Angela Merkel, the German chancellor, has raised Conservative hopes for David Cameron’s European policy by saying that the European Union should discuss returning powers from Brussels to national governments.
Good, though I am not surprised. Having had breakfast recently with the German Ambassador, I know devolved powers are consistent with the German vision of a federal state.
All the while politicians insist on policies of interference with business within a customs union, one which requires free movement of people and capital, the pressures towards centralised power will be immense. If genuine European diversity were permitted, prosperity would be greatest where people enjoyed the fullest freedom under law. People and capital would move. That would undermine the interventionist plans of an officialdom which cannot bear the thought that it is not strictly necessary.
Today’s challenge for European people is how to undermine excessive state power while reaping the benefits for Europe’s east of democracy and fundamental liberties under the rule of law. The Council of Europe should be reformed to promote those values within narrow bounds and the EU abolished.
In the 21st Century, we should be moving past these giant, inherently unaccountable structures of state power towards the free and spontaneous cooperation of people wherever they may be. We should be optimistic about humanity’s future but highly sceptical of the role of power within it.