The European Commission shakes its fist

3 September 2017

The European Commission shakes its fist

Last week Commissioner Frans Timmermans didn’t pull his punches: to save the rule of law in the country, the European Commission would be coming down hard on Poland. At the same time the British were informed by the Commission’s Brexit negotiator that they had presented no real proposals and that the talks would be held up. And then, to cap it all, Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker announced that he had a sixth scenario up his sleeve designed to make the EU into a true political union, or, as you might put it, a superstate. He had till then said nothing of this, because that would have given opponents too much time to mobilise resistance amongst the member states. You could be forgiven for forgetting that European Commissioners are merely high-level civil servants. It’s time we got rid of them.

Following the summer recess it seems that the European Commission is determined to stir up trouble with anyone who opposes the idea of a superstate. So nice when dealing with the europhile French President Emmanuel Macron, so harsh in their approach to populists, Brexiters and any member state citizen who wants a say in the future of the EU. Just a week or so from now we’ll hear just what Juncker’s sixth scenario contains, in his State of the Union address in the European Parliament in Strasbourg. What he’d like to see is all opponents of his scenario forced on to the defensive. And the entire Brussels bubble is going along with this. Once again there’s a new élan in Brussels and nobody will be allowed to spoil our party.

Now the Polish government isn’t at all my favourite and as far as the content goes I agree with Timmermans’ criticisms. Proposals to undermine the independence of the judiciary aren’t acceptable. It’s just a pity that the Commissioner chose to emphasise that for companies wanting to do business in Poland, a well-functioning judicial power is of great importance. Even human rights must apparently have a primarily economic significance. There’s nothing to be said if member states make important agreements on important matters that transcend their borders. The problem is rather that the Commission has its own interests in acquiring more European competences. Only then will the Commission grow more powerful. Moreover, this same Commission is full of market fundamentalists. Without these senior officials with their superministerial delusions, European cooperation might become a little more humane.

Then we wouldn’t be punishing member states from within those ivory towers. Instead we might take an interest in the question of why the British and Polish are turning against the European Commission and against the European Union as a whole. Just as the European trade union movement did in a study which showed that in the EU the gap between rich and poor was only growing wider and it was the eastern European workers who were falling behind relative to others. This message needs to be heard in the offices of the European Commission. Perhaps then they’d be prepared to think less about the market and more about the people. That would certainly give a boost to European cooperation.

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