West: Why the EU is not your father's Europe
The important-sounding Foreign Affairs Council of the European Union has recently reiterated "its strong support for Ukraine's unity, sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity."
Poor, destabilized, post-putsch Ukraine is to be congratulated for receiving something none of the 28 countries that actually belongs to the EU ever does: support for its sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity. ("Unity" is a more complicated matter, given the EU's reflexive pox on separatist movements that might prefigure the breakup of the EU itself.) As the world's preeminent transnational entity since the breakup of the USSR, the EU is all about eradicating its members' sovereignty, independence and borders.
This, of course, is not something most Americans are aware of. When we hear talk of "Europe" vs. Russia, or the importance of extending "European values," most Americans typically envision our longtime allies as they used to be – sovereign and independent within historical national borders. Their dedication to the democratically enshrined rights of their citizens as guaranteed for more than half a century, mainly by U.S. power, is beyond question.
It shouldn't be. Anyone who thinks the bureaucratically grotesque and anti-democratic superstate model hit the junk heap of history with the USSR in 1991 needs to look more closely at the bureaucratically grotesque and anti-democratic Brussels monolith.
For starters, the elected members of the European Parliament may not introduce legislation or even introduce the repeal of legislation. Instead, they may (and frequently do) rubber stamp legislation for their member-states – much, as leading Soviet dissident leader Vladimir Bukovsky has pointed out, in the tradition of the old Supreme Soviet. All legislation and decision-making come from the unelected members of the EU's executive body, the European Commission, which Bukovsky compares to the old Politburo. (Some of the 28 EU commissioners are even former Communist apparatchiks.) Little wonder Bukovsky has dubbed the EU the "EUSSR." With co-author Pavel Stroilov, Bukovsky documented 1980s-era discussions between Western and Soviet leaders recorded in Soviet archives that foreshadow the rise of the collectivist European superstate in a 2004 booklet titled "EUSSR: The Soviet Roots of European Integration."
The fruits of this cross-pollination are now quite visible. For example, the London Telegraph reported this month that Viviane Reding, the (unelected) vice president of the European Commission, announced that "an EU Bill of Rights that overrides British laws is becoming a 'reality.'"
For Reding and the EU-niks, the establishment of a supreme EU justice system is cause for celebration. But it is also further evidence of the eroding sovereignty of nations and the receding practice of democracy. It certainly tears the paper promise that former U.K. Prime Minister Tony Blair once said provided an "opt-out" clause for the nation from the EU charter. That clause, as the European Commission's recent report demonstrates, is meaningless.
"Senior British judges have warned that the EU charter has already taken hold in Britain by stealth," the Telegraph reported. They are "concerned that European judges" – with no accountability to British voters or institutions – "are using the charter to make binding rulings when making judgments on Britain's implementation of EU legislation." That EU legislation, the Telegraph further noted, "accounts for up to 50 percent of British laws."
This staggeringly high percentage of laws imposed on the citizens of Britain (and other countries in the EU as well) makes a mockery of a democratic people. Indeed, how can they still be considered "free"? Meanwhile, Reding herself has claimed in an interview that 75 or 80 percent of the laws in every EU member-state originate as EU "directives."
Welcome to the evolving "United States of Europe" – an entity hailed by Reding and her comrades. According to the Telegraph, Reding sees this increased use of the EU charter "as a step toward a European 'Bill of Rights' along the lines of America's Constitution."
One difference: Our Constitution was ratified by the states. This thing is the creation of an unaccountable, unelected and decidedly un-democratic EU bureaucracy headquartered in Brussels.
For anti-EU politicians, or "Euroskeptics," such developments aren't just cause for outrage. They may be the cause that takes them to prominence in next month's European Parliament elections – a development that could some day lead to key nations breaking free of Brussels' central control. In the U.K., for example, Nigel Farage and his anti-EU United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP) are expected to do extremely well. In the Netherlands, Geert Wilders' Party for Freedom (PVV), running to take the Netherlands out of the EU, is currently leading in the polls.
All of which is a long way of saying "European values" aren't what they used to be. And that means the contest for Ukraine isn't really about one nation's "independence" or "sovereignty" on either side.
• Diana West can be contacted via email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter @diana_west_