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Little Structural Progress and weak Pandemic Responses prove the EU needs Major Reform

Creative Commons

If we have learnt one thing well in the past year, it is that the European Union is in dire need of reforming. That we can not go on like this any more nor in the same direction. Since the European Elections in 2019, the continent has blown from crisis to crisis with very little in the way of political leadership.

Take for example the fact that the European Commission fell at the first hurdle when it came to forming a new ‘College’. Instead of following through with the Spitzenkandidat system, the powers in the European Council decided to ignore their own rules and appoint a technocrat to be Commission President. What followed was a series of yet more delays as President Ursula Von der Leyen was forced to stall the appointment of her colleagues by several weeks.

Last January, one of the largest economies in the European Union left – and with it one of the largest contributors to the EU budget. Whilst it would be unfair to lay the blame for Brexit at the feet of the current Commission, what comes next is fully within their control. The exit of the United Kingdom has left a budgetary black hole to be filled, with no country willing to step forward to pay, despite the fact that many are calling for increases in expenditure.

Perhaps the harshest criticism against the current mandate comes from the actions taken in the last few months. The Coronavirus Crisis has seen the European Union struggle. They were slow to respond early on – especially when it became clear that many countries were unwilling to send their stockpiles to countries that needed it most. They were equally slow to loosen economic rules to prevent mass job loses – something that even now is inevitable. Instead, the EU failed to act for several weeks, struggling to work out what sort of role it was supposed to play.

The result was an out-of-touch campaign of videos filmed on the top floor of the Berlaymont building. An apology to the Italian people for their failure. And two incidents by the European External Action Service is being called into question for its allowing of the Chinese regime to censor official documents.

It’s fair to say that the last year has been far from a success for the European Union – and this is starting to show in the dissatisfaction of Europe’s people with Brussels. In Italy, one of the countries hardest hit by the Coronavirus – and who struggled the most at the beginning – popular support for leaving the Union has increased alongside.

Support across Europe for conservative-leaning parties has grown since last year. In Sweden, Italy, Poland, as well as in my own country, Spain and our parties have witnessed significant political gains. It is clear that people are fed up with the stagnation and business as usual approach being taken by the European Union and are ready for change.

And we have seen a permanent obsession from the Commision and the left-leaning parliament against the sovereignty of Hungary and Poland. If the EU wants to be fair it should look less into alleged violations of European principles in these two countries with conservative governments, mostly fabricated by leftist press, and more closely on the socialist-communist government in Spain which, in alliance with separatists and foreign anti-western regimes like Venezuela and Iran, is violating rights and freedom in Spain in a way never seen since the death of Francisco Franco 45 years ago.

The consensus policy of the mainstream that goes from the EPP all the way to the far left, and which we can call social democratic in a broad sense of more or less outspoken Socialism, is very close to bankruptcy. That is why the main forces which embody this failed path want to accelerate their push to a politically more united and centralized Europe, without legitimacy. With this Conference on the Future of Europe, there is an obvious attempt to weaken even further the sovereignty of the nations. We have to resolutely oppose these attempts. There is and can be no such things as “European Sovereignty”.

People have learnt from this crisis that first responders don’t come from Brussels, they come from at home. From the Nations and their national governments who are accountable for their actions. And that cooperation between sovereign states on a voluntary basis yields much better results that waiting on bureaucrats far away. Equally, people have learnt that the Common Foreign Policy being driven from the European External Action Service does not work in the interest of Europe’s citizens.

The European Union must start listening to these concerns or risk being left behind by the people it claims to represent. The lack of confidence in the EU can only be overcome by wholesale reform.