The EU’s architects never meant it to be a democracy
So, as headlines scream that vain bids to save the euro threaten us with “Armageddon”, the EU’s ruling elite has toppled two more elected prime ministers, to replace them with technocratic officials who can be trusted to do Brussels’s bidding.
The new Greek prime minister, Lucas Papademos, was the man who, as head of Greece’s central bank, fiddled the figures to enable Greece to get into the euro (against the rules) in the first place – before being rewarded with a senior post in the European Central Bank. He is no more democratically elected than Mario Monti, who will most likely be Italy’s new prime minister and had hurriedly to be made a “senator for life” to qualify him for the job. Monti’s main qualification is that, as a former senior EU Commissioner, he has long been a member of the Brussels elite himself.
One of the few pleasures of watching this self-inflicted shambles unfolding day by day has been to see the panjandrums of the Today programme, James Naughtie and John Humphrys, at last beginning to ask whether the EU is a democratic institution. Had they studied the history of the object of their admiration, they might long ago have realised that the “European project” was never intended to be a democratic institution.
The idea first conceived back in the 1920s by two senior officials of the League of Nations – Jean Monnet and Arthur Salter, a British civil servant – was a United States of Europe, ruled by a government of unelected technocrats like themselves. Two things were anathema to them: nation states with the power of veto (which they had seen destroy the League of Nations) and any need to consult the wishes of the people in elections.
As Richard North and I showed in our book The Great Deception, this was the idea that Monnet put at the heart of the “project” from 1950 onwards, modelling his “government of Europe” on precisely the same four institutions that made up the League of Nations – a commission, a council of ministers, a parliament and a court. Thus, step by step over decades, Monnet’s technocratic dream has come to pass.