by Marc Glendening
The peasants of Cyprus are now
truly revolting, following a decision by Angela Merkel and the other Eurozone
heads of government to force Cyprus to grab private bank savings to contribute €5.8
billion towards an EU-IMF bailout.
This edict demonstrates that the rule of law accounts for very
little in the European Union.
One of the big claims always made by supporters of
Brussels-based governance was that the individual EU member states would be
subject to a system based upon predictable and impartially applied rules,
enforced by a Commission and Court of Justice above sectional, national
The EU, they have argued, was
therefore a continuation of the political project commenced by the European
Enlightenment in the late eighteenth century. It has heralded, allegedly,
another move away feudalism of the ancien regime.
However, the situation in
Cyprus proves what some of us have been arguing for some time. Namely, that the
brave new world of the EU represents in reality a return to pre-modern,
By Brussels fiat, savers' private property has been seized
in an act of retrospective taxation. This is an arbitrary act of raw power
befitting Louis XIV. A decision taken in private, passed on as a fait accompli
to the EU's local agent in Nicosia, 'president' Nicos Anastasiades, and then
imposed by him without reference to the national parliament - the same elected body that last week voted against
divesting savers of their already taxed income.
How convenient that Brussels and
the Cypriot president have found a (constitutional?) way to circumvent the
impertinent reservations of parliamentarians.
This is not the first time
Brussels has made it all up on the hoof and disregarded the apparent rule of law
that supposedly lies at the heart of the treaty.
In 2003, Germany and France both
broke the Stability and Growth Pact rules that supposedly accompanied the
single currency. No action was taken by the Commission for exceeding budget
deficits of 3% and levels of national debt exceeding 60% of GDP. Portugal and
Greece did, however, have their collars felt.
As many politically
dissident Germans have argued, the various euro bailouts have contravened the
supposedly strict Maastricht rules designed to prevent members of the single currency from
becoming responsible for the debts of others. They claim, as a result, the EU
treaty is now incompatible with the Germany constitution.
When Alastair Darling
was summoned to Brussels to discuss the eurozone crisis the day after the
British general election in 2010, he thought there was no way Britain as a
non-euro member could be forced to contribute to the bailouts. Wrong! The
European Court of Justice and the Commission suddenly decreed that Article 122
of the EU treaty - a measure originally related to helping member states that had
experienced a natural disaster - now covered those countries experiencing
economic problems. Our then chancellor was forced to stump up £11 billion in
At the beginning of the Cyprus
bailout scandal we were told that this savings grab would be a one off. Now we learn from Jeroen Dijsselbloem, chair of the eurozone finance ministers,
that this 'solution' might indeed be applied to other single currency countries
In Brussels anything goes and anything is possible. The European
Enlightenment was about the rule of law and making the exercise of power
accountable and transparent to the people. The EU is about reversing this
written by Marc Glendening - Campaign director, Democracy Movement
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