Ignore Juncker, but keep a close eye on Macron and Merkel

10 September 2017

Ignore Juncker, but keep a close eye on Macron and Merkel

This week the president of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, will give his State of the Union address in the European Parliament in Brussels. Everyone’s holding their breath, because Juncker is going to present a new, sixth scenario for the future of the EU, the nature of which has until now been kept under wraps. What many people are forgetting is that Juncker has no power in this, that it’s the heads of the member state governments who will decide. So it’s much more important to keep your eye on Macron and Merkel than it is to heed what Juncker has to say.

Juncker keeps things exciting, for the last few years developing his own scenario for the future of the EU but taking care to keep it secret from everyone else. We’ve been kept on edge by a white paper and a number of reflection documents, as well as five scenarios, each of which gives additional powers to the EU. Juncker’s explanation for this secrecy says a great deal: if he comes out with his proposals too soon, they risk being shot down before they could even reach the heads of government. Evidently he wasn’t anticipating much support for his dream of a European superstate.

This is of course the core of the problem of the Brussels ‘bubble’. All the plans have been hatched, but Europe’s people don’t want any of them. So you keep your cards close to your chest if you want to win the game. In this way over the years the Commission’s powers have been augmented without anyone being given the chance to object. And we all know that the European Constitution was simply imposed in the form of the Lisbon Treaty in the face of its rejection in referenda by French and Dutch voters.

Macron is approaching this differently. He too wants to work towards a superstate Europe, but he at least has the decency to plan to organise ‘citizens’ conventions’ on the idea - in France, and in his view also in many other member states, if the governments will cooperate. But the average meeting on Europe generally attracts a public already interested in EU affairs, and those who are critical aren’t likely to show up. But if the citizens’ conventions do happen, and the Dutch government organises one in the Netherlands, then a lot of SP members will be showing their faces. And we will have a clear line, a clear explanation of why we don’t want to see the heads of member state governments supporting proposals for a European army, European taxes and a European finance minister. A clear explanation of why we don’t want to see a European superstate. Juncker can waffle all he likes, but in the end it will be for the member state governments to decide and it is these governments that we will mobilise en masse to influence. Via conventions, but also on the streets!

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