Vaclav Klaus on EU: Liberty, not unification

But will anybody listen?

Brussels Journal has the goods (as usual...). Money quote:
When I look back at the last half a century, I see two different stages of the European integration process, with two different integration models. At the beginning the liberalization model prevailed. The first stage was characterized by inter-European opening-up, by the overall liberalization of human activities, by the removal of barriers at the borders of the countries as regards the movement of goods and services, of labour and capital, and of ideas and cultural patterns. Its main feature was the removal of barriers and the continuation of intergovernmentalism.

The second stage, which I call the harmonization model, is defined by centralization, regulation from above, harmonization of all kinds of ‘parameters’ of the political, economic and social system, standardization of conditions of production and consumption, homogenization of human life. Its main feature is unification orchestrated from above and the birth of supranationalism.

I am in favour of the first model, not of the second. I know, of course, that in reality we will always have the mixture of both models but the question is which one is the dominant one. There can be no doubt about where we are now. My position is clear. I am convinced that the unification of decision-making at the EU level and the overall harmonization of all kinds of societal “parameters” went farther than was necessary and more than is rational and economically advantageous. It is not an unqualified argument. I am aware of ‘externalities,’ of ‘spillover effects’ and of ‘continental-wide public goods.’ These phenomena undoubtedly exist and should be properly reflected in European institutions and legislation. However, when I say “exist”, it does not mean that they dominate. The second stage of the European integration process has been based on the completely wrong idea that they do dominate. To artificially impose such an institutional solution is a mistake. We all lose, not gain.

We should do something about it. I suggest to redefine the whole concept of the European Union, not just to make cosmetic changes. I suggest going back to the intergovernmental model of European integration. I suggest going back to the original concept of attempting to remove all kinds of barriers, going back to the consistent liberalization and opening-up of all markets (not just economic ones). I suggest minimizing political intervention in human activities and where intervention is inevitable it should be done close to the citizens (which means at the level of municipalities, regions and states), not in Brussels.
As if he was reading my mind.


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