Think of the European Union and what
springs to mind? Corruption, nepotism, a contempt for accountability
and transparency, massive waste, persecution of whistleblowers – topped
off by a sclerotic bureaucracy? Well, think again – about the last
part, anyway. The European Commission in Canberra has moved very
quickly – to slap down Janet Albrechtsen.
La Janet had a go at the proposed EU constitution in her Australian column on Wednesday, headed Risks in the EU’s pursuit of happiness.
“Laws that were once decided by the people of one country will be
decided by others,” she wrote. “Sovereignty and self-determination are
By Friday, the Eurocrats in Canberra had hit back, on their website and in an email circulated to subscribers of their news service:
EUROMYTH NO. 16: THE GREAT COMMISSION OCTOPUS
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time a Euromyth a little closer to home. The fallacy of the
tentacle-like European bureaucracy as being oversized and unwieldy is
one often trumpeted in the British media and therefore aped by some of
the press down under. The most recent example comes from Janet
Albrechtsen, columnist with The Australian. In an article (May
11) which labels the ‘grand utopian experiment’ of the EU as a stealthy
attempt to ‘dump the nation-state’, Albrechtsen describes the EU’s
executive, the Brussels-based European Commission, as a ‘mammoth
centralised bureaucracy’. In fact the Commission, with its 21,863
employees, is smaller than Australia’s Centrelink, which has a total of
24,632 staff. What many tend to forget is that almost all EU
regulations and legislation drafted by the Commission has to be voted
on by both the European Parliament, the Council of Ministers which is
made up of ministers from the EU Member States, and then often by the
Heads of State and Government of EU countries via the European Council.
The Commission has very little unchecked capacity to design and enforce
rules from Brussels of its own volition. All up, the Commission is
probably the same size as the combined policy divisions of the
Australian federal government, yet it serves a truly ‘mammoth’ 455
million people, as opposed to a mere 20 million.
PS: Albrechtsen’s article would surely win any award for Euro-drivel!
right. “The fallacy of the tentacle-like European bureaucracy as being
oversized and unwieldy is one often trumpeted in the British media and
therefore aped by some of the press down under.” An Anglo-Saxon
conspiracy, in other words? Good to see that the sprit of General de
Gaulle has moved from the Quai d’Orsay to Brussels.