What Next for the EU - the Nobel Prize for Economics?

by DANIEL HANNAN December 14, 2012

Does anyone seriously suppose that, but for the EU, the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg might annex the Belgian province of the same name? Or that, unconstrained by Brussels, the Italians would re-occupy Nice? Does anyone imagine, these days, that the right-on, pacifist Germans, who can barely be persuaded to join Nato peacekeeping operations, are secretly itching to send tank divisions into Silesia and Pomerania?

Look at Europe's demographic profile, for Heaven's sake. Never has there been such a low worker-to-pensioner ratio. Tackling that challenge ought to concern us rather more than the prospect of Europe's peoples shuffling behind their zimmer-frames in military formations.

I won't try readers' patience by repeating all my arguments about the EU being a consequence rather than a cause of peace in Europe - a peace built on the defeat of fascism, the spread of bourgeois democracy and the Atlantic alliance. Let me instead make the simple observation that the self-congratulatory tone taken by the Euro-grandees as they received the Nobel Peace Prize was rude, arrogant and dangerous.

Rude because it is terrifically offensive to the peoples of Europe - in particular Germans, who are often singled out - to suggest that they need to be saved from themselves. (The fact that this argument often comes from Eurocrats and politicians who are themselves German doesn't make it any less offensive.)  Arrogant because it gives credit for peace, not to the voters who embraced pluralist democracy after 1945, but to an unelected oligarchy. And dangerous because it encourages the EU's end-justifies-the-means outlook: waste, corruption, suppression of referendum results - all would indeed be a price worth paying if the only alternative were shooting at each other on the Western front.

The EU's leaders went en masse to Oslo to collect the award: José Manuel Durrão Barroso for the Commission, Herman Van Rompuy for the Council, Martin Schulz for the Parliament, dozens of bigwigs, hundreds of aides and Nick Clegg.

If only they had had the open-mindedness to look about them. Norway is proverbially eirenic. Its diplomats have helped conduct peace talks all over the world: Sudan, Sri Lanka, Israel-Palestine, Southeast Asia. I can't think of the country having started a single war since its independence. Yet Norwegians have made up their minds not to join the EU: opinion polls have been at two-to-one against for so long that even the most Euro-fanatical politicians have dropped the issue.

Norway is the second wealthiest state in Europe after Switzerland. According to the UN, which measures life expectancy, infant mortality, literacy and so on, it is the best country in the world into which to be born. It is free to sign trade accords with non-EU states, such as Canada, and it exports slightly more than two-and-a-half times as much per head to the EU as Britain does. As the Cousins say, go figure.

Daniel Hannan is a British writer and journalist, and has been Conservative MEP for South East England since 1999. He speaks French and Spanish and loves Europe, but believes that the EU is making its constituent nations poorer, less democratic and less free. He is the winner of the Bastiat Award for online journalism.


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