Over the last decade I have moved from being a passionate believer in the European Union to someone who is far more cautious about the organisation and its future relations with Ireland. When the hierarchy of the EU threatened and cajoled the Irish electorate into voting the “right way” in the second constitutional referendum on the Treaty of Lisbon in 2009 I lost much of my Europhile ardour. Like many others of my generation I was disappointed by the reaction of Brussels to the previous Lisbon I plebiscite in 2008 and the pressure from the Continent to hold a revised vote the following year. This coincided with the death throes of the paper-thin Celtic Tiger economy of the early 2000s and the scandalous imposition of the bank bailout and all that went with it in the EU-fostered schemes of 2008-11.
I still believe in the European Union as a concept, as a necessary body to facilitate political, economic, social and cultural co-operation and friendship across the Continent and its off-shore islands. However I have slowly but surely grown distrustful of those who work on its behalf, of careerist bureaucrats and politicians who seem to believe that its institutions are superior in form and function to the democratically-mandated national governments of its member states (or at least those outside of the Franco-German axis).
Unfortunately the hard lessons of the Brexit referendum in the United Kingdom and the electoral rise of the xenophobic far right in northern and eastern Europe have been lost on many ensconced in the would-be imperial bureaucracies of Brussels and Strasbourg. A significant number of people in the EU’s inner circles fail to acknowledge that a majority of European citizens are broadly satisfied with the current levels of intrastate co-operation within the EU and have no desire to weaken the democratic accountability of their own governments. Rather than accepting this collective position, some Europhile elites continue to argue for the establishment of a “United States of Europe”, a federal nation along North American lines, wilfully misreading and misunderstanding the respective histories of both America and Europe.
This number includes Guy Verhofstadt , the former prime minister of Belgium, a country that is a miniature and entirely dysfunctional example of what the US of E would look like. Career politico Verhofstadt is of course the chief Brexit negotiator of the European Union with the breakaway United Kingdom. Here are his opinions on the EU and the desirability of a “United States of Europe”, politically and militarily, as expressed on the MSNBC show, Morning Joe. For sensible advocates of continued EU co-operation they are deeply troubling. Accelerated and unwanted European “integration” would kill the popular endorsement of the union among domestic populations not save it. The last thing we need are the political fantasies of the Farages and the anti-Farages of Europe.