If it is bad it has to be America. That is the leitmotiv of Louis Michel, the European Commissioner of Development and Humanitarian Aid. Michel was interviewed today by the Flemish magazine Knack about the recent European Summit.
In the interview Michel, who is a eurofederalist and hence (one would think) a proponent of a federal European superstate which would turn the EU into a genuine United States of Europe, blames London for wanting to… turn the EU into the US.
“I only know that the British did not want the summit to be a success,” Michel says: “[The British] have a different kind of roadmap. They want Europe to be a purely economic space. If we follow them we risk turning the EU into a miniature copy of the United States. If we restrict the EU to a free market association without common rules, without this constitution, without shared political values, then Europe will no longer be able to make the citizens dream.”
Commenting on the recent referendums Michel remarked: “It is said that the citizens are always right. Why do they have to be always right? Even I am not always right! But I am prepared to admit this. Why would the citizens not admit it? Politicians should not follow the citizens blindly, they should go in front of the people and show them the way.”
What dreams are the Europeans meant to dream? Those of their politicians, obviously. Has it ever been different? Perhaps in America, but not in Brussels. Louis Michel was Minister of Foreign Affairs of Belgium before he became European Commissioner. He is a great admirer of Paul-Henri Spaak (1899-1972), one of his predecessors. Spaak is one of the EU’s “founding fathers” and one of the buildings of the European Parliament is named after him. In April 1956, he authored the so-called Spaak Report which laid the foundation for the Treaty of Rome the following year. In his memoirs Spaak acknowledged that “public opinion was indifferent” to European unification, but this was all the better: “The work was done by a minority who knew what they wanted.”