Jean Claude Juncker could well go down in history as the last President of the European Commission. He can see that the European Union is falling apart in his hands and so, like any good European, he offers the solution: more Europe.
Juncker presented his White Paper to the European Parliament on Wednesday March 1st, entitled "The Future of Europe."
Why did he feel it necessary to launch such a paper? Simply because Euroscepticism is on the march across Europe; last year the United Kingdom voted Leave, in the Netherlands the Party for Freedom (PVV) could well become the largest party in this month's general election, France's Front National are ahead in the polls for the Presidential election, and in Italy 5Star are likely to sweep the board once the election is staged. In Finland the True Finns, the Danish People's Party, and the German Alternative for Germany are all rising in popularity and taking seats. The ruling Law and Justice Party in Poland have refused to back arch federalist Pole Donald Tusk for a second term as President of the European Council. Other non-Eurosceptic parties such as Syriza in Greece and Podemos in Spain are actively campaigning against an EU whose policies have brought austerity.
All is clearly not well with the EU. For a variety of reasons and representing a wide range of politics, both Left and Right, the authority of Brussels and the very existence of the EU are under threat from all sides.
How has Juncker responded to this? By offering more control for Brussels, and deeper integration.
He offered 5 solutions for the future for the EU:
1. Stay as we are. But with the treaty bound objective of 'ever closer union,' the status quo means keep expanding, keep integrating, and increase controls.
2. Keeping nothing but the Single Market. But a single market like this requires centralised control, central planning, high compliance thresholds and costs, and the free movements of peoples, services, and capital. It also requires border controls. In fact option 2 is identical to option 1.
3. An opt-in to greater integration. This two tier EU is an impossibility. The EU can only function at the pace and direction determined by the French-German axis. So the lower tier of co-operation is an illusion. So, option 3 is simply option 1 in better clothes.
4. What the Telegraph calls "Doing Less More Efficiently." The EU cannot do less, its purpose is broadening and deepening its controls. The Commission cannot nor will not give up any of its competences, its momentum is irreversible according to its own Treaties and founding principles. This option is a pipe dream.
5. Doing much more together. Bang! That's the option that Juncker wants us to choose, which, in fact is identical to option one; keep rolling on the process of expansion, integration, and taking further decision-making away from the sovereign member states.
At least with reference to Option Five Mr Juncker concedes the risk that "alienating parts of society which feel that the EU lacks legitimacy or has taken too much power away from national authorities." But the reality is that all five options are not options at all, they are five ways of making the EU 27 choose more Europe despite calls across the Continent for a return of sovereignty.
And this is what the post-Juncker EU would look like by 2025 according to Euractiv.com:
• The EU's European Border and Coast Guard would have fully taken over management of the EU's external borders.
• All asylum claims will be processed by a single European Asylum Agency
• Joint defence capabilities will be established in a EU European Defence Union
• The EU would speak with one voice on all foreign policy issues
• Trade deals would be dealt with exclusively at EU level, removing the need for each agreement to be ratified by national parliaments
• Co-operation between police and judicial authorities on terrorism issues would be systematic and facilitated by common Europe Counter-Terrorism agency.
And of course, full monetary union, taxation strategy and financial controls
I have an option six for Mr Juncker on his way out, give it all up and return all sovereign powers to the Member States with an apology. The European Union has failed, and it is time that he admitted that.