On Wednesday, German Chancellor Angela Merkel set foot in the European Parliament for the first time since 2007 and addressed the only democratically elected European institution—by design, an emasculated one that cannot even originate its own laws, though it is allowed to vote on proposals by the other European institutions. There, she laid out her plans to bring European nations together to where their budgets and other matters would become part of her “domestic policy.”The old joke was that NATO was designed to keep the Americans in, the Russians out, and the Germans down. I'm wondering what its mission is, now that the second is successfully completed and the third is coming apart at the seams. What's the use for the first? Maybe we should just leave Europe to its German fascist overlords. I mean, they're cute and cuddly now, right?
But first, the current problems should be focused on, she said to the drumbeat of economic deterioration—a day when Greece reported that unemployment jumped to 25.4% in August from 24.8% in July and from 18.4% August last year. It was 7.5% in August 2008 when borrowed euros were still growing on trees. Young people got slammed: 32.9% of the 24-to-34-year-olds and 58% of the 15-to-24-year-olds were unemployed. Revolutions have been triggered by the utter frustrations in those age groups.
Accompanied by this drumbeat, Merkel explained her dream to the European Parliament. It was all about a big power shift from democratically elected national parliaments to European institutions. The European Commission of bureaucrats and appointed politicians would become the actual government of Europe with executive powers over national budgets. The European Council, similarly composed of bureaucrats and appointed politicians, would become an “upper chamber,” she said. And she threw a bone to her listeners: the European Parliament would receive a bit more power as well.
Then the instincts of the powerful political animal broke the surface: she proposed a fund to deal with the pandemic of youth unemployment. Because “Europe is all of us together,” she said. “Europe is domestic policy.”
Her domestic policy. The Greeks, for example, didn’t vote for her, and they might not want her to run their show. They didn’t vote for the European Commission either. They might despise Greek politicians, but at least they’re their politicians. Merkel’s dream had no such room for doubts.
Bootnote: a word to the wise about the site where the picture came from - they're the Provisional Government of the Confederate Republic. Well OK, then.