Wednesday October 1, 2014 Search
Weather | Athens
28o C
16o C
News
Business
Comment
Life
Sports
Community
Survival Guide
Greek Edition
Empty vessels

By Paschos Mandravelis

US satirist and journalist Patrick Jake O’Rourke once said about American politics, “The Republicans are the party that says government doesn’t work and then they get elected and prove it.” A similar principle seems to inspire European populists on the far right and the far left. They argue that the European Union does not work and, at the same time, they ask for our vote so as to make sure that it will not work.

Sure, every populist narrative is based on some unpleasant facts that have been decorated with a pack of lies. So the claim that the EU does not work – at least not as smoothly or democratically as it should – is of course true. The problem is that they seek to ground this claim on a bunch of conspiracy theories. It’s true that the corridors of European institutions are full of national and, in Marxist speak, lobbyists representing different social classes. But next to the office of Europe’s industrialists you can find the office of Europe’s unions; and next to the lobbyists from industrial farming you will hear the pressure groups representing the small and big European cooperatives.

The arena of political struggle is open, but the structure of the welfare state in Western Europe shows that the weak have won more battles than the strong. Sure, there have been retreats and defeats, and Europe never really became the socialist utopia that some out there had dreamed of. That said, Europe nevertheless steered clear of a Soviet-style nightmare, and it has the best welfare state systems in the world. The fight continues and, most importantly, there is nothing illegal about it.

For the past 60 years, Europe’s political class has managed to turn a battlefield of a continent into an oasis of peace and prosperity. It took endless compromises between national particularities which, before the time of the EU, would often result in bloody conflict. The price of these compromises has been complexity and red tape. Even a fishing regulation requires a great deal of fine-tuning and qualifications because states in the north and the south have different interests.

This complexity is conveniently attacked by the critics of the integration project. Although some of these complex regulations may indeed no longer serve a meaningful purpose, it is strange, to say the least, that they come under fire by the champions of national peculiarities. Critics attack the EU because it is insensitive about ethnic difference and at the same time slam the EU for being a mega-bureaucracy.

Sadly, in the runup to May’s European elections, the populists’ empty vessels will make the most noise. The question is, how many people will they manage to lure?

ekathimerini.com , Monday April 14, 2014 (21:27)  
Truth before the battle
Bending the rules
Next-day jitters
No sweet debt deals
Incoming EC President Jean-Claude Juncker to visit Athens
Incoming European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker is expected to visit Athens on Friday, the Commission's press office confirmed on Wednesday. The former prime minister of Luxembour...
Seven arrested in Greece in migrant smuggling ring
Greek police say they have arrested seven people, including an airline pilot and a ground crew staff member, on suspicion of participating in a ring smuggling migrants onto flights from Thes...
Inside News
Greek bonds rise on speculation ECB to allow bank-loan purchases
Greece’s bonds rose for the first time in four days on speculation the European Central Bank will take steps to ensure it’s able to buy loans by the nation’s banks as part of its stimulus pl...
Greek factory activity returns to contraction in September - PMI
Greek factory activity contracted at the fastest rate in almost a year in September as output and new orders declined, a survey showed on Wednesday. Markit's purchasing managers' index for m...
Inside Business
SOCCER
All team sports suspended next weekend in memory of dead fan
The government announced on Monday the suspension of all team sports events in Greece scheduled for next weekend, October 4 and 5, in the memory of the Ethnikos Piraeus fan who died a few ho...
SOCCER
Karamanos punishes Michel for deeming him surplus
Atromitos forced Olympiakos’s first loss this season in all competitions on Saturday to allow PAOK to go alone on top of the Super League table on Sunday. Odds-on title favorite Olympiakos l...
Inside Sports
SPONSORED LINK: FinanzNachrichten.de
SPONSORED LINK: BestPrice.gr
 RECENT NEWS
1. Incoming EC President Jean-Claude Juncker to visit Athens
2. Greek bonds rise on speculation ECB to allow bank-loan purchases
3. Seven arrested in Greece in migrant smuggling ring
4. Velvento banks robbers not terrorists, court rules
5. Greek factory activity returns to contraction in September - PMI
6. Demolition of uninhabited homes at Roma camp goes ahead
more news
Today
This Week
1. Air-raid sirens to go off all over Greece at 11 a.m. in drill
2. Truth before the battle
3. Thessaloniki transport gets more expensive
4. Smallpox decimates sheep stocks in northern Greece
5. Bending the rules
6. Mario Draghi to push ECB to buy Greek, Cypriot 'junk' loans: FT
Today
This Week
1. Greece may opt for unusual president to avoid snap polls, Venizelos says
2. Woman allegedly buried alive by accident in northern Greece
3. Salaries in Greece continue to slide, dipping 1.4 pct in Q2
4. Should you bet with Kissinger on where the world is heading?
5. Cypriots divided by 1974 war seek Shariah hub
6. The shocking thought of euro-dollar parity
   Find us ...
  ... on
Twitter
     ... on Facebook   
About us  |  Subscriptions  |  Advertising  |  Contact us  |  Athens Plus  |  RSS  |   
Copyright © 2014, H KAΘHMEPINH All Rights Reserved.