EU's crisis


Across the Pond, Anthony Browne of The Spectator evaluates the outcome of the Dutch and French rejection of the EU Constitution.

The EU has finally foundered on its central problem — the one it has with the will of the people. Too often, European leaders seem determined to prove the Eurosceptics right in their claim that the EU is a conspiracy of elites against their citizens. National governments like transferring power to Brussels because it means they can bypass their truculent national parliaments. The German federal ministers like transferring power to Brussels because it means they get to negotiate policies, rather than letting the regional lder decide them.

Indeed, Eurocrats believe it is positively good that they are not shackled by democracy. Dalia Grybauskaite, the budget commissioner, told me that Brussels was better than Westminster at sending British taxpayers' money to poor British regions like Cornwall precisely because it isn't beholden to the vagaries of elections. Commission officials insist that they are spreading 'best practice' around Europe in a way that national governments would be powerless to do.

It has long been clear that the EU is in the middle of a profound economic crisis. German unemployment is now at its highest since Hitler was abusing referendums. But the French and Dutch votes have shown just how deep the EU's crisis of legitimacy is. It is not just we Johnny—come—lately island—lubbers: even those who founded the union are losing faith.

Dennis Sevakis    6 3 05