate. That they do not see the EU's protectionism, the EU's legal and regulatory burdens on business, the EU's irrational 'competition policy', the EU's pensions and health care crisis, and the costs of the European single currency.”Actually, I think he is wrong on that. Many Americans can see all those details. Unfortunately, their solution is similar to that propounded by various politicians and organizations on this side of the Pond: reform the EU.
What is much more difficult to explain is that it is the very fact of the push for integration that is the problem. There is, I have tried to write on American blogs, no such thing as Europe. There can be no European solutions because there are no European problems. The problems exist differently in different countries and the concept of “Europe” is actively preventing those countries from dealing with them.
Klaus’s summary of the difficulties can scarecely be bettered:
“To fight for peace - when war does not threaten - is, however, a wrong excuse for building institutions which tend to restrain freedom, democracy and democratic accountability, not to speak about economic efficiency.”Don’t know about anybody else, but I intend to use that sentence in future debates and discussions.