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May 12, 2016 - Zoltán Kovács

Will Brussels Ever Wake Up?

Jaws dropped across the European Union last week as the Eurocrats revealed their latest proposal. Whether it was in the way they dehumanized refugees by putting price tags on their heads or accused elected prime ministers of being undemocratic, the tendentious actions of the Eurocrats seem to be deliberately intended to alienate friends and supporters of the European idea. With the Brexit referendum just around the corner, Eurocrats would do well to exercise more restraint.

Picture this: the management of a company is working on structural changes in secret, without the owners’ consent. The owners’ legal representatives find out and tell the management to stop. First, the management denies the plans, so an assembly cannot be held before the plans go through. But when the plans inevitably do surface, the management simply tells the representatives to ignore the owners’ will. This all takes place just before a symbolic anniversary of the company. This is today’s European Union where the Eurocrats in Brussels are the subversive management, European citizens are the owners and their governments are their representatives.

“Stronger propaganda against the European idea has never been seen before,” said Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, after the European Commission officially announced the plan. The Commission was forced to come clean after details of the plan had leaked to the media. Despite promising otherwise, it turns out the European Commission will introduce a mandatory resettlement quota scheme. The proposal requires EU member states to take in a certain number of migrants, the number being defined in Brussels, without any regard for the will of the people of the member states and against the will of the migrants. The proposal effectively dehumanizes them by putting a 250,000 EUR price tag on each head – equivalent to approximately 40 years of income for the average Hungarian.  

Let’s be clear: the European Commission, an unelected body of the European Union, is trying to introduce a disastrous new common policy without approval or even consultation with member states. In a total misunderstanding of its mandate, the Commission is fueling the anger of not only the harshest Euroskeptics but also alienating leaders who are devoted Europeanists.

By denying their plans, Eurocrats hoped that EU member states like Hungary would run out of time to hold a referendum on this new life-changing policy. Hungary, insisting that a secret plan existed, was sharply criticized. President of the European Parliament Martin Schulz frequently denounced Hungary for holding a “populist” referendum. In his remarks, he implied that Hungary’s upcoming referendum was misguided and a vote against an existing, one-time-only relocation measure. Not true. You might wager that the Eurocrats would have ceased fire since then. But no.

Prime ministers must stop listening so much to their voters, according to President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker, as reported last Thursday in The Telegraph. Shocking even his colleague, President of the European Council Donald Tusk, former Prime Minister of Luxembourg Juncker went further, saying, “Too many politicians are listening exclusively to their national opinion. And if you are listening to your national opinion you are not developing what should be a common European sense and a feeling of the need to put our efforts together.”  

Socialist Foreign Minister of Luxembourg Jean Asselborn said that Hungary “will win this referendum,” and if that happens, “we can throw the European Convention on Human Rights on the garbage dump” as well as other common achievements like “Schengen, the euro, free movement, solidarity, structural and cohesion funds.” What he misses is that all of these common achievements were first mutually agreed to by the member states taking part in them. When applying a new policy, the member states (the owners of the firm) have to agree, otherwise it is our democracies that should be “thrown in the garbage.”

Prime Minister Viktor Orbán described the problem in a radio interview on Friday. “The Basic Treaty clearly says that the European Union consists of the member states, not institutions like the Commission and the Council, but member states,” he said, then underling that “[t]he institutions, whose leaders speak so arrogantly about us, are there in order to aid our cooperation. It is not our job to serve them, but for them to serve us.”

May 9 marked Europe Day. Sixty-six years ago, the visionary statesman Robert Schuman laid down the cornerstones of today’s European Union. Today, many of the leaders of EU institutions show nothing but disrespect for the European idea and for the will of the citizens of the EU, completely at odds with Schuman’s vision. What a pity.