The Slow Implosion of the European Union

This whole saga is about what democracy is and what it isn’t.

It was just supposed to be a trading organization, a way to make commerce easier and in so doing build a sense of friendship and understanding on a war-ravaged Continent. In fact it was called “The Common Market.” But even after having joined (after years of being blocked from membership by President Charles de Gaulle of France), Britain had doubts.

For decades a parade of prime ministers implored the E.U. to halt its efforts for the closer integration of nations. Their entreaties fell on deaf ears. On came the E.U. flag, the E.U. anthem, rules and regulations on literally every facet of human life. Officials began talking about a “federation” of states, with a common foreign policy and army. And then came the common currency: the euro, a fraud of monumental proportions because it sought to replace national currencies that are based upon the economic realities of each nation with the illusion of fiscal strength based on “solidarity.” It is, in reality, deeply dishonest with a distinctly anti-American flavor. Ever suspicious of Continental combinations, the British looked on in anger. When they finally had their say, they wanted out.

Brexit sent shock waves throughout Europe because it was the beginning of the realization among Europeans that it didn’t have to be this way, life could be different and it was in their power to make it so.

In an interview following the referendum the very pro-E.U. French president was asked if he would hold a similar one for the French. “Non,” he replied. But why not? “Because we might lose.” That is the essence of E.U. strategy: If you think the people might vote against our policies, don’t hold the vote. So much for E.U. democracy.

After Brexit, France invited British banks and financial service companies to relocate to Paris, “rolling out the red carpet.” Pundits predicted impending financial doom. It never happened. Company CEOs looked at France’s constant social turmoil, including the “Yellow Vest” movement, and decided that staid, boring London was preferable to having your branch offices firebombed by malcontent farmers, Breton fishermen, and anarchists-for-hire. For years E.U. negotiators stonewalled the British at every turn, even threatening the link of Northern Ireland to the rest of the United Kingdom. An agreement was reached and quickly rejected by Parliament. The government fell and a general election was called. Again, withdrawal from the European Union was the peoples’ choice. Talks resumed and, as before, whatever the E.U. placed on the table was termed the final offer. This the British wisely recognized as a bluff.

So why, after all these years, was an agreement possible? Because everyone at the table wanted to make money, or rather, wanted to continue to make money. Despite all the posturing, the threats, the insinuations of blackmail, the kisses on hands and cheeks by pear-shaped Eurocrats prior to lunch and dinner meetings that led nowhere, everyone understood that, in the end, if there was no deal, no one could make money. And that is the secret to the deal. When the trucks leaving Dover for Calais were backed up for miles due to a new COVID-19 scare just before Christmas, it was a portent of what could occur on a daily basis without an agreement, and someone at E.U. headquarters in Brussels had the presence of mind to declare, “Sweet mother of God, we can’t let this happen.” Therefore, a deal was certain. “Voilà!”…[    ]

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