BY Daniel Hannan
Those Europhiles who cling, despite all the evidence, to the whole people-who-don’t-like-the-EU-racket-are-secret-xenophobes shtick should meet Derk Jan Eppink MEP. Cerebral, courteous and cosmopolitan, Eppink is a brilliant linguist even by Dutch standards. He is married to a Russian, represents a Belgian constituency and was living in New York until he was elected. His last big job was at the European Commission, where he worked with Frits Bolkestein to try to crowbar free market principles into the EU’s competition policy. Eppink won’t even call himself a Euro-sceptic, preferring the term “Euro-realist”.
The Tower of Babel: Inspiration for the European Parliament
All of which makes his book, Bonfire of Bureaucracy in Europe, awkward for Euro-integrationists to ignore. There is nothing nostalgic here, nothing intemperate, nothing angry. The book is empirical and measured. It judges the EU by the liberal-democratic precepts on which Western civilisation is built, and finds it wanting. The Brussels apparat, Eppink concludes, is remote, self-serving, anti-American, addicted to spending other people’s money, disdainful of the ballot box and fearful of the masses. He makes these observations in such a matter-of-fact way that it is impossible to call them shrill or exaggerated. Nor can his credentials be easily called into question: his years at the European Commission qualify him perfectly to write an insider’s account.