A paper for the ECR Group of the European Parliament Brussels, Belgium
by Dr. Theodore Roosevelt Malloch
This commissioned paper for the ECR Group considers perspectives on European Union reform. It starts with the Treaty of Rome and considers the basis and foundation for cooperation. It then inspects the nature and challenge of reform at this time. Using a five-force strategy it outlines where the EU is strong, weak, threatened, and where its best future opportunities lie. The paper goes on to consider how the EU is viewed from abroad and particularly in the US and the Trump administration. Considering overreach, the topic of NATO and a potential EU Army is debated. The paper ends with conclusions about reform and the future that set the stage for the 2019 elections.
* These are the personal views of the author alone and do not represent any governmental, party, or institutional affiliation.
The European conservative movement is facing a schismatic moment which the ECR can and will benefit from. Whether from ideological purity, fast results or mere fatigue with the status-quo agenda of the EPP, no European party is better placed to profit from the current climate as the ECR. It may come down to policies or attitude, but in both cases the third largest party in the European Parliament is poised to capitalize – as capitalists normally do – on the situation buffeting the old continent anew.
The ECR must provide a viable alternative to the bipartisan consensus on Europe to fully exploit the circumstances: A tired old guard facing an energetic new movement with new powers never before seen in Brussels. Juncker should have been careful what he wished for, as the power grabs from the European Commission (EC) established precedents, 1 which his amanuenses will come to regret, no matter which party ends up with the throne after the elections. The ECR must provide a viable vehicle to power for a European demos which has been disenfranchised – a message that Europeans can have the Europe they want, but only if they vote for the ECR.
THE TREATY of ROME
Recall the bright spring day of March 25, 1957, at the Palazzo de Conservatori, on Capitoline Hill in Rome – Belgium, France, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and West Germany signed a treaty that signaled the birth of a new institution, a customs union that would become known as the common market.2
Today, every liberal democracy — from the United States to New Zealand — has cause to celebrate the achievements of the Treaty of Rome. By lowering barriers to trade and encouraging peaceful development, it set the stage for an era of expanding prosperity.
And yet now, different ideas of Europe have come into conflict.
The original idea behind the Treaty of Rome envisioned sovereign nation states interacting fluidly to create a European advantage. Other ideas deviate from it, and call for centralization of power in a Brussels full of ossified privileges – a hierarchy rather than a network.
The political reasoning that inspired the treaty was a combination of two principles: sovereignty and subsidiarity. 3
Countries that only made concessions on their sovereignty when absolutely necessary signed the treaty. These were measured, deliberate and slight additions to national entities – many of who remained intact as supranational stakeholders – not attempts to delegate competencies to all-powerful supranational institutions. With this in mind, the European common market was designed not to overreach into nations' sovereignty.
Brussels, the first of what should have been a rotating venue for EC institutions, was conceived as a minimal force for coordination and was never supposed or intended to become the permanent capital of a new, let alone enlarged, European Union.4
As we celebrated this anniversary, this foundational document should be seen for what it was: a confederal design to encourage market-based solutions to everyday problems, particularly in trade. The tradeoff in sovereignty was minimal and had major returns.
The treaty was based on twin pillars of peace and prosperity — a well-intended and necessary mandate following the decades of war that had torn apart the continent — not an elitist mandate from on high to create a supranational entity.
Efforts to confound this peace with the prosperity brought by a lack of national customs and tariffs should be frustrated – America's role in the security of the continent have been sublimated to the rest of the project. A true conservative option in Europe should acknowledge and celebrate the American role in perpetuating an environment in which such a trade-focused ethos could flourish. 5
Today, the bloc's newest iteration has followed a dirigiste, centralizing impulse, rejecting the free-market, liberal, invisible handiness of its modern success as a space in which low taxes, low regulation and a general hands-off attitude from the State – national or otherwise.
Little by little, over the 1980s and 90s into the present, this impulse has reversed the basic and sound architecture of the Treaty of Rome. A liberal fundamentalism has chafed continuously against tried-and-true conservative principles in favor of statism. This process was not a democratic process and it failed ad nauseam under scrutiny – countless referenda in which citizens rejected the EU's anonymous decision-making were frustrated for a cause none signed up for – even in 1957's Rome.
The European Project
Nonetheless, it has continued unabated. More and more, this centralizing has exercised their will over the people, with little concern for their agreement. Suddenly, there was a single currency. Suddenly, the EU doubled its membership. Suddenly, a large managerial socialism emerged, ready for radicals to appropriate and turn to their own purposes. A supposed legitimacy – derived from the demos – was nowhere to be found.
In 2016, European regulation amounted to more than 30,000 pages — and a total of 151 kilometers of paper.6 There is little that is left untouched by Brussels nowadays. An ECR commission should and shall commit to cutting such regulation as far as possible – leaving space for healthy competition between member states, contrary to the homogenizing imperative that Brussels currently represents.
Over the last 20 plus years, the EU has failed to understand and manage major political and economic phenomena, as it pushed ahead with its plan to transform an entirely economic body into a political one. This project has found an appetite even outside the European member states – witness the gluttony with which the current European Commission attempts to impose European legislation on third countries. Such an imperialist attitude has ill-served Europe in the past and should at all costs be avoided in the future.
An ECR commission can and will recognize the sovereignty of states both inside and outside the EU – all the while keeping a cool head on matters regarding the convenience or lack thereof of an inclusion into both its common market's marketplace and the many other sweeteners it has to offer nation-states – most of which can and will never be able to join the European community.
Brussels missed the chance to manage globalization. Instead of focusing on the strengths afforded to it by its unity it attempted to export its model. It was caught unprepared, too busy perfecting itself to compete with various types of economies. A recognition that third-country praxis will inevitably differ from the European way of life is the utmost conservative of viewpoints – foreign peoples and markets will always attempt to conserve their own praxes and systems.
First came a financial crisis – root of a hubristic expansionism among European elites. Then came an economic crisis – again, fruit of a success analogous to flying too close to the sun. Finally, came an ongoing political crisis, which can only be resolved by the regime change on offer by the ECR – a reforming impulse to preserve the best and jettison the worst. Each crisis evinced a decreasing faith in the project and left many Europeans increasingly anxious, some even agitated. 7
The European project also made the mistake of giving in to nostalgia and romanticism – a solipsistic sin that can only result in the excessive self-regard currently evidenced by Brussels. The inevitable restoration of a lost symbolic value – as societies disintegrate and the civic, religious and family bonds that have held Europeans together become unglued — cannot be resisted. Brussels' radical atomistic individualism enforced by the State can and will not last. The defenders of tradition must prevail against the excesses of liberal fundamentalism. The ballot box never abandoned this cause.
As we celebrated the Treaty of Rome last year, some in the EU and its allies called for a return to the sanity and legitimacy of that original treaty and its vision for Europe. 8
They said that would be a necessary start to reform.
In the process, intermediary institutions, where people actually lived their lives and flourished in the past, were thrown on the proverbial ash heap of history. All the while, immigration transformed Europe's nations and the very definition of European identity. Pillars of tradition were torn down. The impulse to rebuild the Temple will not be denied. The treaty of Rome was an important milestone, but the bloc largely disregarded its values over the next 60 years – as it continually disregarded the values of the peoples represented. Now, Europe finds itself at a crossroads: further erode the project or centralize even more.
Neither option is particularly attractive.
The British, paragons of liberty as they have been for millennia, have cut themselves loose.9 as the first ever to renounce its faith in Brussels – a radical erosion of more perfect union – it cannot but be understood as a failure of the project. The hypothesis of simply returning to individual European nation states may well be archaic and dangerous, but it is a viable option to conscientious objectors all over the world. Countries are no longer isolated – the wider liberal integrationist project made sure of that. While vulnerable to global financial powers – by definition transnational – this only serves to underline the limitations of Brussels as an enforcer.
The viable reformist alternative that respects both sovereignty and cooperation is ripe for the moment: Europe could reform by returning to the original Treaty of Rome, to a model of confederation that was as laudable decades ago as it is today. Uniting on essential matters only, such as mutual defense and a customs area would leave enough sovereignty to its member states.
What would such reform entail?
Taking a step back in order to move ahead is a well-worn common sense strategy. The European Union would do well to accept such an approach at this critical time of reflection. The thinning of the original pact of rights among an expanded number of member states can only subtract from the mission at hand.
As we have witnessed euroscepticism spread and political parties arise that reject a political Union.10 Even so, only the most radical propose to exit membership altogether. It would be wise to reform the Union into a more feasible and pragmatic state to maintain the confederation of member states at this juncture. To this end it would be wise to listen to Brussels' critics.
How best to do this is a legitimate question.
In business strategy we talk about SWOT analysis, competitive advantage by creating and sustaining superior performance around cost leadership, differentiation and focus.
In such models the five forces that shape industry are:
1. Competitive rivalry;
2. Bargaining power of suppliers;
3. Bargaining power of customers;
4. Threat of new entrants; and,
5. Threat of substitute products or services.11
We can adjust this analytic framework and ascertain if the European Union is competitive, sustainable, and adds value, and where it might need to adjust or modify its strategy and tactics.
Reform in the EU is not a new phenomenon.
From the very beginning there were debates about the extent and nature of cooperation, about criteria for membership (long since elasticated to serve political aims) and more recently about expansion, finance and institutionalization.
The European Commission itself outlined five scenarios for its own future in a 2017 white paper.12 The five varying scenarios are in the estimate of objective observers not very objective at all. They included: 1. Carry on; 2. Nothing but the single market; 3. Those who want to do more; 4. Doing less more efficiently; and, 5. Doing much more together.
The paper was intended to shape debate and influence the 27 member states remaining in the EU after Britain's departure.
Somber in tone the white paper admits a crisis.
Reformists should take heart: the first step to recovery is to admit there is a problem. The white paper also lists those problems as: Brexit, migration, and the euro. It is however not a neutral document and it makes its own preferences well known—a federalized more political Eurozone with stricter controls over national budgets and the creation of centralized EU bodies and duties. It noticeably did not detail any scenario, which either saw the demise of the European project or defined it in more minimalist-skeptical terms.
When it comes to cost by any measure the EU is expensive and the member states are chafing at the exorbitant fees and the large bureaucracy and duplicative systems and meeting places that have come to define Brussels-Strasbourg. With the UK departure this will leave an even bigger hole in future EU budgets – a fact unacknowledged by the proposed 2019-2026 budget, which papers over the absence of a British contribution (the second largest of the EU-28) by simply demanding more money from the other 27. No conservative should remain passive at such a nonchalant disregard for national voices in the supranational purse.
The differentiation of what thee EU does is complicated and bureaucratic. A major criticism is that the regulatory apparatus is cumbersome, costly, and ineffectual. In that sense, the focus of the EU has over time and especially since the Treaty of Rome, become more diffuse and less focused. European conservatives must strive to make it less so. It is often said the answer to every question in Brussels is simply: 'More Europe.' This leads to frustration on the part of many member states, dissatisfaction among citizens and a sense that the European project is sick, if not terminally ill.
Looking at it through the Porteresque framework of the five factors shaping, European Supranational institutions have little competition – if only because truly international institutions remain paralyzed by an inability to resolve the very problems Brussels purports to paper over.
It has a monopoly on its single market. Other organizations overlap with its competencies only slightly and by design of concerted diplomatic efforts by European Union members' states in forums that include the entire planet. Some such remain smaller, regional in membership or nationally defined. The serious question the EU must resolve goes back to the principle of subsidiarity. Is Brussels taking on too much that could be better handled at a national or local level? The Conservative response is an unflinching yes. Increasingly, there appears to be an argument in this direction on a host of policies and decision-making.
The suppliers to the EU have little to no bargaining power – sucked into the maelstrom that is European regulation, most countries relent rather than negotiate. EU budgets and bureaucracy are thick and difficult to penetrate. A more competitive system would relent from enforcing European imperatives in favor of freedom for its partners.
The power of customers, in this case, European citizens, have been grossly undervalued. Both in market and political decision-making, the European consumer/voter is unparalleled in decision-making power. The notion that Brussels must impose values merits ridicule – as if Europeans could not vote with their wallets against what they despise. Past referenda have been undone – acts of unforgiving lack of faith in the European. Until recently, little direct pressure by citizens on bodies was evidenced on the bodies considered distanced from their populations. Brussels, seen as elitist, undemocratic and removed from real life, has had a reality check from the most informed voter in the world. The unwavering, unelected Commission has only stonewalled parliamentary elections all over Europe. Conservatives must change this.
While other international organizations strive for recognition, from the OECD to UNECE, none purports by definition to be supranational in nature. 13Their unresolved question remains – what to do with third countries that can never be a part of Europe – and where the line is to be drawn.
With the fourth industrial revolution underway and technological advances on every front, a centralized, ossified EU will not be able to keep pace with developments. Europe will respond either too late or not at all. The EU cannot do everything and seems to respond slowly and inadequately to crises. The EU now accounts for a smaller portion of world trade by the year – the power of the global economy and trade has shifted away from Europe and towards Asia and with a resurgent US. As Brexiteers celebrate, 95% of future global economic growth will come from outside the EU27. The Conservative approach to the European project must not just assimilate this trend, it must actively work to counteract the truth in the charge: that Europe is a stagnant market.14
The US View of the EU
Another angle on European Union reform is to ask how its foremost allies and other nations view the bloc.
The United States is preeminent in this account because it was the US that won the Second World War, saving Europe from both fascism and communism. Through the Marshall Plan, America reinvested in Europe when it was at it lowest point. The Transatlantic lens on the European Union is paramount.
Prevailing views of the United States on Europe and European integration that held sway from 1945 until 1990 significantly changed after the Cold War. They are shifting radically again – and for good reason in the Trump White House.15
The failure of the European integration project is now apparent to American eyes. Where the United States created laboratories of democracy, Europe compelled obedience to a clearly failed experiment. This is simply not something Churchill or Roosevelt would countenance. The European Union has become undemocratic – the greatest sin in American eyes – and bloated by bureaucracy and rampant anti-Americanism, another ungrateful characteristic of the hubristic mentality.
Since America has vital trade, defence, cultural and foreign policy interests in Europe, it remains in the US interest to remain engaged with Europe. The question is how?
The Trump Administration is steadily making it clear that the US is no longer interested in the old forms of European integration. In fact, it may be able to encourage a reversal of the EU's accelerating drive to a socialist, protectionist, United States of Europe. A conservative electoral alternative must provide this option to the European demos.
This movement should be seen for what it is. It is very harmful to US business, to US investment, to US security, and is categorized by over-regulation, low growth, high unemployment, and structural rigidity as its outcome.
The US in the era of Trump is therefore definitively encouraging more bilateral trade with Europe but makes firm its opposition to a federal Europe by saying a definite 'no' to a single Euro government.
It appears to be time to re-evaluate key US assumptions about Europe. This means America is reappraising its entire relationship with Europe and its future union or disunion. The long held State Department view, since Dulles, has been that the best way to achieve peace in Europe is by uniting it. The Franco-German relationship was at the centre of such thinking.
The question today is what kind of Europe, and what kind of union, does the US want? What is in the US national interest looking ahead? Does what used to be called a European Economic Community necessarily equate with the evolution of a single European government?
Since the Maastricht Treaty of 1992 and all the other treaties since, does this policy make sense? Are there fundamental flaws in such a pro-integrationist logic, as detailed by the likes of the late Lord Dahrendorf and so many others like him? 16 Is the European Union in need of a total redefinition? Does it need a more far-reaching reform? The conservative knows that answering yes to the first question, all others can be taken for granted.
The US realistically also is asking: What are the dangers of a failing EU? Will European powers really go back to a 19th century paradigm defined by wars of aggression and balancing?
The US has no reason or suggestion to see the EU go out of existence. These questions too should be considered as the consequences and sequencing have wide ramification. No one wants Europe to fail or instantly disintegrate; least of all Conservatives buoyed by the Burkean imperative to preserve what are extant against the undefined possibilities of revolutionary change.
We do know that the US and the UK are different from Europe: Americans want democracy and accountability, while the EU has trod down an intrinsically undemocratic and unaccountable path. Should the US continue to promote such a damaged continental European model, alien to our American traditions? Is it not working against US interests to do so? Expecting America to buttress the European project certainly does not put America, first, as President Trump has designated. But does it need necessarily to be at loggerheads with the US?
We should be keenly aware that America has strong and long historic ties to Europe; that our religions, genealogy, traditions and kinship run deep. Despite America's large contribution to post-war European development and democracy – not to mention costly security – anti-Americanism abounds in Europe today.
Anti-Americanism defines many of Europe's most powerful political imperatives – acting as a counterweight against Washington's hand. Why are the European institutions, created at Washington's behest, so ungrateful?The answer may be European resentment of American power. This anti-Americanism is not an abstract idea in Europe, nor is it confined to leftists 'usual suspects'. It influences all of culture and policy-making in the EU. 17
The EU also uses the cloak of antitrust activity as a way to implement its anti-US industrial policy. The list of companies affected is long and growing longer. The EU Commission seeks to regulate any case involving large foreign companies, which threaten or undermine EU business interests. Can European conservatives truly stomach a DG-COMP, which aims to restrict free enterprise so blatantly?
This is not just a cloak and dagger form of protectionism or a light non-trade set of barriers; it is more and more transparent. This mind-set, and particularly the EU's Common Agriculture Policy, also distorts the world economy and any notion of fair trade.
The EU prefers – to the point of confiscatory subsidy – European farmers over increased trade with the US and developing countries, many of which would happily provide the average European respite from expensive consumer goods.
US interests are further undermined by the EU's many inherent internal contradictions—social, economic, and politically which undermine US beliefs and interests.
Chief among them are the Euro, a flawed common currency.
The Euro offers little insulation from economic shocks and relies on fiscal transfers at the EU level to iron out economic imbalances. These are many. This equates to papering over cracks in the EU's component economies. It has also, as demonstrated by former World Bank, chief economist, Joseph Stieglitz, (see: The Euro and Its Threat to Europe) 18 tilted the tables toward the benefit of Germany. Germany's current account surplus is a huge 8 per cent of GDP, which imposes a deflationary bias on the entire Eurozone.
The basic fallacy of the neo-functionalist philosophy underlying the EU is the assumption that political integration can be achieved through economic integration. This liberal fundamentalism is a sin of mistaken assumptions, further aggravated by the forced pace of such integration.
The cure to Europe's calamity and to its reform is genuine democracy—government by the people not by unelected bureaucrats parading as experts. The neoliberal sleight-of-hand, which drains political decisions of political considerations, is the root of this problem.
Members of the EU Commission are selected by whichever political party that happens to find itself in power during a European Parliament election. Such a fortuitous selection – many in the dying days of their national political relevance – is detached from the people and therefore intrinsically anti-European.
The EU and NATO
NATO has of course served as the centrepiece and backbone of a US – European alliance on defence, security and foreign policy.
But since the St. Malo agreement in 1998, Europe has been turning its back on the US and on NATO. It has pursued a separate defence to rival NATO and the US.19 In fact, EU defence is no longer seen in the context of NATO. European bureaucrats want their own fighting force – preferably a cheap one. Burden sharing has always been an issue for Europeans, who have abused a commitment to mutual defence by alchemically transubstantiating America's commitment into a security guarantee. Europe is clearly free riding on US largesse. Conservatism would dictate the self-reliance inherent in a mandate to realize the dream of a Europe that can defend itself and truly aid their allies in combat.
Furthermore, the EU increasingly openly works against it's own interests abroad. Despite championing human rights and democracy, Brussels finds itself financing and defending the worst actors in the Middle East. Continually denouncing Israel – the only democratic state in the Arab world, while seeking to buttress Iran's imperialist appetites – not to mention other rogue states like Cuba and Venezuela, making a farce of European ideals.
The US in these first years of the Trump Administration is re-examining its historical policy toward European integration from the lens of America First. Europe's present policy doesn't just fail to conserve the democratic gains made in the post-war era, it is actively antidemocratic. These policies cannot be allowed to continue.
Of course, the Transatlantic Alliance must continue.
Good European-American relations are essential. But further European integration is not at all in the interest of conservatives on either side of the pond. European polities say they share the values of democracy and freedom. This yardstick should test every European policy. It is time for greater scepticism, conservatism and realism about the European Union and its hidden agenda of "ever closer union."
Brexit gives the US an opportunity to appreciate that the EU is weak and getting weaker. Again, European conservatives are called to avoid the scenarios where the EU comes apart.
The US is not anti-European. It has a view on European integration and the European Union institutions, which should best accord with what Europeans themselves desire and choose. The US therefore needs to bolster its existing and strong relations with each of Europe's member states—not all of which even belong fully to the EU. Short of a fully federalized, single nation-state called Europe, no country on the planet would be well served to do otherwise. It is up to the European conservatives of 2019 and beyond to decide whether their own aims are best served by bringing the federalist ideal into fruition – or to frustrate the attempt to enthral 27 separate polities into a single nation-state.
The architecture of the world is changing, 20 shifting to more reliance on sovereign nation states and away from integrated blocs or supranational entities. In the coming world the future is not what it once was. US dealings with Europe should also change, accordingly. Important now is an ethic of the nation. This is where Europe should look for answers -- not to a project of further integration. The US interaction with Europe is changed. This affects how the European states will interact with each other.
One place where the EU is clearly overreaching is defence.
With the existence of NATO the allies have over the decades since WWII cared for their defense against any and all adversaries.
Yet the EU is well under way to adding another item to its ever-expanding inventory. This time around it´s a EU army. Eurocrats may argue, as they indeed typically do, that the EU has no intentions whatsoever in this direction. ´Trust me, it´s not a EU Army, it´s merely enhanced military cooperation´ is often heard Brussels code. Considering the EU´s notorious track record of federalization by stealth, we´re well advised to let the facts speak for themselves. Indeed, this may be a costly army with designer uniforms and no guns but it is an army nonetheless.
To start with, the EU ambition of going beyond simple military cooperation is neatly codified in the Lisbon Treaty. Article 42 of the Lisbon Treaty states that the common security and defence policy "shall provide the Union with an operational capacity drawing on civilian and military assets." It further reads, "The common security and defence policy shall include the progressive framing of a common Union defence policy." It even copies NATO´s Article 5 mutual defence clause, stating "if a Member State is the victim of armed aggression on its territory, the other Member States shall have towards it an obligation of aid and assistance by all the means in their power."
The Euro federalist dream of having a EU army failed to gain traction, in large part thanks to longstanding UK resistance. Here as in many other instances the conservative, localist impulse of the British made itself felt to the benefit of the European Project. The UK, sensibly preferring cooperation within the NATO framework, had no appetite for paying for the EU´s outrageous plans for another army.
What should have been a wakeup call for even the most obsessed EU federalists and generate some sincere introspection, has merely encouraged Eurocrats to federalize even further. 21
Importantly, the two main European powers left after Brexit, France and Germany, seem to fully embrace the idea of a EU army. France with its Gaullist mind-set was never that keen on US and NATO involvement in Europe in the first place. Germany is unwilling to militarize nationally, for obvious historical reasons. So where the Germans lack the will to militarize and the French lack the means, the EU army suits perfectly the ambitions of both these countries. With the British blockade removed, it´s now full steam ahead.
On 8 June 2017, the European Council decided to move ahead with the military planning and conduct capability (MPCC). On 22 June 2017, the Council launched permanent structured cooperation (PESCO). Key European politicians have been very open about these ambitions. In his ´state of the union´ speech, EU Commission President Jean Claude Juncker called for the EU to have a defence union by 2025. 22
Contrary to the EU´s narrative it will certainly not be without costs; quite the opposite. Currently the EU has already allocated €2,076 million to civilian CSDP missions for the 2014-2020 EU multi-annual framework and in addition it earmarked €1 billion annual budget for the European Defence Fund from 2020 onwards. The plans go even beyond that as the Council has agreed on commonly funded EU battle groups, previously funded by member states individually.
Speaking at Paris-Sorbonne University only last month, French President Macron unsurprisingly called for the creation of a EU defence force by 2020 and a shared defence budget.23 If it looks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, as the saying goes, then it probably is a duck. A full-fledged EU army is in the making, and Brussels is aiming to have its military apparatus backed by a joint defence budget.
While the EU is spending ever more taxpayers' money implementing their grand schemes, including new headquarters, more bureaucrats and battle groups, they fail to pay their fair share in NATO. Far from Trump undermining the credibility of NATO it´s in fact the EU, obsessed as it is with constructing a EU army that does harm to what is the most successful military alliance the world has seen.
President Trump and his administration have made clear that they back NATO, but they do expect European members to pay their fair share of 2% of GDP, to which countries have in fact committed themselves in Wales 2014.24 Apart from the UK, Poland, Greece, Estonia and Romania, no country comes near this minimum. Hence explaining why NATO officials have time and again warned Europe to not duplicate NATO through establishing EU military infrastructures, but instead invest in men and material that the NATO Alliance so desperately needs.
As a result of Europe´s lack of commitment to NATO, the USA still amounts to almost 80% of the military spending, making much its military hardware available for its European allies. With such a powerful ally willing to cooperate there is thus no reason for the EU, other than its grand federal ambitions to reinvent the wheel. In fact, in order to merely compensate for the loss of American resources and military hardware available that would result from a European alleingang, the EU would have to invest massively, increasing its defence spending far beyond the 2% of GDP.
This is absolutely beyond Europe´s capacity, and would leave taxpayers paying a gigantic bill. If the EU continues to follow its current trajectory of isolating itself from the US and NATO, it will end up having to take care of its security alone, a burden it could not bear.
How is the EU going to cope with all the security challenges it sees lurking everywhere, including perceived threats coming from Russia and China, for example? If Europe wants to stay secure it´s pivotal to cooperate with the US (and also Great Britain), which is Europe´s most trustful and powerful ally. The most obvious, practical and cost effective way to do so is in the NATO framework, not by isolating itself with an inadequate and highly expensive new and unnecessary EU army.
The EU federalist obsession for having its own army is a dangerous fantasy. Military cooperation in the EU is an entirely different animal than NATO. NATO is not a supranational organisation aimed at federalization. It´s not meant to replace independent nations. NATO is massive and powerful, but its scope is nevertheless limited. It has a clear sense of purpose and no further ambitions, other than to guarantee peace and security.
This is in stark contrast with the EU. Where the NATO alliance is and will remain an intergovernmental organisation, EU military cooperation is part of a broader agenda that goes far beyond the mere cooperation of sovereign nations.
We all know the modus operandi of the EU when it comes to the appropriation of sovereignty at the expense of member states. The transfer of national sovereignty to Brussels always takes place on a slippery slope.
The EU army is in fact part of a greater scheme to replace independent nations and their armies' altogether. It´s foolish, costly, and poses an existential danger to any and all nations involved.
In conclusion, conservative reform in the European Union needs to be based on a pragmatic agenda, economic and political facts, and citizen preferences, not on ideology, idealism or a fantasy dictated by Brussels elites.
What does this realistic reform look like and what might it entail?
Major reform based on Euro realism, decentralization of powers, more openness and transparency, a focus on supporting wealth creation, conservative principles, and economic growth is the place to begin.
But make no mistake there are serious obstacles to significant change in the EU. Right off and most importantly, there is no consensus. The entrenched forces are reluctant to reform and few people agree on the correct direction of change.
Some argue for more powers to the European Parliament. Others want more powers for the EU Council. Still others want to disband the Council altogether. Some want greater authority devolved back to national parliaments. There is an on-going debate about the use of EU referendums. Many would like to see the direct election of the EU president.25
What is apparent is that no one agrees.
It is also obvious that the structures of the EU make meaningful change and deep reform very difficult, if not impossible, to engineer.
This Europe of sovereign nations, based on conservative common sense cooperation and grounded in policies of subsidiarity, is necessary and possible. But it will take political courage and institutional change to bring it to fruition – not to mention electoral success.
This is the mission of the ECR: to bring a viable alternative to the European electorate in 2019.
9 Brexit: History, Reasoning and Perspectives, Editors: Ramiro Troitiño, David, Kerikmäe, Tanel, Chochia, Archil (Eds.)
10 The Rise of Euroskepticism: Europe and Its Critics, Luis Martin-Estudillo
13 http://www.oecd.org/about/and https://www.unece.org/info/ece-homepage.html