Bill Carmichael: The European Union is not reformable

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IN the recent elections the people of Europe delivered a stinging rebuke to the continent’s elite.

Call it a slap in the face – or a hard kick up the behind – the message was unmistakable; we can’t go on like this any more.

Such is the deafening clamour for reform of corrupt and wasteful institutions that any sensible politician would conclude that the dream of a United States of Europe and “ever closer union” is dead and buried.

But not in Brussels. There, cocooned in their unelected and unaccountable sinecures, Europe’s ruling class barely blinked – and then decided to carry on exactly as they had before.

The first sign that it was business as usual with the bureaucrats was the preposterous report issued by the European Commission earlier this month delivering a finger-wagging sermon on the need for growth in the UK and calling on the British government to increase taxes.

Yes, that’s right – the people behind the Euro, which has caused untold misery across the continent and destroyed the life chances of an entire generation, were attempting to lecture one of the fastest growing economies in the world on how to run the country.

But perhaps the clearest demonstration of the complete contempt in which the Eurocrats hold the people of Europe is the decision, widely expected today, to install the arch-federalist and one of the architects of the Euro disaster, Jean-Claude Juncker, as President of the European Commission.

With Juncker’s appointment all faint hope of any meaningful reform of the EU will be gone – that is why David Cameron has fought so hard to prevent his installation.

Juncker’s elevation marks an 
emphatic victory for Europe’s Ancien Regime – and a deliberate snub to Cameron. The Prime Minister’s plans to negotiate a more flexible and less bureaucratic relationship with the 
EU, before putting the issue to the electorate in a referendum in 2017, now lie in ruins.

Europe is a rotting corpse. Most of the countries in the south are bust, crippled with insurmountable debt that will saddle their people with miserable austerity for decades to come. Even in the more prosperous north growth is sclerotic. Across the continent the extremists of right and left are rapidly gaining ground.

And as the EU jalopy heads crazily towards the edge of the cliff, with the people of Europe desperately calling for the brake to be applied, Juncker will jam his foot down hard on the accelerator.

When the inevitable crash comes it won’t be pretty. We have seen in living memory what happens when extremism takes a grip in Europe.

We are better off out of it. I used to think, like Cameron, that the EU is reformable, but recent events prove conclusively that will never happen.

Meanwhile, there is a big world out there. Every continent on the planet – excluding Europe – is growing. There are countries around the globe desperate to do business with the UK.

It is time to lift our eyes to the horizon and return to what we do best – international trade – and leave the inward looking, little Europeans to their fate.

Facebook fracas

Complaints originating from social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook account for “at least half” of the calls passed on to frontline police officers, a senior officer told the BBC this week.

The problem is particularly severe for officers dealing with “low-level” crimes and the number of complaints has increased so much that the College of Policing is now training 6,000 officers to deal with online offences.

This is absurd. Of course if there is evidence of real crimes – credible threats to kill or incitement to violence – then they have to be investigated.

But the chances are that a lot of these complaints will amount to little more than someone being a bit rude on Twitter. No doubt many of them will involve so-called “hate crimes”, which usually involve someone being slightly disparaging to some minority group or other.

The complainants need to grow up. The police have better things to do with their time than refereeing a juvenile spat between two idiots on Facebook.