Salvatore Murtas is a media professional and Conservative activist.
I have to admit it: I am a recent convert to EU scepticism. Until the 2016 referendum that ended up giving birth to Brexit, I failed to see the EU’s troubling lack of democracy and transparency, blinded by my passion for the noble ideals that lead a group of Western European countries to join forces in a bid to avoid war and promote peace and prosperity for all European peoples. A project of the people and for the people!
Almost 70 years on, and those ideals have been completely betrayed in favour of a centralised system that dictates policies to its member states without the caveat of accountability, a system that puts economic and financial interests above the people’s.
The case of Greece is disturbing: once a thriving economy, its financial difficulties resulting from the 2008 global crisis have been exacerbated by the EU bailout to the point that the country’s economy shrunk by a quarter and unemployment soared to 28 per cent between 2009 and 2018. And still today Greece is barely able to repay interests on the loans granted by the European Central Bank, most of which went to the coffers of exposed financial institutions, mainly German and French, effectively financing private loss from the public purse.
The EU has certainly gone above and beyond in upsetting peoples across the continent by utterly mishandling the immigration crisis that followed the Arab spring movement in 2010 and the Syrian crisis. The subsequent wave of immigrants from North Africa and refugees from war-torn Syria to Italy and Greece, and the open-borders policy unilaterally announced by Germany, left many questioning the benefits of belonging to a club where everyone makes its own rules.
I, for one, wondered whether, if not at least during crisis of cataclysmic proportions, the concept of Union had any meaning whatsoever.
Along came Brexit
The same sense of disconnect, of the snooty disengagement of the Brussels’ elite, lead to the Leave vote in 2016. David Cameron’s request for a reformed immigration policy was met with total contempt in EU quarters, and lead the majority of the British public to believe that the only way was out!
No one predicted the result of the referendum – with a few exceptions in my circle of friends who proved surprisingly plugged-in with the national mood – and yet the first and only response from Brussels was to accuse the 17.4 million who voted for Brexit of racism!
No introspection, not a single in-depth analysis of the vote has been attempted by Brussels. ‘A special place in hell’ was the best Donald Tusk, President of the European Council, could come up with referring to those who campaigned for Brexit. What a fine way to convince someone to change his mind…
The last straw
Brits are not the only favourite target of Eurocrats’ insults. Italians got their fair share! But if Britain got unfriended by a top EU official, Italians had to do away with a modest MEP.
Joking aside, as an Italian, I can’t help but resent a bunch of EU bureaucrats and politicians, unknown to the vast majority, publicly and unashamedly humiliating the Prime Minister of my country. How on earth did Guy Verhofstadt, Member of the European Parliament and former Belgian Prime Minister, think it appropriate to describe Italy’s Prime Minister as a puppet? Does he really believe that his rude, inconsiderate words would meet Italian approval?
On the contrary, they offended an entire nation, they awakened our sense of national identity, and disdain for spoilt, far-away politicians who are so blinded by their privilege as to not see that their house is on fire.
As Baroness Thatcher said: “if they attack one personally, it means they have not a single political argument left.” This European Union seems to have really run out of political arguments.