The EU's 'Internal Enemies'

BERLIN |

BERLIN (Own report) - In view of the conflict between Brussels and Rome over Italy's national budget, the German establishment is increasing its demands to resolutely fight the "internal enemies" of the EU. The Union must "now be vigorously defended," wrote a leading German daily. The Italian government coalition is "not worth risking the country's fate." The Italian government is being put into question, because it refuses to continue to submit to German austerity dictates. Berlin's dominance over the EU is also being met with mounting protests in other member countries. Poland and Hungary are not the only countries, where controversies are intensifying. Anger at Berlin is also growing in France. Jean-Luc Mélenchon, the founder of "La France insoumise," who, with almost 20 percent, barely missed making the run-offs in the 2017 presidential elections, has now called for "France to withdraw from all EU treaties." The German elite's reaction is becoming more hostile.

Racism Yes, Increase Consumption, No

Following the EU Commission's rejection of Italy's national budget, the conflict between Brussels and Rome threatens to escalate. On Tuesday, in an unprecedented move, the Commission rejected a democratically approved draft budget and demanded fundamental "corrections" be made. The Italian government, in turn, announced that it will not comply and will maintain the planned new debt of 2.4 percent of the gross domestic product (GDP).[1] If it continues to insist, it could face EU sanctions within a few weeks. The conflict is very serious, because - according to a recent survey - 59 percent of the Italian population is in favor of significantly increasing the debt. The government can thus rely on broad popular support,[2] while the EU's popularity has massively declined in that country. Only 42 percent of the population - less than in Great Britain - are in favor of EU membership.[3] It should be noted that Brussels does not intervene against the racist measures Italy's Lega has implemented, drawing heavy international criticism. The EU is intervening because Italy is trying to break out of the German austerity policy, which has proven incapable of lifting Italy out of the crisis. Rome in turn attempts to generate economic growth by generating consumption. Berlin says No.

Europe of War

The conflict with Italy and the dispute over the Brexit deal [4] are accompanied by mounting tensions with a growing number of other countries. In France, protest against Berlin's dominating the EU has recently become more vocal. In his speech at the National Assembly on Monday, the founder of "La France insoumise," Jean-Luc Mélenchon, addressed not only the Berlin-imposed austerity policy that has destroyed the French social model.[5] He also criticized the militarization of the EU, being pushed by Berlin.[6] To construct a "Europe for peace" was the original intention; it now is becoming evident that a "Europe of war is being constructed," under Germany's instigation. In a newspaper article in late September of last year, Mélenchon had already protested against German plans to become a de facto nuclear power, by sharing French nuclear weapons. He also again pointed to the predominance of German personnel in decisive positions in the EU bodies and bureaucracy.[7] German predominance in the EU is ultimately based on the country's economic power, permitting the authoritarian behavior of the government in Berlin.[8] Mélenchon who, with 19.6 percent, barely missed the run-offs during the 2017 presidential elections, is now calling for "France to withdraw from all EU treaties" immediately, because no improvement is in sight.[9]

Vassals

The growing differences with the Visegrád countries (Poland, Hungary, Czech Republic, Slovakia) are, simultaneously, becoming more apparent. During a panel discussion on the premises of the German Foreign Ministry on Tuesday, a rhetorical exchange of blows developed between German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier and his Polish counterpart Andrzej Duda. The subject was not only the reform of Poland's judiciary, with which Warsaw seeks to subjugate the courts, particularly their upper echelons, to its political control.[10] Hinting at other bones of contention, Duda spoke out against a "concert of major powers" within the Union, wherein the countries with large populations openly dominate, and he declared: "We do not want to be vassals."[11] In response to the German presidents objection that all of the member nations had joined the Union voluntarily, Duda pointed out that Great Britain has become the first country to leave the EU.[12] In fact, Brussels has spared no effort in turning the British exit into an example to deter other member countries from considering withdrawing from the Union. (german-foreign-policy.com reported.[13]) Smaller countries are only theoretically free to leave the Union, as can be seen by the EU's actually deterrent Brexit negotiating tactics.

Eat or be Eaten

In its attempts to consolidate the EU, from which the German elite continues to greatly benefit both economically and politically, the German establishment is now clearly designating - and openly declaring - who is the enemy. The "enemies" of the Union "are on the inside and want to destroy it," according to a formerly liberal German daily, a few days ago in reference to the conflict over Italy's national budget.[14] Currently, "at least three attacks are being simultaneously" waged against the EU: One from Great Britain, which is leaving, a second from Poland and Hungary, and a third from Italy. Rome could "provoke a financial and monetary crisis," that forces the euro countries to decide whether to submit to Italy's blackmail or take the risk "that one of the founding members leaves." The EU majority must "ward off these attacks, if it does not want to be eaten," the journal warns. One could let the conflict with Poland and Hungary remain "in limbo" for a while, until there is "a political change of climate" in these countries. However, this cannot be done with the "Italian case," because of the dynamics of the crisis. It would "become a test case" for dealing with the "enemies" of the EU. The author of the article, who is very well connected within the German foreign policy establishment, puts Italy's government into question. "This coalition is not worth risking the country's fate." It is high time to take action: "If you value this Union, you must defend it now with all your might. Europe's ice age has just begun."

Europe's Central Power

Recently, the British historian Perry Anderson commented on Germany's efforts to hold the EU - which it dominates and draws enormous benefits - together. In his most recent book, entitled "Hegemonie," Anderson quotes the Berlin government advisor, Herfried Münkler, who, back in 2015, had already declared that it was up to "the European central power" - Germany - to "tame the rising centrifugal forces of the Union." "If Germany fails in its role as the European central power, then Europe will fail."[15] Anderson has been very critical of the EU for a long time. In the summer of 2015, in reference to the annulment of the Greek majority "No" vote in the referendum on the austerity policy imposed on Athens, the Union, had become "an oligarchic structure" built on "a denial of any sort of popular sovereignty" which is "enforcing a bitter economic regime of privilege for the few and duress for the many."[16] In light of Münklers admonition that Berlin must "responsibly assume the tasks of Europe's central power," Anderson noted that, in Germany, there is always talk of "responsibility" for "Europe," without even the slightest mention of the profits, Germany has been raking in with its excessive export surpluses [17] at the expense of the other member countries. "Anderson," it was noted in relation to his book "Hegemonie," "hardly holds back his mockery, when quoting the self-descriptions of the [German, editor's note] pay- and ringmaster of Europe: 'in the service of its self-aggrandizement, the power always uses its appropriate - self-pitying or self-praising - pathos.'"[18]

 

[1] Manovra, governo tira dritto: 'Non cambia'. ansa.it 24.10.2018.

[2] Die Märkte blicken auf Italien. wiwo.de 22.10.2018.

[3] Briten sind nicht die größten EU-Skeptiker. n-tv.de 17.10.2018.

[4] See also The EU's Game of Chicken.

[5] Michaela Wiegel: Schluss mit dem Basar. Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung 24.10.2018.

[6] See also Coalition of Those Willing to Go to War and Die deutsche Bombe.

[7] See also Eine nie dagewesene Machtkonzentration and The Secretary General's Meteoric Rise.

[8] Jean-Luc Mélenchon, Bastien Lachaud: L'Allemagne vise-t-elle une hégémonie en Europe? Le Monde 23.09.2018.

[9] Michaela Wiegel: Schluss mit dem Basar. Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung 24.10.2018.

[10] Reinhard Lauterbach: Der nächste Exit? junge Welt 24.10.2018.

[11] "Wir wollen nicht Vasallen sein". spiegel.de 23.10.2018.

[12] Eckart Lohse: Stunde der Wahrheit. Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung 24.10.2018.

[13] See also Brussels' Provocations and The EU's Arrogance.

[14] Stefan Kornelius: Eiszeit in Europa. Süddeutsche Zeitung 19.10.2018.

[15] Herfried Münkler: Wir sind der Hegemon. faz.net 21.08.2015.

[16] Perry Anderson: The Greek Debacle. jacobinmag.com 23.07.2015.

[17] See also A Transmission Belt of German Supremacy.

[18] Jürgen Kaube: Kommen Sie uns bitte nicht mit der Moral des Stärkeren. faz.net 14.09.2018.