I have to admit to being bowled over by the legacy media “reaction” to the vote on
mandatory ‘voluntary’ refugee quotas for the EU Member States that participate in the Common European Asylum System (CEAS)*. The semi-literate Guardian piece is parochially concerned with what it describes as Britain’s “refusal” to participate in the programme. The BBC’s ‘Europe’ correspondent reports the following:
Criticism is already ringing out from countries that voted against the relocation scheme, but under EU law they are now obliged to take part. It is highly unusual – unprecedented, really – for a majority vote to be used in a situation like this, which involves basic issues of national sovereignty.
But the European Commission says it is determined to enforce what was agreed. What’s not yet clear is what will happen if any country simply refuses to comply – and that has certainly been the suggestion from some capitals.
Will financial sanctions be sufficient? It is another sign that this crisis is testing European unity like no other.
This betrays a stunning level of ignorance. The proposal was agreed by Qualified Majority Voting (QMV) in the Council of Ministers. This is the essence of supranational (“above the nation”) treaty governance. The vetoes that heretofore existed have been progressively removed (over the course of many, many years) from the Member States—the few remaining vetoes that the Member States had preserved until recently fell in November 2014 as per the provisions specificed in the Treaty of Lisbon.
This process of engrenage and the supranational governance it empowers is what grants EU institutions the authority to override the democratic nation-states that consent to become (and remain) EU Member States. It is supranationalism that provides the impetus for ever deeper integration; ever more power for the Commission—and the other EU institutions—and the consequent diminution of power among the governments of the Member States, let alone the Parliaments of the Member States, to say nothing of the people who vote in those countries’ ‘democratic’ elections. What did these politicians think that they were signing their countries up to?
The smaller EU member nations are particularly badly served due to the “weighting” that is applied to the EU system of QMV in the Council of Ministers and the European Council, based, as it is, upon the size of the voting country’s population as a proportion of the Union as a whole. In short, it is no good bleating about it now, crying that the EU “forced through” these measures, as Open Europe asserts. This is precisely what the democratic governments agreed to when they signed the treaty that gave their assent to those three, seemingly very innocent words, “ever closer union”.
Supranational governance means national subordination, which is not the same as intergovernmental co-operation. The difference between the two is, in fact, vast.
If we are to rectify this sitution, we have to first recognise that the ‘migrant crisis’ was partly caused by the EU’s outdated asylum policy (See: here and here). We need to think seriously about how the 1951 Refugee Convention and the 1967 Protocol can be amended to address modern realities. Then, we need to fundamentally re-think how we approach this entire area of policy (See: here, here and here), which means breaking out of the petty, inward-looking, miserly attitude that has mired us in ‘little Europe’, to embrace innovative, future-oriented, global solutions to what is, undoubtedly, a global problem.
* Sidenote: Britain previously negotiated a derogation—together with Ireland and Denmark—to participate selectively in this area of policy. In other words, we have an opt-in. I do not expect Mr Cameron to use it. To give the Prime Minister credit, he has remained relatively steadfast, in the face of an unpleasant legacy media barrage and luvvie sob-fest demanding that ‘something/more’ be done. Rather than kow-tow to an extremely vocal but not necessarily representative lobby, Cameron has instead made the case that Britain currently spends more than any other EU member country on foreign aid (second only to the United States, globally), a large amount of which contributes towards funding the camps—in Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan and Iraqi Kurdistan—where these refugees are sheltered, as near as is practical to the homes to which they hope to return. Furthermore, insisting that Britain will only accept refugees who have applied for asylum through internationally recognised channels is only sensible).