Are the wheels finally starting to come off the EU's wagon?

EU careering out of Covid control - the result of its ‘Democracy Deficit Disorder’?

© Brexit Facts4EU.Org 2021

The democratic, successful UK is standing up to Brussels' technocrats and ideological extremists

The United Kingdom finally seems to be taking a tougher approach with Brussels. With the EU Commission on the back foot as a result of its disastrous handling of the Covid response, at the weekend Lord Frost felt able (in terms) to admonish the EU for its sulky and authoritarian attitude to its newly-independent neighbour.

Lord Frost even went so far as to accuse the EU of bearing ill-will towards the UK and he is now taking action to correct some of the injustices of the EU’s implementation of the Northern Ireland Protocol. Writing in the Sunday Telegraph (on 07 Mar 2021) he said:

“I hope they will shake off any remaining ill will towards us for leaving, and instead build a friendly relationship, between sovereign equals.

“That is what I will be working towards, acting constructively when we can, standing up for our interests when we must – as a sovereign country in full control of our own destiny.”

Is the fact of the EU careering out of Covid control down to its ‘Democracy Deficit Disorder’?

The EU Commissioners have been in their jobs for 15 months. Since they were appointed on 01 December 2019, Facts4EU.Org warned about their lack of experience, the reputations of some of them, and the almost total absence of any true democratic process in their appointments.

The EU Commission consists of one President, three Executive Vice-Presidents, five Vice-Presidents, and 18 Commissioners. They were appointed while the UK was still a full member of the EU and Theresa May approved every one.

You didn’t vote any of them in, and you couldn’t vote any of them out. On Wednesday 27 November 2019 the MEPs from the EU Parliament rubber-stamped these appointments. None were elected in a competitive, democratic ballot – and this includes the President of the Commission, Ursula von der Leyen.

All the Commissioners are responsible for the EU’s hostile attitude taken towards the United Kingdom

When the Commissioners were anointed on 01 December 2019, they received almost no scrutiny in the British press. This was not because of the UK’s imminent departure from the EU. For decades the business taking place in Brussels was never seen as being newsworthy in the United Kingdom.

Nevertheless the EU Commission is immensely powerful in shaping the laws, directives, regulations, policies, and overall direction of travel of the EU. These actions affect all EU countries and their citizens and they are now affecting Brexit Britain. And yet this is done without any popular mandate from the people of the EU countries.

Right: EU Commission 01 Dec 2019, click to enlarge

The EU’s latest crisis – could the EU’s Covid response calamity have been predicted?

In any disaster, attention naturally falls on those who are most responsible for the policy areas which might be seen to be most directly implicated. In many ways, the EU’s Covid response calamity provides a snapshot of the competence of Commission as a whole, and it is therefore perhaps worth looking at a few of the Commissioners whose job titles suggest they hold particular responsibility.

Brexit Facts4EU.Org Summary

Who is in charge of the EU's Covid response?

1. The EU Commission President

‘The buck stops here,’ as U.S. President Harry Truman was fond of saying. In the EU’s case the euro stops in Frau Ursula von der Leyen’s office.

Immediately prior to her appointment, Frau von der Leyen was embroiled in a Bundestag investigation into misspending and mismanagement during her then role as German Defence Minister. She blamed everything on her officials and the Bundestag let her off.

A loyal Merkel acolyte, she presided for five years over what is seen by many in Berlin as a catastrophic state of affairs, with 70% of its Eurofighter force unable to fly, troops lacking basic equipment for NATO exercises, and an overall lack of confidence that Germany could muster anything like a useful force in the event of need. During her tenure German defence spending was one-third less than the NATO minimum, yet Frau von der Leyen is a strong advocate of an EU military.

The Commission President comes from the EU nest, having been born in Brussels while her father was an EU bureaucrat there. She has declared herself to be fervently in favour of a ‘United States of Europe’ and in 2018 advocated the formation of a full, EU army.

2. The EU’s “Commissioner for Health and Food Safety”

Everyone in the UK knows the name of Matt Hancock, the Secretary of State for Health. Rather less well-known is Stella Kyriakides, the EU’s Commissioner for Health.

Ms Kyriakides is a Greek Cypriot who came to the UK in the mid 1970s to study psychology at Reading University. Between 1979 and 2006 she worked for the UK Ministry of Health as a child psychologist. The rest of her career has been spent in public bodies, politics, and in Brussels.

Cyprus is an EU member country which has a population of 875,899 – not much bigger than that of Leeds. Its economy is less than 1/110th of the size of the UK’s.

Ms Kyriakides has participated fully in the EU’s attacks on a commercial company based in the UK which is trying to supply vaccines on a not-for-profit basis.

3. The EU’s “Commissioner for Crisis Management”

Yes, the EU has a Crisis Management Commissioner. Given all the EU’s problems this must be the worst job in the world right now – putting aside the massive salary, benefits, perks, pension, accommodation, limos, and expense account.

This particular Commissioner’s name is Janez Lenarčič and he’s from Slovenia. Slovenia is an EU member country which has a population of 2.1 million – smaller than that of West Yorkshire. Its economy is less than 1/50th of the size of the UK’s.

Like almost all EU Commissioners, Mr Lenarčič has never held what we would call “a proper job” in his life. He has only ever worked in politics and in the EU machine.

There’s no precedent for firing an EU Commission President – might there soon be one?

Frau von der Leyen only became a candidate for President of the EU Commission at the last minute, when the EU Council could not agree on anyone else. Being German, and a supporter of Angela Merkel’s for many years, she was clearly a preferred choice for the EU’s biggest banker. In the end all the member states toed the line and she was selected by the Council.

Much trickier was the need for the EU Parliament to rubber-stamp her appointment in a so-called ‘election’. The MEPs were in any case up in arms because the Council ran roughshod over the agreed procedure, which was supposed to have involved the EU Parliament’s candidates. It was touch and go but in the end Frau von der Leyen just scraped though by nine votes – hardly a ringing endorsement.

Brexit Summary

One candidate, 383 votes

  • Total eligible MEPs : 747
  • Votes required to win : 374
  • Votes received by Frau von der Leyen : 383 (51.3%)
  • Frau von der Leyen won by just 9 votes
  • Total population of the EU at the time : 512 million
  • Total electorate able to vote for Frau von der Leyen : 747

© Brexit Facts4EU.Org - Click to enlarge

The German Defence Minister made it by just nine votes out of the 747 MEPs who were eligible to participate. This was a one horse race. And that solitary horse won – but only just.


Democracy and the EU - not too well-acquainted

The term 'Democracy Deficit Disorder' was first coined by Facts4EU.Org to describe what we had been observing in our research of the EU over several years. It was even picked up and used in the EU Parliament in 2019 - by a pro-Brexit MEP, not surprisingly.

Expertise, responsibility and accountability are sorely lacking in Brussels – and it’s showing. True democracy – as it has evolved over centuries in the United Kingdom – involves having a choice. This is one of the key aspects of what ordinary people generally mean by democracy.

‘Elections’ which only involve one candidate are common in totalitarian regimes such as that of North Korea. An ‘election’ with only one candidate on the ballot paper can only be described as a PR exercise.

One of the possible consequences of failing to have any form of contest for a top job is that the ‘cream’ never has a chance to rise to the surface. In the case of the EU Commission President, here is a woman whom most of the German media saw as the weakest member of Angela Merkel’s cabinet. We have always struggled to find anyone who had a good word to say about her as German Defence Minister. Despite this she was rushed in to the top job in Brussels in a matter of days, without having to face a contest with other – possibly better qualified - candidates.

Put simply, she was someone who most of the Council least disliked. In any case, by then they were way overdue in the EU’s formal deadlines and were just pleased to have a person that no country said they would veto.

Are the wheels finally starting to come off the EU’s wagon?

Even the most democratic systems involve having appointees. Generally they are chosen arising out of a due process and it is generally hoped that they reflect the best talent there is available. We would suggest that if the process is bypassed (as it was in the case of Frau von der Leyen) and if the position in question is one of the most powerful in the whole of Europe, then rather more care should have been taken.

When the anointed one then chooses the other 26 Commissioners, all of whom are now playing their part in the EU’s hostile and unhelpful approach to UK-EU relations, then eventually the wheels might come off. The EU’s Covid response calamity is an excellent demonstration of this.

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[ Sources: EU Council | EU Commission ] Politicians and journalists can contact us for details, as ever.

Brexit Facts4EU.Org, Tues 09 Mar 2021

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