Jacques Delors on the Failure of the European Union

This article is aimed at the many Europeans who are emotionally invested in the European Union (you might be surprised at the number, especially among the young and educated). Whereas I emphatically support European cooperation and even a degree of European political unity, I want in good faith to argue here that this political construct is at best woefully insufficient and often outright destructive for the challenges we Europeans will face.

The current governments and cultural establishments in Europe put a lot of stock in the EU as the means for Europeans to retain power and security in the twenty-first century. For example, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker has explicitly claimed that the EU is a valid response to our catastrophic demographic decline. The late French President François Mitterrand, a major founder of the EU, was in part motivated by the idea that Europeans could reclaim their agency after half a century of Soviet and American domination of the Old Continent. The current president, François Hollande, similarly claimed during the recent commemoration of the Battle of Verdun:

You [the audience] are French and German, German and French, by birth or by adoption, but you are Europeans by convictions, not because you would simply fear the return of the tragedies of the past, but because you want to be global actors in the world of tomorrow, with our values, with our principles.

Other European governments make similar claims that the EU is central to our power, peace, and prosperity. British Prime Minister David Cameron made his case to stay in EU in the upcoming referendum on membership, saying: “The reason that I want Britain to stay in a reformed EU is in part because of my experience over the last six years is that it does help make our country better off, safer and stronger.” Conversely, EU-philes like immigration apologist Philippe Legrain (tweet him here) predict economic and political disaster if the EU is disbanded.

Personally, I tend to think both the pro-EU and anti-EU cases tend to be overstated. The EU is notorious for its paralysis and political gridlock. The word most associated with the EU in the news is no doubt “crisis”: The financial crisis, the euro crisis, and now, worst of all, the migrant crisis. The EU, far from being a respected world power, seems more than anything else a non-entity wracked by indecision.

The question then arises: Do European leaders really believe their own claims about the incredible power and prosperity enabled by the EU?

One way to assess this is EU sources themselves, and in particular Jacques Delors, the former president of the European Commission. Delors has, in retirement, been more and more frank about the EU’s failures. This is particularly significant because Delors is probably the single most important Commission president in the history of European integration, his presidency between 1985 and 1995 covering the years during which the EU as we know it was founded.

The year 1992 is a significant one in EU history, for the following were achieved:

  • The so-called “single market” notionally breaking down the bulk of national barriers to trade was completed;
  • European leaders agreed to create a common currency, the euro, in the Maastricht treaty;
  • and this same treaty stipulated the creation of a common European foreign policy.

The EU’s claims to relevance are fundamentally based on these three pillars: The single market, the eurozone, and the common foreign policy.

How have these achievements squared up over time?

Delors himself was responsible for completing the single market by 1992, an objective which was declared accomplished. In 2012 the European Commission published a study for the twentieth anniversary of the single market examining the economic benefits it had brought. This was highly enlightening. The EU’s own economists estimated that “GDP in 2007 was 2.13% higher [. . .] than it would have been if the Single Market had not been launched in 1992.” This figure, being official, is no doubt overly rosy, but anyway remains modest. Put another way: The EU market boosted annual GDP growth by 0.13 percentage points.

This kind of extra growth is obviously an utterly marginal factor in the life and death of nations. It is simply negligible and irrelevant in the face of the great political and demographic threats that are menacing Europe’s existence in the twenty-first century, whether the demographic explosion of the Afro-Islamic world or the steady rise of China as a global superpower.

Yet, European media and politicians continue to be obsessed with mere questions of purchasing power and free trade. This includes pious calls to increase free trade both within the EU by “furthering the single market” (in financial services, digital services . . .) and between the EU and other economies, most controversially with the United States.

European politicians love to go on and on about the EU-U.S. free trade deal, also known as TAFTA or TTIP, as a major economic and geopolitical solution to Europe’s problems. Yet, the EU’s own economists estimate that the EU-U.S. deal, which risks weakening European sovereignty and empowering multinational corporations, would in the long term only increase GDP by 0.5%. Again, this is utterly marginal, within the margins of a rounding error.

The EU’s other major accomplishment has been the common currency, the euro. The latter has become a byword for crisis, authoritarianism, and economic failure — contributing to unpopular “austerity” and years of mass unemployment, particularly for southern European youth. Delors, while clearly an architect of the euro, has become deeply embarrassed by association with the failed currency union. In 2010, he distanced himself from the euro and ridiculed supposed EU federalist solutions in an interview with L’Express:

I am often called the father of the euro, but, me, I am not the father of this particular euro! [. . .] I’ve been hearing these days talk of federalism, of the setting up of two euro areas, of a European Finance Minister — what a joke! Ah! They are overflowing with great ideas, our politicians!

Last year, in the aftermath of an umpteenth crisis over Greece, Delors summed up the situation in a report: “When it examines the Europe of the years 2010–2015, history will judge very harshly this Economic and Monetary Union that was so badly designed that the withdrawal of one of its members was considered.”

So Delors seems willing to admit that the EU’s crowning achievement, a European common currency, indeed something that otherwise was only conceivable in science fiction, has not economically benefited Europeans. Most dispassionate economists would probably recognize that the euro’s flaws have contributed to financial speculation, usurious interest on public debt, the liquidation of southern European industry, and financial-economic instability.

Finally, there is that other great ambition of the 1992 Maastricht treaty: A common European foreign policy, which was supposed to make long-divided Europe a political force in the world again, commensurate with her economic weight. Here too, Delors’ assessment has been withering. In a December 2009 interview, he went so far as to denounce the provisions on foreign policy in the Maastricht treaty as “total gibberish” (un véritable charabia), because European states were obviously too divided (notably vis-à-vis NATO and relations with the U.S.) to implement a common policy:

I told them, without success: “Ministers, don’t speak of a common foreign policy, that is beyond what is possible. Speak of common action in foreign policy when you are in agreement.” Nothing doing, they wanted a text, which incidentally is total gibberish, a text in which they speak of a common foreign policy. I never believed in that. And I think that when we make announcements like that, we disappoint the European peoples, because it is not possible.

The results of “common European foreign policy” have been virtually nil, any decision again being dependent on unanimous approval. Hence, the EU was impotent in Yugoslavia, divided over Iraq, and generally irrelevant.

As I have written elsewhere, the EU only has a “policy” where there is consensus between the 28 governments. Yet the forger of consensus in Europe is, actually, above all the United States, both in the cultural sphere through Americanization (via the Ivy Leagues, Hollywood, and prestigious Anglo-American media) and U.S. foreign policy itself, with its numerous carrots and sticks in the economic, military, intelligence, and other spheres. Thus, the EU is to a large extent subject to the same ethnic and oligarchic mafias that dominate the U.S.

That is why the EU has voted sanctions against Iran and Russia, but has never put significant pressure on Israel. That is despite the fact European politicians claim very piously to stand for “international law,” “democracy,” and “human rights.” Israel, as is well known, is an ethno-state with an explicitly racist Jews-only immigration policy, which violates international law and human rights every single day in the occupation of Palestine.

I myself was taught in French schools about the glories of the European Union, in notably being the “the biggest economic power in the world” and an emerging “Europe puissance.” (Our teachers were curiously silent however on how, exactly, this theoretical economic clout translated into real-world political power, when any EU decision was in practice vulnerable to the famous veto of any state.) But I hope I will have convinced readers of good faith that clinging to the EU, like a child’s blanket, is no answer to the threats and decline Europeans face in the twenty-first century. Europe will not be saved by tinkering about with GDP and free trade, quibbling about the bits of paper that are the EU treaties, or making pious declarations about “racism,” climate change, or whatever happens to be fashionable.

The unreconstructed “EU federalist” will of course claim the EU’s failures reflect petty-nationalism. If only European nations would stop being selfish we would be a superpower! Well, I suppose there’s something to that. But so long as there are individual states and individual nations, there will be politicians who use these for self-interest. This will be so until said states and nations are destroyed or unified. (Napoleon tried and failed. So did Hitler. Any other takers?) The European seemingly has an irredeemable tendency for moralistic lecturing — if multiculturalism or EU federalism or whatever don’t work, it must be because of some wrecker who is not following moral orthodoxy, thus becoming a further pretext for reinforcing the reigning ideology.  One can rationalize anything with such tautological reasoning. But who has heard of an empire built on nagging?

Europeans’ current decline reflects a deeper malaise, tied to the emergence of nihilism at the end of nineteenth century and the triumph of hedonist individualism, egalitarian entitlement, and collective self-hatred in the 1960s. We have been in a kind of suicidal depression ever since. The EU, with its economic reductionism and obsessive anti-nationalism, reflects this. If Europe continues to assume that she has no ethnic or biological definition at all, that the character of “Europe” is purely ideological and cultural and thus indifferent to exactly who are the people inhabiting the territory, then she will die.

I have written elsewhere on the kinds of concrete projects that could both be more popular than the EU and allow Europeans to survive and flourish into the future. But I am actually skeptical at the ability of such multinational political constructs to bring about genuine European unity. If Europeans today share a common culture to a certain extent with each other (and indeed with White Americans), this is more due to viewings of the Simpsons and MTV, and other manifestations of (Judeo-)American culture than anything else. To the extent this culture is liberal and ethno-masochist, it is indeed absolute poison for Europe. But if the Alternative Right — that anglophone but fundamentally borderless and transnational phenomenon that nevertheless believes in borders and a certain degree of nationalism — could hijack this emerging common culture, well, that would mean unity of an unprecedented degree among all Europeans, including the European diaspora in the Americas and Australasia.

Most important, however, is that if Europe is to survive, she needs, beyond a recognition of the demographic realities that are destroying our civilization, a positive and forward-looking spiritual renewal. This renewal, we posit, should be based on both our primordial European Tradition and the most modern scientific inquiry. For the many “lost Europeans” seeking meaning today, I can only advise the reading of Dominique Venner.

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