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Van Rompuy’s Silent Coup d’Etat

By Isabelle Durant

Since the beginning of the crisis and in each and every speech delivered, the large majority of heads of States and Governments, lead by the President of the European Council, Herman Van Rompuy have pleaded for ever more Europe, more democracy, and always, for more transparency. The on-going financial framework negotiations are a prime example of fundamental inconsistency and of the destruction of the European Union.

The Van Rompuy method is undemocratic!

Remember the treaties. The European Council, no offense to Mr. Van Rompuy, has no legislative power! Only MEPs, elected representatives of the people of Europe, and the Ministers of the Council, representing Member States, have the right to negotiate, to amend and to vote on legislative texts and on the European budget. However, since November last and the predictable failure of the EU summit on the future of the EU budget, Herman Van Rompuy has continued, in the discreet cold shadows of national embassies to bilaterally negotiate the EU Budget for the coming seven years. He is negotiating the fine print of legislative details, especially regarding agricultural and regional policy, which, together, let us remember represent almost three quarters of the budget of the Union.

The Van Rompuy method is anti-European!

The draft agreement of the President of the European Council is the result of trade-offs with each capital of each Member State: gifts, bonuses and benefits in one sector or another in exchange for their support. We knew about the British rebate, which Van Rompuy does not wish to challenge. We will soon know the contents of 27 other envelopes granting bonuses for everyone, which will already include – 2.27 billion for Spain, one for Athens, one for Lisbon, one billion for the Italian Mezzogiorno, 50 million for Ceuta and Melilla and 20 for Luxembourg. Such an approach can only ever produce a basic minimialist response, and confirms the ever-popular idea in each capital: there is no reason for Europe to spend in areas where Member States themselves are tightening their belts. With one crucial difference, and it is not an insignificant one – the EU budget is an investment budget that is spent in each and every country of the Union, which, if we concentrate our means on sustainable projects, can be the catalyst of a true economic restructuring.  Therefore let us analyse the budget he proposes: 80 billion euros over 7 years. The biggest austerity plan in Europe! Worse still, his cuts are concentrated in the areas of future development – with a 25 billion euro reduction in research, innovation, infrastructure and youth! How can we promise a future to Europeans when we aren’t taking any steps today to prepare the world of tomorrow?

The Van Rompuy method goes directly against any semblance of European solidarity!

Lets look at the compromise he defends. It massively reduces social spending, such as assistance programs for the poorest, which are reduced by 40% and it also cuts the development aid budget by over 10%. But let us be fair and not solely accuse the President of the Council alone. If he can carry out his negotiations without including MEPs, our supposed legislators, and threaten them with the wrath of the citizenry of Europe if Parliament has the temerity once his negotiations have concluded to not wish to accept a package as indigestible and as inadequate as this one, it is because he is supported by the Heads of State themselves. Some, like Mr Cameron, are clearly showing their true colours; others are more cowardly or more discreet, allowing the British avant-guard to plough on ahead. If such a proposal were to emerge from the Council on the 7th and 8th of February it is imperative that a majority emerge in the European Parliament to refuse this coup d’état and highlight higher amounts and more ambitious priorities, leaving the ‘business as usual’ approach and meeting the challenges of our time.

This article was originally published in Le Soir.

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