In a review of Jean-Claude Juncker’s state of the European Union speech, Joris Luyendijk writes: “Never before have I seen so little common ground between our member states,” said Juncker, himself an EU veteran like few others. The EU is in greater danger than ever before, he continued, with greater levels of selfishness, nationalism and parochialism.
Yet Juncker also slipped in good news of the sort that somehow rarely reaches the mainstream British press. There had been one million jobs created in Spain over the past three years, and seven million more elsewhere. Public deficits are, on average, now below 2% across the eurozone, down from a terrifying 6.3% in 2009. Juncker might have added the eurozone’s healthy current account surplus, meaning it continues to export more than it imports. This is a stark contrast to the US and Britain, two nations that are becoming ever more indebted because they buy more from foreign countries than they sell.
Easily the most refreshing element in the speech, at least for those who have had to endure the Brexit “debate”, was Juncker’s emphasis on realism. Where Brexiteers continue to indulge in narcissistic fantasies about getting the best of all worlds from the EU while making Britain a world power again, Juncker struck a very different tone. Insisting that “solidarity is the glue that holds the union together” he pointed out that Europeans today make up 8% of the world population. In 2050 that will be down to 5%. “By then you would not see a single EU country among the top world economies,” Juncker went on. “But the EU together? We would still be topping the charts.”
To which he might have added: “And that is true with or without Britain.” [Continue reading…]