Monday, October 06, 2008

Behind closed doors

Janet Daley is fast becoming one of my favourite commentators. Today she has an excellent and incisive piece on the EU reaction to the financial meltdown and compares the bureaucratic, undemocratic and, ultimately, ineffectual working of the EU to the nation it aspires to be - the USA.

They could not even agree in Paris on a bail-out package similar to the one that had just been approved in Washington, and the closest they got to co-operation on a new regulatory system for banks was Gordon Brown's proposal for something called a "college of regulators" - which, if it ever saw the light of day, would surely be one more job creation scheme for well-fed Eurocrats.

Where was the channel for public debate to influence their deliberations? In that bloody, partisan struggle that took place in America, which everybody in Europe is so anxious to avoid emulating, there was no question in anybody's mind whose opinion had to be won over before an agreement could be reached: it was the electorate, stupid.

And it was all played out in full view of the voters, and the world.

But in Paris, behind closed doors, the negotiations failed (and make no mistake, they did fail) to produce anything of significance without any help from public outrage.

The US political system has many failings - not least the elected second house which can often result in either too powerful or lame-duck Presidents, but it is far more open and accountable than the EU ever was or ever will be. Indeed, the whole purpose of the EU is to remove politics as far away as possible from the vagaries of public opinion and put control into the hands of self-proclaimed "experts".

That may be acceptable to the vast majority of Europeans who, to be honest, have rarely known anything else, but it is an alien concept to us in Britain. The EU will never "reform". It will never become more open or accountable because that would betray the very point of the EU.

Make no mistake, the EU will collapse eventually. It will be a messy and, possibly, bloody collapse too as nations struggle to extricate themselves from the intricate web they have become entangled in. The longer we remain in this closed shop the more harm it will have on our political structure and the more likely it is for the consequences to be dire for Britain.

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