On 9 May the leaders of the European Parliament met with the Commission and Council representatives. First they spoke of European solidarity and European values. They praised Robert Schuman for introducing a great democratic experiment that has brought the longest period of peace in Europe’s several thousand year history.
That is true.
Then they spoiled it all. They immediately went into a self-congratulatory mode of their own delusions. They boasted that Commission, Council and Parliament have become the champions of the citizens and reduced roaming charges for mobile phone and now for data across the European Union.
Wasn’t Europe wonderful!
The high charges were an ‘irritant’ to citizens, they said. Now we can show how ‘Europe’ protects their interests. The mobile companies had been charging excessively for telephone calls and data downloads across the Continent and they — the Council, Parliament and Commission — were the heroes that forced them to cut them. How? with a Regulation — European law!! Now they expect all the citizens to love the new-style politburo politicians that rule Europe.
Is this fair? They boasted that they had got cuts of 75 percent in customers’ bills. Is it helping the free market? Who knows? It was a Diktat.
Yes consumers like lower prices, but what if they find the bills going down in roaming and extra charges arising elsewhere because the companies find the prices unrealistic? The companies have spent billions on hi-tech satellite technology and land infrastructure and coordination. They made a strategy to pay for it over several years. Then along come a posse of cowboy politicians and say: ‘Hey some of our people say you are robbing them! ‘ And with a pistol at their head they lower the prices.
Maybe the prices were too high to chat as if callers were at home. But who gave the cowboys the authority to decree lower prices in the market? What’s the point of the internal market if it is not free from cowboy laws of politicians? It should be open wide to competition to increase efficiency of pan-European services and industry. It is supposed to reduce prices for consumers and make companies stronger so they can compete globally.
Guess what? The mobile companies reaction is not to complain loud in public. They are simply raising their domestic rates fast — sometimes by 66 percent. Will the European Commission and its cowboys and girls be boasting that they were responsible for the rise in domestic mobile charges? I think not! The European Politburo has still to learn that they cannot get a free lunch wielding a gun.
Who should be setting prices? Should it be a free market with plenty of competition and innovation? Or should the politicians be setting the caps and ceilings for prices?
When Schuman warned of counterfeit democracy, Europeans had in front of them the so-called People’s Democracies of the Soviet bloc. How did the Soviet socialists and Communists run their economies? They had artificial fiat currencies and they fixed the prices of all the goods on sale. The Politburo controlled the industries, the production and supply. They decided what everything should be worth in the funny coupons that passed for socialist money. They decided on the price by fiat.
Reminder: A real democracy does not have politicians fixing the prices of goods and services.
So why did the trio of white-hatted cowboys get in the business of fiat prices? Firstly something was uncomfortable for Europeans travelling across frontiers. More importantly the politicians wanted to gain some plaudits from the public as their credit and trust was hitting rock bottom. So they applied the same technique they did to the constitutional and Lisbon treaties — they ignored democracy and imposed the political equivalent of martial law. They ignored the free market solutions in the same way as they had earlier ignored and despised the votes in the referendums.
Where will it lead to? Will everything on the European market now have its prices set by political fiat? By getting in the populist business of forcing reduced prices, the Council Politburo system is now heading in the same way as the People’s Democracies.
Will we now see the Council Politburo responding to citizens’ complaints and setting the price wherever single market customers complain? Will toothbrushes and toilet paper be the list? Will all electricity tariffs now be reduced? Will they soon decree a single low-price airplane ticket for anywhere across the EU?
Like a meteor in the fermament, some mobile phone companies have risen from nothng and replaced major companies that had been round for centuries as some of the biggest companies in Europe. The politicians often think of them as tax cows. Some long-established industries may be harder to boss around. But bossing around hi-tech industries is likely to be a bad industrial strategy for reducing unemployment. And of course those fig-leafs that the politicians use for doing anything they want — Europe2020 or Europe2030— say absolutely nothing about this antidemocratic market manipulation. How could they justify cheap populism for EU Public Relations?
The democratic five-institution supranational Community system on which the EU is based was created to
- stop price-fixing
- break cartels
- encourage European infrastructure for supply and demand.
How should the question of mobile phone rip-offs be treated in a real supranational democracy? Who should be setting the price of mobile calls?
The guardian of the European free market is the Consultative Committee, a major institution de Gaulle and other egocentric politicians blocked and are still blocking. The Coal and Steel Community had its own Consultative Committee that oversaw the introduction of Europe’s first Single Market on 10 February 1953. The European Economic Community introduced an Economic and Social Community that was to be composed entirely of NON-POLITICAL European associations active in the market. European professional associations would all be listed and registered and THEY would then elect the member associations that should sit in the Consultative Committee.
They would vote on all matters of dispute.
Schuman suggested that three equal groups should be involved to come to a fair decision. This is confirmed in the treaties. Note: NO politicians, NO Government representatives are included. The real tripartate committee is defined as:
- Industrialists and entrepreneurs who innovate and invest
- Consumers who have to pay for the service and have criticism about price and service
- Workers in the industry because they should have safe conditions and their wages should not be cut if the consumers want cheaper prices.
How did he say they should run the economical sector? If there is any dispute such as on roaming charges, the three sections would have to vote on an Opinion. As each of the sections had equal number of member associations, they would have to come to a consensus based on European values, intelligent economic strategy and social justice. Based on intensive in-depth debates, they would come to agree not only on price levels but the overall strategy for creating jobs for a stronger Europe. Such a powerful, intensive discussion of all the issues avoids quick-fix, cowboy regulators making a mess of industrial investment, and wreaking research and development plans.
The present treaties still provide the requirement for the Europe-wide elections to the Economic and Social Committee. When will it happen?David Heilbron Price