How much more political is the new EU leadership? Does this include personal bend?

Donald Tusk, Herman van Rompuy, José Manuel Barroso and Jean-Claude Juncker (from left to right). The former and the present EU leaders got together in Brussels to mark the succession, with Barroso looking happy about it. (EC Audiovisual Services).

Donald Tusk, Herman van Rompuy, José Manuel Barroso and Jean-Claude Juncker (from left to right). The former and the present EU leaders got together in Brussels to mark the succession, with Barroso looking happy about it. (EC Audiovisual Services).

Judging from their first days in office, the new leadership of the European Union appears functioning on a much more ‘political’ platform than their Barroso-Rompuy predecessors. Actually Jean-Claude Juncker the one month old President of the European Commission had cautioned us all about that in his inaugural speech. Nevertheless, nobody had thought that Donald Tusk, the only three days old new President of the European Council, with his inaugural speech could take this new ‘political’ logic to such highs, as to single-handed discover ‘enemies’ and other unheard of before creatures in and out of the EU.

Everybody understands who the ‘foes’ of the Union may be, because the self-described as a “once young hooligan” Tusk is also a self-declared Russophobe if not a vowed anti-Russian. And this no matter if his repulsion was targeted in the past against the ex USSR or the today’s Russian Federation. Obviously, the new President of the EU Council by being Polish, seems to express at the same time the traditional animosity of his nation against Russia accompanied by his personal distaste. As he revealed he was a hooligan as a young man and the communist authorities didn’t tolerate youth rebelliousness. Possibly a psychologist could cure him from his childhood traumas and save the EU from Tusk’s cathexis.

Personal bend

Whatever his personal feelings though Tusk must understand that the President of the EU Council cannot state so easily, “Politics has returned to Europe, history is back”. Everybody understands what he means. The question is how much ‘back’ Tusk wants to tow Europe? Is it the ‘cold war’ or WWII? Many people who know him well would bet that he means the ‘Iron Curtain’ era, during his hooligan days in his native Gdansk. He cannot mean Germany, because as a Pole he has a great respect for money and Berlin of today is the main sponsor of Tusk’s Brussels spending and not the WWII aggressor. Compared with the low profile tactics of Van Rompuy, all that comes quite as a surprise.

However, the Polish ex-PM is not the only self-proclaimed and accordingly acting super-politician of Brussels. Pierre Moscovici, the new European Commissioner for Economic and Financial Affairs took the political decision last week to excuse his country France along with Italy and Belgium, for having broken the EU rules which impose restriction on government deficits. It’s more than certain that the Commission services have proposed the appropriate action against those three member states, as the newly established rules of economic governance demand. Moscovici though, being also a super-politician, knows better, and ‘pardoned’ them.

The Parliament is there

Thank God the European Parliament is there. When Moscovici appeared last Tuesday before the MEPs they didn’t make him a favour. The relevant part of EP Press release says “MEPs urged that budget plan deadlines should be met and that criteria for applying rules more flexibly to some EU member states than others should be clear and detailed. Markus Ferber (EPP, DE), Bernd Lucke (ECR, DE) and Sylvie Goulard (ALDE, FR) focused their questions on the need to strengthen and enforce the rules. Other MEPs stressed that the Commission should ensure it cannot be accused of using double standards and urged it to state clear criteria for treating selected EU countries differently”.

In short, the new EU leadership having declared itself more political than its predecessor has started acting as a political ‘power exchange’. They treat the 28 member states of the EU not with the rulebook at hand, but according to the political clout each country has on the European institutions. If these tactics become a strategy in Brussels, then the days of the EU may be numbered. The new Brussels rulers forget that the EU is not an empire, keeping its member nations locked in by force. Already Hungary is distancing itself from the EU siding with Russia, while Britain threatens to hold an in-out referendum.

More super politicians?

Back to Tusk, he is not only a super-politician in discovering enemies. He also exposed his love affair with Atlanticism. This inclination led him to discover a new term, in order to advertise his warmest sympathy towards the US. To do this he broadcasted the “community of democracies” and placed it on the…waters of North Atlantic. He said, “The relations between Europe and the United States are the backbone of the community of democracies”. Hopefully he includes at least Canada in this novice international body.

True, Western Europe and the US share historical and inalienable bonds. For one thing the US is founded by European immigrants. Then again Washington doesn’t hide its strategic orientation towards the Pacific and South East Asia regions. In any case this “community of democracies” invented by Tusk has an air of exclusivity, barring from it the rest of the democratically governed countries of the world. In this way he creates an upper layer of nations, more democratic and ‘more equal’ than the others.

The French after the Polish

It’s exactly the same ideological/political base as in the case of Moscovici’s favour to France, Italy and Belgium. The Juncker Commission then, by adopting a more political decision-making platform, seems to have introduced a new element in the functioning of the EU. Until now the EU bureaucracy has been operating with the rulebook at hand. Of course, on many occasions the rules have been stretched to help the central member states. But outright favouritism has been so far a bête noire in Brussels. If the double standards are now to prevail in the EU decision-making process, only God knows where this can lead us.

 

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