For all their concerns with rules, treaties, processes, competitiveness, freedom of movement, terrorism etc, only one prospect truly terrifies the EU’s deep establishment: democracy.
By Yanis Varoufakis and cross-posted from The Guardian.
“It’s yours against mine.” That’s how Wolfgang Schäuble, Germany’s finance minister, put it to me during our first encounter in early 2015 – referring to our respective democratic mandates.
A little more than two years later, Theresa May is trying to arm herself with a clear democratic mandate ostensibly to bolster her negotiating position with European powerbrokers – including Schäuble – and to deliver the optimal Brexit deal.
Already, the Brussels-based commentariat are drawing parallels: “Brits fallen for Greek fallacy that domestic vote gives you stronger position in Brussels. Other countries have voters too,” tweeted Duncan Robinson, Brussels correspondent of the Financial Times. “Yep,” tweeted back Miguel Roig, the Brussels correspondent of Spanish financial daily Expansión. “Varoufakis’ big miscalculation was to think that he was the only one in the Eurogroup with a democratic mandate.”
In truth, Brussels is a democracy-free zone. From the EU’s inception in 1950, Brussels became the seat of a bureaucracy administering a heavy industry cartel, vested with unprecedented law-making capacities. Even though the EU has evolved a great deal since, and acquired many of the trappings of a confederacy, it remains in the nature of the beast to treat the will of electorates as a nuisance that must be, somehow, negated. The whole point of the EU’s inter-governmental organisation was to ensure that only by a rare historical accident would democratic mandates converge and, when they did, never restrain the exercise of power in Brussels…