Entry 854 posted in: 1. General Mish Mash, 6. Self-Made Monsters
What follows is a rather boring post, but I've spent a lot of time writing it, so I'll publish it anyway. Sorry for that.
My country, although you probably won’t believe me, was one of the founding dwarfs of the European Union. Belgium itself is an amalgam of three different nationalities that, due to several historical atrocities, were cut off from their original fatherland, whether they liked it or not. Because Germany, Holland, France (and even England) had better things to do than to quarrel who would take care of that ungrateful lot a job search was done for an unemployed member with royal blood. Because they couldn’t find any they settled for a German duke who would become the first king of Belgium. His son Leopold II, still a hero in our official history books at school, would create his own little playhouse called Congo, where he could rape and murder and become immensely rich (and a while later very poor again).
At the end of the Second World War Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg created an economical entity called the Benelux (a Belgian-Luxembourg treaty already existed in the Twenties). A couple of years later France, Germany, Italy and the Benelux-3 signed a treaty that was known as the European Coal And Steel Community. One thing lead to another and today we have a political and economical community with 27 member states and a population of nearly half a billion. Hurrah!
But there is a strange thing going on: the bigger the EU becomes the less popular it is with the actual inhabitants of the Union. There are a couple of reasons for that. You’re not going to escape from my reasonings!
EU devours money by the quintillions
Because the principal members of the EU couldn’t agree to have a single headquarter they created two. A couple times a year they switch from one headquarter to another, meaning that files and papers have to be physically moved from one place to another. This cost about 200 million Euros a year.
Like any other country Europe has a set of ministries, commissions, workgroups, you name it. As every state likes to have its share these centres are based all over Europe. The EU can be easily be categorized as being Europe’s biggest travel agency.
EU is the perfect scapegoat for local mismanagement
For years local (national and regional) politicians used Europe as the perfect scapegoat to cover up for their own mistakes or to put unpopular laws into place. All over the European Union decision were taken, not because politicians, in their own words, deemed it was necessary, but because it was ‘ordained by the European Union’.
This created the image of the EU as an overzealous police officer, harassing the local neighbourhood, instead of dealing with the real problems (whatever these real problems might be).
EU is more concerned with its democratic appearance than with democracy itself
When the European parliament was founded (in 1979) nobody seemed to care that the institute had less power than their Soviet Russian counterpart. Although big shots from all over Europe wanted a well-paid seat they didn’t bother to show up anymore once the press attention had diminished. Slowly the parliament got more power, real power, but the real decisions are still taken outside the parliament. One of the most important items of the European Union, its budget, is totally out of control, literally and figuratively speaking.
EU loathes real democratic decisions
One of my unfinished projects, and I’ve got this idea for a novel over twenty years now, starts when the communist government of a further unspecified country in the east of Europe wants to inundate a historic site because the great Bozo who is in charge has decided to do so. Then the Berlin wall starts crumbling down and a couple of months later a democratic government is in charge. And guess what? Nothing has changed. The damming project will still go through because the communist decision makers have all turned into democrats and businessmen. Of course a lot of interesting things happen after that, larded with a lot of sex, drugs and rock-and-roll. Dan Brown and Stephen King may be happy that I never wrote the novel to begin with.
And I just thought up the following while writing this post. The European Union is the modern equivalent of the Papal States. Although the pope was a ruler of his own independent country (part of it what we now call Italy) his word was also law in the other countries of Europe. If, for instance, the French king wanted to take a decision and the pope said no - it was no. No reasoning with the pope. That is why every papal election was such big fun, with all European countries lobbying to have their pope elected; cardinals eliminating other cardinals to influence their chances and if a pope wasn’t really up to par for a certain party an antipope would be elected as well.
Anno 2000, when the European Union speaks the parliaments of the member countries jump. No questions asked. The main problem arises when some countries start to get difficult and really want to involve the democratic process by ways of a referendum. Then the results tend to differ a bit.
1972 - Norway refuses to enter the EU
1992 - Denmark votes against the Maastricht treaty
1994 - Norway refuses to enter the EU (for the second time)
2000 - Denmark refuses to join the Eurozone
2001 - Ireland votes against the treaty of Nice
2003 - Sweden refuses to join the Eurozone
2005 - France refuses the European constitution
2005 - Netherlands refuses the European constitution
2008 - Ireland votes against the treaty of Lisbon
Instead of finding a way to diminish the democratic deficit of the EU and to make the Union more attractive to its citizens the EU moguls choose the easy way out.
A referendum was negative? Change the treaty in such a way that for a second vote you don’t need a referendum anymore but just a vote in parliament. Satisfaction guaranteed (a few days ago this was proposed as a solution for the Irish problem).
A referendum was negative? If the no-votes only had a slight majority you can always try to organise a second referendum, hoping the weather will be better and the population is in a slightly better mood (Denmark, 1993 and Ireland, 2002). The strange thing is that consecutive referenda are sometimes held to switch the decision from negative to positive, but never the other way around.
So how does it all end? Well in my unfinished novel some committee decides to relocate a historical church to an open-air museum somewhere in America and the vampire that is freed per accident becomes the next president of the United States. Nobody notices the difference. “All’s well that ends well”, to quote Will the Great.
If you liked this post - you might be interested in this one as well: Just like Belgium