IDS's hidden agenda




Reform of the EU to make it democratic is impossible.  To demonstrate why, it
is instructive to refer to a book written in 1980 by Nobel Prize-winning
economist, Milton Friedman, and his wife Rose.  It was called Free to Choose.   In
this book, they launched an attack on the US Food and Drug Administration
(FDA), for its bureaucratic controls on pharmaceutical drugs, which served only
to increase their price and keep effective products off the market.

They recalled that, when one of them had suggested in a Newsweek column (8
January 1973) that for these reasons the FDA should be abolished, the column had
evoked letters from persons in pharmaceutical work offer-ing tales of woe to
confirm the allegation that the FDA was frus-trating drug development.   But
most also had said something like, 'In contrast to your opinion, I do not
believe that the FDA should be abolished but I do believe that its power should be
changed in such and such a way'.

The Friedmans addressed this point in a subsequent column, entitled 'Barking
Cats' (19 February 1973), which has singular relevance to the European Union.
Part of the column read as follows:

What would you think of someone who said, 'I would like to have a cat
provided it barked'?  Yet your statement that you favour an FDA provided it behaves
as you believe desirable is precisely equivalent.  The biological laws that
specify the characteristics of cats are no more rigid than the political laws
that specify the behavior of governmental agencies once they are established.
The way the FDA now behaves, and the adverse consequences, are not an accident,
not a result of some easily corrected human mistake, but a consequence of its
con-stitution in precisely the same way that a meow is related to the
constitution of a cat.  As a natural scientist, you recognize that you cannot assign
characteristics at will to chemical and biological enti-ties, cannot demand
that cats bark or water burn. Why do you sup-pose the situation is different in
the social sciences?

The Friedmans continued the argument in their book: "The error of supposing
that the behavior of social organisms can be shaped at will is widespread.  It
is the fundamental error of most so-called reformers.  It explains why they so
often feel that the fault lies in the man, not the 'system'; that the way to
solve problems is to 'turn the rascals out' and put well-meaning people in
charge.  It explains why their reforms, when ostensibly achieved, so often go
astray".  They added:

The harm done by the FDA does not result from defects in the people in charge
- unless it be a defect to be human.  Many have been able and devoted civil
servants.  However, social, politi-cal, and economic pressures determine the
behaviour of the people supposedly in charge of a government agency to a far
greater extent than they determine its behaviour.  No doubt there are exceptions,
but they are rare - almost as rare as barking cats.

There lies the answer to those who argue that the European Union can be
'reformed' to make it 'more democratic'.  What the history of the European Union
tells us is that is was set up in a certain way, to do certain things.  It
embodies at his core the supranational Commission.  All the other institutions were
designed in such a way that they would either present no challenge to the s
upremacy of the Commission, or help it in its task of acquiring power.  Given
the structure and relationships of the institutions, as indeed do dogs bark and
cats meow, so does the European Union necessarily act in an anti-democratic
manner.

To expect the European Union to become democratic, or to change the structure
of its institutions, is to confound the very purpose for which it was set up.
 In Friedman's terms, this is as absurd as expecting a cat to bark.  If the
European Union was reformed, so as to make it at all democratic or to reduce
the amount of regulation flowing from it, it would no longer be the European
Union. As Thatcher said, long after she had retired from active politics, 'Europe
as a whole is fundamentally unreformable'.

Here, and in the IDS speech lies the sting.  The EU he wants to create is an
EU in name only.

RN