THE SO-CALLED PRESIDENCY of the European Union, which rotates among the fifteen member-states at six-month intervals, fell to Sweden during the first half of 2001. It was the first time that Sweden had assumed the presidential function since it joined the EU in 1995 and, according to theory, it provided an exceptional opportunity to influence the priorities of the organization. This implies, of course, that the potential for exerting such influence is otherwise quite limited.
The Swedish government declared that it intended to emphasize three main issues during its presidency: the addition of thirteen new member-states from Central and Eastern Europe, full employment, and the environment. There is serious disagreement among the existing fifteen member-states with regard to all three issues, underlining the difficulties associated with any attempt to shape the EUs future.
Question of sovereignty
No doubt the greatest of those difficulties is that, after more than fifty years, there is still no general agreement on the basic structure and purpose of the organization. At the heart of that uncertainty is the question of national independence: How much of their sovereignty must the member-states surrender to the EU for the greater good?
From its inception, there have always been powerful interests within the Union that have pressed for ever-greater integration, with the ultimate aim of establishing a European counterpart to the United States of America. Those interests have comprised the driving force of the organization and its somewhat erratic but nonetheless chronic expansion. Arrayed against them has been the largely passive resistance of the majority of citizens who want to retain their national identities, and prefer to think of the EU as a loose confederation of independent states.
It is increasingly evident, however, that the forces of integration and nascent federalism have the upper hand. With an overwhelming advantage in terms of economic and propaganda resources, and driven by a combination of greed, anxiety over international competition, lust for power, and visions of a golden European future, those forces have steadily expanded the scope and authority of the EU at the expense of national sovereignty.
The governments of Sweden and other member-states burdened with sceptical populations have attempted to allay suspicions of creeping federalism with misleading reassurances and EU double-speak: Democratic deficit, for example, is the standard term applied to the Unions pervasive absence or elimination of democratic influence and control. For the most part, such obfuscations have had the desired effect, at least to the extent of heading off citizen revolts.
But the reality is clearly visible for anyone who cares to see it. Among its most prominent features are the European Monetary Union (EMU), with its deliberately undemocratic central bank, and a peace-keeping force which is almost certainly the germ of a full-scale EU army.
Twelve of the fifteen member-states now participate in the EMU, which has got off to a rocky start. The value of its single currency has plummeted; and the first people allowed to vote on the issue, the Danes, defied a massive propaganda campaign to deliver a resounding "No" in a referendum in September, 2000.
As for peace-keeping, what the EU seems to have in mind is something like the catastrophe inflicted by USA/NATO on Yugoslavia in the name of human rights. The consequences of that flagrant violation of international law have thus far included: a huge wave of refugees, many of whom have yet to be resettled; the massive destruction of Yugoslavias infrastructure, with widespread hardship as a result; the ethnic cleansing of all non-Albanian minority groups from the province of Kosovo; the death of more innocent victims in eighteen months of NATOs protective occupation than during the preceding decade of internal strife; an implied and perceived threat to Russia and China, inviting a new arms race; a further weakening of the United Nations; and, hardly by coincidence, the establishment of the largest U.S. military base abroad since the Vietnam War, on the soil of yet another unwilling sovereign state.
Partners in disaster
Meanwhile, human-rights disasters of far greater magnitude-- including those created by the Turkish government (a NATO member-state) in Kurdistan and the United States in Angola-- continue to be neglected, caused or aggravated by the U.S. and its vassals in Europe, among which may now be reckoned the Social Democratic government of Sweden (see Collateral Damage).
The example of Yugoslavia is doubly interesting in this context, since it represents an earlier attempt to create a federal state from a hotchpotch of nationalities with a long history of mutual animosity. In what may someday turn out to be an ironic twist of fate, the even more culturally and linguistically incompatible European Union has played a key role in Yugoslavias violent dissolution.
4 July 2001
Propaganda & Preventive War
All Quieted on the Word Front