Callanan: The EU faces another crisis: of legitimacy

Jun 13, 2012

Category:News

Euro crisis response and EU budget demands are fuelling loss in trust

This morning, the European Parliament held a keynote debate on the next EU summit, and the next long-term EU budget with commission president Barroso. European Conservatives and Reformists group chairman Martin Callanan MEP warned that the EU faces a major crisis of legitimacy. He warned that the ‘increasingly desperate’ centralisation of power that is being asked of euro members is alienating public trust. And he said that if the nature of the euro is to fundamentally change, those EU nations that are not members of the euro zone should be freed from their obligation to join.

He also warned that the EU budget debate has shown the remoteness of the EU institutions and called for the European Commission to create a full-tine commissioner for audit questions, with a mandate to finally resolve the ongoing failure of the EU’s Court of Auditors to give the EU accounts an unqualified statement of assurance.

In the debate, he said:

“Europe faces yet another one in a long line of crises, only this time it is fast becoming a crisis of legitimacy.

“Many of us warned that the ‘monetary union with a light touch’ could not work and that for a single currency to succeed significant centralisation of power would be required – a centralisation which for many of us would be simply totally unacceptable.

“You are bringing more centralisation upon yourselves in an increasingly desperate attempt to get ahead of the crisis which so far you have completely failed to do.

“The latest Spanish bailout lasted barely 24 hours before it was being questioned in the markets. It’s like wetting your pants at the North Pole – it feels warm at first, but soon leaves you in even more trouble!

“It would be unacceptable that the measures you need to take should also fall upon those who chose to steer clear of this risky venture.

“Those who signed up to join a single currency with one set of governing rules, should not now be obliged to join a single currency with completely different terms and conditions. All those who are not yet in the euro should therefore be released from their obligation to join.

“In no area is the increasing remoteness of the EU seen more starkly than in the management of the European budget. The European Commission talks about ‘synergies’, ‘investments’, and ‘adding-value’: the public just sees waste, mismanagement and fraud. You ask for an even bigger budget; the public just wonders why for 17 years in succession the budget has been implemented with significantly high levels of illegal or irregular payment. You complain that the concept of “value for money” is getting in the way of ‘European solidarity’; the public just wonder how on earth you can justify wanting even more money when you spend so badly the money you already receive.

“This is one reason why my Group has proposed moving from a part-time Commissioner for audit questions to a full-time Commissioner for Budgetary Control. It isn’t a magic solution but someone needs to be totally focused on this catastrophe to sort it out once and for all.

“To win back public legitimacy and regain trust, the European Union needs to take reform seriously. It needs to respond to the needs of its people not impose its ideas upon them. And make no mistake, facing so many crises on some many fronts, you are fast running out of time.”

Notes: The full speech is below:

Mr President, Europe faces yet another one in a long line of crises, only this time it is fast becoming a crisis of legitimacy.

Many of us warned you that the ‘monetary union with a light touch’ set out in the Maastricht Treaty could not work and that for a single currency to succeed significant centralisation of power would be required – a centralisation which for many of us would be simply totally intolerable.

This is of course where you find yourselves today.

You are bringing more centralisation upon yourselves in an increasingly desperate attempt to get ahead of the crisis which so far you have completely failed to do. When the markets are unimpressed when Spanish banks are lent 100 billion euros – 100 billion euros – you have a clear signal that the failure continues

The latest Spanish bailout lasted barely 24 hours before it was being questioned in the markets. It’s like wetting your pants at the North Pole – it feels warm at first, but soon leaves you in even more trouble!

But let me make two points. It would be unacceptable that the measures you need to take should also fall upon those who chose to steer clear of this risky venture.  And secondly, those who signed up to join a single currency with one set of governing rules, should not now be obliged to join a single currency with completely different terms and conditions.

All those who are not yet in the euro should therefore be released from their obligation to join.

Over the past twenty years the European Union has become ever more out of touch with public opinion. As many recent elections and referendums have shown, the peoples of Europe are growing increasingly worried about increasing centralisation and the remoteness of those who are gaining more power by the day.

In no area is this to be seen more starkly than in the management of the European budget.
– The European Commission talks about ‘synergies’, ‘investments’, and ‘adding-value’: the public just sees waste, mismanagement and fraud. 
– You ask for an even bigger budget; the public just wonders why for 17 years in succession the budget has been implemented with significantly high levels of illegal or irregular payment. 
– You complain that the concept of “value for money” is getting in the way of ‘European solidarity’; the public just wonder how on earth you can justify wanting even more money when you spend so badly the money you already receive.

This is one reason why my Group has proposed moving from a part-time Commissioner for audit questions to a full-time Commissioner for Budgetary Control. It isn’t a magic solution but someone needs to be totally focused on this catastrophe to sort it out once and for all.

Mr President, to win back public legitimacy and regain trust, the European Union needs to take reform seriously. It needs to respond to the needs of its people not impose its ideas upon them.

And make no mistake, facing so many crises on some many fronts, you are fast running out of time.