European ideals – a PS

If you thought I was a little pessimistic about the European Union in my last post, have a look at the comments reportedly made by EU Commissioner Günther Oettinger to a group of Belgian businesspeople. He declared the European Union was ‘ripe for reform’, and that it failed to recognise the dangers it faced. He described some member states (including Italy) as more or less ‘ungovernable’, and others (including France) as being unable or unwilling to take the steps needed to correct their economies.

I am still a supporter of the EU. I don’t want the UK (or Scotland) to leave. But I do believe it needs fundamental reform.

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8 Comments on “European ideals – a PS”

  1. V.H Says:

    Wasn’t that fellow sent to the big B much as we sent Charlie McCreavy. Not quite the outer darkness but far enough away his utterances wouldn’t have longevity no matter how incendiary.

  2. Eddie Says:

    I do not believe anything an European Commissioner says. No one elected them, and all of them are sent to Brussels by their governments to run a talking shop, and they do not believe in democracy any way. As for comments about Cameron and the backbenchers-they are elected by their constituencies, and they are answerable to their electorate unlike these unelected bunch of commissioners: one can see a democratic deficit here- the problem with this outfit.

    Very interesting to read the posted comments there by the DT readers,who rightly characterise these unelected mandarins cushioned by perks of all sorts, and fat salaries-a bunch of fat cats. There is of course an equal number of their counterparts in the EU, another proverbial fifth wheel!

  3. Anna Notaro Says:

    Mr Oettinger is exactly the sort of EU politician who lacks the statesmanship qualities I lamented in my earlier comment. If I were you I would not feel my own pessimism being validated by someone previously described, according to The Telegraph, as

    an “unloved lame duck” sent to Brussels to get rid of him, who caused financial markets to plunge when he described the Fukushima nuclear disaster as an “apocalypse”.

    Also, his criticism of Germany’s own policies might be viewed in the context of the forthcoming elections in that country, which again confirms my point about a certain type of politician who ‘uses’ the EU either as a stage (as in this case) or a scapegoat.

    Mr Oettinger is only right when he affirms that “the EU had failed to recognise the true seriousness of the situation it faced”. Pity he is not exactly the sort of Adenauer-like figure who might remedy the situation!

    A note on Italy: the country has been ‘ungovernable’ for the best part of the past 60 years, still that has not encumbered Italy’s economic growth to become one of world top economies. The reasons for Italy’s ungovernability are multiple and complex, I trust that a fine politician like Mr Oettinger has a deep knowledge of the country’s political history.

    Finally on the issue of euroscepticism, I share Cormac’s distrust of the so called ‘anecdotal’ evidence. As I mentioned in reply to Ferdinand’s comment in previous post, there is a vast literature on this topic, which confirms how it is “exceptionally difficult to quantify, measure and conceptualise”.(

  4. Eduard Du Courseau Says:

    And of course Gilmour’s book -which argues that the Risorgimento was unsuccessful- pre-dates the current rise of the eurosceptic 5* Grillo movement, which is now a much stronger force than the Northern League.
    This is another example of why the current obsession with reform of institutions, as advanced by Ferdinand and others, is in my view short-sighted. Once again, we need to prioritise economic growth both at the supply side and through micro-economic reform- this is something that can be greatly facilitated by an empowered EU.

    • That’s going slightly against the available evidence. There are very few signs that the EU has either the mechanisms or the strategy to produce growth. It is a typical regulatory system, not an economic development one, and would need to be built quite differently to play that role. The EU has not really ever been able to undertake economic management – when that’s needed it tends to be done by Germany acting as the EU coordinator. Even to have the effect you are looking for, Eduard,there would need to be serious institutional reform. It’s unlikely that thereforms needed would ever be agreed by many of the member states.

    • Anna Notaro Says:

      I would not bet Eduard non the longevity of the 5* Grillo movement, at the most recent regional elections it did rather badly. Like you I do believe that economic growth should be the priority, however economics and politics (institutional reforms) must go hand in hand, we have already witnessed the disastrous consequences of politics delegating the agenda to the markets.
      It is a perfect testament to our times that politicians reflect on the international stage the individualistic ethos of the age instead of working for the common good (in this sense an interesting parallelism could be drawn with the US where bypartisan politics is a thing of the past), all this would confirm Ferdinand’s pessimism, and yet I don’t see any other alternative but holding on to a collective vision of the future…

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