Juncker is threatening the European Union’s survival

9 September 2015

Juncker is threatening the European Union’s survival

Foto: SP

As a true president, Jean-Claude Juncker today gave his State of the Union address. The president of the European Commission is, it’s true, not democratically elected, but in status and style he is really trying to be a true president. Today he presented his vision of Europe, reading to us all from the lesson: “There is a shortage of Europe.” Above all, Juncker wants “more Europe”: a European treasury, a European Finance Minister, and European Union representation at international fora. He showed himself to be completely unaware of past mistakes, which is why we are now entering a fresh phase in Europe of a failing policy.

By Harry van Bommel

Not everything in Juncker’s speech was bad. He was correct to give a great deal of attention to the refugee crisis and presented his previously leaked plan to distribute 160,000 refugees from Italy, Greece and Hungary around the rest of Europe. No new Commission powers are needed for this and there is absolutely no need for compulsion on the member states.

The rich get richer, the poor get poorer

On the economic level Juncker demonstrated a stubborn streak. He attached no conclusions to the failing crisis policy of recent years. The depressing economic situation in Greece, where degrading conditions are now the order of the day, went unmentioned. And Greece is not the only country where the rich are getting richer while the poor grow poorer. Oxfam published a report today with the revealing title “A Europe for the many, not the few.” Close to a quarter of the European population is at risk of falling into poverty. In addition, the number of Europeans that don’t have enough money to heat their homes rose from 2009 to 2013 from 7.5- to 50 million. Meanwhile the rich and big companies gain ever more power, and thus an ever bigger slice of the cake. Oxfam ascribes the growing gap between rich and poor to political decisions and the policies based on them, and in particular to the negative consequences of severe austerity and failing taxation policies.

Instead of going into the shortcomings of the EU’s current policies and how inequality is increasing, Juncker went for a great leap forward, hammering away once again at the importance of ‘structural reforms’ (for which read ‘austerity’) and further financial-economic integration. In referring to the notorious report of the five presidents, Juncker stressed the need for a common treasury, a European Finance Minister and common representation for the eurozone countries at international fora. ‘More Europe’, for Juncker, means above all also a more powerful Europe.

The EU has produced its own gravediggers

It’s clear that Juncker wants to continue along the along the path of an enforced further unification of Europe, preferably at a murderous pace. It was, however, precisely this European policy that provoked incomprehension and anger amongst the European public, in part by undermining democracy. In my opinion Juncker needs to redo his homework, and the EU needs first to take a good look in the mirror, a good look at where it is failing, and at what it can learn from the mistakes it has made. If the EU continues along Juncker’s path, I fear for the future of the European ideals of democracy and shared prosperity. We will have a European Union from which member states such as the United Kingdom want out and countries in the south, with Greece to the fore, are forced to leave because they can’t keep up the pace. With this attitude Juncker represents the greatest threat to the continued existence of the EU as we know it. The EU has produced its own gravediggers.

This article first appeared, in the original Dutch, on the website The Post Online.

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