28 November, 2012

The EM and you

The strange figure of Mario Monti, Prime Minister of Italy, has entered the debate on Britain's place in Europe. I say strange because much of Europe (not all) has been democratised for quite some time now and it is indeed odd, while the EU professes democracy to would-be members and to the rest of the world, to see an unelected figure in charge of a major country. He has been in power for more than a year now, without any popular mandate.

Indeed, Monti has held posts of considerable power (in the European Commission) for some time now without ever having been elected to anything. While Leonardo and Goethe have been referred to as 'renaissance man', Monti is that more modern creation 'Europe Man' (EM).

And he walks, he speaks.

Monti is confident in his EM status. He doesn't tiptoe round the continent saying 'Look, I know I've never been elected, but....'. He regards himself in the same light as Cameron or Merkel or poor Hollande. And his intervention tells us a lot, not just about the man himself, but about the debate.

Here's what he said, in an interview with Italian TV (translated):

  I am convinced that a compromise with the British has to be sought and, above all, it is necessary that, one day – and I spoke about this with David Cameron last week – the British ask their electorate not, ‘Do you agree with this further change that other [EU] countries want to make’, but ask the fundamental question, ‘Do you want [your country] to remain in the EU?’ I’m sure that, at that point, faced with such an important set of choices - banking interests, financial interests, industrial interests - they [British voters] would immediately say, ‘Yes, please’."

Where it's interesting is, in part, the tone. Monti, the unelected EM, does not hold open the prospect of membership coexistent with disagreement on the European ideal. He doesn't think the move towards ever loser union can or should change (despite what is going on around him). It can, of course, if the people (remember them, Mario?) want it to but he, like the rest of the crazed Europhiles, can't see that.

David Cameron, by contrast, is aiming for something quite different. He wants what we might call an 'à la carte' Europe, where Britain, for example, chooses to opt in to the single market but out of the Working Time Directive or the European Arrest Warrant. But the European Caste, the EMs, will see that if Britain can do this, others would demand to do it as well. Belgium might leave the proposed European Army; Sweden might decide it no longer wants to belong to the Agricultural Policy. The whole edifice, which is based on the elite EMs deciding what is good for you and everyone going along with it, would crumble.

Cameron hopes that a set of core countries, perhaps the original six, might opt for everything whilst an outer core might opt for half of it and a fringe (Turkey?) might just adopt one or two things.

A brief chat with a EM (Monti was in London last week) should have told Cameron that it isn't going to be possible. It's going to be 'In' or 'Out'.

This blog favours 'Out'.

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