Thursday 14 November 2019

The EU is preparing to kill Irish democracy

LOVE of Europe, dependency on Europe, fear of Europe have distorted the whole picture of what is happening this weekend and Ireland is in a major danger zone as a result.

Enda Kenny and his coalition partners stand at the doors of the overweening EU institutions, cap in hand, waiting for some satisfaction. Their sights are set low. They want alleviation of the interest rate. They want someone to share in the cost of the banking disaster that was brought down on our heads through the stupidity of Brian Cowen and Brian Lenihan, who have rightly become part of our recent bitter history of incompetence and subservience.

Our new political leaders, novices in the circumstance of their election, are humbled by the task they have taken on and unsure as to whose advice they should listen to. They are probably relieved that the crisis in Portugal has taken the heat off their short-term needs and given a breathing space that is added to by the stress testing of our banks going on now.

They are completely wrong if they are thinking along these lines. What the EU is now doing is way more serious than the little puddle of Irish concerns over keeping our corporation tax rate or getting the interest on our loans reduced. It is about the reshaping of Europe to our disadvantage, a reshaping that is fundamental and quite outside the legal remit created for us by the Lisbon Treaty changes.

We should resist, we should veto what is being done and require a referendum in which the Irish people would prevent the imposition of further economic and fiscal controls that are simply not in our interest.

We have suffered from Europe. Europe acted quite illegally at the end of last year in forcing its intervention and imposing the bailout. The EU broke all its own rules. This is a matter of fact, not opinion.

French Finance Minister Christine Lagarde has made clear that this was the case. The bailout rules are meant to apply in the event of natural disasters and are not for government fiscal improvidence. EU intervention breached the treaty and did it for the wrong reasons. It was therefore a double breach.

When the full import of the salvation of the European banking system -- with Ireland facing the main impact -- is known to everyone in the country, it will be clear how wrongly and deceitfully the EU bringers of bad news before Christmas behaved.

Furthermore, the breach was not in Ireland's interest, it was in the EU's interest.

The EU is now proposing, in the summit over the last two days, to go on acting illegally. In this, it is fulfiling a prophecy made by me several times in the last two years, that a form of totalitarianism is taking over in Europe.

It is increasingly depriving us of any semblance of democracy and attempting to federalise 27 member states on economic and fiscal grounds decided by the powerful and more wealthy states to protect themselves from the prodigality of feeble states like Ireland.

With nothing more than an uncomprehending, summit-induced nod of the head from political leaders who are not being told the full truth of what is set before them, we are continuing down the dangerous road of greater central supervision.

I did not hear him saying this, but Jose Manuel Barroso must have put his tongue in his cheek, between words, when he told the world that member states had "accepted -- and I hope they understood it exactly -- very important powers of the European institutions regarding surveillance and a much stricter control of public finances."

He said this last June. That surveillance operated illegally in November last, when the EU transgressed its own rules in coming into Ireland and the two jokers who let them in, Brian Cowen and Brian Lenihan, first tried to pretend that they were not there at all and then told us there was not to be a bailout.

They never brought the matter before the Dail until it was already a done deal and landed us in a humiliating and expensive set of circumstances that ultimately cost them their jobs and removed them in even greater humiliation from any meaningful further involvement in public life.

Barroso was clearly wrong in expecting "exact understanding" then and in doing so now.

The problem is enormous and affects every country differently. It also affects the politicians in power now, so that Angela Merkel has to worry about keeping on the right side in the face of an election and Sarkozy has to do the same from his present low standing in the French opinion polls.

On top of this, there is the realisation that all EU states are finding it impossible to keep pace with the burden of funding their long-term social policy.

We in Ireland cannot afford the society we have created. We have already seen modest parts of it chipped away, but we have seen nothing yet.

Set this against commitments already made to the EU by Enda Kenny that Ireland will "introduce a strict and stable fiscal framework, with the strongest possible legal basis and stick to the fiscal targets through expenditure decreases and revenue increases as foreseen in the programme".

THE Taoiseach knew, even as he put his hand to that deal, that it was beyond us. And he was given no assurances of placing us in a bearable situation when the EU gets round to sorting out our dilemma.

Indeed, the EU is saying it won't happen. The outcome this weekend makes it all the more difficult for us. And our pundits are still worrying about a lower percentage and hanging on to the corporation tax rate, rather than the rigid new policy straitjacket that is being agreed for the euro currency area.

The surveillance of this harsh programme is in the hands of the big powers, Germany and France, and the central fiscal mechanisms of the EU. In effect, the creditor countries take control of the economic policies of the debtor countries.

That means the end of any meaningful democracy in Irish fiscal and economic affairs.

We will do what we are told and what we have been told up to now, since last year's fiasco, is in language where words are not minced and "orders from the Captain" are not softened.

If what I say is going to happen, it cannot last comprehensively in a Europe where one economy after another is falling into the debtor trap. We may bow the head to the EU -- we have become accustomed to this new form of slavery -- replacing other examples of undemocratic rule.

There were the British, of course, when they ruled here, and then there was an equally humble and servile view of the Roman Catholic Church.

Now it is the EU, under German-French hegemony -- undemocratic, increasingly centralised, ever more unsympathetic to its marginal, debtor member states and increasingly peremptory in imposing its will.

Meanwhile, the banks continue to operate like a sluice-gate to perdition and we continue to pay Europe's bills in respect of the EU's terrible failure to regulate collectively the affairs of this totalitarian monster.

Irish Independent

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