31, October, 2012
The former British Prime Minister Tony Blair has called for a ‘Grand Bargain’ to set Europe on the right track. Part of his idea, said Mr Blair speaking in Berlin at the Council for the Future of Europe on 29 October 2012, is the election of the President of the European Commission.
‘My feeling is that the only way, ultimately, confidence can be restored is with a fully comprehensive set of measures that convince markets and public alike that the fundamental issues have been overcome.’
- It is not based on pleasing the markets.
- Europe cannot be built on money like the euro (even if it were well-constructed and it isn’t).
- Nor can it be built on commercial activity (even if the EU is the largest commercial power in the world, equivalent to the USA, Canada and India).
- It cannot even be built on some ideological concept of democracy. (Ideology means part truth).
Putting the Commission into the hands of politicians by elections, organized and controlled by political parties, is completely wrong. It would exclude 98 percent of the population who are not members of political parties. It is the road to disaster. It violates the most elementary principles of Human Rights. A fairer, more just and honest idea is required.
Europe must be founded on truth and the search for truth. Truth can be arrived at by experience, examining one’s conscience and investigation. That is the only realistic basis for a sound society. Experience tells us that politicians should not be given absolute control, that their declarations should be examined by ordinary citizens and interest groups in non-political representative bodies. Their conclusions should be published and examined conscientiously by all the public.
That is because all human beings have a tendency to corrupt and putting known corrupters in charge of anti-corruption is to corrupt the system absolutely.
Appeasing corruption is no formula for resolving the present crisis, nor for the future. AT THE MOMENT POLITICIANS ARE FAR TOO KEEN TO OBSCURE CORRUPTION RATHER THAN EXPOSE IT AND CORRECT IT.
European integration can only be founded on values like fairness, justice and honesty. Schuman called these supranational values because, in the past, empires, federations and confederations have collapsed because of violation of justice and the rule of law. Science properly founded on correct premises is a supranational value, said Schuman. Its results were true in antiquity (even if not always recognized). It is true today. As Schuman learned in his university days, justice decided in the court systems of ancient societies tended to follow similar rules to modern justice. Societies also failed when, as contemporary critics observed, corruption replaced justice or when sexual depravity became commonplace. Today lack of trust in politicians does not justify giving them more powers.
It is true that Europe needs to defend itself externally from predatory and dangerous powers that would like to exploit its disunity. That idea is not new. Schuman said that precisely in his address to the United Nations General Assembly in 1948: ‘Europe must unite to survive.’ Europeans have fought each other for thousands of years and disunity is more natural than unity.
What is important for us now is how the foundation based on supranational values can be developed. These values form the basis for European democracies. They arose from Christian basis of our civilization but also present in other successful societies too.
Should Europeans fear the future? Should they chase after the chimera of exploitative wealth?
Mr Blair says: ‘The 21st Century case for Europe is based not on war or peace but on power or irrelevance. A 21st Century with China and India that in time, as GDP and population size realign, will become vast economic and political powers.’
Where this analysis is wrong is that ALL civilizations will fail if they cannot handle the problem of corruption. This is true not only for China, India and Europe but also for Russia and other rising, populous states including the super-rich but corrupt oil powers of the Middle East. What is relevant is building on a sound foundation, not coveting immoral and unethical practices that seem to bring instant wealth. Peace, which Europe gained by the Community, can continue to bring vast improvement in technical and moral progress, when the real keys of the supranational system are honestly applied.
Where Mr Blair makes a further fundamental mistake is to ignore the fact that a Grand Bargain has already been made. It is the politicians too often who are responsible for not holding to it. Take for instance the European Commission. Mr Blair says it should be elected. That sounds fair. But it is not what the Grand Bargain of 18 April 1951 to put an end to war made actually says. Electing the President would throw the whole procedure into the hands of the political parties who have a near monopoly of putting up candidates. It would reinforce the party political control of the institutions. Within the main political parties a small group of party officials decides on who should be candidate. Thus the whole process puts the presidency of the Commission into the hands of party machines and a few apparatchiks who decide.
This is an oligarchic system and has great dangers. It does not oppose antidemocratic attitudes of fellow politicians. The European Council would reinforce its undemocratic meetings of all and everything in secret. The ultra-secret Eurozone group would cook up lawless schemes to bilk the public of trillions of euros. No democratic control is possible. The Commission becomes fully complicit in any corruption. The independence of the Commission from governments, and from political parties and from any commercial, industrial or other interest group, is fundamental to the Community system.
This proposal of Mr Blair is directly opposite to what the original Grand Bargain entailed. So what was the Grand Bargain of 18 April 1951? It provided a way to end war between Member States. It created FIVE mutually independent institutions to safeguard this bargain and to build the future. By separately analyzing and then cross-checking the proposal of an impartial Commission (alone able to propose legislation), the most democratically fair bargain could be struck to provide the basis for European laws, taxes and budgets.
1. The European Commission must be (a) INDEPENDENT and (b) represent Europe not national interests or in fact not be tied to any interest group at all. The Commission must be impartial. Therefore the selection of the future Commissioners must be made by a process that would avoid political corruption or the election of those representing special interests.
2. The Commission should be in permanent dialogue with a consultative body representing Organized Civil Society. These Consultative Committees should be elected equally from three lists of European professional organizations representing workers, consumers and entrepreneurs. There should also be elections for the Committee of Regions and the Euratom Committees. These Consultative Committees have full powers in the preparation and supervision of all European legislation.
3. The Council of Ministers should be held in OPEN sessions. There should be no taxation without full and appropriate debate both inside the Council and also in the national parliaments.
4. The European Parliament should be elected according to a single statute for all the territory of the European Union. There should no longer be 27 national elections where the government parties bias the rules in favour of their own political parties. (Under the Lisbon Treaty the Parliament gave up its prime weapon for democracy — the ability to sack the Commission.)
5. The Court of Justice should be composed of impartial judges who are open to all tribunals and courts for their ruling on the interpretation of European law.
The most solemn part of the Great Bargain of 18 April 1951 was that no European measure should be brought in WITHOUT THE WHOLE-HEARTED AGREEMENT OF THE EUROPEAN PEOPLES. It is called the Great Charter of Europe, its Declaration of Interdependence.
This is not what has happened in Europe recently where we have seen treaties brought in by secretive cabals of politicians, meeting in the dead of night in European Councils. These treaties are not OPEN nor are they agreed freely by the people. They are as legitimate as the measures brought in by the Politburos of the so-called ‘People’s Democracies’ of the Soviet era. Worse, the politicians went ahead even though, in the few referendums that the politicians permitted, the public of several nations pronounced decisively against them. Then the politicians changed the system so that no further referendums would be permitted, especially in the founder States who knew exactly what abuses had been committed by de Gaulle and others!
The Great Charter said that the Community was the TRUE FOUNDATION of an organized Europe. It was declared as the first instance of a supranational organization in the world. It was a Community of peoples (not political groups). It set as prime condition that the people must be ‘FREE TO CHOOSE’. The first measure of renewing the Grand Bargain is to republish this Great Charter. It is the first Statute of European Law.
Mr Blair said: ‘I bear the scars of participation in the Amsterdam Treaty, the Nice Treaty, the – Laeken process culminating in the Lisbon Treaty and the 2005 EU budget negotiation, when the UK held the Presidency – the most difficult negotiation I participated in, (even including the Northern Ireland peace agreement.) Many of those here today bear similar scars! ‘
The politicians are likely to get many more scars until they learn their lessons about the real foundations of European democracy.David Heilbron Price