Bill Carmichael: EU’s free pass for French budget woes highlights its hypocrisy

France and its president Emmanuel Macron have escaped sanctions for breaching EU budget rules.
France and its president Emmanuel Macron have escaped sanctions for breaching EU budget rules.
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You probably recall that during the Brexit negotiations we were continually told by Brussels bureaucrats and their Remainer apologists in the UK that the EU was a “rules-based organisation” to explain away its mule-like intransigence.

The argument went that even the tiniest concessions to smooth the UK’s exit from the EU could not be countenanced because “the rules are the rules” and they cannot be broken under any circumstances.

Much the same argument was applied during the Greek debt crisis. The Greeks had to be punished for breaking EU rules, even though these vindictive disciplinary measures destroyed the life chances of an entire generation and plunged the country into penury likely to last for decades.

More recently Italy has taken a kicking from the EU for planning to break strict budget deficit rules. The Italian economy is mired in the doldrums thanks to the euro, and its new populist government is desperate to spark a bit more growth by loosening the ties of austerity and running up a deficit of just over two per cent of GDP.

Although the proposals to help the poor and pensioners are hugely popular in Italy, the EU has warned the government that it will face fines of billions of euros unless it modifies its budget.

This, incidentally, demonstrates conclusively that within the EU real power resides not in democratically-elected governments chosen by the people, but in the unelected and unaccountable European Commission.

Given this background, you might imagine that when France announced recently it was driving a coach and horses through the EU’s rules by running up a huge deficit of 3.2 per cent next year, that Brussels would come down hard on Emmanuel’s Macron’s government.

After all, as we’ve been told many times, rules are rules. Well, not exactly. A few days ago the EU’s Budget Commissioner Gunther Oettinger announced that France had been given a “one-time exemption” and would not face any punishment for breaking the rules.

This “one-time exemption” is very curious as France has been breaking EU budget deficit rules for around a decade and every year appears to have been miraculously granted a “one-time exemption” thereby escaping the billions of euros in fines that the rules demand.

Germany too has broken the EU’s deficit limits in the past and has also got off scot-free. So punishment is applied without mercy when the Greeks and Italians break the rules, but they simply do not apply when the French and Germans do exactly the same thing.

Does that sound like a “rules-based organisation” to you? No, in reality it is a corrupt and costly bureaucracy that applies the rules depending on who is breaking them, with no concept of justice or fairness.

We shouldn’t be surprised. The French and Germans have a long record of obeying the rules when it suits them and ignoring them when it doesn’t.

For example, the German Chancellor Angela Merkel simply ignored the Dublin Regulations on refugees when she threw open Europe’s borders to more than a million migrants, thereby unleashing a wave of crime and fear across the country. And Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker bypassed the EU’s strict recruitment regulations when he wanted to parachute his henchman Martin Selmayr into a top civil service job.

It is worth recalling exactly why France will bust its budget so badly. When Macron was elected in 2017 the globalist establishment hailed him as the man who would stop the populist tide sweeping through Europe.

It hasn’t worked out quite like that. Macron hoped to raise revenue by cutting taxes on the super rich while hammering the poor and rural voters with green taxes, but he was forced to back down in the face of furious protests by the so-called “gilets jaunes” and the tax rises were shelved. That capitulation has left an enormous hole in the French budget – hence it will break the EU’s deficit rules.

Just weeks ago Macron and Merkel were boasting how the new EU army would soon take command of European security and the next minute he is ignominiously running up the white flag in the face of a few protests from some guys wearing fluorescent jackets.

That howling noise you can hear is the sound of Vladimir Putin rolling around on the floor laughing.