Stronger Together? The Mighty European Union Is Dancing To The Tune Of A Petty, Minor League Tyrant

Greeting between Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, on the left, and Jean-Claude Juncker

The unedifying sight of European leaders falling over themselves to flatter and persuade the two-bit despot of Turkey to help solve a problem largely of their own making is damning proof that EU member states are definitively NOT stronger together

The most common refrain heard from Remainers and assorted EU apologists is that by pooling (read: surrendering) sovereignty with 27 other nations, we are “stronger together” and mysteriously greater than the sum of our collective parts – that something magical happens when Ireland, Britain, Slovakia and Croatia act through a supranational government based in Brussels which (for reasons they never explain) could not be achieved through friendly inter-governmental cooperation between sovereign countries.

This tiresome and unsupported claim is fatuous beyond words, and usually uttered by people who don’t understand the first thing about either the history of the European Union or how it operates, but who nonetheless cheer on the idea of European political integration in order to virtue-signal the fact that they hold the “correct” progressive  opinions to their equally vapid friends and peers.

And if you want proof that being part of a remorselessly politically integrating club of 28 diverse countries actually makes us the very opposite of “stronger together”, one need only look at how the European Union is being hoodwinked and bullied by that beady-eyed, egotistical, embryonic dictator from Turkey, president Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Douglas Murray writes in the Spectator:

Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the Turkish president, has persuaded the EU to grant visa-free travel to his 75 million countrymen inside Europe’s passport-free Schengen area. In so doing, he has made more progress than any of his predecessors. Using a combination of intimidation, threats and blackmail, he has succeeded in opening wide the doors of Europe.

Erdogan’s success matters, because it says much about the EU — and the idea that it exerts ‘soft power’. This was the theory in 1999 when the EU declared Turkey to be ‘a candidate State, destined to join the Union’ so long as it fulfilled the standard criteria for membership. Its state should have ‘achieved stability of institutions guaranteeing democracy, the rule of law, human rights, respect for and protection of minorities’.

And it was all going so swimmingly. Oh, wait:

As Erdogan has worked out, however much Turkey fails to live up to the EU’s expectations, the EU’s attitude to Turkey is ‘ever onwards’. Its 2013 ‘Visa Liberalisation Dialogue’ set out 72 conditions on security, migration, public order, fundamental rights and readmission of irregular migrants that Turkey needed to achieve. Despite failing them, in November last year the EU and Turkey agreed that visa-free travel should start this October. All the time Turkey demanded more and faster.

As well they could. Because last year — after the German Chancellor opened the borders of Europe to anyone who could get here — the tables turned. Persuaded that every problem in the Middle East, Far East, North and Sub-Saharan Africa was Europe’s fault and Europe’s responsibility, millions duly came. And will again. Today, even the European Commission and Frau Merkel realise that in order to avert political catastrophe in Europe, they must bring the number of entrants down. Suddenly, as Erdogan himself said, ‘The European Union needs Turkey more than Turkey needs the European Union.’

So this is the European Union’s much-vaunted “soft power”. This is how forcing 28 separate countries – incidentally, countries which often lavish money on social programmes but completely neglect their own security and defence – to act through a single supranational government actually works in practice. How other nations must tremble when Europe speaks.

The supposed soft power of Brussels is supposed to be European political union’s chief advantage and a key foundation of the Remain campaign’s case for staying in the EU, yet on the most important of issues it is virtually non-existent, a paper tiger. Turkey’s president openly mocks and belittles EU leaders to their faces, even as they roll out the red carpet and treat him “like a prince” (in the word’s of the European Commission’s own pandering  President Juncker).

But as Tom Slater correctly points out in Spiked, the real fault is not with Turkey and Erdogan, thin-skinned, authoritarian despot though he is. The problem is with Europe and its profound crisis of values:

As for the migrant deal, it was EU incompetence that ceded Erdogan all of his leverage in the first place. Having chosen to ignore the fact that it had long lost control of its southern borders – not least because of some of its members’ cack-handed crusades in the Middle East and North Africa – the EU’s response to the refugee crisis was chaotic and can-kicking. The EU elite’s attempt to enforce migrant quotas on member states was a typically anti-democratic move. But it couldn’t even pull that off. The EU is as inept as it is tyrannical, meaning cutting a deal with Turkey became the only option.

The ground-shaking power of Turkey is the fantasy of a continent that doesn’t know what it is anymore. The more Europe drifts from its founding values, the more EU elites struggle to execute anything other than a photo-op, the more Erdogan, the ‘tall man’ of Ankara, grows in stature. Bashing Turkey can only distract us from this profound crisis.

But how can this be? How did this “profound crisis” come about? Forcing 28 separate countries under the suffocating umbrella of one supranational government with one collective presence on the world stage was supposed to amplify our voice. Hell, the EU’s most starry-eyed lovers even dream of Brussels rivalling and eventually supplanting the United States as the most consequential actor in world affairs. And yet here we are, failing in our negotiations with a pathetic little tin-pot dictator, throwing away billions of taxpayer euros in the hope of the slightest concession from Turkey, while the eurocrats are bested and humiliated at every turn.

This is what happens when the EU tries to prance around on the world stage as though it were a legitimate country, despite not having the one thing most fundamental to any nation state – a cohesive demos, a people with a shared European identity, let alone common interests. This is what happens when the conflicting priorities, fears, red lines and neuroses of 28 separate countries are forcibly mashed together – the result is a laughable compromise backed with the weakest of wills, easily picked apart by a half-competent negotiator.

Erdogan isn’t stupid. He knows that having eliminated internal borders, the EU’s Schengen area countries are desperate to stop the immigration crisis at (or at least near) source, and that consequently he holds all of the cards. Erdogan knows that the EU is hopelessly divided, with German chancellor Angela Merkel having made the grandiose and criminally irresponsible gesture of welcoming anybody with the means to enter Europe – seeking to expunge Germany’s past national guilt in a single stroke, knowing that hundreds of thousands more would be encouraged to come while other countries would end up footing much of the bill.

A Europe that was not intent on forcing itself against common sense and natural law to become a single political entity might be able to deal with the Syrian (and broader) refugee and economic migration crisis in a rational, productive way. A Europe based on inter-governmental cooperation rather than supra-national control might be able to hammer out a deal to accept more genuine refugees, share them equitably, take only the brightest and best of the economic migrants, and offer real assistance and solidarity to countries like Greece and Italy which bear the brunt of the crisis. But this is not the Europe we have. Once again, the stubborn desire for European political union is actively killing people.

So let’s hear it again from the Remainers and desperate EU apologists. Let them continue to lecture us about how the European Union “amplifies our voice” and enables us to “punch above our weight“. Let them tell us how Europe’s representative on the world stage, former Young Communist Federica Mogherini, is universally feared and respected, the modern day hybrid of Charlemagne and Henry Kissinger.

Let them continue to peddle the preposterous myth that little old France, Germany and Britain – two of them nuclear powers, and the other the world’s fourth largest economy – are helpless on their own and only worthy of sitting across the table from the mighty President Erdogan to seek his favour because they cower behind the EU’s skirts.

Let them tell us again how being in the European Union gives us the diplomatic clout that countries like Australia, Canada, Japan, India and Russia so effortlessly wield every day, but which pathetic little Britain would struggle to replicate on our own.

Go on. Tell us. Read the latest account of hundreds of migrants drowning in the Mediterranean Sea and tell us again just how star-spangled awesome the European Union is, and how successfully it helps us grapple with the most pressing challenges in today’s world.

Seriously. I’m all ears.


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One thought on “Stronger Together? The Mighty European Union Is Dancing To The Tune Of A Petty, Minor League Tyrant

  1. Rob Sanderson May 14, 2016 / 9:23 AM

    An excellent piece Sam, thank you.


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