With the good ship Brexit veering unsteadily between the Scylla of Theresa May’s dreadful Withdrawal Agreement and the Charybdis of a “no deal” departure, it was kind of France’s president Macron to come out with some ideas that, if there is nothing else good about them, ought to act as a useful reminder to Brits that the EU’s mantra of “ever closer union” means what it says — and that there will always be somebody to push it along.
The full text of his message — perhaps proclamation would be a better word — can be seen here, but at its core it is a call for the creation of a fortress Europe in which the rights of the EU’s member-states would be reduced still further, while those of their citizens would be subject to something of a trim too.
To give a sense of the alternate reality in which Macron would like EU citizens to believe they lived, they are asked, apparently with a straight face, how they would “resist the crises of financial capitalism without the euro.”
“How indeed?”, they ask in Athens, Rome . . .
Note the sneer, long present in France, about “financial” capitalism.
There is, of course, the inevitable appeal for censorship, to be managed by a proposed European Agency for the Protection of Democracies, a body with powers that, in Macron’s view, should include “banning all incitements to hate and violence from the Internet”, a plan that sounds innocuous enough until one stops to think how flexibly hate is defined these days.
Protectionism, naturally, makes an appearance:
We need to reform our competition policy and reshape our trade policy with penalties or a ban in Europe on businesses that compromise our strategic interests and fundamental values such as environmental standards, data protection and fair payment of taxes…
Writing in Euronews, Eoin Drea notes that Macron is not proposing:
. . . a new golden age for Europe . . . but simply the latest iteration of French-led centralisation and protectionism. This is classic French policy garnished with an overpriced European dressing . . . This is no French renaissance; just the same old French nightmares for smaller and more economically liberal member states.
Indeed it is. Maybe they should consider participating in the Single Market via EFTA (the Norway option) rather than the EU.
That’s an option Britain should take too, but Mrs. May has other plans.
Germany has pushed back against Macron’s program, but some of it will undoubtedly survive, and the ratchet of integration will take another turn.