European Union at Ground Level

Off the keyboard of John Ward

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Published on The Slog on February 19, 2015

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Our glorious and beloved EU at Ground Level

As even German newspaper OpEds begin to ask if the MerkeSchäuble ist von der Apfelküchentrolley untergangen, what is gradually becoming clear – albeit far too slowly – is just what a dictatorial, law-breaking scam the European Union is. At its heart are two institutions: the European Commission – an organisation so steeped in corruption, nobody will sign off its accounts; and the European Central Bank – run by a Goldman alumnus whose career suggests that removing the ‘lum’ from the Latin sums him up perfectly. It is, in brief, an authoritarian scam.

For the average citizen, however, it is a sham….and in their everyday lives, that’s a far bigger failing. No supranational organisation in world history has quite managed managed to put the sham into shambolic like the EU.

I took up residence here in France 20 months ago, having moved from the UK. Even something as simple as switching from the British NHS to the gallic CPAM for healthcare has been a nightmare of lost formules, confusing instructions, and near-zero coordination between UK and French officials. Switching from UK car ownership to French immatriculation was a similar Hell of incomprehension…and don’t get me started on changing from one insurance regime to another.

I’m beginning to realise that – in order to once-and-for-all join the French tax system – I shall have to kidnap senior officials from each side and demand that functionaries take note of my changed status….otherwise beheading videos must surely follow. There is no way beyond a jihadist approach that will get through to these dozy creatures.

As for the legal system, well: if you thought British lawyers were slow, you will marvel at the Eternal Now in which most French avocats exist. They have two speeds – All Stop & Full Reverse Both – and for them, an impasse is not so much an obstacle to be circumvented as something from which only retreat is possible.

But this isn’t a gallic thing, it’s the EU. When you try to “take advantage” of This Great Project of Ours, there is no coming together. Mainly, there is coming apart. Such laws as get passed by the Eunatics in the Commission are ignored or otherwise depending on the interests of each Member State. In many areas, there is simply no coordination at all. Pharmacy rules about OTC v prescription drugs offer a supreme example. In Greece, you can walk into a chemist and ask for a kilo of heroin: the only response will be “Certainly, would you like that in 100gm or 200 gm packs?” In France, requesting a pack of Tagamet over the counter may involve you in an intimate body search, plus full-scale Interpol investigation.

The European Union has added nothing to the quality of life in our continent. However, it has added an enormous layer of pointless, busybody bureaucracy, a single currency that let Germany out of its richly-deserved cage, unimaginable levels of debt encouraged by Trichet’s ECB, former Soviet States whose ability to undercut the Western members is frightening, and – above all – moved the supreme source of power away from legislatures to fractional reserve banker criminality.

Mind you, the one thing from the start that the fluffy creators of the EU and the eurozone managed to subtract was one, genuine point of sovereignty that might reassure debt-bond creditors.

You can either interpret that uncomfortable fact as the infinite desire of every unaccountable bureaucrat to avoid any responsibility for anything, ever; or as just an utter lack of foresight based on commercial and fiscal incompetence.

I voted to stay in the EEC as it then was in the 1970s because I believed it possible to take the best from all cultures, and meld them into one Rule of Law. But since then, the most obvious (if that’s the right word) tactics of the EU have involved subterfuge, laws passed under the radar, voter rejections ignored, Nation objections bullied into submission, and now (under Draghi) blatant mobsterism in pursuit of the ends of unfeeling currency blocs.

I’m not sure this will come to pass, but I will rest easy in my grave if our grandchildren are brought up not to admire Syriza politics, but to see the shrewdness and courage of Varoufakis and Tsipras as a vital force that got off the sofa and chose to tackle evil greed head-on.

Knarf plays the Doomer Blues

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