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Greece: the Confrontation

Between Athens and Berlin, supported by Frankfurt [the European Central Bank], the confrontation is political. But it is not a matter of a conflict between two legitimate entities as numerous Eurocrats want us to believe. It is not some democratic European institutions, rooted in representativeness across half a continent, which attempt to assert their legitimate rights in opposition to the democratic institutions of a small country.

Greece is not a great power but we are presently discovering that it has more force than one would expect from the size of its economy and the extent of its territory.

Recall that, in the European Union, Greece can block any decision that requires unanimity as in the case of new sanctions that could be imposed on the Russian Federation.

Above all, Greece has a legitimate government which rests on a parliamentary majority arising from the free decision of a sovereign people. Opposed to Greece are powers and forces which cannot invoke democratic legitimacy, for reasons that have already been laid out on multiple occasions but which the European institutions and the European Central Bank do not want to acknowledge.

The European Parliament resembles a democratic assembly, the Commission resembles a government, the European Council, which brings together the heads of state and of governments, resembles bodies with executive powers – but they are nothing of the sort.

The European Parliament is not a legislative power given that it cannot initiate laws. It does not represent the European people as the European people do not exist. The [2007] Treaty of Lisbon evokes the ‘citizens of the European Union’ but this citizenship is acquired only within the framework of national states which issue European passports to French citizens, German citizens, Greek citizens, etc.

It is the European Commission that exercises legislative power by drawing up European directives whereas it comprises officials vested with executive power: they are given responsibility to enforce such texts which are not laws, for those officials are not representatives of a sovereign people.

The European Council [previously Council of Ministers] (configured according to appropriate domains of competence) is not a government as it co-produces texts with the Parliament and the Commission and approves the annual budget, while the Parliament is restricted to the right to disapprove of details of the Commission’s decisions.

The European Court of Justice decides arbitrarily on the matters that come before it: it creates European law while bypassing the legislative prerogatives of democratic national representative assemblies. The Court has actually established the principle of the absolute primacy of Community law over national law, national Parliaments having the obligation to integrate the former into the latter. This is worse than a government of judges, given that this Court of Justice does not operate within an institutional framework set by a Constitution. We are confronted by an autocratic body that constitutionalizes its laws and interprets them according to its own pleasure.

In the strict sense, the European Union has no institutions – that would presuppose a Constitutional order – but only instruments which do not respect the principle of the separation of powers, however essential in countries which respect the rule of law.

In any case, this Union cannot be considered a state. It is only a “juridical union founded on international law”, according to the unimpeachable definition given by the German federal Constitutional Court at Karlsruhe. This [fiction] doesn’t prevent the creation of a kind of ‘economic constitution’ – by establishing, for example, budgetary equilibrium as a principle – according to the ideological norms, whereas the so-called ‘European Constitution’ has in fact been rejected by France and the Netherlands.

In short, these are non-democratic bodies – the European Central Bank, the Eurogroup [Commission, Parliament, European Council, Court of Justice] – which attempt to subjugate a democratic government. These bodies can invoke the legality of the treaties but nothing that they impose can be legitimate for they are not the expression of a sovereign power.

Greece is, on the contrary, a sovereign state in which the government must satisfy the legitimizing criteria of popular sovereignty and of national sovereignty. It is this strength that the German government, the European Central Bank and the president of the Eurogroup are attempting to crush by technocratic mechanisms involving financial blackmail pure and simple.

We hope on behalf of the whole of Europe for a victorious resistance of the Greek government and of its people.

Bertrand Renouvin blogs at http://www.bertrand-renouvin.fr. This article was written on 10 February, following Syriza’s victory in the Greek elections on 25 January. It has been translated by Evan Jones.