Jean Claude Juncker, in an interview with CNN, slammed those he described as ‘stupid nationalists in love with their own countries’ in the run up to the European elections. It is hugely ironic that one of the men responsible for the anti-democratic European Union should be attacking those who take issue with the way the EU is run in this way.
What is wrong with loving your country in any event? Maybe if you come from Luxembourg and your country is the size of Swindon it would be hard to understand the love others have for their countries? Why is it stupid to think that your country may be better off making decisions for itself rather than being told what to do by Brussels?
The unthinking bigotry of Juncker and his pals is one of the reasons why there is so much animosity towards those running the EU. They have helped to steer the EU away from democracy and in doing so have created a groundswell of anti EU opinion. Juncker believes that Brexit will have put others off wanting to leave the EU because of seeing how difficult it is to leave. This is the height of arrogance. It fails to take into account that across Europe there are people who can see the shortcomings of the project he headed up as President of the EU Commission. By thinking people would rather be trapped in something they know is wrong because it is difficult to leave he is underestimating the will of people who have had enough.
They have had enough of the complete lack of democratic accountability that allows people like him to run the EU with no proper oversight. They have had enough of the sneering elitists like Juncker who have feathered their own nests from the EU while allowing it to become ever more antidemocratic. It is not stupidity that drives them, it is a feeling that they have been taken for granted for too long.
Junker has underestimated the sentiment behind the rise in nationalism. There is a real upsurge in the belief that the nation state is a better organising principle than supra national blocs. This again is not stupidity; it is a perfectly normal reaction to the loss of control that comes from ceding power away from democratic institutions to undemocratic blocs. Nationalism doesn’t have to be isolationism. Nationalists realise that countries have to work together and trade together in order to get on. They just feel that law making and economic decision taking are better done at the level of a country’s electable politician than by unelected overseas bureaucrats.
Sneering at ‘stupid nationalists’ is not a good look. It makes the elitist EU apparatchiks appear even more out of touch than they are. It is a failure to take responsibility for a problem they have caused. There is no doubt that the EU will not be reformed by people who don’t even recognise their contribution to the problems in need of reform.
As Juncker prepares to leave office he should be questioned on what he did in his time as President of the Commission to make the EU more democratic. The answer would be a stony silence. Had he been able to answer such a question in the affirmative he might be excused for feeling aggrieved about the rise in nationalist movements. As he can’t answer in the affirmative he must recognise that he is part of the reason why the nationalist movements have gained power.
For our part, Juncker and his cronies are reasons why we need to leave this awful institution. We have had enough of their laughing up their sleeves at us. We do not feel we need to pay the outrageous upkeep their lifestyles suggest they deserve. We can do better for ourselves on our own and yes, loving our countries. Let Juncker call us stupid nationalists if he wishes. It will not change the fact that we are better off on our own making our own decisions and taking charge of our own affairs.