The growing sentiment that the European Union should be abandoned in favor of a return to individual national sovereignty can’t be ignored. When the United Kingdom’s citizens voted in June of 2016 to leave the European Union, it represented the first domino in the potential breakdown of the European Union as we know it. Then, this month, Germany’s Alternative for Germany (AfD) party – one whose platform is largely based upon a proposed departure from the EU – won an unprecedented 12.6% of the electoral vote in the national election.
Poland has been a particularly sharp thorn in the side of the Brussels-based European Commission. This Commission – an insular yet extremely powerful bureaucratic body which enforces the articles within the Treaty on European Union – dictates and justifies the requirements imposed upon the member nations. This Commission and its related bodies have the power to write laws and enact mandates that are imposed upon all members of the European Union, whether those countries agree to those policies or not.
This general ability to dictate and meddle in the affairs of EU member states, essentially eliminating national sovereignty as we know it, is at the core of pro-Brexit sentiment. This departure from national sovereignty is also driving Poland’s resistance to the European Commission, triggering unprecedented sanctions that would restrict the nation’s voting rights within the Union while also imposing significant financial sanctions.
Perhaps the most divisive policy that has triggered resistance from not only Poland, but a group of nations dubbed the Visegrád Group – the Czech Republic, Hungary, and Slovakia, as well as Poland – are the mandatory migrant quotas imposed upon EU member nations by the Commission. Each nation is required to take in a number of ‘refugees’ that is determined by the Commission. These nations have refused to honor these quotas – citing the massive issues that have resulted from Western and Middle Eastern culture clashes, not to mention their right to national sovereignty – and now face sanctions from the EU Commission.
This fundamental divide between those who, for whatever reason, desire to be ruled by a Commission of unelected officials, and those who see national sovereignty as a right superior to the edicts of the European Commission, is the most pressing issue facing the Western world. And, as evidenced by the success of the Brexit referendum vote, Germans’ increasing support of the pro-sovereign AfD Party, increasing support for France’s pro-sovereign National Front Party, and the persistence of the Visegrád Group of nations against EU mandates seen as infringing on their sovereignty, anti-EU sentiment is high.
Every member of every nation deserves sovereignty, and the increasing overreaches of power that the European Commission has inflicted upon its members stand in direct contrast to the national sovereignty of its member nations. In France, Germany, the UK, Hungary, Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, and other less prominent EU member nations, silent masses have become increasingly vocal. And their message is clear: give us sovereignty and free us from the anti-sovereign European Commission. The citizens of individual nations feel it is their right to dictate their laws and leaders, decisions that will affect their children and their children’s children.
And, it is their right.
So why, in his speech at the Sorbonne University in Paris just over a week ago, did French President Emmanuel Macron seem to double-down on the policies of the European Union – and the concept of the EU itself?
Macron seems to be consciously ignoring the increasingly widespread, and increasingly deafening, calls for the re-installation of national sovereignty. It now appears that Emmanuel Macron is little more than a puppet for the European Commission. Perhaps we should not be surprised – it was Marine Le Pen that would have been the true anti-EU president – but now we can be quite certain: Macron is pro-EU, and France will not be seeing any form of Frexit under his watch.
The pro-EU sentiment in his speech was heavy, with the full transcript available here.
As he exclaimed from the onset, it is not France, but Europe, that he will continue to speak of, to unify, to defend:
“I have come to talk to you about Europe. “Again”, some might exclaim. People will just have to get used to it, because I will not stop talking about it.”
And, it is not the French identity that Macron sees as primary, but a European one:
“Because this is where our battle lies, our history, our identity, our horizon, what protects us and gives us a future.”
His acknowledgment that the concept of one Europe – a European Union – and his following assertion that it is up to the French people, and this entire generation, to preserve this unified Europe, cannot be more clear:
“Because the best ideas, those which drive us forward, which improve people’s lives, are always fragile. And Europe will only live through the idea that we have of it. It is our responsibility to bring it to life, make it ever better and stronger, to not stop at the form that historic circumstances have shaped it into. Because this form may change, but the idea remains, and its ambition must be ours.”
The rest of his speech is more of the same, a conglomeration of platitudes about strength, unity, and most of all, Europe.
The Wall Street Journal sums up his speech – one espousing a European identity over a French one – eloquently, and accurately:
‘Mr. Macron’s speech at the Sorbonne in Paris was his fullest statement so far of his demand for EU overhaul. His vision sounds a lot like a new country, a true United States of Europe.’
The functions that have traditionally fallen upon nations – functions that only a unified nation of like-minded citizens can truly carry out with any measure of success – would be the functions of Europe as a whole, not completely unlike the structure of the European Union as it currently stands. He is doubling down on a vision of a Europe which is not a combination of truly independent states, unified by reduced tariffs and a unified economic economy.
What Macron is advocating for in his speech at the Sorbonne, is one nation of Europe. As the WSJ explains, Macron’s vision of the nation of Europe is very much in unison with the words and visions of European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, who has espoused similar visions recently and in the past:
‘His EU would be responsible for many of the functions traditionally performed by a nation-state, such as defense, taxation, migration control and economic regulation… He wants to create an EU finance ministry, funded by corporate and other taxes, that can spend money across the bloc with minimal interference from national capitals.
Mr. Macron also wants to harmonize—eurospeak for raise—corporate taxes across the EU. He’d further establish Franco-German regulatory excess as the benchmark for the rest of the EU by melding the two countries’ rules on bankruptcy and other matters as a start on EU standardization.’
While Macron did call for reforms to the EU Parliament, including the election – versus the current system of appointments – of EU officials, the substance of his speech spells financial and social disaster:
‘This is a recipe for political failure because Europeans already know these policies are economic duds. That’s partly why Brits voted to leave the EU, and why Germans returned a small free-market party to their parliament this weekend and are likely to object to much of Mr. Macron’s program.’
And, importantly, this is not the leader – a man whose first and foremost priority is to promote the maintenance of the European Union that so many have come to loathe – that the French citizens elected:
‘Mr. Macron himself was elected to liberalize the French economy. To the extent French voters cared about the EU they seemed to think his reforms would involve less Brussels heavy-handedness, not more.’
Like those who lived through the deterioration of the USSR, those who have become increasingly vocal in their opposition to the EU understand how disastrous this concept of, essentially, one European nation will be, if and when it is implemented. And, it appears that if Emmanuel Macron is to have his way, this European nation would be a reality today, if only he had the power to make it so.