Friday, 8 May 2009

European elections: Libertas by bumpkins for dupes?

Only some 26 days remain before the first polling stations open in the European elections, and we see that the new contender Libertas has stepped up its increasingly shrill campaign against the Lisbon Treaty, now approved by the parliaments of 26 EU member states.

Let us turn to the policies Libertas offers voters for the following five year term of the European Parliament.

It is getting late in the European election campaign, but we are still offered the same text on the Policies page: The Libertas programme for a better Europe will be published on this site in the coming weeks.

That should be enough to disqualifiy Libertas from pretending to be a serious challenger to the existing EU order.

But we have pledged to study the so called core principles on which Libertas’ case rests.

The fifth and final one tells us:

“A lean EU: Cut the number of meetings in Brussels by 50 % in 2010.”


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You’re kidding?

You don’t need much sophistication to know that the European Union is a complex structure. The briefest ABC book on the EU tells you that much.

If you splash millions on creating a new political force intent on representing EU citizens in the European Parliament, you can be expected to familiar with at least the basics.

If you really want to cut the number of meetings and create a lean European Union, you have to give the union a simpler design.

This is not going to happen in 2010, although ideas concerning the future would be most welcome.

Even if the Lisbon Treaty enters into force, it is only going to improve the functioning of the European Union in an incremental way, without simplifying the basic structure.

If you campaign against the Lisbon Treaty, you work to preserve the current Treaty of Nice. It is hard to be more anti-lean than that.

Demanding Formula 1 performance from a horse cart is a joke. Elevating this slogan to the status of core principle reveals the paucity of knowledge and ideas.

This opens up two possible interpretations: Either you are (perhaps in good faith) ignorant bumpkins, or you are cynical enough to know full well what you are doing, assuming that your potential voters are gullible dupes, ready to be taken for a ride.

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Where are the details?

Libertas offers no clues as to which 50 per cent of meetings in Brussels should be scrapped next year.

Since no serious treatment of their proposal is possible, let us play along with their joke or scam.

Only meetings in Brussels are targeted. This could mean that the European Parliament is free to continue its hated monthly sessions in Strasbourg. Libertas has conjured up a mythical “Brussels” of axis of evil proportions, so perhaps the EP would have to sacrifice its convenient mini-sessions in Brussels to fill its part of the quota.

I am at a loss to propose which meetings the part executive and civil service of the EU, the Commission, should cancel. It is hard to prepare, to manage and to coordinate public bodies without meetings, even if they consume time and resources. I have to leave it at this: If Libertas has a working solution, I am sure that every government on earth will be queueing up to hear it.

Most of the “behind closed doors” dealings Libertas is foaming about take place within the Council structures, where the representatives of the member states meet and where the national administrations send committee members to steer the Commission.

If Libertas wants to undo the iron grip of the member states on the running of the European Union, it should say so. What I am fairly sure of is that such a reform is incompatible with a quest to maintain the current Treaty of Nice.

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Without serious proposals, Libertas idea is mush. Elevating the reduction of meetings to a core principle only tells us where the rot is.

Cynicism or stupidity, it’s your choice.


Ralf Grahn