‘Those whom the Gods wish to destroy, they first make mad’. The ancient proverb makes one wonder if the EU is top of the list of the old Gods.
The union that began as the one thing of real use to European states – a common competitive market with no tariff barriers between its members – has always had a hidden political agenda: the formation of a United States of Europe.
With a financial stability crisis nowhere near resolved and probably irresolvable, the EU is nevertheless about to move this ambition forwards, in the creation of a united defence system.
The diplomatic service excursion
In the face of a triple dip recession and record unemployment levels, the EU has already spent a fortune funding the activities of the UK’s hapless Cathy Ashton who, in one of the most shamingly cynical acts of parochial politics, Gordon Brown advanced as the EU’s first Foreign Secretary.
With no manifest or discoverable clue about foreign policy, never mind establishing one from the ground up for the entire EU, the most overpromoted woman in history has contented herself with setting up EU embassies in member states and across the world, at numbing expense worthy only of Brussels.
The new diplomatic service she ‘runs’ has been described as a ‘nightmare’ to work for, with serial complaints of its being a chaotic mess.
Yet in April this year  – in the face of the crisis in the eurozone, the Baroness [another empty vessel supposedly disguised by a title] actually demanded an additional £23 million to ‘run’ her department.
This will be part of the increased budget the EC is insisting upon, while troubled member states have austerity forced upon them.
It was revealed in 2010, when this particular extravagance was being established, that: ‘The so-called European External Action Service (EEAS) will have an annual budget of £5.8 billion and an army of ambassadors across 137 embassies, with up to 7,000 Eurocrats trained to pursue the EU’s foreign policy.’
Oddly – perhaps not - 46 diplomats are to be posted to the Caribbean holiday island of Barbados, a known centre of political and economic activity vital to the growth of the EU.
Ashton, the former treasurer of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, whose official title is High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, launched the EU diplomatic corps on 1st December 2010 at her swish new headquarters in Brussels, whose rent was then £10.5 million pa.
She has been so unable in her job that both the European Commission and the EU president, Herman Van Rompuy, [another mediocrity appointed at the same time as Ashton, also because members could agree on no one else] have set up the beginnings of alternative diplomatic structures. EU officials say that these are ready to be put in place should the Ashton circus implode.
The readying of these new structures – which of course duplicate spending – are designed to accelerate the demise of the Ashton follies; but the expected outcome is the survival of a rump group of Ashton and her advisers, who will, naturally, be funded to do nothing.
The common defence strategy
Now the EU is pushing greater defence cooperation on lines which appear to duplicate NATO – and the UK’s Prime Minster has signed up to this, probably attracted by the cover for what will be left after the continuing decimation of our own armed forces.
The communique issued at the end of yet another EU summit called for ‘a more systematic and longer term European defence co-operation,including through pooling and sharing of military capabilities’.
The scheme would see member states having to put their own defence plans to EU defence chiefs who would be charged with coordinating EU-wide military capabilities, defence technology – and procurement.
Imagine what that would mean.
Defence procurement is the dodgiest, most corrupt and most amoral area of all. It costs a fortune, by the time all of the backhanders are added in; and politicians seriously on the take aim to get posted to Defence Procurement. The UK has had its own public scandals in this domain – and substantial rumours of plenty more, determinedly suppressed.
So what we have to look forward to from the EU is a financial crisis in the common currency on a scale we are not yet willing to compute; alongside spiralling costs of grandiose and ill-timed initiatives in a common foreign policy, a common diplomatic service and common defence – all arising from a known political agenda for a United States of Europe – to which no one has signed up.
This is unity by very expensive stealth at a time when no one can sanely pay for it.
Not that fiscal responsibility is a hallmark of the EU.
Continuing fiscal irresponsibility
This year, in what, for most of the last two decades has become an annual event, the European Court of Auditors (ECA) has qualified the EU’s 2011 accounts, citing – again – ‘substantial errors’ materially affecting £89 billion of EU spending. This is an estimated error rate of 4%.
After 14 successive years of qualified accounts and before 3 more to come, 2008 was the first year the EU had managed to get its accounts through the Court of Auditors without qualification. Even then it was nowhere near a clean bill of health.
The auditors said there were ‘unacceptable spending errors’ in all but two of the seven policy areas covered under the €114bn (£93bn) budget. These arose from poor tender procedures, dodgy expenditure declarations and insufficient checking at local levels.
And now they plan to go in for EU-wide defence procurement?
And the last glorious mark of utter insanity is that there is a link between these two hugely expensive follies of single foreign and defence departments.
Are you sitting down?
Baroness Ashton – for it is she – is to conduct a review of how the EU members would be ‘systematically considering cooperation from the outset in national defence planning’.
She is to report by September 2013, with her conclusions discussed and agreed at an EU summit in December 2013.
This comes in the wake of yet another sleight of hand move to convince the gullible that the eurozone financial crisis is in hand.
While it is a form of fiscal union by the back door, the formation of a banking union is a joke assurance.
The member states’ national banks which are members of this union, are still in the parlous state they were in before they signed up to it. They are still stuffed with toxic debt from the governments of the troubled peripheral countries in the eurozone. They still carry bad property loans. They still have inadequate capital.
The only new thing they now have is a change of regulator – from the former European Banking Authority to the European Central Bank – effectively the Bundesbank.
What difference will this make – except to Germany, who will effectively be liable for even greater ‘lender of last resort’ responsibility? And this is at a time when the German economy, engine and paymaster of the EU, is faltering. It has revised downwards its growth forecasts for this year and, more seriously, revised downwards the predictions for next year – which had been forecast to grow well.
The European Central Bank has no background in regulation but the industry view is that it will be far tougher than its weak predecessor and than internal national regulators.
In particular, it is thought to be unlikely to sign off bail out funds from the new European Stability Mechanism until it is sure there is real point in doing so.
The rules it will establish and the demands it is almost certain to make for recapitalisation are considered likely to hasten rather than delay the break up of the eurozone.
The additional pressures these demands will place on the seriously struggling economies of Greece, Portugal, Spain and perhaps Italy, through increased unemployment rates, social upheavals and political unrest – are seen as last straws.
And this is the union – with no fewer than three presidents [of the EU, of the EC and of the Council of the EU] – that the Scottish Government wishes to enter in exchange for the one it is already in?