On November 3rd 2009, at 3 pm local time, the Czech Republic ceased to exist as a sovereign state when Vaclav Klaus, its president, put his signature under the Treaty of Lisbon. The Czech Republic was the last of the 27 member states of the European Union to ratify the treaty which turns the EU into a genuine state to which it members states are subservient.
Klaus had delayed signing the document for as long as he could. The Czech Parliament approved the treaty last May. On the morning of November 3rd the Czech Constitutional Court ruled unanimously that the Lisbon Treaty did not contravene the Czech Constitution. The president accused the court of bias and publicly stated that he fundamentally disagreed with the court’s verdict, its content and justification. “With the Lisbon Treaty taking effect, the Czech Republic will cease to be a sovereign state, despite the political opinion of the Constitutional Court,” Klaus said. However, he added, as President he had to respect the verdict. Consequently, he signed his country’s independence away, barely 20 years after its liberation from the Soviet empire.
The pressure on Klaus had been tremendous. Because the treaty could not come into force until the Czech ratification, the EU authorities and the political establishment of the 26 other member states had been tightening the screws on Prague. In early October, the Czech cabinet, under pressure from Berlin and Paris, had met in an emergency session to consider how to complete ratification in the event of Klaus’s continued intransigence. They even considered impeaching the president.
Bernard Kouchner, the French Foreign Minister, was very blunt on 15 October: he threatened that “a single man is not allowed to oppose the will of 500 million Europeans.” The “500 million Europeans” referred to the citizens of the 27 member states of the European Union, the “single man” to Vaclav Klaus. Kouchner’s declaration, however, was as deceptive and mendacious as the entire ratification process of the Lisbon Treaty had been throughout the EU. 500 million people had deliberately not been asked for their opinion of the treaty because the European political establishment feared they would vote it down.
Indeed, the so-called Lisbon Treaty is the second version of the European Constitution, which the electorates of France and the Netherlands forcefully rejected in referendums in May and June 2005. Refusing to take the people’s “No” for an answer, Europe’s political establishment simply repackaged the Constitution in a somewhat different order, but without changing its basic content. This Constitution.2 was called the Treaty of Lisbon, after the place where the new document was signed. It was subsequently pushed through the parliaments of the member states without allowing any more referendums. Only Ireland was obliged to put Lisbon before the people because the Irish Constitution required it. After the Irish rejected the treaty in June 2008, their “No” was also discarded. The Irish were made to vote again. Last October, they gave in, making Vaclav Klaus the last man standing in Europe.
Now, with Mr. Klaus’s signature, the game has drawn to its close and a treaty, so despised by the people that it was never put to them, has turned 500 million Europeans into citizens of a genuine supranational European State which is empowered to act as a State vis-à-vis other States and its own citizens. The EU will have its own President, Foreign Minister, diplomatic corps and Public Prosecutor. Henceforward, the only remaining sovereign power of any significance in Europe is Russia. Apart from Switzerland, Norway and Iceland, the EU leviathan has a grip on every other nation, whose national parliaments are, in accordance with the Lisbon Treaty, obliged to “contribute actively to the good functioning of the Union,” i.e. further primarily the interests of the new Union, rather than those of their own people.
The new European superstate, however, is not a democracy. It has an elected parliament, but the European Parliament has no legislative powers, nor does it control the EU’s executive bodies. The latter, who also have legislative power overriding national legislation, are made up of “commissioners.” These are appointed by the governments of the member states (although no longer with one commissioner per member state, as was the case so far, but with a total number capped at two-thirds of the number of member states). The EU is basically a cartel, consisting of the 27 governments of the member states, who have concluded that it is easier to pass laws in the secret EU meetings with their colleagues than through their own national parliaments in the glare of public criticism.
“I have always considered this treaty a step in the wrong direction,” Czech President Vaclav Klaus said last month. “It will deepen the problems the EU is facing today, it will increase its democratic deficit, worsen the standing of our country and expose it to new risks.” Klaus calls the EU doctrine “Europeism.” In a speech last August, he defined “Europeism” as “a neosocialist doctrine, which believes neither in freedom, nor in the spontaneous evolution of human society.” He said it has the following four characteristics:
“(a) economic views based on the concept of the so-called social market economy, which is the opposite of the market economy; (b) views on freedom, democracy and society based on collectivism, social partnership and corporatism, not on classical parliamentary democracy; (c) views on European integration which favor unification and supranationalism; (d) views on foreign policy and international relations based on internationalism, cosmopolitism, abstract universalism, multiculturalism and on denationalization.”
“To my great regret,” he added, “Europe is more and more dominated by this way of thinking despite the fact that it is an extremely naïve, unpractical and romantic utopism, not shared by the European silent majority, but predominantly by the European elites.”
These European elites are currently deciding whom to appoint as the Union’s first President and first High Commissioner (the EU’s common Foreign Minister). The 27 EU governments have already agreed that the former should be a Christian-Democrat and the latter a Social-Democrat. Diplomatic sources say that Prime Minister Herman Van Rompuy of Belgium has the best chances of becoming President, while the British Foreign Secretary, David Miliband, is tipped as High Commissioner. Incidentally, Mr. Miliband, too, has a link to Belgium. His father, the Marxist ideologue Ralph Miliband, was born in Brussels and spent the first sixteen years of his life in the Belgian capital.
Although the Belgian Christian-Democrats are considered to be conservatives, they are very close to the Social-Democrats, their preferred partners in government. Both Messrs. Van Rompuy and Miliband represent the “Europeism” which Czech President Klaus so abhors.
The formal decision about who will become President and High Commissioner will be taken in late November. As the wheeling and dealing – all of it behind closed doors so that the people will not know – continues, it is not certain yet that Herman Van Rompuy will emerge as Europe’s first president. It is, however, not a coincidence that a Belgian seems the most likely candidate. Belgium is a supranational state, constructed by the European powers in 1830 and made up of two different nations, Dutch-speaking Flanders and French-speaking Wallonia. As such, Belgium, whose capital Brussels also happens to be the EU’s capital, serves as a model for the EU in its attempt to build a supranational state out of the continent’s different nations.
Like EU politics, Belgian politics is characterized by a lack of transparency, unaccountability, corporatism and a willingness to bend the democratic rules and legal procedures so as to allow the political establishment to proceed with their own project and secure the survival of a state which is unloved by its citizens but provides the livelihood of the ruling elites. What Vaclav Klaus calls “Europeism” is the application of Belgicism, the doctrine underpinning the Belgian state, on the European level.
The whole process of writing a European Constitution and changing the EU from a supranational organization into a state began with the Laken Declaration of December 2001, an initiative of the Belgian presidency of the European Council that year. The coming into power of the Lisbon Treaty marks the annexation of Europe by Brussels – the expansion of Belgium over an entire continent.
Paul Belien is the author of A Throne in Brussels -- Britain, the Saxe-Coburgs and the Belgianisation of Europe