Open Europe Blog

Hear, hear

Simon Jenkins’ piece in today’s Guardian gets a big thumbs up from us. The article suggests why Gordon Brown would make a good EU President arguing that “He [Brown] is clearly unhappy with the rough and tumble of democratic politics, with the daily grind of public appearances, glad-handing and schmoozing. But these are not required in Brussels, where nobody is elected to anything and such populism as smiling at cameras and holding referendums are anathema.”

However, he makes a much more significant point about the nature of debate about the EU and, in particular, the defensiveness of those in favour of further EU integration. He writes,

“An inability to think laterally has long been the curse of the European movement. A sign of its intellectual insecurity is that it cannot handle scepticism, treating any but the most craven sycophant as an enemy…Brussels is like an office of the doctrine of the faith, tolerating no Francis of Assisi. Criticise it and you are damned as anti-European.”

Jenkins also points out that the debate is so polarised that scepticism of the EU can easily be pigeonholed at the other extreme. “The noble word, sceptic, has become code for rejectionist,” he says.

He concludes saying,

“The language of the Lisbon treaty is that of an elite of 40 years ago, a smokescreen for the accretion of establishment power. David Cameron is right to keep open a determination to change it, as is indeed allowed by the treaty. The only sensible response to Lisbon is not rejectionism but a ferocious scepticism, properly so called.”

Right on the money.

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