This is a sort of defining European moment, when its a history changing moment. The political and economic tectonic plates of the world are moving, the question is will the EU see this and grasp the opportunity, or will it just trundle along,business as usual in familiar EU style. I very much fear the latter will happen. Barosso, the EU Council and the MEPs in the EP may dream of some happy united eurozone, but in reality we all know that it’s a complete fantasy, a dream.
The endless directives passed in Brussels really don’t count for much for the average European citizen dealing with life’s daily problems? Free movement of people and free movement of goods within Europe? That holy EU principle certainly does not work in reality, its a hollow sham. Example – Have you ever tried to take your personally owned car across a border and get it re-registered in a different EU country? MEPs may pass a directive after long and lengthy debates about the ‘liberalization’ of goods and people in Europe. But that’s until you hit an impenetrable wall of national bureaucracy, and in the end you just give up, as it’s designed to wear you down and wear you out. This was the personal experience of a friend of mine with the Portuguese import authorities trying to import a car into Portugal from the UK. But I am sure its the same experience in Greece or Italy?
But the European problem lies much deeper than than. Its not just the millions of disappointed personal experiences people go through crossing borders to work, study or import a car, its the sense of the citizens total detachment from all the EU institutions that many people feel,on a daily basis in life. People talk about the ‘Brussels bubble’, well it very much exists. MEPs in the EP, the EU Council, the Commission, the President (which one?) are living in some kind of bubble wrapped world of the EU. The many institutions of the EU certainly have an identity crisis with there so called ‘citizens’. There is a big democratic deficit within the EU, and slowly (because everything moves very slowly) some MEPs are waking up to this fact? Here is some free advice if you want to connect more with your citizens; here is an idea how about giving some of your EU website’s like europa.eu a major face lift? believe me they need one? Apart from serious euro bloggers, journalists, politicans, or EU lobbyists, the average European citizen would spend a nano second on a EU website before either dying of boredom or confusion, or both? EU websites need to be alot more user friendly.
But looking on a bigger scale look at the bickering over the Italian food company Parmalat between Italy and France. Economic ‘nimbyism is every where in the eurozone, but everyone dresses it up as of ‘national importance’. The French and the Italians are as bad as each other, and both play this game endlessly, each blaming the other, whether its energy,dairy, manufacturing etc. This is the Europe of free trade and free borders? I think not Mr Barosso.
On the important point of elections and democracy, stop any EU citizen in the street and ask them if they know the name of there elected MEP? That’s right, a big fat zero? Also the fact that four MEPs have been openly caught with there greedy fingers in the lobbyist cash register? by a UK newspaper. Put on top of that is the very real impression of the expenses and pay rises riding the very comfortable EP ‘gravy train’, and MEPs wonder why there citizens do not love them so much? Also how can the ridiculous and very costly Brussels – Strasbourg circus act ever be justified, as the French immediately go into a sulk and throw all there toys out of the pram when ever the issue is raised?
As for the euro crisis there is growing resentment within northern eurozone countries having to bailout southern Mediterranean countries that have run up large deficits by spending more that they can afford. Its not just all about money, if the southern EU countries do not reform and abolish there walls of red tape and their bureaucracy they will never be able to grow economically and compete with northern Europe, its that simple. Transparency? and processing any kind of application online with government departments within EU Meditereanean countries is virtually unknown. The officials look at you like you are from another planet when you ask them about doing it online? The euro problem, no more quick fix devaluation of the Drachma, or Lira. Southern Europe cannot get a free ride on the back of northern Europe any more. This is a real crisis, and must be resolved. I fear there will be a major north – south split within the eurozone and euro in the years to come as friction grows over the euro as a currency.
Mean while the MEPs keep boarding the train from Brussels to Strasbourg. Wakey!wakey! its time for the EU Council,Commission, EP and MEPs to wake up to the real world around them? Europe is falling asleep, while China and Asia are on growth steroids?