It may seem a funny question to ask on the day after the collapse in WTO talks – a collapse which produced an impetuous outburst from Peter Mandelson – but the FT thinks that the EU is moving in the right direction. An article (subscription required) by Jean Eaglesham and George Parker makes the following points:
- Tory "antipathy to Brussels" emerged, the FT writers contend, during the 1985-95 presidency of federalist and socialist Jacques Delors. Times are different now. Commission President José Manuel Barroso is anti-protectionist and economically-liberal. The Spectator’s Matthew d’Ancona recently described Mr Barroso as “charming, brilliant and good company”.
- The European Court of Justice is Britain’s best weapon against the growing protectionism of continental politicians like Jacques Chirac.
- With Angela Merkel and other pro-reform parties David Cameron could be forming a new alliance across the EU. Instead "he has been trawling for allies on the fringes of European politics."
The FT (which was enthusiastic for the EU during the Delors era, too) may convince some pragmatic Eurosceptics but the national sovereignty Eurosceptics will be unpersuaded. Barroso will be gone in a few years and Mrs Merkel could lose the Berlin Chancellery at anytime given her precarious grand coalition. No doubt a brief upsurge in the European economy will be enough for the FT to start editorialising again in favour of euro membership.
“Democracy is not just an abstraction or a system for counting votes. Democracy only thrives when it is embodied in a living culture and society. Where voters can change the way they are governed. The sense of loyalty and identification people feel towards their country’s democratic institutions is a condition of real democracy and a consequence of it. Real democracies are living political communities formed by human history. Governments elected by members of those communities are expected to represent vital national interests. They are accessible through popular media and accountable through the ballot box. The institutions of the EU can never command the deep loyalty and affection that are the lifeblood of true democracy.”