Legutko to Hollande and Merkel: The EU is 28 countries, not two
The EU needs less self-adoration and more ‘fresh air, clarity and fairness’, the first Vice-President of the European Conservatives and Reformists group Ryszard Legutko said today in a debate with President Hollande and Chancellor Merkel.
Addressing the two leaders, who had given speeches on the current situation in the EU, he argued that the fact that two countries still see themselves as the engine of the EU was a part of the problem the EU faces. He also argued that there is a fine line between leadership and dominance in the EU, and warned that people with different viewpoints need to be listened to in the EU.
Speaking this afternoon, the leading Polish MEP said:
“Many have said today that your joint appearance is historic because it shows the Franco-German engine of Europe is still powering on and we have a radiant future in front of us.
“But don’t you think that this is at least a part of the problem.
“That one or two countries decide for the rest? And we altogether are 28 and 28 is far more than two.
“Over the years the EU of course evolved. But my feeling is that its leadership has not.
“Mrs Merkel, the events of recent years have placed a burden of leadership on your shoulders. Your critics say however – and they may have a point – that you sometimes forget the difference between leadership and dominance. And I get the impression that across the EU people are concerned about that distinction because it has become more and more a vital question.
“And that is part of the reason why we face this crisis over Europe’s future. People are concerned that their viewpoint does not matter. Some are ignored. Others are bullied and others are vilified. People are concerned because they hear this deafening federalist rhetoric not rooted in reality and through that thin vein of rhetoric they see a ruthless power play with the President and Chancellor as major actors.
“Chancellor Merkel you spent your earlier years in a communist country. So did I and I remember a saying from the bad old days that Communism was a system that courageously solves the problem it itself created.
I think that could also be said about the EU. We created the euro system and since day one we have been wrestling with the problems that it generated. And solving those problems led to more dominance and more disregard for elementary rules of cooperation.
“Turning to the issue of migration and refugees, of course the EU did not create the problem but it failed to identify it soon enough and has still not entirely succeeded in identifying it.
“Why inviting the immigrants and then cancel the invitation. Why play a cat and mouse with the Schengen procedures? Why this unbearable confusion of humanitarian, moral and political arguments that obscure the gravity of the crisis we are faced with. This is not a language of dialogue but a language to obscure things and we cannot talk to each other in that language. It is preaching, it is not a dialogue. There has been a lot of preaching this afternoon in this chamber and as a matter of fact, every day.
“So it was you decision to suspend the Schengen rules and open the German border and then to close the border again. As far as I know you did not consult other governments or European institutions. If this is not a proof of dominance, what is? If one wants to have another proof look at what happened at the Home Affairs Council. This is not the right way of doing things.
“Let me finish with the following plea. I urge you to be more responsive to realist. The more that European hubris is riding high the more people are being left behind, not listened to, pushed outside the territory of respectability. This has lasted long enough and cannot go on forever. European politics needs less self-adoration, which an abundance sample has been had today, but it needs more fresh air, clarity and fairness. Otherwise the EU will be more and more looked at with reluctance, disdain if not outright hostility. We do not want that, do we?”