German Chancellor Angela Merkel is pushing a scheme that would purport to give an unelected official within the increasingly powerful but unpopular European Union the authority to veto the budgets of elected national governments. If approved, the EU would have more power over its formerly sovereign members than even the U.S. federal government has been able to usurp from American states.
Speaking to the German Parliament before an EU summit on October 18, Merkel declared that it was time for the emerging Brussels-based super-state to have even more powers. "We have made good progress on strengthening fiscal discipline with the fiscal pact but we are of the opinion, and I speak for the whole German government on this, that we could go a step further by giving Europe real rights of intervention in national budgets," she told the Bundestag lower house, drawing swift criticism.
Merkel acknowledged that, “unfortunately,” she knew not all EU member governments were ready to surrender the power of the purse — one of the most important policy tools — to the unelected so-called “eurocrats” in Brussels. However, despite the opposition to the plan, the German government will "continue to push for it," she proclaimed.
The proposed official with power to approve or veto national budgets would be the European Economic and Monetary Commissioner. According to the plans currently being advanced, the EU would forbid any member state from adopting a budget, including taxing or spending, that violated continental rules and regulations.
Meanwhile, the European Parliament — not exactly a legislature in the traditional sense of the term — would be strengthened as part of the scheme. Advocates of closer integration have deceptively framed the lack of EU accountability to citizens as an excuse to allow the body, and the EU itself, by extension, to usurp ever- greater powers over nation states and citizens.
Over three-fourths of the laws in Europe now spew forth from Brussels, not national Parliaments elected by and accountable to citizens. Even for tame critics, that is more than enough. Other activists hope to abolish the EU entirely or at least have their national governments withdraw. Merkel, though, wants the regime strengthened.
"I am astonished that, no sooner does someone make a progressive proposal ... the cry immediately comes that this won't work, Germany is isolated, we can't do it," Merkel told lawmakers, apparently equating progress with increased centralization of coercive power. "This is not how we build a credible Europe."
It was not immediately clear how usurping one of the final vestiges of national sovereignty and self-government would lend any credibility to “Europe.” However, in recent years, pro-integration proponents have seized on the economic crisis to demand further centralization of power away from nations and toward the EU.
On top of all that, the German government leader proposed new European taxes to fund various EU schemes — a demand that has been made increasingly forcefully as the super-state seeks to shed the final shackles restraining its powers. One of the most likely schemes being pushed by Merkel and others would impose a tax on financial transactions. Apparently almost a dozen EU member governments now support the proposal.
Merkel also cited the EU’s Nobel Peace Prize — analysts said the dubious award was intended as a left-wing public relations boost for the embattled entity — as another reason why the super-state had to expand. "This decision is so significant precisely because it comes now," she claimed, speaking about the now largely disgraced prize.
Among the topics of discussion at the EU gathering October 18 that followed Merkel’s public pronouncements was deepening of so-called “financial integration” in Europe, which has become a rallying cry among European leaders whose governments are drowning in debt. Also on the agenda: the imposition of an EU “banking union” that would bring Europe’s banking sector under the control of a continental regulatory regime. Some governments have been hesitant to support the scheme, but analysts say eurocrats will never take no for an answer.
Merkel’s announcement came on the heels of recent calls by European Commission President José Manuel Barroso, a former Maoist revolutionary, to transform the EU into a full-blown “federation” — an idea that has long been the unacknowledged goal of pro-integration extremists seeking to smash national sovereignty. The proposed federation should be created by 2014 and should include an EU military, he said.
"We will need to move toward a federation of nation states. This is our political horizon,” Barroso claimed during a “state of the union” speech, adding that “unavoidable” changes to European treaties had to be made, presumably, as in the past, whether the people agree or not. “This is what must guide our work in the years to come."
Other European leaders have echoed those calls. The new socialist president of France, Francois Hollande, has also been publicly boasting about the inevitability of an ever-closer “union” between the formerly sovereign nations of Europe. “We don’t have a choice, but to march toward the destiny that is ours, march toward a unified Europe,” Hollande declared recently during a meeting with Merkel.
However, despite his enthusiasm for socialism and marching toward the abolition of national sovereignty, Hollande did express reservations about the veto scheme Merkel is now pushing — at least for the time being. "The topic of this summit is not the fiscal union but the banking union, so the only decision that will be taken is to set up a banking union by the end of the year and especially the banking supervision," the new French leader told Reuters at a gathering of top socialists.
Merkel and Hollande are expected to hold a private meeting ahead of the summit to discuss their alleged differences in opinion. The German Chancellor apparently wants to slow down the “banking union” scheme to make sure that "quality must trump speed," while the French Socialist claims there is "no time to lose."
Several member states want the banking union set up by January, but Merkel said that may be too quick. More than a few governments in non-euro countries, including Sweden and the United Kingdom, have expressed some resistance to the scheme as well.
While most European government leaders cheer-lead for the continued erosion of the final illusions of national sovereignty and self-government, not everyone is happy about the trend. Czech Republic President Václav Klaus, an increasingly lonely voice, recently warned that the EU was in the “final phases” of crushing democracy and that it was time to take a step back.
"We need to think about how to restore our statehood and our sovereignty. That is impossible in a federation,” Klaus explained in a recent interview with the U.K. Sunday Telegraph ahead of his new book release, commenting on Barroso’s calls for what essentially amounts to a super-state. “The EU should move in an opposite direction."
The EU has become increasingly unpopular among the public in recent years as it defied voters and charged ahead with the obliteration of national sovereignty. Now, capital cities from Athens to Madrid are being faced with surging violence and riots as the ongoing economic implosion throughout much of the eurozone accelerates.
Predictably, the establishment forces pushing ever-closer integration have seized on the unrest — largely a result of centralized power, the half-baked single currency, and big government — to demand more of the same. Experts and even EU politicians, however, are warning that the scheme will not end well.
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Photo: German Chancellor Angela Merkel speaks during a session of the German Federal Parliament, Bundestag, in Berlin, Oct. 18, 2012: AP Images