Thursday, February 19, 2009

Vaclav Klaus: The Hero of Europe

Vaclav Klaus, the fiery president of the Czech Republic (who happens to be the current rotating president of the European Union), offended the liberals in the European Parliament today, essentially comparing the current path of the EU to the former Soviet Union. The free-market advocate, global warming critic, and conservative politician delivered a speech before the EP, which you can read in its entirety here.

Excerpts (emphasis Klaus'):
The present decision making system of the European Union is different from a classic parliamentary democracy, tested and proven by history. In a normal parliamentary system, part of the MPs support the government and part support the opposition. In the European parliament, this arrangement has been missing. Here, only one single alternative is being promoted and those who dare thinking about a different option are labelled as enemies of the European integration. Not so long ago, in our part of Europe we lived in a political system that permitted no alternatives and therefore also no parliamentary opposition. It was through this experience that we learned the bitter lesson that with no opposition, there is no freedom. That is why political alternatives must exist.

And not only that. The relationship between a citizen of one or another member state and a representative of the Union is not a standard relationship between a voter and a politician, representing him or her. There is also a great distance (not only in a geographical sense) between citizens and Union representatives, which is much greater than it is the case inside the member countries. This distance is often described as the democratic deficit, the loss of democratic accountability, the decision making of the unelected – but selected – ones, as bureaucratisation of decision making etc. The proposals to change the current state of affairs – included in the rejected European Constitution or in the not much different Lisbon Treaty – would make this defect even worse.

Since there is no European demos – and no European nation – this defect cannot be solved by strengthening the role of the European parliament either. This would, on the contrary, make the problem worse and lead to an even greater alienation between the citizens of the European countries and Union institutions. The solution will be neither to add fuel to the “melting pot” of the present type of European integration, nor to suppress the role of member states in the name of a new multicultural and multinational European civil society. These are attempts that have failed every time in the past, because they did not reflect the spontaneous historical development.

[At this point, liberal members of the EP began to walk out in protest. You can view this at the 7:35 mark of this video, unfortunately in Czech, not English.]

[...]

We must say openly that the present economic system of the EU is a system of a suppressed market, a system of a permanently strengthening centrally controlled economy. Although history has more than clearly proven that this is a dead end, we find ourselves walking the same path once again. This results in a constant rise in both the extent of government masterminding and constraining of spontaneity of the market processes. In recent months, this trend has been further reinforced by incorrect interpretation of the causes of the present economic and financial crisis, as if it was caused by free market, while in reality it is just the contrary – caused by political manipulation of the market. It is again necessary to point out to the historical experience of our part of Europe and to the lessons we learned from it.

Many of you certainly know the name of the French economist Frederic Bastiat and his famous Petition of the Candlemakers, which has become a well-known and canonical reading, illustrating the absurdity of political interventions in the economy. On 14 November 2008 the European Commission approved a real, not a fictitious Bastiat’s Petition of the Candlemakers, and imposed a 66% tariff on candles imported from China. I would have never believed that a 160-year-old essay could become a reality, but it has happened. An inevitable effect of the extensive implementation of such measures in Europe is economic slowdown, if not a complete halt of economic growth. The only solution is liberalisation and deregulation of the European economy.
There is hope for Europe after all. Here's another video to see, from Nigel Farage (MEP from southeastern England, leader of the United Kingdom Independence Party, and co-chair of the Independence and Democracy "caucus" of the European Parliament).

UPDATE: Here's an AP article on the issue.

1 comment:

Jeff Shaw said...

That is very well put. Thanks for sharing that.