EUtopia or MittelEuropa ? Idealism or Imperialism ? Which is behind what is happening in Europe today ?
Let’s consider the Idealists – the EUtopians – first.
Idealists always believe in heaven on earth, regardless of the historical facts to the contrary. They have a blind faith which reality cannot change. The average British Remain voter has no idea what the EU is or how it actually operates. Indeed, they admit it’s not perfect yet go on trusting that somehow, some day everything will work out alright.
However, all the growing evidence says it won’t work out alright.
From the dubious appointment of Martin Selmayr as General Secretary; to the EU auditors refusing to sign off EU accounts for the last two decades; to the mass unemployment among young people in Mediterranean Countries.
We could go on, and on…
Personally I have heard nothing from EU Remain campaigners in Britain that could come remotely close to causing me to change my mind. What did come across to me loud and clear was the reliance on propaganda, especially Project Fear.
And Project Fear continues despite the evidence of history to the contrary. The UK economy did not collapse immediately after the Brexit Vote in June 2016. Nor will it after 29th March 2019.
Then there are those who see the EU as a front for German imperialism – Mitteleuropa.
Unlike the Europhiliac Idealists, they have some serious history on their side. The concept of a German Mitteleuropa took shape in the mid 19th century, was made feasible by Bismarck’s militaristic unification of the Germans, and then realised in the 20th Century – albeit briefly – by the Nazis.
But that is the problem. German militarism and two World Wars have so filled our understanding and perception that we fail to see the full historical picture.
So what is the truth about the EU if it is neither German imperialism nor the great Ideal of peace and harmony in Europe we’d all like to believe in ?
The truth about the EU project was made clear on Tuesday the 22nd January 2019 in a Treaty ceremony between France and Germany in Aachen [or Aix la Chapelle in French]. The ceremony, its treaty, its historic location, its timing – all these spoke volumes about the EU project.
That truth was summed up in these words from this report here.
French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel met on Tuesday in the German border city of Aachen, known in France as Aix-la-Chapelle, to sign a new partnership between their two countries – exactly 56 years after the Elysée Treaty, signed by their predecessors Charles De Gaulle and Konrad Adenauer, sealed Franco-German friendship after World War II.
In its own words, the new agreement – referred to in the French press as the Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle – aims to “deepen [the two countries’] cooperation in foreign affairs, defence, external and internal security and development, and at the same time work on strengthening the ability of Europe to act independently”.
In so doing, its proponents hope to breathe new life into a partnership – dubbed the “Franco-German couple” in France – that has been a cornerstone of European integration, and offset the centrifugal forces that are tugging at the 28-member European Union amid mounting nationalism and Euroscepticism.
Here we have the answer to the question about what the EU is and where it is going.
The bottom line is this: it is a Franco German bid for European hegemony – they want to rule Europe.
It is a French initiative with which the Germans have fallen in line. They did so in 1950 when the French imposed their wishes on the European Coal and Steel community; in 1962 when Adenauer responded to De Gaulle’s overtures to co-operate [their ministers have met regularly ever since to fix their line on Europe]; and now Merkel has responded to Macron’s push for a further initiative.
Jacques Delors made it very clear in his 1992 book, Le Nouveau Concert Europeen that France is the guiding spirit in the EU project. On page 18 he states:
La France, par son sens de l’universel et par sa soif d’influence, a impregne, depuis le debut, l’esprit et la realisation de la construction europeene.
Delors should know. He restored the flagging vision for the EU project and ensured the foundation was laid for economic and political Union during his time as President of the Commission.
Several decades before Bismarck and the German notion of Mitteleuropa, came the French Revolution with its Enlightenment declaration, Les Droits de l’homme and du citoyen – and with that came the Dictator Napoleon Bonaparte. Napoleon guaranteed the French Revolution in the blood of Monarchist protestors. And when he pursued French hegemony in Europe he lost no sleep over the loss of European life necessitated by his imperial ambitions.
President Macron of France invited world leaders to Paris on the Centenary of the Armistice of 11th November 1918 – then gave them a lecture on how the world should be.
And the day before, Macron hosted a bi-lateral ceremony with Chancellor Merkel to celebrate the signing of the Armistice 100 years on from 11 November 1918.
But Macron and Merkel also chose that day of all days to review troops of the joint Franco-German Defence force; and just days later Merkel told the EU parliament it was time for a fully fledged European Army…
The British Imperial army in that War suffered almost a million dead, and twice that number wounded. The British were no less engaged in the Armistice of November 1918 than the French. But such facts were incidental details deleted from the Franco German event on November 10th 2018. The facts of history did not suit the political point being made.
Personally I find that chilling in light of the appalling numbers of British casualties on French soil in the First World War…
That should tell us something very sobering and very pertinent about the French and German political class and their ambitions…
The 2019 treaty establishes increased military and security co-operation between the two nations. And it commits them to mutual Defence in event of attack.
Even EUtopians might wonder: Why is this not being done at European level, and at that level only ? Indeed why are we talking about a European Army at all ?
Because the French and German governments have every intention of setting both the pace and the agenda for European integration. On their terms !
However, as the article cited above goes on to say, the distinct differences of mentality and culture between the two make this Treaty a wish list as much as much as anything else.
And that is the problem with the EU project. It espouses an unrealistic Ideal.
Ideals have a record of Napoleonic figures who foolishly try to make the unworkable work.