ANALYSIS OF THE EU METAMORPHOSES:
ENLARGED AND MISCONCEPTED
Inna Rogatchi, Rogatchi Productions & Communications Ltd., 2002
The long-awaited decision by the European Union on its enlargement undertaken last fall, has caused clearly mixed reactions among interested parties and observers.During the past decade, readiness to accept the new members by the EU leadership did not adequately correspond to the political needs of the countries in question, nor to the realities of international developments.
TOO LATE AND TOO MANY
When after the collapse of the Soviet Union and the Warsaw Pact, several newly liberated countries badly needed international recognition and support, they did not get what they had expected from the EU perspective. Sadly, all efforts by representatives of these fledgling were met with an unexpected coldness and something of a “second-class” approach by the Brussels elite. There were multiple reasons for this political short-sightedness on behalf of the EU: The tender-soft approach towards Moscow, lack of vision, a large portion of banal ignorance, and – pure mathematics, which has managed to play its role in quite a powerful way.
S. Tulenev, Chas
Portugal, Greece, Spain and France were not happy at all, to put it mildly, to even think about sacrificing part of their enormous agricultural EU donations for the Baltic states and Poland. And the very solid arguments of either the high-quality of agricultural produce made by these countries, or that Baltic and Polish agriculture is far more sophisticated in many ways than that in Portugal or Greece, and that France has a strong enough economy to support its agriculture, would cause one of two reactions: irritation, or plain deaf ears.
Ten missed years is quite a serious period of time in terms of new statehood, and development of a country’s economy, its legal system, its international policy, and its public mentality. There is no doubt amongst serious experts that if EU economic and legal criteria was introduced in the former Soviet bloc countries ten years ago as part of a real EU deal, the world today would not be facing such disaster as it is with Ukraine, which is on the edge of being internationally certified as a semi-criminal regime; neither would the Western press, especially Finland, be full of coverage on Estonian organized crime and its international practice, this being one of the strongest in Europe – quite a record for a 1.2 million populated state. There would be a different Belarus, Romania and Bulgaria today. And people in Lithuania, Latvia, Czech Republic and Poland would live at a different level, one corresponding to their best, not worst qualities.
Now, after a decade-long pause, and under a dramatically different situation in the EU and global economy, the European Union has suddenly decided to accept ten new states under the EU umbrella all at once. Among the lucky ones are the three Baltic states, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Poland, Slovenia, Bulgaria, Cyprus and Malta.
And now the biggest concern within the EU, with no existing way of solving the coming situation, is how to cope with the addition of the ten new, quite weak and imperfect economies. Taking into account the simply disaster-like shape of economy in Germany, still regarded the economical corner-stone of the European Union, rather grim perspectives for the EU economy are laid out ahead of us.
No wonder that there is no particular joy among the population of existing members on being joined by 10 more countries in 2004. But it is not just the economy making the EU population more concerned than happy over the coming enlargement.
To mention one, the acceptance of Cyprus, which is in fact still regarded by the UN as a conflict zone, divided in two totally antagonistic parts, patronized by two different, largely unfriendly states (Greece and Turkey). Accepting this country would be running a rather high risk for the EU and a strange indeed understanding of political responsibility by the current EU leaders. Accounting that Turkey, a NATO member, with its developed economy, was left outside the EU ship once again in a blatant way, political observers are wondering now what will happen in the pro-Turkey part of Cyprus with all the EU-directives and supposedly unanimous policies.
INEQUALITY OF MEMBERS: THE EU KNOW-HOW
But the most acute question for EU enlargement is the sharp inequality between the existing 15 members and the 10 newcomers. After almost ten years of grilling in the EU waiting room, the new members were pressed hard to agree to get agriculture subsidies at a size of only 25% of the subsidies given to existing members, with the slow amount slowly rising to normal level in the next ten years time. No wonder this has caused massive protests in Poland, the EU candidate with the biggest agriculture sector in its economy.
Prior to the fall 2002 final negotiations on enlargement, the EU big fishes, Germany and France most notably, expressed lots of worries on possible floods of immigrants and illegal workers from the new members into the big industrial countries. Finland and Sweden, for their part, are also quietly worried a lot about a possible influx of free labor from Estonia, and possibly other Baltic states. In order to prevent this, serious restrictions were put up for new members on their possible entry of the Schengen Agreement.
But the inequality problem is getting more and more serious even within the EU, also regarding relations among its existing members. For a good while already, Finnish Prime Minister Paavo Lipponen is taking stand to defend what he calls “the position of small states within the EU.” According to Finnish EU experts, the problem was always there, but has become open in particular since the period of France’s EU presidency, which led to the controversial Nice Agreement (January 2001). “During the period of French EU presidency, the country no longer hid its ambitions to rule the EU. They also has become quite open on their firm belief that the EU policy must be formed and run by the big European countries,” - noted professor Esko Antola, the leading Finnish EU-authority in his recent analysis (Helsingin Sanomat, November 2002). And now, two years after the unprecedented Nice Agreement, France’s appetite for power within the EU is growing even still, added professor Antola.
This was projected clearly during the recent dispute between France and the United Kingdom, and in fact, between France and the rest of the European Union, on agricultural subsidies. British Prime Minister Tony Blair in October 2002 did express at the EU summit the joint opinion that the enormous EU subsidies for France shall be made in correspondence with the situation in other countries, since the EU it is supposed to function as union of equal members. This just proposal was met with the unprecedented fury of French president Jaque Chirac who retorted to the British prime minister: “You are very bad in your manners, young man! Nobody dared ever to talk to me like that!” One can blame the British politicians in anything but bad manners. The main thing, however, is that the serious problem has not been solved. Even worse, this has become the current EU routine.
Besides France, Germany is also pursuing its desire to dictate within the EU also fairly openly, from the point of view of the EU members. The tendency is increasing under Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder’s leadership, and the current German line is in sharp contrast to the balanced approach carried on by former Chancellor Helmut Kohl. As the Finnish Prime Minister Paavo Lipponen emphasized in his recent speech in Berlin (November 2002), Finland is particularly grateful to the former German Chancellor Kohl for his valuable support of small countries within the EU, and for treating them as equal partners.
The Finnish prime minister’s speech and stance did cause some stir in Berlin, especially because he made his point in the capital of the state which is promoting the alarming Schroeder idea of implementing the German Way in their international policy. This line has been met with increasing criticism by many governments. The United States were so irritated with it that German Foreign Minister Joshka Fisher had no other option than to denounce it during his negotiations with the US administration in October 2002. “Oh, forget it. Schroeder is using it for the “internal consumer,” - Fisher tried to calm down his American counter-parts. But they, quite justly, did not buy his argument, and were very definite in sending the message to the German leader that once experienced German Way was quite enough for the world.
EU MODEL FOR THE FUTURE: THE UNITED STATES OF EUROPE
As soon as Joshka Fisher, former German left-wing extremist with close ties to terrorist groups in the beginning of the 1970s (it is still unknown in full detail as to until exactly what moment he still kept on to these ties; according to the German press, f.ex., Forum magazine, 2002,- some experts believe that these ties were closer and were kept longer than it is officially recognized), came to power as minister for foreign affairs in post-Cold War Germany, some EU shadow players started to circulate an idea on how badly the EU needs a president, and how wonderful it will be to get Joshka Fisher in this position. From circles closer to Fisher, observers were getting the impression that to become the president of the European Union is the absolute goal and golden dream of the German foreign minister. And thus the bigger the EU, the better.
With all the financial and political might within EU, since the late 1990s, Germany started to promote the idea of a necessity for an EU government, the EU president, and the EU constitution. Other EU big members, France and the UK, supported the idea. Until this day almost nothing is known publicly about the giant efforts played in this game behind the scenes by unofficial internal EU lobbying organizations, among others, also the mysterious Club of Three.
Thus the idea of the EU Convent Committee, the new body which would prepare the EU for its future, has been implemented. The Convent Committee started its activities last year. France, being concerned not to lose its own leading position within the EU, was able to succeed in persisting on its leadership of the 105-member Convent. Thus 79 year old former French president Giscard d’Estaing was appointed by the EU Commission to plan the future of 360 million people, plus the populations of ten new members, for the new century.
Would it not be logical to get somebody younger? Would it not be corresponding to democratic values to get the people whose job is to shape the life of millions taxpayers being elected? Such questions were asked by many, especially young people, in universities all along Europe, from Cambridge to Helsinki. Those people are not enemies of the European Union. They are part of the European Union, part of the most vital, biggest, and most promising part. But Brussels turned its deaf ear to uncomfortable questions once again.
The very job of the newly created Convent Committee is to create a constitution for the EU which will lead to the placing of an EU president crowned as the new world power. This future super-Europe is seen by authors and supporters of the idea as a future counter-power to the USA. This is what it is about, to be able to counter Washington. From that point of view, the bigger the EU, the better. And the mystery of the sudden decision on massive enlargement is becoming quite clear. Well, turns out there is a place for utopia to be trumped up every century…
Mess. Giscar d’Estaign did not lose time in his revolutionary-flavored proposals: he proposed to change the Union’s name; he introduced its slogan; and he wants yet more EU institutions. The name should be USE, the United States of Europe. In their passionate attempt to challenge the USA, current European leaders seemingly forget that the name was first introduced by comrade Friedrich Engels, and the idea gave initial ground for spreading global communism. Or do they even remember that, on the contrary?…
The slogan proposed by d’Estaign is “Freedom, Justice, and Solidarity”. Why shall the EU have any slogan at all, and why should the entire Europe live up to the French model of proclaiming principles it hardly obeys, - no explanations on that were provided to stunned experts and observers when these ideas where presented in Brussels in late October 2002.
As for yet another EU institution, the Convent’s head is proposing the introduction of a so-called Congress of the European Nations, - to create a handy copy of the UN, most likely. The Congress shall function in addition to the existing European parliament, with the initial number of members starting from 1,500. What would be the difference between this body and the existing parliament in Strasbourg, now playing a much lesser role than even the Swedish royal family in this truly socialistic country, was also left unexplained.
To promote the Union up to truly utopian levels, the Convent proposed that the EU will become a juridical body. Such precedent is seen as totally unworkable and simply dangerous. Experts are voicing worries that implementing such hierarchy and subordination within a 25-member international institution reminds of forcible socialistic experiments in communist countries, with all the nasty practices and humiliating fiasco in the end.
Among other utopian toys d’Estaign is proposing to the Europe citizens is the future prospect of dual citizenship, – as any citizen of the future EU would be able to become a citizen of any other EU country just purely by his own wish. Sometimes, we really do encounter living illustrations of old proverbs, – in this case, the prototype being: “sometimes, the brains of old people and children are alike”. But the toys being played with are drastically different in this case…
All in all, the reaction towards the Convent’s presentation in late October 2002 was nothing but disaster, even by the EU Commission and the members of the Convent Committee itself. The British representative, former Foreign Minister Peter Hain known as a Europhile, called the proposed new name “definitely, a good name for a football club”. He and other representatives expressed their serious objections to the ideas admitting to the public that “a large part of the presented proposals were not discussed at the Convent Committee meetings, or with Convent members at all”. Nice beginning for another Brussels adventure, indeed.
Finland’s reaction on the proposed plan for the future Europe was unusually strong and consistent. The representative of the Finnish prime minister to the Convent Committee, Dr. Teija Tiilikainen lambasted the proposals, emphasizing that “the draft went too far in many respects”. She mentioned that she was truly amazed to see that the paper on implementation of democratic practices within the EU was written in d’Estaign’s draft as a separate document. “I would very much more prefer to see the emphasis on the democratic character of the EU’s future changes to be fixed in every chapter on all coming renovations”, said Tiilikainen .
Finland’s Prime Minister Paavo Lipponen himself also made an openly critical stand against attempts at re-shaping the EU “a’la Giscar”. At the recent celebration of the 50-th anniversary of the Nordic Council in Helsinki (November 2002), Lipponen , at the presence of all heads of Scandinavian states, said that leadership of the Convent Commiitee went in its recommendations much further than has been allowed by its mandate. This statement was met with quite a positive understanding by the leadership of the five Scandinavian countries.
But the one thing done by Monsignor Giscard d’Estaign was accepted by all parties without the slightest resistance: he discovered that while the current EU basic agreement specifies the procedure of joining the EU in a great detail, it lacks definition of the opposite procedure at all. “I was totally amazed to find out that there is no procedure to leave the Union!.. This must be corrected”, - said the former French president in a very determined way. He stayed behind his words, and one of his recommendations is to introduce regulations for procedures of both excluding EU members, and for leaving the EU voluntarily by any of its members. There are jokes in Brussels corridors that if this recommendation is accepted, we might face the formation of a departure-line from Brussels in the feasible future. Or even a queue…