Cartoon by Marian Kemensky
If you read this blog post, you’re probably aware I run @EUwatchers – a Twitter news Bot spitting EU related information on social media 24h/24h – I follow European information closely since a few years but I decided to observe #Brexit / #Euref / #Remain / #Leave campaign and take note of how it enfolded.
I think #Brexit is probably the worst campaign I ever witnessed on social media and traditional media and it’s the main reason I stayed silent about it. too much noise, too much hate & hysteria and so little integrity & humanity.
Remain clearly could have done a much better case, much sooner, instead of waiting for a murder to happen to suddenly have something to say & regain a little bit of the ground in the campaign, too late.
Leave campaign was horrible to watch, the arguments, the confusion, the lies and the general drive to demonize instead of inform made this campaign horribly hard to handle, not even going to speak about the phobia and other neo-fascist style arguments being normalized and becoming mainstream with the help of some mainstream media tabloid/TV doing a terrible job at being a media. nurturing the confusion instead of putting arguments above emotions. Terrible Job but it worked mostly because Remain was unable to compete. not that it lacked arguments, probably more because it lacked legitimacy
So I stayed quite. the last 2 days of campaign I decided to amplify some opinions in favor of #freemovement and the fact that many many people in Europe are immigrants: one way or another in Europe we are all from somewhere else and we moved where we could afford to live,work and build.
That being said and back to the reason of this blog post, how did we arrive here ?
first some definition : EU in this blog post does not mean “Brussels” – here EU means the collective decision making process of 28 members states because we like or not, that’s how EU works.
- 1 EU geopolitcal enlargement at the cost of cohesion and social Europe.
- 2 EU failed to recognize the Irish, Nederlands & France Vote on the European Constitution mutated into Lisbon Treaty – that opened the way for the European Fiscal Treaty & the harsh imposition of Austerity doctrine all across Europe.
- 3 EU role in the financial crisis of 2008 and the banking bailouts while imposing Austerity for citizens.
- 4 EU complete inability to measure the impact of its economic policies managed to create huge distrust.
- EU inability to re-invent itself & experiment new participatory democracy mechanism to bring more legitimacy and participation in the democractic process.
- 5 EU foreign non-policy regarding Saudi Arabia or Turkey & countless other dubious countries still considered as “partners” when these countries are acting clearly against EU values everyday but still are geopolitical partners because EU foreign policy is in fact proxified US foreign policy.
- 6 EU disaster regarding the predictable Refugee Crisis. (you can’t watch War in Syria & the region for 5 years without counting that at some point it will create a humanitarian refugees) situation that was completely predictable after 2 decades of disaster foreing policy.
- 7 In light of today’s #Brexit it is interesting to compare how #Oxi was considered and how #EUref is.
it’s not easy to communicate about all these matters in one tweet but I tried anyway addressing the false perception portrayed by National Politicians that EU or Brussels is the faulty parameter here :
— EUwatch (@EUWatchers) 24 juin 2016
1) EU enlargement was never done in a concise and precise manner, much less with the participation and “have a say” of the rest of the Members States, during Barroso time it is like the goal was to become the new empire without ever thinking about the consequences or the disruption opening too much too fast would create for the future of the European identity. I sincerely think this enlargement doctrine was serving US interests much more than European interests and at the end of the day, growing too fast too large is just going to work against Europe, it was a bad idea and still is a bad idea. Instead Europe should have forged concrete ties with Russia (that maybe could have avoided the whole Ukraine quagmire) and worked to enlarge itself with the soft-power of its reputation combined with concrete and reproductible steps to bring more equality between members states instead of this patchwork of everything. by following the US proxy foreign policy as blueprint to its enlargement position, EU pretty much recreated the conditions of a mini “cold-war” to start and Russia took the opportunity to play it’s old regime tactics of deception and blatant provocation. a lot of people feoded to US foreign policy think : Russia started it, completely forgetting the abusive and provocative EU position of enlargement at any cost.
2) When the EU constitution was voted and rejected by Ireland, Nederlands and France, EU institutions simply rebranded the whole project and passed it anyway, lead by the arrogant Barroso. to me this is the germ, the seed of the EU downfall. I even argue that we should come back to this point and do a lot of things differently. most people don’t remember this part of the story but this moment in time was clearly the rise of the first organized Euroscepticism across Europe. the lack of democratic legitimacy started on this page of the EU history.
this is when a lot people across Europe printed in their mind: this structure of institutions is not democratic, because it can bypass national referendum and move along with it’s project. this is when EU lost a lot of citizen not necessarily against the whole Project.
3) When the Financial crisis hit Europe in 2008 the only measure citizen noticed across Europe was to “save the banks” – banks responsible for the financial crisis in the first place. in 2011 with the rise of grassroots movements against Austerity Europe entered the ongoing phase we are now : it’s decline. the very way the financial crisis was “handled” is an insult to EU values because it forged into national constitutions, harsh financial dictates that turned citizens against the very European Project. Greece is since then in a perpetual humanitarian state, for citizens across Europe it looked like a sadistic experiment soon followed by softer austerity experiments in Portugal, Spain and Italy. How much House evictions ? suicides ? famillies disbanded because they had to pay for the games of a financial and banking elite completely cut from the real economy & people’s life. I remember EU doing assesment of Austerity measures impact AFTER imposing it, another absurd aspect of this bureaucracy. usually we should have impact assesment BEFORE imposing anything that will undermine fundamental human rights of european citizens. this is a fire burning under EU altar and it is going to keep burning and misused by the extreme-right until EU notice the alter is burning because of it’s own path. own choices.
4) Even when confronted to thousands of Protest each year, in Brussels nobody hear or is actually touched by the Protesters. it’s like another world, divided by an invisible wall of disdain and patronising attitudes towars citizens of the like : citizens are sick of politics or sick of Europe because they don’t understand it, we have to explain it better, blablablabla. In fact lobbies in Brussels have more power than any protest near the Schuman roundabout. Spain took the streets in 2011, in 2014 the same movement or parts of it launched Podemos, in a few month they will enter National Parliament while already having 5 MEP seats inside the European Parliament. It’s very encouraging but its a micro experiment that concern mostly Spain even though traditional particracy should better listen and watch the wind changing before it is too late for the old political generation.
5) Even since 2 decades ago, EU knows pretty well what “Saudi Arabia” is and what it isn’t. we all know SA is meddling in all sorts of extremism and radical islam, we all know it’s not a democracy, we all know fundamental rights of woman, migrants, workers and what not are systematically ignored if not blatantly and openly crucified before our very own eyes. but business as usual takes place between EU and Saudi Arabia, in fact it’s a US best partner. Turkey is jailing journalists, shooting at refugees, migrants and even killing it’s own Population: the Kurds but even like that, Turkey is one of the best EU partners regarding geopolitcal situation in the middle-east and now the EU-Turkey deal about regugees: while Turkey “handling” of this situation goes directly against all EU values you and I can count on. but still, “we have no choice” has they say. so basically if EU have no choice it will not hesitate working with a dictatorship at the conditions it allows EU to maintain or keep its interests in the mariage. principles? values ? human rights ? does not matter anymore !
6) the refugee crisis : everyone predicted it, nobody reacted to it. Ever since the begining of the Syrian wars Eu was pretty much following US steps (again) for it’s foreign policy. the only good thing it did in the region was to pacify the relation with Iran. beside that, we pretty much watched another country empty it’s weapons on it’s citizens, and in fact we even supplied the weapons, arming “rebel groups” and so many “freedom fighters” that nobody can explain today what side they are on and who is fighting for the Syrian People anymore. in fact we probably sell wepaons to both sides of the conflict or amunitions and we all go to sleep everyday knowing that a huge percentage of thos killed by our weapons are Woman and Children and generally speaking civilians. but who cares ? how many millions death we have to witness abroad, far away, while still having the luxury to buy our breads before doing something ? before making Peace. Indefinite Wars create Refugees: it’s all over war books. it’s nothing new. we participated in those wars, first in Iraq, than Afganistan after 9/11-2001 and since than nobody can say the region of the greater middle-east got “better” with our native interventions or proxy interventions. in botch case we are only witnessing on our shores the seed we planted. and now we found a “deal” to let Turkey become a refugee camp ruled by a despot. in short we externalised our problems at our borders and we think that with a big fence and lot’s of tents it will all be okey. we are wrong and the future will show it to Europe.
7) Remember when Greece did it’s own referendum ? remember how it was managed by “Brussels” ? remember how instead of taking this opportunity to bring more legitimacy to the whole Union by allowing Greece time to recover with decent human conditions to recover ? instead, Greece was sent back home like a bad kid avoiding home-schooling, by this action EU showed without a doubt that there is no way to change anything under current EU design. even myself, usually a big European supporter, I started to slide toward thinking that definitely “This Europe” was not meant for us, citizens of Europe. Now I’m watching how UK seems to have a far better treatment at “getting out” and since EU needs the City we’re probably going to see this differential treatment going along and fine, because well, it’s London, not Athens.
So is this the Europe we want ?
Europe was made to avoid Wars. Good this worked quite well.
Europe wasn’t made or designed to bring equality and fiscal or political cooperation between members states. this is only tools that are being “produced” now to allow EU institutions to react to ongoing issues. but instead of trying to fix an old patchwork I propose like others, a complete refoundation of the European Project.
We have the technoology to allow mass participation, we could have more “integration” IF members states pushed by citizens want more harmony between wellfare states across Europe. we could have a totally redesigned Europe, Europe for the People, by the People. the only reason we are not getting it is most of the time Members States not ready to share power or to even loose power. Instead members states prefer the old school and dying way of “more sovereignity” while completely at the mercy of markets that give absolutely no importance at all to the sovereignity you might think to have and will put your “rating” down if they deem necessary without any democratic control.
In short in my point of View we need a complete Refoundation : either toward regionalism (just look at the situation of Flanders, Scotland, Wales, ireland, Catalonia and what not in the future) or Federalism.
no matter what we choose to be, nationalism is going backward. it’s useless. it’s a temporary fix that will not matter in 1 or 2 decades but the argument might help neo-fascist to take power or enter parliaments.
Is that really what we want ?