The rotten heart of Europe?
In the aftermath of the Danish referendum, Bernard Connolly sees a dire warning for all of Europe in Denmark's decision not to proceed with the euro.
THERE is a horrible fascination in watching someone's humiliation in front of TV cameras. At times it can be too much to bear. Even those with no liking for Tony Blair winced and averted their eyes as he turned to jelly before the matrons of the Women's Institute.
But no one should have any sympathy with the members of the Danish Establishment as they squirmed, pouted, blathered, crumpled and barely avoided bitter tears as the ``No'' votes in the Danish referendum piled up on Thursday last. It served them bloody well right.
All the Danish elites political, bureaucratic, business, media and academic had waged a shameful six-month campaign of deception, blackmail and bullying as they strove to rob Danes of their freedom.
Freedom? Surely rather far-fetched? No. The Danish elites failed because their opponents did not let them get away with the biggest lie of all. The truth, never hidden in the ``core'' of Europe, is that the euro is the ante-room to a superstate. But the superstate will be no benign ``zone of freedom, security and peace''; it will be a frightful autocracy of bureaucrats, apparatchiks, corporate moguls and gangsters.
Poul Nyrup Rasmussen, the Danish PM, whose demeanour serves as a definition of the word ``lugubrious'', looked at the end of his tether as he accepted defeat in the referendum. But even he visibly perked up as he pledged that his government would co-operate fully on the Treaty of Nice. That treaty, to be agreed in December, will eliminate more and more national vetoes and further subject small EU countries to the rule of the Franco-German ``motor'' of ``Europe''.
And even more sinister, it will impose on the peoples of Europe the so-called ``Charter of Fundamental Rights'' to be agreed by justice ministers in Biarritz this month. The Charter pays lip-service to political freedoms. But its article 50 ominously dictates that any and all freedoms may indeed must be limited, even ``suspended'' in the name of ``the general interests of the Union''.
That sinister threat is chillingly reminiscent of the emergency decree of February 28, 1933, which opened the way to the Nazi eradication of democracy for the essence of democracy is the ability to express opposition, a truth always denied by continental political thought, with its emphasis on the ``General Will'' and the suppression of individual dissent.
The EU leaders yes, including ours have already agreed the creation of a force (initially 5,000 strong but surely destined for rapid expansion) of machine-gun-armed Eurocops who are guaranteed complete immunity from prosecution in any national court and explicitly intended to ``suppress civil disorder''. The Euro-spin on this new SS is that it will impose ``European ideals'' of democracy on countries such as Serbia. But the EU leaders have deliberately chosen not to limit its field of operations it can be deployed in any EU country as well as outside the empire's boundaries.
But if all this is likely to happen anyway, why so much fuss about the referendum in Denmark? And why should it matter to Ireland?
First, the Danish ``No'' will keep Sweden and Britain out of the euro for the foreseeable future. But, as a German general explained to his subordinates in occupied Denmark in 1940, they could not have the same fun with their new subjects that they had been having in Poland: ``A Dane is not a Pole; he is rather a Teuton.''
Will the German people really want a union where ``Teutonic'' cousins, more or less distant, in Scandinavia and Britain choose to stay out and assorted Slavs are included? On present evidence, the answer is a clear No. Thus, the debate about ``hard cores'', ``two tiers'' or whatever, has opened up again. And where exactly will Ireland fit in?
The short answer is that no-one in continental Europe gives a hoot about Ireland. As Mary Harney has reminded everyone, Ireland is spiritually closer to Boston than to Berlin (or, she might have added, to Paris or Brussels). In a ``hard core'' Europe, Ireland will be totally marginalised, a distant province subject to the diktats of the new European empire.
Denmark has a chance to escape the empire because it is not in the euro. For Ireland, retaining freedom and democracy will be much more difficult. For the euro has condemned Ireland to boom-bust. When the bust comes (and there's no ``if'' about it within the single currency), Ireland will be faced with either leaving, devaluing and creating a banking sector crisis, or signing up to a new treaty, even more oppressive than Nice, in return for bailouts from ``Europe''.
What can Ireland do? It is still possible to leave the euro without creating a financial crisis. But it will soon be too late.
Once the bust begins, any hint of withdrawal could lead to massive capital flight from Ireland and to a banking crisis. On the political side, the Government has given no sign that it will veto the Treaty of Nice or even submit it to a referendum. True, there are rumblings within the coalition, associated with Ireland's economic success compared with the rest of the eurozone, and with the imminent transformation of Ireland's position to one of net contributor to the EU budget. But it may all have come too late.
Ireland is at the 59th minute of the 11th hour. For too long it worshipped the Golden Calf of EU transfers. Now it faces being dragged into the economic decline and political authoritarianism inevitably to be followed by civil disorder, terrorism and chaotic disintegration of the European empire.
* Bernard Connolly is author of The Rotten Heart of Europe (Faber & Faber) and a former senior civil servant in the European Commission