EU Political Class Rides Roughshod over Citizens’ Concerns & Frustrations as it Pushes Integration

Even the “elite” is not totally on board.

By Don Quijones, Spain & Mexico, editor at WOLF STREET.

2017 has been a surprisingly kind year for the European Union — so far! Staunchly pro-EU candidates not only survived the gauntlet of national elections in France and the Netherlands but emerged triumphant. The once-imminent threat of political populism is now on the wane, we are led to believe. As if to prove that point, even the UK government is struggling to preserve a united front to see out Brexit after recent elections delivered a hung parliament.

The governments of the EU’s two core nations, Germany and France, appear to share a unified sense of purpose. Merkel has expressed a willingness to go along with two central French demands — the appointment of a Eurozone finance minister and the creation of a common budget — as long as certain conditions are met. “We can of course think about a Eurozone budget as long as it’s clear that this is really strengthening structures and achieving sensible results,” she said.

Ms. Merkel’s surprise overture, however qualified, suggests the stalled process of EU integration could kick back into life sooner than most experts had expected. Particularly surprising is the timing of Merkel’s comments, coming as they do ahead of make-or-break general elections in September.

Berlin had initially refused to debate the future of the Eurozone before the vote. Merkel clearly believes her reelection is more or less in the bag. If so, for the first time in a very long time, she and her fellow eurocratic legislators, emboldened by recent political developments, have a relatively clear path to forge ahead with fiscal and political integration, unhindered by potentially destabilizing national political events — at least until Italy’s general elections, scheduled to take place next year.

Back on the table is a proposal to upgrade the grossly unaccountable Luxembourg-based European Stability Mechanism (ESM) into a full-fledged European Monetary Fund. As we’ve noted before, creating a European Monetary Fund (EMF) would be an important statement of intent. If Europe’s core countries are truly set on taking the EU project to a whole new level, such as by pursuing the creation of an EU army, an EU border force (with full powers), fiscal union, and ultimately political union, some form of burden sharing will ultimately be necessary. The establishment of a fully operational EMF could be an important move in that direction.

The EMF would essentially act as a fiscal backdrop to the banking system, something the Eurozone has desperately needed ever since its creation. As Bruegel proposes, it would serve as a fiscal counterpart of the ECB to guarantee the financial stability of the euro area in the event of a sovereign or banking crisis, or a threat thereof — of which there are plenty these days, in particular emanating from Italy’s broken banking system.

Naturally, the creation of an EMF would deal a further blow to the fading remnants of national sovereignty in Europe. But that’s a price that many (but certainly not all) of Europe’s elite is more than happy to pay; some would say that destroying national sovereignty was the ultimate goal of the EU all along.

In a survey of more than 10,000 EU citizens and 1,800 EU elites carried out by Chatham House, of the elites:

  • 37% believe the EU should get more powers,
  • 28% want to keep the status quo and
  • 31% would prefer to return more powers to individual member countries.

This enthusiasm for a more centralized, more powerful EU is not shared with equal enthusiasm by European citizens: 48% want powers returned to the individual member countries.

Citizens, overall, do not feel they have benefited from European integration in the same way Europe’s elite does. Whereas 71% of elites report feeling they have gained something from the EU, the figure among the public is only 34%.

Even more worrisome for national leaders, a clear majority of the public — 54% — feel that their country was a better place to live 20 years ago, before the euro existed.

The findings of the Chatham House survey reflect a growing public frustration with Brussels’ tendency to ride roughshod over their voices and concerns. In a recent Pew poll a median of 53% across nine European countries surveyed, excluding the UK, support having their own national referendums on continued EU membership. And while most do not want to leave the bloc altogether, many European citizens want to ensure that their voices are heard.

That is unlikely to happen: engagement and consultation have never been Brussels’ strong points. According to Fredrik Erixon, a Brussels-based economist and co-founder of European Centre for International Political Economy (ECIPE), the EU’s gaping lack of democratic accountability and legitimacy and its determination to plow ahead with integration regardless of popular support (or lack thereof) will ultimately be its undoing.

“The notion of the ever-closer union has been very, very strong for more than 60 years, but it has died,” Erixson said. “It didn’t end with Brexit nor did it end with Trump’s skepticism about the EU. It ended far earlier than that – 15 years ago when France and the Netherlands voted against the constitutional treaty. This was an early warning about declining support for anything that suggested a deeper integration.”

Brussels chose not to listen then, just as it is choosing not to listen now. The risks are huge. The so-called populist forces of discontent and opposition may have been contained for now, but they are still bubbling just below the surface. And in Italy, where those forces are arguably strongest, conditions are about to get a whole lot more difficult as the banks are bailed out and, to pay for it, a new austerity regime is unveiled. By Don Quijones.

They know: the Eurozone would plunge into a sovereign debt crisis all over again, only worse this time. Read…  German Politicians Hammer the ECB, But Only to Get Votes

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  36 comments for “EU Political Class Rides Roughshod over Citizens’ Concerns & Frustrations as it Pushes Integration

  1. tony says:

    Please enough with all the pop up ads i can’t enjoy the articles any more.

    • Wolf Richter says:

      You’re getting pop-ups on this site? You’re NOT supposed to. I don’t run popups (knowingly).

      There is an expandable ad that expands when you hover over it with your cursor. But if you don’t go near with the cursor there should not be any pop-ups, period.

      You can see the expandable ad because when you hover over it, it starts loading before it expands, and you can see that. If you move your cursor immediately, it should stop loading and not expand.

      So could check and see if this occurs when you’re hovering with the cursor over an ad or if this happens when the cursor is for example over the text?

      If this happens when the cursor is over the text, there is a problem. So please let me know. Thanks.

    • Brett says:

      There are no pop ups on Wolf’s site, I suspect you are getting spammed via other connections your browser is making, I would suggest downloading BleachBit to clean your system up and then loading Adaware to your browser, you should be fine then.

  2. Kevin Beck says:

    I am holding out for a complete breakdown of the Eurozone before this is all over. And even though placing a time frame on a prediction isn’t always a good idea, I’ll break that rule:

    Eurozone collapse before December 31, 2020.

    I don’t think fate has it in for the Eurozone to survive after that date.

    • Rates says:

      Greece has been ongoing for many more years than the pundits have predicted. I can see the powers that be playing Italy for even more years. The global banks can make far more money stretching this out as long as possible.

      You want the Eurozone to breakup? Can’t rely on Europeans. It’s up to Erdogan and the immigrants.

  3. Maximus Minimus says:

    Is there a correlation between those who are receiving from the EU and want to stay, and those who are paying for it and want out?

    • d says:

      the correlation is Obvious the EU benifits the top and teh Top wants to stay in.

      “In a survey of more than 10,000 EU citizens and 1,800 EU elites carried out by Chatham House, of the elites:

      37% believe the EU should get more powers,
      28% want to keep the status quo and
      31% would prefer to return more powers to individual member countries.

      Which begs the Question did you eevn read the article????????????

      • Maximus Minimus says:

        You can break it down by age, too. For instance, the EU has been running the Erasmus program; a subsidized higher education program away from home country (and parents). Not surprisingly it is very popular. Recently, the EU propaganda bureau reported the birth of one millionth Erasmus (unverified) baby. They are breeding the next generation of EU bureaucrats.

        • walter map says:

          “Recently, the EU propaganda bureau reported the birth of one millionth Erasmus (unverified) baby. They are breeding the next generation of EU bureaucrats.”


          Brexit has been a major inconvenience to the programme. English was intended to be the lingua franca, so to speak, and The City, in London, was intended for a leading role in financial operations. Loose cannons running the former colonies in the New World motivates some change of plans as well.

          EU banksters can’t very well move ahead with taking over the world until they’ve consolidated control over Europe, now can they?

  4. Hkan says:

    EU spells “corruption” wich is the central part lack of confident of EU. Corruption within banking sector, corruption within EU administration wich been going on since the start and still going on.

    So not surprisingly the non democratic corrupted EU svamp is going down.

    Still gotto admit it was a good idea to begin with….destroyd by greed.

  5. Jim C says:

    I do not think the populism has died down or contained but rather it is growing. Besides sovereign crisis, the idiot politicians especially authoritarian troika in Brussels is destroying the entire Europe by letting millions muslim refugees who do not want to assimilate to their cultures. Furthermore, each European country has its own language and culture. It is not like in the U.S. where everybody speaks English as lingua franca. This is only the beginning of their end. I am glad that Hungary, Poland, and Slovakia are resisting Brussel’s demands. I hope they come to their senses to have their own exit like Brexit soon. Otherwise, the EU will bring them down. Reviving the European Economic Community is better than staying in the European Union.

    • RD Blakeslee says:

      “…U.S. where everybody speaks English as lingua franca.”

      Rapidly changing – most directions for use of products are now in Spanish as well as English, as are street signs and government publications.

      This change is a major component of the increasing fragmentation of American society.

  6. Stevedcfc72 says:

    The UK joined the Common Market as it was called in 1974 in relation to trade and that was it.

    What’s happened since it’s morphed into something which is so undemocratic.

    We have unelected people in Brussels dictating what we have to do in the UK.

    It has made the UK a more unsafe place to be, immigration completely out of control, there’s ‘estimated’ to be over a million Polish now in the UK.

    I spoke to a Polish woman I worked with. She had a child in the UK, she was going back to Poland to live when the child was two years old and would still be able to claim child benefit for the next 14 years.

    Germany control the EU. The low value of the Euro helps Germany Companies export whilst its killed off countries such as Italy, Greece.

    Its sad to say what Germany didn’t achieve in two world wars, they have achieved through the EU.

    • Jim C says:

      I concur. It is the Fourth Reich and eventually it will transform into a world government ruled by the bilderburg via TPP, TTIP, etc.

      • Timothy says:

        The German government is the puppet of the Deep State. After WWII Germany was and is not a souvereign country; it remained under occupation law even after the reunification
        German companies are either directed by Blackrock (DAX companies) or Blackstone (Mittelstand) hence profits leave the country.
        Appearances can be deceiving. The Germans will be the sole culprits when this plunder and pillage of Europe ends, but what was plundered and pillaged will be somewhere else.

  7. d says:

    Brussels wants to get closer to Beijing.

    It is obvious why.

    • Stevedcfc72 says:

      Brussels needs allies, its losing the USA and the UK.

      Its over relied on these two countries especially on the defence point of view.

      For obvious reasons Russia aren’t allies. Turkey they are falling out with as well.

      That doesn’t leave an awful lot of allies.

      • Realist says:

        Well, after all, the one pushing for a Turkish EU-membership ( that the EU has been quite creative to scuttle/postphone indefenitely ) is Washington DC …

        One thing that will be interesting to see how it will wotk out is Washington DC’s order to the British that all engines of the F-35s the Brits are going to purchase will have to be obverhauled in Turkey, ie the Brits will not have the expertice to do major maintenance on their aircraft, instead the engines will have to be shipped to Turkey and the direction that Turkey is evolving into might make things quite interesting :)

        At least the leasders of the EU har for once been WISE, ie in not accepting Turkey as a member.

      • cdr says:

        Brussels needs money to support a continental lifestyle that is far beyond their means. ECB QE is one manifestation of this need. Eventually, there will be a financial crisis affecting the world like none before it because of this. They don’t care. They are hard core fanatics in perpetuating the dream at any cost. Part of the dream includes a strangely liberal lifestyle that encourages Syrian gangs to enjoy their new life at the expense of original residents, who are penalized if they complain. Weird.

        I wonder what it will take … how far ECB QE can go … before people look at them and see a public financial fraud masquerading as a central bank. What steps could cause everyday people to see the emperor has no clothes? Or, do they accept that negative rates are the price to pay for living the dream?

      • r cohn says:

        The Eurozone runs large trade surpluses with the UK and huge surpluses with the US..At the same time the Eurozone runs large deficits with China.Can China even come close to replacing the UK and the US in trade?
        As Stevedcfc72 mentioned ,the Eurozone is very dependent on the US for defense.To asssume that China would be allowed to assume some of the responsibilities currently provided by the US is just plain silly.
        No one would regard China as being in the vanguard of pollution control,human rights or democratic freedoms.
        Like it or not there is NO substitute for the US even close.

    • Maximus Minimus says:

      You mean a system of rule by apparatchiks?

    • Argus says:

      Germany wants to get closer to Russia and Asia for trade purposes. Merkel is now in a hurry to get Brexit over and done with.

      • d says:

        The reasons Germany, with access reciprocity, wants to get closer to beijing.

        And brussels with “lets get closer to beijing”. Wishes to get closer to beijing, are completely different.

  8. Drage says:

    Guys check out this lecture from Peter Hitchens on the EU being a continuation of Germany:

  9. RD Blakeslee says:

    Regarding Germany’s financial domination of the EU and the observation that it is accomplishing what it sought during WWII: I believe Mercantilism, which England used to build an empire in the 19th century, is alive in the world again.

    Why should e.g., Germany or China deploy conquering armies when they can buy or crowd out the wealth of their targets?

  10. Nicko2 says:

    Globalization back on track, thanks to a reinvigorated France and Germany. Ties nicely into China’s long term expansion drive – ie $800 billion New Silk Road. Now all we need is stability in Iran/Syria/Iraq and Europe will have plenty of Gas to neuter Russia.

  11. Drage says:

    What surprises me is why consecutive US administrations have encouraged the formation of an EU which sees itself not as an ally of the US but in fact a rival.

    There is a strong correlation between fanatical supporters of the EU and European anti Americanism.

    At some point the penny will drop in Washington.

  12. Stevedcfc72 says:

    Drage – the penny has finally dropped in Washington. Europe has used
    the fantastic goodwill of the USA over the last 70 years in monetary and defence terms to its own benefit.

    The EU goes on about peace for the last 70 years, they seem to forget that is down to the USA and not the EU.

    They seem to have very short memories in Europe.


  13. walter map says:

    It should come as no surprise to anyone that the computerized models tracking these social, political, economic, financial, and military developments resemble nothing so much as a terminally-complex multidimensional game of Risk.

    Some of the less-desirable outcomes of The Great Game are of course problematic (use your imagination), but the working groups assigned to study them are mandated to proceed as though these outcomes may somehow be amenable to resolution.

    • RD Blakeslee says:

      Sounds like the “climate change” models … and the soco-political “solutions” …

  14. R Davis says:

    Merkel need to be re-elected, the game has to continue with all it’s players intact.
    Mr. Dijon Mustard Bloem is delighted at the prospect of a EMF – he is an enforcer in spirit – “hooray” he yelps.

    “some would say that destroying national sovereignty was the goal”

    Not so –
    Fear is the driver of this shindig.
    They have gone to infinity & beyond.
    Now, no one wants to take a cut in wealth status.
    It is the terror of a personal – Fall from Riches to Rags – that is driving this frenzied containment exercise.
    Like a fiery fever it has to be left to burn itself out.
    You either do what has to be done, or you pay the price to continue to play.
    And now it is every man for himself.

    • R Davis says:

      Have a laugh:
      Tommy Teirnan – Who Do We Owe Money To? – And Why Don’t We … Youtube

  15. Aj says:

    the dream of a closer union is more than 60 years old, and the EU ptb call themselves technocrats. The whole exercise sounds like the plan embedded in the Technocracy Study Course, written in 1934. Of course, the immigration policy sounds like the Cudenhove-Kalergi Plan, which is contemporary with Technocracy. Too many unelected, self-appointed, and unaccountable elites makes the entire thing smell. If they create the EMF structure, it will take a civil war to take the continent back from the elites. How convenient that there are so many immigrants there to serve as a distraction from the real enemies of the real European peoples.

    • d says:

      A United western Europe would be a good thing.


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