Rachida Dati, the French former Justice Minister and MEP with the European Christian Democrats group (EPP), threw the cat among the pigeons. At a conference in London organised by the think tank Open Europe, she launched an attack on the 'European elite', of which the EPP is the flag ship. "There is the world of technocrats who want more Europe with a federal myth before their eyes." She accuses the Christian Democrat leaders of forming 'Un Club' and calls herself a euro-sceptic. Dati called for a reality check: une révolution réaliste.
Dati's speech is striking. Her leader Joseph Daul, a farmer from the Alsace region of France, has only one mantra: more Europe. His group is by far the largest in the European Parliament and the EPP sees itself as the naturally dominant force. Over the past five years, Christian Democrats have been the leading faction in Europe, with Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso, European President Herman Van Rompuy and former Eurogroup chairman Jean-Claude Juncker.
This dominance is the life work of former Belgian Prime Minister Wilfried Martens, who recently passed away. Martens, an affable person, followed a very important rule when he was President of the Christian Democrat family: the EPP had to be the largest group in the European Parliament under all circumstances. Each party was welcome, Christian or not. He took the party of Silvio Berlusconi in, as well as the party of the Hungarian authoritarian leader Victor Orban. Parties were lured by all the temptations of human existence. Group formation was not about Christ, but about money, power and jobs. "We have become a ruling class over the people we represent", said Dati.
In his book "Europe: I struggle and overcome", Martens wrote - following a foreword by Angela Merkel - that Christian Democrats were only omnipotent under one condition: "there should not be a group to the right of us because then we lose our attraction". In fact, he created a parliament without an opposition to the right of the EPP. Only the British Conservatives left the EPP, because they could not be part of that engine of European federalism. David Cameron couldn't defend that in Westminster. Even worse, the euro crisis overtook the Christian Democrat leaders completely. Commission President Barroso said in 2010: "The euro is our protective shield against this crisis." European President Van Rompuy said in 2011 that the crisis was "over", while youth unemployment rose to record highs of 50% and more. The myth of Martens evaporated.
In this political void an anti EU-elite grew, bashing the 'natural governing party'. First Nigel Farage, leader of the UK Independence Party came. He formed a political group, which provided him a platform as group leader to target EU-leaders of all kind. With rhetorical skills, he attacked them ferociously, put his speeches on YouTube and became world famous. In the European Parliament there's also another critic, Marine Le Pen, sitting next to her father Jean-Marie. She has no group and no platform, but is busy forming a group of her own, including among others the Dutch PVV, Belgian Vlaams Belang and Italian Lega Nord. Le Pen's National Front is set for a huge victory in France.
The anti-EU elite thrive on the paternalism of the EU elite, but they don't exactly practice what they preach. They complain that the EU has a democratic deficit. That's true, but anti-EU parties are themselves internal dictatorships. Whoever gets in a fight with UKIP's Farage is expelled. Of the initial 13 UKIP MEPs there were 5 in a quarrel with Farage: exit! Dissent is not tolerated; the same accounts for the PVV and its sole member and leader, Geert Wilders. The Front National is a family business of the Le Pen's.
Their accusation of mismanagement of EU funds is justified. But UKIP, Front National and PVV are against everything European, except the money. They use the EU as a cash cow to fund their national parties and do little else. Farage even employs his wife. Le Pen is a member of the Committee on Employment, and yet in 2013 she was present exactly 0 times.
Furthermore, the question emerges: where does real criticism end and rancidity begin. Mario Borghezio, MEP for Lega Nord, talks about the Italian 'bongo bongo government' because there is a black minister in it. He called the Serbian General Mladic, responsible for the massacre in Srebrenica, a 'patriot'. Le Pen is even speaking to the Hungarian anti-Semitic Jobbik on joining her group.
The EU elite have failed, but the anti-EU elite have nothing to offer. Maybe it's time for Dati's révolution réaliste.