The EU at a crossroads

 

Sir, – Ireland’s love-in with the EU continues unabated but elsewhere people are becoming less enthusiastic.

In a survey commissioned by the European Council on Foreign Relations think tank prior to the European elections involving citizens from France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Austria, Slovakia, Romania, Greece, the Czech Republic and Poland, a majority of those polled believe that EU disintegration was a “realistic possibility” in the next 10 to 20 years.

It was therefore interesting to hear Donald Tusk claim that the recent European Parliament elections have shown Brexit to be “a vaccine against anti-EU propaganda and fake news” (World News, May 29th).

Does Donald Tusk want to inoculate the EU from critical voices? To grandees of the federalist project like him, dissenting voices are invariably dismissed as peddlers of “fake news”. In any case, Mr Tusk appears to have got his analogies mixed up.

“A vaccine works by training the body’s immune system so that it can fight a disease it has not come into contact with before”, according to the textbooks.

The EU has certainly come into contact with “Eurosceptic” members in the past but rather than being localised to the UK, the contagion seems to be spreading – given that Eurosceptic parties have just had their strongest showing ever in the European elections.

Perhaps the analogy Mr Tusk was searching for was an antidote.

An antidote works by exposing the body to a small amount of the poison (in this case politicians critical of the EU) in order to recover.

The only real antidote to the rise of so-called “populism” is for the institution Donald Tusk heads up to stop trampling on the sovereignty of member states, become more transparent, less authoritarian and, essentially, more democratic – a course of treatment it has studiously avoided thus far. – Yours, etc,

SIMON O’NEILL,

Dublin 3.

Sir, – The absence of proportional representation in the UK may well be one of the underlying drivers behind the frustration with politics that has taken hold there. There is much talk in the UK about the EU being authoritarian but I believe that this links back to the lack of full representation of the voters’ preferences in the UK’s national elections.

For a country with a well-established history of democracy, the UK now stands alone in the EU with its relatively primitive form of voting in national elections.

It’s easier to blame the EU rather than to accept that the people are denied comprehensive representation by their own government’s chosen form of democracy.

The “first past the post” system has come up short by failing to deliver a suitably diverse representation for the public in Westminster.

This has been compounded by the party-whip system which has left people without a voice at a time when they all see the importance of having one. Brexit involves complexities unsuited to being determined by the party whip. But that is exactly what has happened.

The difficulty for independent candidates and small parties of getting elected has left Labour and the Conservative parties being the melting pots for people with differing outlooks on many policy matters, Brexit included. The party machine usually denies these differences expression. And so we end up with a frustrated public and an equally frustrated collection of elected representatives. And the problem of Brexit still remains. – Yours, etc,

JOHN ROONEY,

Enniskerry,

Co Wicklow.