It’s Not Just the UK – Widespread Support for EU Referendums Seen Across the Continent

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Actions have consequences, and people can only be pushed so far before they snap. I believe the Paris terror attacks will be a major catalyst that will ultimately usher in nationalist type governments in many parts of Europe, culminating in an end of the EU as we know it and a return to true nation-states. Although I think a return to regional government and democracy is what Europeans need and deserve, the way in which it will come about, and the types of governments we could see emerge, are unlikely to be particularly enlightened or democratic after the dust has settled.

My thoughts and prayers go out to all the victims of these horrific events, but the Paris attacks didn’t happen in a vacuum. The people of Europe have already become increasingly resentful against the EU,  something which is not debatable at this point. This accurate perception of an undemocratic, technocratic Brussels-led EU dictatorship was further solidified earlier this year after the Greek people went to the polls and voted for one thing, only to be instructed that their vote doesn’t actually matter.

– From last year’s post: A Message to Europe – Prepare for Nationalism

If you aren’t paying close attention to what’s happening in Europe, you may be surprised by the extent of “elite” panic at the notion that the British people could decide to leave the EU. Here’s just one example, from Donald Tusk, president of the European Council.

Why is it so dangerous? No one can foresee what the long-term consequences would be. As a historian, I fear that Brexit could be the beginning of the destruction of not only the E.U., but also of Western political civilization.

While there’s no doubt that a Brexit will result in major disruptions to the status quo system, isn’t that the point? Moreover, that’s some downright apocalyptic talk by Mr. Tusk. What’s driving it?

The truth is that most of these EU technocrats continue to dream about a closer EU, i.e., more centralization and less democracy for the people of Europe. In their minds, the idea that a major member of the EU could ever leave wasn’t even comprehensible. Their goal has been, and continues to be, a push toward a European superstate fantasy in which national sovereignty is completely subjugated to their incontrovertible undemocratic decrees. As such, they subconsciously recognize that even if Brexit is avoided, any effort to further consolidate power in Brussels will be extraordinarily difficult. This recognition is too devastating to come to terms with, so they will fight it.

This is also why they can’t see that the reason anti-EU sentiment is on the rise not just in Britain, but across the entire continent, is a direct response to their own actions. Specifically, how recent issues of enormous consequence, from the Greek “bailout(s)” to the refugee crisis, were dealt with.

For example:

German Study Proves It – 95% of Greek “Bailout” Money Went to the Banks

Does the Migrant Crisis Represent the End of the European Union?

As such, it should come as no surprise that rather than learning lessons from any Brexit, governments across the EU plan on punishing the Brits in order to warn others about getting any rebellious notions. Just like a schoolteacher would take the rod to a intransigent child.

The New York Times reports:

PARIS — The rest of the European Union nations are looking at the possibility of a British departure from the bloc with disbelief, trepidation and anguish. But they are also preparing to retaliate.

If Britons do vote in a referendum on Thursday to leave the European Union, they can expect a tough and unforgiving response, with capitals across the Continent intent on deterring other countries from following the British example, European officials and analysts said.

In other words, Britain will be made to suffer for its choice.

Preparing for a British vote to withdraw, France and Germany are debating the immediate announcement of a joint initiative on European security, perhaps an operational command headquarters, to show, at least symbolically, that the European Union remains solid and will continue to progress without Britain.

But Germany has rejected some ideas from the European Commission, the permanent bureaucracy in Brussels, to respond by moving quickly toward more European political or fiscal integration, understanding that with Spanish elections this month and French and German elections next year, “more Europe” is not what voters want.

Incredible that the European Commission would even consider such a move, but that’s how ideologically attached and insane these people are.

“There is no appetite to be nice on the day after,” said Camille Grand, the director of the Foundation for Strategic Research in France. “Whatever the British say or feel, there will be a price to pay, if only to prevent further attempts to exit the E.U.”

The Germans and the Dutch, Mr. Grand said, “might be tempted to be more flexible, but in Paris, it’s a divorce, and we must be tough with the British to prevent the Czechs or whomever from trying to make their own deals.”

No one in Germany thinks it would be good if the British left, said Daniela Schwarzer, the director of the Europe program at the German Marshall Fund in Berlin. “If the European Union is not able to prove that membership is worth having, and that in the end emotion wins over rational debates, this not only tells you something about public sentiment in Britain, but will have a contagion effect in other nations,” she said.

Even if the British vote to remain, “this Europe of multiple speeds may continue to disintegrate,” said Emmanuel Macron, France’s economy minister. “But if the U.K. leaves, we will have this risk squared. Are we capable of keeping the founding promises that led to the union’s creation — peace, prosperity, freedom?”

The effect on the bloc of a British departure would be threefold, Mr. Grant said.

“It’s not that the right will win power, but they’ll feel they have history with them, and pro-European elites in government will be on the back foot and afraid of moves toward more integration,” Mr. Grant said. “Federalism would be dead, and there would be no more referendums and treaty changes for generations, so it would be a new period of national power and not the federal future the European Commission wants.”

This is the bigger panic. The ultimate endgame for all these EU technocrats is a further centralization of power. The fact that the Brexit vote is happening at all puts this fantasy on permanent life-support since other countries will inevitably demand their own say.

As Quartz reported in its post last month, Nearly Half of Europeans Want Their Own Referendum on Staying in the EU:

When a recent survey asked voters in eight big European nation whether their own country should hold a referendum on EU membership, nearly half answered yes.

They Ipsos-MORI survey is based on interviews with 1,030 adults aged 16-64 in 14 countries, including nine EU countries that represent approximately three-quarters of the EU’s population and 80% of its GDP

When asked how they would vote if their country held such a referendum, a third of respondents said they’d vote for their country to leave the EU, though this differed dramatically between different nationalities.

While 48% of Italians and 41% of French respondents said they’d vote to leave the EU if they could, only 26% of respondents in Poland and 26% of Spanish respondents said they would.

Here are a couple of accompanying charts:

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Meanwhile, the Pew Research Center recently conducted a survey which confirmed much of the above: Euro-skepticism is on the rise generally.

From Pew:

The British go to the polls at a time when a new multi-nation survey from Pew Research Center finds that Euroskepticism is on the rise across Europe and that about two-thirds of both the British and the Greeks, along with significant minorities in other key nations, want some powers returned from Brussels to national governments. Whether favorable or not toward Brussels, most Europeans agree that a British exit would harm the 28-member EU.

A median of just 51% across 10 EU countries surveyed have a favorable view of the European Union. A median of 42% in these 10 nations want more power returned to their national capitals, while only 19% favor giving Brussels more power and 27% favor the status quo. Nevertheless, a median of 70% in the nine EU nations surveyed that don’t get a vote June 23 believe it would be bad for the EU if the UK decided to depart. Only 16% say it would be a good thing.

These are among the key findings from a new survey by Pew Research Center, conducted in 10 EU nations among 10,491 respondents from April 4 to May 12, 2016. The survey includes countries that account for 80% of the EU-28 population and 82% of the EU’s GDP.

The British are not the only ones with doubts about the European Union. The EU’s image and stature have been on a roller coaster ride in recent years throughout Europe. In a number of nations the portion of the public with a favorable view of the Brussels-based institution fell markedly from 2012 to 2013 as the European economy cratered. It subsequently rebounded in 2014 and 2015. But the EU is again experiencing a sharp dip in public support in a number of its largest member states.

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EU favorability is down in five of the six nations surveyed in both 2015 and 2016.There has been a double-digit drop in France (down 17 percentage points) and Spain (16 points), and single-digit declines in Germany (8 points), the United Kingdom (7 points) and Italy (6 points).

The drop-off in overall EU support in key countries in the past year has been driven by a fall in favorability among older people in particular. In France, EU backing among those ages 50 and older fell 19 points. In Spain it declined 16 points and in Germany 11 points. In each case this was larger than the decline in support among those ages 18 to 34.

Much of the disaffection with the EU among Europeans can be attributed to Brussels’ handling of the refugee issue. In every country surveyed, overwhelming majorities disapprove of how Brussels has dealt with the problem. This includes 94% of Greeks, 88% of Swedes and 77% of Italians. The strongest approval of EU management of the refugee crisis is in the Netherlands, but that backing is a tepid 31%.

The EU’s handling of economic issues is another huge source of disaffection with the institution. About nine-in-ten Greeks (92%) disapprove of how the EU has dealt with the ongoing economic crisis. Roughly two-thirds of the Italians (68%), French (66%) and Spanish (65%) similarly disapprove. (France and Spain are the two nations where the favorability of the EU has recently experienced the largest decline.) Majorities in Sweden (59%) and the UK (55%), including 84% of UKIP supporters, also disapprove of the EU’s job in dealing with economic challenges. The strongest approval of Brussels’ economic efforts is in Poland and Germany (both 47%).

The 1957 Treaty of Rome, the founding document of what eventually became the European Union, pledges its signatories, and all the nations that later acceded to it, “…to lay the foundations of an ever closer union among the peoples of Europe.” In early 2016, British Prime Minister David Cameron negotiated an agreement with other EU governments that the founding treaty’s “references to ever closer union do not apply to the United Kingdom.” Nevertheless, disagreement over whether governance in Europe should be more or less centralized is at the center of the UK referendum debate on whether or not to exit the EU. The Pew Research Center survey finds that in six of 10 countries more people want devolution of EU power than support the status quo or favor giving more power to the Brussels-based institution.

Roughly two-thirds of Greeks (68%) and British (65%) want some EU power returned to Athens and London. This is particularly the view of British ages 50 and older (73%); only 51% of those ages 18-34 agree. Pluralities in Sweden (47%), the Netherlands (44%), Germany (43%) and Italy (39%) also want to curtail EU power.

Conversely, there is little enthusiasm for transferring more power to Brussels. As the British head to the polls, just 6% of the public in the UK wants such an outcome. And only 8% of Greeks favor more power for the EU. The strongest backing for an ever closer Europe is only 34%, in France. In most countries a quarter or more of the public prefers to keep the current division of power.

Now here’s the graphic that will make EU technocrats downright suicidal:

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There is overwhelming sentiment across Europe that Brexit would be a bad thing for the European institution: 89% in Sweden, 75% in the Netherlands and 74% in Germany say the British leaving would be not good for the EU.

France is the only country where more than a quarter (32%) of the public says it would be positive for the EU if the UK departed.

Pretty interesting considering that the French are also the ones who appear most in favor of inflicting harsh punishment against the British should they vote to leave.

So what can we conclude from all of this?

  1. Euro skepticism is on the rise.
  2. EU technocrats will fight back with sticks instead of carrots, furthering euro-skepticism.
  3. Great Britain will be the first, but probably not the last country to hold an EU referendum over the next 5-10 years.
  4. The EU as it stands is a failed experiment. This is proven by the inept and corrupt handling of both the Greek “bailout” program and the refugee crisis.
  5. The only solution is to increase decentralization and restore national democracy within the framework of some of the popular attributes the EU offers.
  6. EU technocrats are obsessed with a further centralization of power and will continue to push it against the will of the people.
  7. The EU will ultimately disintegrate as a result of overwhelming popular dissent to technocratic scheming and incompetence.

The only question is whether what comes next is better or worse.

For additional EU-related articles, see:

German Study Proves It – 95% of Greek “Bailout” Money Went to the Banks

Does the Migrant Crisis Represent the End of the European Union?

Video of the Day – Here’s What Happened When a Member of European Parliament Tried to Read the TTIP Text

The EU Wants to Impose a Tax for Sharing Links on the Internet

Head of the European Parliament Warns – EU at Risk of Falling Apart

In Liberty,
Michael Krieger