by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
British historian Paul Johnson uses his latest Forbes column to probe his homeland’s potential exit from the European Union.
I have followed the foundation, growth and evolution of the EU for 60 years, since its inception in the early 1950s, when I was working in Paris. Its founder, the French statesman Jean Monnet, would be horrified to see what it has become.
Monnet was a true internationalist, who had worked in the U.S. Though an enthusiastic European, he understood and applauded the qualities that made American society dynamic. He told me at the time: “It is vital that the future Europe be pro-American and be created in harmony with the American ideals of capitalism and democracy. It is equally important that it avoid the evils of bureaucracy. The fewer the number of officials, the better.”
Alas, the Brussels that has grown up around the EU has fallen into all the traps that Monnet begged it to avoid. Over the years the EU has evolved its own brand of anti-Americanism, which, almost as a matter of theory, rejoices in the repudiation of American free enterprise and specializes in creating devices that make genuine enterprise difficult and, in some cases, impossible.
Almost from the beginning the EU became a paradise for bureaucrats of the most intransigent type. They were given huge powers, large salaries, enormous expense accounts and near-absolute security of tenure.
As Monnet used to say, if bureaucrats do nothing, they don’t do much harm. But the trouble is that they are active–indeed, hyperactive. They judge their success, as their superiors judge them, by the number of regulations they introduce or impose. Thus, the essential characteristic of Brussels rule is that it’s a machine for the devising of restrictive orders, directives, controls and prohibitions.
Brussels doesn’t have the fundamental characteristic of a real government: the ability to make difficult decisions to resolve problems as they arise. This is why it has failed signally to deal with the refugee problem, as well as with other crises, such as the resurgence of Russian nationalism under Vladimir Putin. On all the big issues confronting Europe today the EU is feeble, irresolute and evasive.