Publications

Review of 'Bonfire of Bureaucracy in Brussels'

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.

Mourning for Poland

DAll European countries have their troubles, major and minor, but Poland has oftentimes been struck by fate.

A feeling of great compassion and mourning runs through me because of the death of the entire Polish delegation, which crashed in Smolensk. Among them president Lech Kaczyński and many high-ranking Polish dignitaries from the political, military and religious elite.

My support goes especially to the relatives and the members of the Polish delegation in our own political group of the European Conservatives and Reformists in the European Parliament. Fortunately, none of our colleagues were on board.

Symbolically it couldn't have been worse, because of the mass-murder in Katyn in 1940 when the Soviet secret police murdered 22.000 Poles, among them many military officers and the intelligence. Stalin wanted to decapitate Poland politically, militarily and intellectually. The Soviet Union has always denied the crime but the Russian Federation could no longer ignore the facts and evidence.

The airplane crashed on the exact day of commemoration, with on board Polish top officials and relatives of the victims of Katyn on board. This is for Poland a traumatic experience.

In 1990 I was myself a correspondent in Poland where I followed the road to democratic statehood. During that period, Lech and Jarosław Kaczyński played a prominent role. Few West European citizens realise the historic dimension of this transformation. For centuries, Poland was a nation without a state. During the last century, it became a nation with a state but not a free state. Only in 1990 did nation, state and freedom merge in one trias politica. The free Polish nation-state is a recent given.

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