Briefings for Brexit: The European Commission is slowly strangulating Europe

The European Union is run by unelected power-hungry bureaucrats who have no interest in democracy but a great deal of interest in increasing and consolidating their power by issuing endless reams of red tape.  This is stifling innovation and slowly strangulating Europe. But these bureaucrats do not give a damn.

There is something about bureaucrats. They know they are smarter than the rest of us. They went to the top schools and universities where they networked with what would become the future ruling class. Our own most famous example, Sir Humphrey Appleby GCB, KBE, MVO, MA (Oxon), knew full well that the people ‘only get in the way’ of sensible decision making.

So what could be more attractive to an elite bureaucrat than a job at the European Commission (EC)?  Not only does the EC provide the European Union’s civil service, it also initiates all legislation in the EU.

Now, there is supposed to be ‘double democracy’ in the EU – represented by the European Council (appointed by national governments) and the European Parliament (elected by citizens). But the reality is that the EC’s bureaucrats run rings around ministers from national governments as well as EU parliamentarians.

A good example of this was given in an interview with former UK government minister Kenneth Baker by Peter Hennessy on BBC Radio 4’s Reflections programme on 23 August 2016.  Lord Baker reported that it is common for EC civil servants to come up with proposals which were rejected by ministers from national governments only to come back with a virtually identical set of proposals a few months after these ministers have moved on to other responsibilities. In the EU, ministers and parliamentarians also ‘get in the way’ of sensible decision making. So what could be better than just ignoring them?

Well the answer is that it does not take long for things to turn quite sinister. A good example of this was the appointment of Martin Selmayr, former chief of staff to Jean-Claude Juncker, as secretary-general of the EC in February 2018, following an internally advertised vacancy for deputy secretary-general. There was only one other candidate for this post, Clara Martinez Alberola, Selmayr’s own deputy as chief of staff. She dropped out of the running and Selmayr was duly appointed deputy secretary-general. Within nine minutes of Selmayr’s appointment, the incumbent secretary-general, Alexander Italianer, resigned and Selmayr was promoted to secretary-general, while Clara Martinez Alberola was promoted to chief of staff, Selmayr’s old job. There was outrage in the European parliament, with French MEP Françoise Grossetête describing Selmayr’s appointment as a ‘mystification worthy of the Chinese Communist Party’. But at a parliamentary hearing in March 2018, Günter Oettinger, the commissioner for budget and human resources, insisted that the rules were followed in ‘the supranational spirit of the European public administration’ and Juncker said he would resign as president of the EC if Selmayr’s appointment was overturned.

This is little better than authoritarianism. But then Juncker, like Sir Humphrey, is no fan of democracy: ‘There can be no democratic choice against the European Treaties’ (quoted in Le Figaro, 1 February 2015). A particularly interesting demonstration of this statement is the way in which the EU Constitutional Treaty – designed to set up a United States of Europe with a president, a foreign minister, an army, and an anthem – failed to get ratified in 2005 – when the French and Dutch rejected it in referenda – only for it to re-emerge as the Lisbon Treaty which was then ratified by member state parliaments – without a referendum – in 2007.

This complete contempt for democracy has been there since the very beginning of the EU. Jean Monnet, one of its founding fathers and a man who was never elected to public office, said in a letter to a friend on 30 April 1952: ‘Europe’s nations should be guided towards the super-state without their people understanding what is happening. This can be accomplished by successive steps, each disguised as having an economic purpose, but which will eventually and irreversibly lead to federation’.

Click here to read the piece in full.

sign up to our Newsletter