CETA: The European Union exposed to ridicule

We normally don’t write about trade policy on these pages. But today we do have to make a comment: the EU’s spectacular failure to agree on the signature and provisional application of the “Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement” (CETA) with Canada marks a new and decisive further step in the Union’s demise. Whatever the merits of the argument may be – the astounding fact that a regional government representing less than one percent of the EU’s population is allowed to block a trade deal that has been negotiated for seven years and that is considered by experts to represent a very satisfying negotiation result shows that the EU is now structurally unable to deliver on one of its core competences, trade policy. As a result, it can hardly any more expect to be taken seriously either by citizens or the outside world.

The tragedy of the EU is that it has been hijacked by the political Left. As a result, the European Parliament has become highly productive in adopting legally non-binding statements on all and everything, predominantly with a focus on promoting issues such as “wymyn’s rights”, “equality” between sexually perverted and normal people, high-flying “rule-of-law monitoring mechanisms” and whatever else would, if put into practical politics, help to corrode and destroy society. The Commission makes legislative proposals that would oblige every house owner to have re-fuelling station for electric cars, or that prevent restaurants from offering oil and vinegar in open cans. But at the same time, the union fails in its core tasks. The Euro has become dysfunctional and is a source of conflict between Member States. So has the Schengen area. Britain has voted to leave the Union, creating a mess of unprecedented scale both domestically and at European level.

And now Wallonia, a Belgian region of which most Europeans probably did not even know what and where it is, gets its big occasion to be important and throw in a veto. No, this is not only the fault of the regions Prime Minister Paul Magnette, who, despite his inability to explain what precisely it is that his constituency dislikes about CETA, visibly enjoys playing his role as the chieftain of a village of irreducible Gauls who remain intransigent to the will of “the Empire” (i.e., the rest of Europe, Canada, and “the big multinationals”). It is mostly the fault of those who, as a result of their own weakness and inconsistency, have allowed him to assume that role – in particular Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, who, without any real need, and just ceding to some media pressure, conceded that CETA was to be treated as a “mixed agreement”, with a ratification process that gives veto powers to all and everyone.

With this mistake, Juncker has de facto destroyed the Common Trade Policy, which is one of the Union’s core businesses. Do this in other areas, and you will have destroyed the EU as a whole.

Jean-Claude, it is time for you to step down. You are worse than a lame duck.