The Dutch referendum – The beginning of the end for the European Union?

By Dimitris Konstantakopoulos

The Dutch referendum is the latest in a chain of events which make now European Union look, more and more, like the Soviet Union during the last phase of its existence. Of course if you compare these two structures (EU and USSR) you will find a lot of differences. But in spite of those differences there is an astonishing “structural similarity” in the fucntioning of both structures and in their multinational character, which can probably explain why such huge and, seemingly so strong, structures may prove extremely vulnerable, under specific conditions.

Dutch voters spoke again, as they had spoken in June 2005, when they rejected, along with French voters, the proposed European Constitutional Treaty. The French and the Dutch referendums of 2005 have signified, already from that time, the political end of “euroliberalism”.

In 2005, no power in France, Holland or Europe wanted to receive the message of the voters. Now, we face maybe the probability that there will soon be no power in Brussels to receive the message, one way or another.

Europe is probably living the beginning of the end of the regime prevailing in the continent. As for the EU itself, it is facing a very real possibility of a chaotic crisis potentially leading to a “sudden death”.

We are not yet there, but we witness already an exponential increase of various instability factors and no serious leadership, both on national and Union levels, willing or able to address the enormous challenges this structure is facing.

By voting No, the Dutch voters rejected the Ukraine–European Union Association Agreement. It is too early to say what will be the practical consequences of their verdict. But the political one is already enormous and no European leader was able, until the time these lines were written, to comment in any comprehensive way the deafening “political signal” Dutch citizens emitted.

The voters have not rejected just an agreement. By the way it is also not serious to claim that they voted, the way they voted, just out of fear of refugees or terror. Dutch, Cypriot, French, Irish, Greek voters have, time and again, rejected the policies they propose to them, when they had any opportunity to do it. They did it long before the refugee and the terror crisis appeared and affected them. Of course both crises have played a role here, but at a maximum, they added to an already deep rejection by European citizens of the whole direction both their states and the Union have taken. European citizens feel much better than their supposed “leaders” the abyss into which their policies are leading them and they react to that.

Sometimes, European politicians blame exclusively the Union for what they are doing. But most of the Union decisions are taken with the consent of national governments. By attributing to Brussels policies they themselves have voted for, they pay a very bad service to the very idea of any European integration. And the opposite is also true. By focusing rightly but exclusively to the policies of Brussels, we tend to forget other important dimensions of European problems, like what to do in order to face the tremendous power of multinational corporations and international Finance, or the question of European independence.

By refusing the agreement with Ukraine, Dutch voters also refused the “blind” policy of continuous and unlimited “extension” of the Union. Without serious development and integration help, this enlargement policy is not of any help to the new countries. But it is used to destroy the social welfare state in the “old” ones! And also to deny to the Union the means of its independence (“new Europe” states are essentially American neo-protectorates, at least regarding their foreign and defence policies) and make it ungovernable, thus more governable by obscure financial and geopolitical forces.

Dutch citizens refused also, by their vote, indirectly still clearly, the policy towards Russia that Neoconservatives and NATO have imposed on both European governments and the Union, all of them having proved more than obedient to their desiderata, in the most irresponsible way.

The more general message emitted time and again by Cypriot voters (2004), French and Dutch voters (2005), Irish voters (2007), Greek voters (2015) is that Europeans reject the policies of both their “local”, national elites and governments and the European Union bodies which are deciding and applying them. Without bothering excessively to take into account what people thinks of them and sometimes even to explain their policies.

What European citizens, in increasing numbers, feel the need to do, in every occasion they have, is to try to claim back, at least some of the power of their national states and the Union, hijacked by multinational corporations, Finance, extremist geopolitical forces, hidden behind both national elites, Brussels bureaucracy or ECB.

As for a possible collapse of the European Union, it is good news for all those who got exasperated with European policies. Still they should take care. The collapse of a structure you don’t like is, sometimes, the necessary condition to replace it with a better order, especially if this structure is not “reformable”. Under some conditions such a collapse cannot be avoided. Still, as the Soviet example showed too well to all the world, the disappearance of a structure you don’t like can also lead to a much worse situation. In such crises, the end result is dependent upon the strategic capacities and the possible dependence of the forces involved.