The EU Just Repudiated Itself and Nobody Noticed

The EU Just Repudiated Itself and Nobody Noticed

November 19, 2011
Originally published in The Washington Examiner

America's Constitution begins, "We the people of the United States." By contrast, the Treaty of Maastricht that established the European Union begins, "His Majesty the King of the Belgians."

The treaty does say that its member states should have governments "founded on the principles of democracy." Yet last week, two EU nations ceased to be democracies in any meaningful sense -- and the EU orchestrated this outrage.

On Nov. 11, 2011, two EU countries, Greece and Italy, installed new prime ministers. Neither has ever held elected office. And neither holds a democratic mandate.

In Greece, the former academic and EU central banker Lucas Papademos was appointed after a deal was reached between the fractious parties of Greece's parliament, which had rejected calls for early elections.

In Italy, the former academic and EU commissioner Mario Monti was appointed only two days after being made senator for life by the country's president.

Both gentlemen can be best described as technocrats. They are part of a new European elite -- clever, progressive, and with careers paid for by the taxpayer.

However, unlike traditional politicians, members of this new class need never suffer the indignity of campaigning for office. (A British friend of mine defined a technocrat as someone who had eaten more lunches at the European Commission than received votes in an election.)

Each of these new premiers is complicit in the mess his country faces. Papademos was economic adviser to former Prime Minister George Papandreou, forced out of office because of the economic chaos in his country.

Monti was "competition commissioner," responsible for enforcing the one-size-fits-all single market that has brought ruin to the economies of southern Europe.

Ordinarily, one would assume that the accession of these men to run their countries' governments would create consternation in Brussels, but it was actually demanded by EU leaders.

Members of the Frankfurt Group -- consisting of French President Nicolas Sarkozy, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and leaders of the European Central Bank -- openly boasted at the G-20 summit in Cannes of deposing Silvio Berlusconi as Italian prime minister.

The bank withdrew help from Berlusconi, causing the bond crisis that forced him out. It has now resumed help to Monti's government. Papandreou was similarly targeted for daring to invoke the specter of democratic legitimacy, after he insisted on submitting the terms of the EU bailout to a referendum by the Greek people.

Thus, the EU's leadership has effectively repudiated the core EU value of democracy. The old core value of a market economy has already been changed to a "social market economy." One wonders which one will be dismissed next as inconvenient to the EU's leadership.

If the EU were to true to its professed values, it would take a very different approach. It would recognize that democracy and national sovereignty are incompatible with a stateless common currency and a set of overweening supranational regulations, and get rid of the latter.

The EU would become more like the United States, with jurisdictions engaging in competitive federalism, using their comparative advantages to maximize the wealth and welfare of their citizens, and thereby of the EU as a whole.

That, however, would inconvenience the unelected elite who rule Europe today, jeopardizing the jobs of future Montis and Papademoses. The European Union is now unabashedly a technocracy. Could it happen here?

President Obama's former budget director, Peter Orszag, said in September that "less democracy" and more "depoliticized commissions" were needed to tackle our problems.

As Obama seeks to further Europeanize America, We the People should take note of what is happening in Europe, and repudiate these shameful coups d'etat.