The European Union coup nobody noticed

On Nov. 11, two European Union countries ceased to be democracies in any meaningful sense — and the EU orchestrated this outrage. Greece and Italy installed new prime ministers. Neither had ever held elected office. And neither holds a democratic mandate.

In Greece, the former academic and EU central banker Lucas Papademos was appointed after a deal was reached between the fractious parties of Greece’s parliament, which had rejected calls for early elections.

In Italy, the former academic and EU Commissioner Mario Monti was appointed only two days after being made senator for life by that country’s president.

Both gentlemen can be best described as technocrats. They are part of a new European elite — clever, progressive and with careers paid for by the taxpayer.

However, unlike traditional politicians, members of this new class need never suffer the indignity of campaigning for office. Each of these new premiers is complicit in the mess his country faces. Papademos was economic adviser to former Prime Minister George Papandreou, who was forced out of office because of the economic chaos in his country.

Monti was a “competition commissioner,” responsible for enforcing the one-size-fits-all single market that has brought ruin to the economies of southern Europe.

Ordinarily, one would assume that the accession of these men to run their countries’ governments would create consternation in Brussels, but it was actually demanded by EU leaders.

Members of the Frankfurt Group — consisting of French President Nicolas Sarkozy, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, and leaders of the European Central Bank — openly boasted at the G20 summit in Cannes of deposing Silvio Berlusconi as Italian prime minister.

The bank withdrew help from Berlusconi, causing the bond crisis that forced him out. It has now resumed help to Mario Monti’s government. Papandreou was similarly targeted for daring to insist on submitting the terms of the EU bailout to a referendum by the Greek people.

Thus the EU’s leadership has effectively repudiated the core EU value of democracy. The old core value of a market economy has already been changed to a “social market economy.” One wonders what will be dismissed next as inconvenient to the EU’s leadership.

If the EU were to true to its professed values, it would take a very different approach. It would recognize that democracy and national sovereignty are incompatible with a stateless common currency and a set of overweening supranational regulations. And it would get rid of the latter.

The EU would become more like the United States, with jurisdictions engaging in competitive federalism, using their comparative advantages to maximize the wealth and welfare of their citizens, and thereby of the EU as a whole.

That, however, would inconvenience the unelected elite who rule Europe today, jeopardizing the jobs of future Montis and Papademoses. The European Union is now unabashedly a technocracy. Could it happen here?
President Barack Obama’s former budget director, Peter Orszag, said in September that “less democracy” and more “depoliticized commissions” were needed to tackle our problems.

We the People should take note of what is happening in Europe, repudiate those shameful coups d’etat and stay on guard against America being made more Europeanized.
 
Iain Murray is a vice president of the Competitive Enterprise Institute and author of “Stealing You Blind: How Government Fatcats Are Getting Rich Off of You.”

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