Klaus vs. the Eurocrats

In The American Spectator, former CEI Bastiat Scholar Doug Bandow (now at the Cato Institute) describes how “[o]nly the Irish people and Czech President Vaclav Klaus” stand as “formidable obstacles” in the way of Eurocrats’ dream of political consolidation — and how fanciful that dream is to begin with.

After winning some theoretical concessions, essentially promises to make future changes, on issues of interest to Irish voters, the government in Dublin announced plans to hold a revote later this year. Current polls have the “ayes” ahead and the EU is spending more than $2 million to lobby the Irish public. But the apparent upsurge in support may be temporary, reflecting economic fears, and groups like Declan Ganley’s Libertas, which played a key role in defeating the treaty in the first Irish vote, plan to keep fighting.

If the Lisbon Treaty passes, then what? European policies will be further internationalized. European nations’ sovereignty will be further eroded. European traditions will be further submerged. European peoples will be less free.

Which explains Vaclav Klaus’ sharp critique. “Are you really convinced that every time you take a vote, you are deciding something that must be decided here in this hall and not closer to the citizens, i.e. inside the individual European states,” he asked the European Parliament. Unfortunately, most of them are: His talk elicited “boos and catcalls and a walk-out by some members,” explained New Europe.

Yet even if the Eurocrats win, they aren’t likely to create a new nation state capable of challenging Washington for global influence. Rather, the EU will just create a slightly more pretentious political hollow shell.

In his valedictory address as European President, Nicolas Sarkozy said: “the world needs a strong Europe and that Europe cannot be strong if it is not united.” But the Lisbon Treaty does not unite Europe. The wealthier West has rejected a plea by the East for a financial bailout. In a January poll barely one quarter of Europeans knew that parliamentary elections were even scheduled this year. The percentage likely to vote is down from the last election. And the governing establishment is afraid to let the people vote on the Lisbon Treaty. If the only way to strengthen the EU structure is to limit popular participation, then Europe must not be united. Would anyone, other than Belgians (and maybe not even them), today die for Brussels? Passing Lisbon won’t create a continental identity now absent.

In addition to opposing statist schemes like those from the EU, President Klaus is also a consistent opponent of environmental hysteria. His book, Blue Planet in Green Shackles, is published in the U.S. by CEI. To purchase a copy of the book, see here.

Declan Ganley, who played a key role in the Irish opposition to the Lisbon Treaty, spoke recently in Washington at The Heritage Foundation. For video of his talk, see here.