Herman Van Rompuy, President of the European Council, has released a terrifying document outlining plans for “genuine economic and monetary union” ahead of this week’s summit. Rompuy, once chastised by Nigel Farage as having “the charisma of a damp rag and the appearance of a low grade bank clerk”, is making sure that this crisis does not go to waste and is using it to implement want many in Brussels have wanted for a long time. The founding document of the European Union emphasizes the need for “an ever closer union among the European people.” While the euro may have been a disastrous attempt to achieve this goal, something much more worrying could be the result of the currency’s gradual collapse.
The new document outlines “four essential building blocks”: 1) an integrated financial framework, 2) an integrated budgetary framework, 3) an integrated economic policy framework, and 4) ensuring the necessary democratic legitimacy and accountability of decision-making with the EMU (Economic and Monetary Union).
There are many integrations and frameworks being proposed. What the document is outlining is the need for a European-wide banking supervision service, a deposit guarantee scheme, the pooling of debt, shared employment law and taxation levels, and the vetoing of member states’ budgets. The possibility of the eurozone as a whole borrowing money will be “explored”. German finance minister Wolfgang Schaeuble has called for the introduction of a European finance minister and an elected President of Europe.
This Thursday finance ministers from Germany, France, Spain and Italy will meet to discuss the proposals. Gavin Hewitt, Europe editor for the BBC, makes an important observation on the relations between the two powerhouses at these meetings:
It has generally been true that the European project has been driven forward when France and Germany are in step. They are not at the moment. There is a deep philosophical and political divide between them.
The socialist French government might welcome many if not all of the proposals Rompuy has outlined. However, the Germans have expressed reluctance to pool debt and would certainly resist calls for integrated economic policy.
It doesn't matter to policy makers in Brussels that Europeans overwhelmingly do not want to concede sovereignty to the European Union. The European Union is anti-democratic in nature and there is no reason to think that this is about to change. Nigel Farage once said to Rompuy, “I have no doubt that it is your intention to be the quiet assassin of European democracy and the European nation-state.” It doesn’t look like the assassination will be that quiet after all.