Thursday, May 31, 2007

Vaclav Klaus Speaks

Speaking truth to power, Czech president Vaclav Klaus has demonstrated - once again - that he truly gets it.
It seems that there is one politician in Europe who has understood the essence of the European project and why it is not a good idea for any of its members. Sadly, that politician is not one of ours. Nor is it President Sarkozy or Chancellor Merkel.

I am talking the only East European politician who genuinely believes in democracy and the free market: President Vaclav Klaus.

On May 18 he gave a speech in Prague that summarized his reservations.
Speaking at the Prague Hotel Hilton, Klaus noted that
In the last decade the Czech economic performance was affected by two external factors:

- the economic growth in the rest of the world, especially in our main export markets;

- the constraints connected with our membership in the EU, or to put it more explicitly, with economic growth restraining institutions and economic policies in the EU.

Of these, he continued, the second was more important and more harmful. One could and did adjust to the first but the EU with its growth-restraining institutions has become a real problem, especially as the gain that the Czech Republic may have had - the opening up of the markets - was achieved before membership.
What I consider important is the fact that the concept (or model) of European integration has been fundamentally changing over time. With the benefit of hindsight, and with the courage to generalize, I see two different integration models (or methods of integration) in Europe in the last 50 years.

The first one I call the liberalisation model. It was characterised by an inter-European opening-up, by the overall liberalisation of human activities, by the removal of various, in the past created barriers at the borders of countries as regards the movement of goods and services, of labour and capital, as well as of ideas and cultural patterns. Its main feature was the removal of barriers and its basis was intergovernmentalism.

The second one, which I call the interventionist and harmonisation model, is characterised by enormous centralisation of decision-making in Brussels, by far-reaching regulation of human activities, by harmonisation of all kinds of “parameters” of political, economic and social systems, by standardisation and homogenization of human life. The main features of the second model are regulation and harmonisation orchestrated from above, and the birth of supranationalism.

I am frustrated that the people in Europe do not see this fundamental metamorphosis sufficiently clearly and especially do not think about its inevitable consequences. I am angry with politicians and their fellow travelers that they do maximum to hide it and to make it fuzzy.
Understand, the man just took a beating in a recent poll. He is viewed as trustworthy by just 68% of Czechs polled.
I am – as it is well known – in favour of the first model, not of the second. I am convinced that the unification of decision-making at the EU level and the overall harmonisation of societal “parameters” went much further than was necessary and than is rational and economically advantageous.
So, President Klaus, tell everyone how you really feel.
I consider it wrong. I am not satisfied with making only cosmetic changes. I am, therefore, in favour of redefining the whole concept of the European Union.
Read the entire speech.

It is a true gem.

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