As you know, one accident rarely comes alone. The Coronavirus has triggered a huge bill, especially in countries already plagued by poor public administration and government debt. Therefore, the countries of the Euro zone, led by the governments of France, Spain and Italy, have convinced Germany to go along with the idea of borrowing €750 billion and provide them directly to the sectors, regions and industries in the euro zone most affectedisla by the crisis.
Who should administer the multibillion ‘recovery instrument’? Correct, that is the job of the geniuses in the European Commission. In Denmark, the idea has been promoted by the left, which since March has been pushing to get the Social Democratic government to agree to joint debt with the euro zone countries to show what they call ‘solidarity’.
Two questions arise. One is pecuniary: should the Danes really jeopardize their relatively good creditworthiness for German carmakers, the French oil industry, the Italian and Spanish tourism industries or all sorts of other sectors here and there, which are naturally affected by draconian shutdowns and their governments’ lack of health emergency systems? Are we to be held accountable for what Emmanuel Macron’s government did or what the Socialist government in Spain didn’t do? It seems a bizarre rationale.
The second question goes deeper and links to recent European history. For what exactly is the European Commission’s Euro Fund? Behind the statement of intent, a planned economy mindset is brought to life, a mindset that some of us imagined died with the closing of the Cold War. The disturbing question is this: Was the Cold War really in vain?
As some may recall, it was not only the communist brainwashing or its militarization that some of the Western countries and parts of Western intelligentsia fought between 1945 and 1989. In addition, it was the commando economy, which is now quite surprisingly being revived by another union than the Soviet Union.
The federalism of our time is similar to the planned economy in that it does not care about borders, national sympathies and caracteristics and preferably sees the nation-states reduced to zones, regions and multistates, while the federal government must have and to a wide degree already has the authority to rule over the whole territory – legally, politically and economically.
They are all there: former notables, respectable men and women, known from the media, boards, lobby groups, academia, government institutions – and of course – the Marxist outliers that have landed mainstream positions. Their case is for the EU, the Union that was completely absent in the early months of the Corona crisis. Now it’s back, but this time with a shock doctrine: Either you cough up, or you are an ‘unsolidarian’. It sounds like extortion or protection money because it is exactly that – or, as Jörg Meuthen, member of the German party Alternative für Deutschland calls it – voodoo economics.
Denmark must pursue a more ‘open and pro’ EU policy, the former Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen tells us: ‘Care must be taken that Denmark will not stand out as an introverted, tribal nation.’ This is the song that the globalists have sung for 30 years and the chorus is repeated by other, current politicians in power. Otherwise, it will be worse for the Danes: ‘Denmark must take responsibility’ and opt out of the ‘frugal four’ consisting of the Netherlands, Austria, Sweden and Denmark.
Once it was said that the EU resistance was sentimental and emotional. Now the EU supporters have conquered the feelings and apparently cannot get enough of them.
‘Sometimes I am a little disappointed that in Denmark we do not have the same feeling that we need to take responsibility,’ claims former Danish EU ambassador Poul Skytte Christoffersen, while Ulrik Federspiel, former chief state official and ambassador joins in: ‘I think it’s a somewhat quirky company that Denmark is a part of, and here I think not least of Austria.’ What the Austrians have done wrong is probably choosing a conservative chancellor; that kind of thing is not appreciated in the global village.
The ambassador’s view is shared by the continent’s hottest supermarxist, Frenchman Thomas Piketty, who states: ‘The Danes, the Dutch and the Austrians are at great risk of being considered the European family’s great egoists by the rest of the continent.’ Mr. Pikkety seems to have forgotten the Swedes.
‘A large-scale rescue plan’, was the keyword in the op-ed of the liberal Danish daily Politiken: 82 billion Euros for Italy, 77 billion Euros for Spain, 39 billion Euros for France, 37 billion Euros for Poland, 29 billion Euros for Germany, 23 billion Euros for Greece, 20 billion Euros for Romania, 16 billion Euros for Portugal, 9 billion Euros for Bulgaria, 8 billion Euros for Hungary, 7 billion Euros for the Netherlands, etc., etc. down to Lilliput-nations such as Denmark, Ireland and Luxembourg.
Do not forget that these are arbitrary numbers, just like in the Soviet economy. But these are not fictitious figures. It is real money, allocated and managed by non-elected commissioners and sub-commissioners, loyal careerists with privileged access to other people’s money.
One thing is these Commissioners and their crowned careers. Something else is the liberal politicians and opinion makers. How can they agree to the new form of planned economy through the EU? Will the five-year plans return? Was the fight against socialism futile? First we had the crisis. Then came the nation state. Now comes the EU. And next comes the bill.
What is unfolding is a very European, Dutch and Danish story at the same time. It is European because once again an empire is trying to take over our continent. It is also Dutch and Danish, because after all, our prime ministers will most certainly end up surrendering. As always, Germany or France are busy building big. But this time, they are even in league with each other, just as they have allied themselves with Spain, Italy and other countries with lots of gaps in the state budget.
‘That is a complete no-go,’ Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen said back in October about a possible Danish extra expenditure to the EU of less than 1 billion Euros. That was then. Now it is a completely different amount that is turning up in Brussels. It is a European aid project from north to south. All because of an atypical contagion and a typical commission that exploits every situation to gain more power and prestige.
The money must be borrowed in the financial market. The debt is common and will extend for many years to come. In fact, the EU is beginning to levy taxes in the member states.
The problem would not be alarming if it was only about the money. But the design is larger. The realization of the imperial fund confirms that deep political integration is to be expected despite Brexit and all that. Now that the British are out, the Netherlands, Austria, Sweden and Denmark are left alone.
If the construction of the empire is successful, money, power and self-determination will flow out of the nation-states and into the center of things. The question is not the direction of that flow, but the outcome. Will the empire win – or will it overstretch?
Either way, the era is over when European cooperation should protect a particular civilization or particular democratic culture. Both the Christian heritage and the classic Western democracy have long been written out of treaties, speeches and communiqués. Now it is a matter of building up the Union so that it can match China, the United States and Russia, and that requires the nation-state to be sidelined. What were distant longings decades ago is geopolitics today.
Historically, it was the nation-states, neither empires nor dynasties, that created the basis for parliamentary democracies in Europe, and it is still the nation-states that guarantee and facilitate the most sustainable and operational framework of democracy in the modern sense. But it is precisely this framework that is losing ground due to the transnational and trans-territorial flows in politics, economy and culture.
Think big, is the credo of the federalists, and they are numerous, even in the most skeptical nations, because they like to sit in the political and moral center of power, while opponents are typically on the political and moral periphery.
Federalists strive far and wide beyond national borders, national sympathies, geographical, industrial and cultural particularities. Just as gender should no longer be gender, countries should no longer be countries. Instead, Denmark and Sweden, the Netherlands and Belgium, Spain and Portugal, Poland, the Czech Republic and Slovakia are perceived as zones, regions and inter-states, while the Federal Government should be able to gather the threads in Brussels and Strasbourg.
It may well be that Mette Frederiksen is the most EU-skeptical Danish prime minister since 1973, when Denmark joined the Common Market, and she has turned up the rhetoric, but she is likely to bend her neck to the power complex in Brussels, also in this case.
‘We want to work for the money to be targeted so that they are distrubuted to the hardest hit countries,’ Finance Minister Nicolai Wammen said a week ago. The resistance is down. ‘That is a complete no-go’ no longer exists. The Empire strikes back and it strikes hard.
In their illuminating 2019 book The Light That Failed, Bulgarian Ivan Krastev and American Stephen Holmes conclude that ‘our future was better yesterday.’ They reflect on the liberal optimism that spread in Europe after the fall of the Wall and the dissolution of the Soviet Union 30 years ago, and its consequences in the East and the West. It is disheartening reading. Here the pan whistles stop.
It should have been so good. Instead, the Eastern and Central Europeans – and to some extent also the Russians – thoughtlessly copied the liberal-democratic system. The future lay to the west – in Germany, France, Belgium or Sweden. In other words, Eastern and Central Europeans replaced Communist Orthodoxy and Union with Western Orthodoxy and Union, believing that the West stood for Christian values, nation-state ethics, nuclear families, healthy businesses and social cohesion. They became wiser. For while blindly taking on a new social ideal, times in the West changed at a speed that surprised everyone.
Immigration exploded, as did multiculturalism, ethnic conflicts, political correctness, ‘anti-racism’ and the post-national elitism against everything that appeared to be patriotic, Christian and in defense of Western culture. Meanwhile, Eastern and Central Europeans could observe how hedonism, hipsters, minority concerns, consumerism and loss of education took over and caused Western media and universities to degenerate into post-media and post-universities. They ventured against the condemnation and the loss of culture. If this was the West, then thank you, but no thanks.
As Krastev and Holmes note with a keen eye for political psychology, the liberal dream turned into a liberal nightmare. And that is why conservative or illiberal governments in the East are reacting against the EU and seeking back their own interests and ideals.
Just as Eastern Europe did everything to make it look like Western Europe, in Denmark we have done almost everything to emulate Germany and France. Treaty by treaty, summit by summit, Europe’s ugliest capital, Brussels, became our new guiding star. With only small bumps on the road such as the EU Treaty vote in 1992, Denmark has become EU-ropean, following the one-way street toward ever more uniformity.
Today, it is persistently heard that there is no alternative to the EU at all. We have bought the fatalism of the Germans and the French instead of learning from Eastern and Central Europeans and stop imitating federalism. Also, we have taken over a seemingly inescapable orthodoxy and made it a new normal by copying the Union’s preference for technical procedures, political harmonization and so-called universal values, but forgetting that tolerance and democracy are superficial notions that cannot teach us how to live our lives and organize our community.
The real question today is what we want to recover, and which instruments are needed. The particular communities within Europe, i.e. the Dutch, the Danish, the German etc. do not need money. They need a clearer idea about the origins of their national sovereignty and material prosperity. I doubt that most Europeans are in favour of the making of the United States of Europe, but for as long they keep quiet and go along with the main currents in European politics and business, that is exactly what they are getting without having given their vote, permission or blessing. One day, they might wake up to find that by not choosing they chose to install what their forefathers feared the most: a Kremlin in the West.
Mikael Jalving (51) is a Danish a historian, blogger & podcaster and renowned journalist for Jyllands-Posten. He received his PhD in History at the European University Institute in Florence, Italy.