Nation-States are Dead says European Union Chief
November 12, 2010
The age of the nation state is over and the idea that countries can stand alone is an ‘illusion’ and a ‘lie’, the EU president believes.
In one of the most open proclamations of the goal of a European superstate since the heyday of Jacques Delors, Herman Van Rompuy went on to denounce Eurosceptism as the greatest threat to peace.
Tory backbenchers condemned the inflammatory comments in the speech made by Mr Van Rompuy to mark the 21st anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall.
They said it proved that David Cameron would have a battle on his hands if he is to prevent extra powers being handed to Brussels.
Last night 23 Conservative MPs, including former leadership contender David Davis, rebelled in the Commons by demanding a referendum if the Lisbon Treaty is amended – even if ministers argue the changes do not affect the UK. Their call was defeated.
Mr Van Rompuy’s speech in the German capital told his audience that ‘the time of the homogenous nation state is over’.
He added that the ‘danger’ of Euroscepticism was spreading beyond the confines of countries such as Britain and was becoming a stronger force across the whole continent.
‘We have together to fight the danger of a new Euroscepticism,’ he declared. ‘This is no longer the monopoly of a few countries.
‘In every member state, there are people who believe their country can survive alone in the globalised world. It is more than an illusion – it is a lie.’
The Belgian equated Euroscepticism with fear, which eventually leads to war – echoing former French president Francois Mitterrand’s famous phrase that ‘nationalism is war’.
‘The biggest enemy of Europe today is fear,’ he said. ‘Fear leads to egoism, egoism leads to nationalism, and nationalism leads to war.
‘Today’s nationalism is often not a positive feeling of pride in one’s own identity, but a negative feeling of apprehension of the others.’
In a strong defence of the euro, he said the recession would have been far worse if France still had its franc and Germany still had its mark.
Again employing the imagery of war, he said: ‘Just imagine the big recession of 2008/09 with the old currencies. It would have resulted in currency turmoil and the end of the single market. A currency war always ends in protectionism.’
And in a section about the fall of the Berlin Wall, he praised the ‘statesmen of 1989 – Helmut Kohl, Francois Mitterrand, Jacques Delors’.
There was no mention of Margaret Thatcher, who as British prime minister at the time argued against closer integration.
Last night UKIP leader Nigel Farage said: ‘Rumpy Pumpy is unfit to govern. This man is an overpaid catastrophe who wants to abolish our nation. The only non-nation is Belgium, his own country.
Backbench Tories warned such views were now on the rise in Brussels.
Conservative MP Douglas Carswell said: ‘At last we see the real intentions of the Eurocrats. If that’s what Mr Van Rompuy believes, he should at least get elected by someone before he says it.’
Millions of pounds of EU funds have been squandered on projects including a hydrotherapy centre for dogs and sending a troupe round Britain to perform the Smelly Foot Dance.
Taxpayers’ cash has also gone to a ‘hip-hop laboratory’ in Lyon, France, to address the ‘lack of co-operation in European hip-hop’.
The details were revealed yesterday by the think-tank Open Europe, a day after auditors refused to give the EU’s accounts a clean bill of health for the 16th year in a row.
They emerged a fortnight after David Cameron faced a battle with the EU Parliament over the size of its budget for 2011.
The Parliament wanted an increase of 6 per cent on this year’s £88billion – but Mr Cameron seems to have persuaded other countries to join him in restricting it to 2.9 per cent.
Open Europe produced a list of 50 examples of EU waste.
Top of the list was £350,000 for a dog fitness and rehabilitation centre in Hungary.
The EU’s Rural Development Fund paid out the huge sum for a project to ‘improve the lifestyle and living standards of dogs’ – which included the development of a hydrotherapy system for dogs. More than a year on, building has yet to start.
Some £4.5million went on a fleet of limousines for European MPs in Strasbourg in 2009 alone. All chauffeurs at the company used must sign a confidentiality clause ‘guaranteeing absolute discretion’.
In Britain, golf courses, motorsport centres and hunting clubs have all benefited from thousands of pounds meant for farming subsidies.
Open Europe director Mats Persson said: ‘The EU’s budget is irrational, overly complex and hopelessly out of date. Huge amounts of money are wasted on projects which do nothing to help the EU economy to get back on track. There should be no talk whatsoever of budget increases until the problems with waste and mismanagement are stamped out.
‘MEPs and the Commission need to wake up to the economic reality around them.’