And So It Goes…#773


Our democracy and our very existence as a bona fide sovereign and independent nation state is in clear and present danger.This is not ” scaremongering ” neither is it empty rhetoric. All those campaigning for a REMAIN vote in the forthcoming Referendum on the UK’s continuing ssubjection to the Strassbourg/Brussels yoke,are fully conscious of the fact that the EU’s self-professed grandiose imperative and raison d’etre to become a Unitary Continental Superstate will be strengthened and greatly reinforced should the plebiscite go the way of the IN campaign.

And what the EU and its technocratic bureaucractic governing elites won’t tolerate and will soon enough get around to dealing with in exemplary fashion is any kind of substantive dissent that might challenge their hegemony and stymie and perhaps even mortally jeopardise the full realisation of their Historic design, a United European entity.

What they did to Austria in 2000 – conveniently jettisoned down the Orwellian ” Memory Hole ” and in need of rediscovery,is vitally worth studying.

( This article was published in European Affairs: Volume number I, Issue number II in the Spring of 2000.)

Sanctions Against Austria Pose Troubling Questions for the EU    PrintEmail

Michael Calingaert

The entry into Austria’s governing coalition of Jörg Haider’s Freedom Party presented the European Union with an unprecedented situation: participation in the government of one of the member states of a party widely considered “undemocratic.” The response of Austria’s EU partners was equally unprecedented: lacking the means under the EU treaties to mark their concern, they impulsively imposed diplomatic sanctions as 14 “like-minded states.”

The European Community, as it was originally called, did not deem it necessary to spell out the member states’ adherence to democratic principles. Nor did it occur to the original members that the domestic politics of a member state would be considered an appropriate subject for comment – let alone action – by the others.

One of the criteria for membership established at the Copenhagen European Council in 1993 was that candidates had to have “achieved stability of institutions guaranteeing democracy, the rule of law, human rights and respect for and protection of minorities.”

For that reason, the EU refused to open enlargement negotiations with Slovakia while the clearly undemocratic Vladimir Meciar controlled the government, and it added Slovakia to the negotiating countries only after his defeat at the polls in 1998. It was with the example of Slovakia in mind that the EU added the first explicit mention in the EU’s treaties of general principles previously accepted only implicitly: the 1997 Treaty of Amsterdam, building on language in the preamble to the 1992 Maastricht Treaty, declared that the EU was “founded on the principles of liberty, democracy, respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, and the rule of law.”

During the Cold War the perceived danger to the democratic system in EU member states came from the left, although the United States was far more inclined than European countries to voice concern about communist parties joining EU governments.

The rise of the Freedom Party in Austria was seen as a different matter – particularly after the previous governing parties opened the door to Mr. Haider by failing to resurrect their former broad-based coalition.

The concerns of some member states – particularly Germany, France and Belgium – related very directly to their own domestic politics. The National Front in France shares many attributes of the Freedom Party, and both the governing Socialists and the Gaullist President Jacques Chirac, feared the “demonstration effect” of the entry of the Freedom Party into government.

Next door in Germany the implosion of the Christian Democratic Union as a result of its party financial scandal has led to serious concern over what will fill the vacuum, in particular the possible resurgence of the far right. In Belgium, many are afraid of the Vlaams Blok, a right-wing party seeking Flemish independence.

But what could the other 14 member states do? Under the treaties, nothing. The Treaty of Amsterdam provides that the heads of state or government, acting by unanimity and with the concurrence of the European Parliament, may determine that a member state has engaged in a “serious and persistent breach” of the EU’s democratic principles. In such a case, they may decide, by qualified majority, to suspend voting and/or other rights of the country in question. Clearly, no such “breach” had taken place.

Led by Portugal – acting unofficially, though speaking explicitly as President of the Council – the 14 countries informed Austria that if the Freedom Party were to enter the government, they would take three steps: not accept bilateral contacts at a political level with the Austrian government, provide no support to Austrian candidates for positions in international organizations, and receive Austrian ambassadors in their countries only at a technical level. When the Freedom Party entered the government a few days later, the member states made good their threat.

The 14 member states in effect they acted as member states of the EU. In so doing, they set an important precedent: they added to the range of issues addressed by the EU by adopting a position on the composition of a member state government – a subject hitherto regarded exclusively as the business of the member state in question. In addition, their “joint reaction” (as they termed it) was a way of getting around the national veto that Austria would have applied if the action had been proposed in accordance with the EU Treaties.

The action of the 14 member states raises several questions:

Standards: Against what standards should member states judge political parties in other member states? What constitutes “anti-democratic” behavior? Do the standards apply equally to parties of the far right and far left ?

Circumstances: Under what circumstances is it appropriate for member states to concern themselves with the composition of another member state’s government? Is it appropriate to seek to block the entry into government of a party that has gained over one-quarter of the votes in a free, democratic election? Would the member states contemplate analogous action against for example France with respect to the National Front?

How great is the likelihood that, as often happens with economic sanctions, the 14 member states will find themselves locked into actions that they will subsequently want to terminate but cannot because they lack an exit strategy?

Effect on the EU: The Portuguese Presidency has stated that there will not be “business as usual” with the Austrian government. Can there be “EU business as usual”? The 14 member states’ actions clearly run counter to the “Community spirit” that is an important ingredient in the operations of the EU institutions. Would their actions have been possible if Austria had held the EU Presidency? Will the ostracized government – in this case Austria – adopt a hostile attitude, which could impede work in the EU?

As these questions indicate, the implications of the actions taken by the 14 member states extend well beyond the particular case of Austria in February 2000. Without the luxury of contemplation or advance planning, the EU has established ground-rules in an entirely new area. Before embarking down that path, it would have done well to consider the wisdom of a more restrained approach – for both the present and the future.

( This article was published in European Affairs: Volume number I, Issue number II in the Spring of 2000.)

And from the Daily Telegraph

AUSTRIA’S Freedom Party leader, Jörg Haider, has hailed the end toEuropean Union diplomatic sanctions against his country.

His EU critics had been humiliated, he said yesterday. “We are leaving this with our head held high.” Yesterday, as Austria’s political classes celebrated, Mr Haider revelled in the climbdown by President Chirac. France, which holds the rotating EU presidency, announced the end of sanctions on Wednesday. It also led the original call for the measures.

The end of sanctions followed an EU-mandated report saying they were “counter-productive” and liable to cause further nationalist reaction in Austria. Most Austrians greeted the news with indifference.

June 23, 2016 #VoteLeave. Anything short of that ensure national self-annihilation.

 

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