Prolific Euroblogger Julien Frisch – “a convinced European citizen and glad to be a citizen of the European Union” – is approaching his first anniversary of blogging. During that time, his coveraged has been both eclectic and entertaining, informative and interesting. (If you’ve not been reading him anyway, you really should be…)
But now, after a solid year of blogging about the EU from a pro-EU perspective, the sheer incompetence and bloody-mindedness of the political elites that oversee the frequently useless manner in which the EU functions has seemingly forced him to radically shift his opinions:
“I think I am becoming an absolute EU-sceptic…
When I look at all this, I more and more get the impression that the EU has failed to be the project of Europeans.
The EU is the project of power games, mostly between old, worn-out men who try to compare the length of their penises instead of caring for the interests of the continent. In one of these contests, an old Pole now has apparently won the EP presidency over an old Italian guy.
On the one side, the EU is a PR project of technocrats who have no interest in supporting a common European identity and a genuine European democracy, and on the other side, it is the ideal supranational playing field for nationalists who always fight for “the best” of their countries instead of promoting the best for Europe as a whole.
They all lack European ambition, they all lack spirit, and they all don’t have any idea where they want this Union to be in 10 years.
The more I watch them doing this, the less interested I am in what they do. The more I listen to their heartless speeches, their superficial declarations, their diplomatic compromises, the more I am convinced that nothing will change.
This is a vital, fundamental problem that the EU seems repeatedly unable to address – it is excruciatingly hard to be enthusiastic about the European Union. No matter how much you try, the more you look into it, the more you see its flaws. The more you look for sensible ideas for its future purpose and reform, the more you see the tsunami of inadequates that tend to gain positions of power in the damn thing rise up and threaten to swamp the whole project in a deluge of tedium, petty squabbles, meaningless jargon and total lack of vision.
This is precisely why I maintain that genuine europhiles are a very rare breed indeed: The EU is simply not loveable. It has the potential to turn into something truly great, and I still maintain that it is more good than bad, but it is deeply flawed – and that flaw stems from the people in charge of the damned thing: a never-ending rota of short-term losers, none of whom have anything personal to gain from looking to the EU’s long-term success, only from securing short-term advantages pursuit of positive PR (usually aimed at their national publics for national electoral reasons, rather than a European public for altruistic reasons).
As I’ve noted many times over the 6 years that I’ve been blogging about the damned thing, the fundamental question that remains unanswered is what is the EU for? The people who run the thing don’t know – nor do they seem to care. Little wonder, then, that those of us – like Julien, like me, like those British eurosceptics who want it to be just a trading bloc – with a clear vision of what we think that the EU should be about… Little wonder that, well, from time to time we all just get so damned pissed off with the whole thing.
The EU represents a good idea, executed with varying degrees of success. As with any hit and miss project, it’s largely a matter of perception whether you think the hits outweigh the misses. But when the people running the thing are so useless – and when it looks increasingly likely that Barroso is likely to return as Commission President despite having singularly failed in every important task with which he was faced during his term in office (passing the Constitution, passing the Lisbon Treaty, negotiating reform of the budget, starting to reform the CAP, etc. etc. etc.), well… Little wonder that what enthusiasm you do have starts to wane.
Nonetheless, I remain optimistic – precisely because of the ongoing stalemate, stagnation and incompetent management that has dogged the EU for the last decade. There’s only so much longer this can carry on before *everyone* gets thoroughly pissed off. And when that happens – finally – we may see some serious reform.
I’d give it another few years, though. Around about the time of the next budget negotiations in 2013, most likely – though possibly sooner if the Lisbon Treaty somehow ends up getting scrapped. (They used to say that a week is a long time in politics – when it comes to the EU, time works differently again, and a year is like a week in any other organisation. It takes a long time for these things to happen. A very long time. Patience… Patience…)