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Thursday, June 13, 2024

Jean-Claude Juncker has made clear the EU’s anti-democratic bent. Thank goodness we’re leaving

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It was the biggest and boldest speech that we have seen from a European leader since the days of Jacques Delors. As the EU Commission President swept aside the issue of Brexit and the pesky Brits to set out his plans for a centralised EU state, I could not help feeling relieved that we had left in the nick of time.

Even the most fanatical of European federalists could not believe their ears as Juncker called for a more active foreign policy that removed the veto rights of every nation.

This is to be backed-up by a full EU defence union by 2025. The European army so easily dismissed by Nick Clegg and others as a fantasy is now becoming a worrying reality.

Juncker’s claim that all this was supported by Nato is simply a cover for the deep anti-Americanism that is never far from the surface in Brussels.

The big pitch that was made to the ranked masses of media in Strasbourg was to tell the peoples of Europe that the EU is now going to strengthen democracy. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Whilst many will see future EU Commissioners being elected on party lists every five years in European elections as progress, there are two key areas in which democracy itself will fall victim to the Juncker Plan.

We have learnt that all MEPs are equal, but that some are more equal than others.

First, with a full economic union led by a finance minister with the powers to intervene, and the completion of a common EU immigration and asylum system I wonder what the point of national parliaments will be in the future. In every area of citizens’ lives, from the content of fish fingers (I am not joking, he mentioned this) to going to war, the voters in the member states will be unable through the ballot box to change any of these policies.

If, for example, the whole of Ireland is opposed to EU military intervention, it will make no difference. This plan is the death of nation state democracy in Europe.

However, in his plans for the future conduct of European elections there is a second and more sinister aspect to Juncker’s European integration.

Juncker laid out his ambition, long held by many in this place, that the next elections here should be on trans-national lists and contested by EU-wide parties. These organisations are to be funded by the EU taxpayer. But this luxury will not extend “to filling the coffers of anti-European extremists”.

While we do not yet know the final details of the plan, it is clear that those who oppose the EU project will not receive funding. Whether they will be allowed to receive private funding and at what level remains to be seen. However, if I have learnt one thing from my time in the European Parliament it is that the decisions will be arbitrary.

Nigel Farage sits in an empty EU Parliament
Some MEPs are not as equal as others CREDIT: PATRICK SEGER/EPA

Up until the Brexit vote my presence in Brussels and Strasbourg was generally regarded as being an amusing eccentricity. Since Brexit all that has changed and nearly all of the Eurosceptic groups and political foundations, and indeed many individual MEPs, have been hit by arbitrary sanctions.

We have learnt that all MEPs are equal, but that some are more equal than others.

Our campaigning groups have had money withheld, many of our members of staff are now simply not being paid. It is said that our employees have been working for our national parties and not for us in our work as MEPs. This has led to demands for MEPs to repay money that the authorities say was misspent – despite important treaty rights intended to ensure that an MEP has a free hand to fulfil their electoral mandate however they wish.

The EU is now heading towards a new form of Communism with all power in the centre and the member states simply having to obey.

Demands on some individuals are as high as £80,000. These fines are imposed without a hearing, in fact without even first stating the charges or asking for a written defence and, it would seem, no right to appeal. If unpaid the fines are automatically deducted from salaries at source.

 It is simply punishing those who have an alternative vision for the future of Europe. It has even reached the stage where medical bills, all of which should be covered by the EU’s medical scheme, are simply not being reimbursed.

In this campaign of rolling thunder it is the British Conservatives who will be hit next. This vengeful attack on the Eurosceptics has only just begun.

The EU is now heading towards a new form of Communism with all power in the centre and the member states simply having to obey. Unless there is a fightback by freedom-loving forces across Europe we will see the 2019 European elections held on a playing field that is heavily tilted towards the establishment.

From a UK perspective we will avoid this outrage. I am also pleased that no second EU referendum could now be won by the pro-EU side in the face of this Juncker Plan.

As for the rest of the EU: the forces of popularism and extremism that Juncker intends to destroy can only grow. My concern is that if there is no valid democratic outlet these frustrations will show themselves in other ways.

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