tv Discussion on the Future of the European Union CSPAN April 10, 2016 9:00pm-11:01pm EDT
the director for the national center for injury prevention and control on the new recommendation for doctors and the latest on the heroin epidemic and the center's work to prevent injury and violence. be sure to watch "washington of they discussion european union. then another chance to watch sraha bilder.y -- sarah bilder. the british parliament is in recess this week, so questions will not be seen this evening. now, a panel discussion on the
future of the european union. a group of analysts debate the pro and it euro-skeptic positions. the potential for european cultural integration, and the prospects for the uk's withdrawal from the eu. the two-hour event was hosted by the hudson institute. mr. fonte: what is the future of the european union? that's what we'll be talking about today. what does is it mean to say the european union has a democracy deficit? are they compatible with democratic self-governance? will britain leave the eu in june? if so, what does this mean for the european project? will germany pull back from the jury of the european political union? will the cultural and political challenges of radical islam
both within europe and abroad, strengthen or weaken the eu? 'sat effect is vladimir putin russia have an effect of the eu. ? ? what does the future of the eu mean for the united states and the transatlantic alliance? we will be trying to answer some of these questions this morning. .e have an outstanding panel i am particularly interested in the democracy question. the european union represents a new form of governance beyond the nationstate in general and beyond the democratic nationstate in particular. so, before we get started i will quote three european leaders from the left, right, and center
-- who in the very early days, right after world war ii were concerned -- before charles de gaulle and margaret thatcher voiced their reservations -- these three were concerned about the future of democracy in an integrated europe. from the left in opposition to the creation of the poland steel community, clement atlee declared that britain, quote, "would not accept the most vital economic forces in our country should be handed over to an authority that is utterly undemocratic and responsible to nobody." from the right and at the same time in france, the leader of the national assembly opposed, quote, "delegating our powers to a stateless and uncontrolled autocracy of experts." in 1957, in opposition to the founding documents to the
forerunner of the european union, the former french premier stated, quote, "a democrat may abdicate by giving in to internal dictatorship, but also by delegating his powers to an external authority." that was in opposition to the treaty of rome. now, our first speaker is the director of international outreach at the acton institute for the study of religion and liberty in grand rapids, michigan. he is the author of a new book. the book is entitled "the new totalitarian temptation: global governance and the crisis of democracy in europe." is published by encounter books. i courage everyone to get a count -- a copy. in my view it is the best book
written to date on the european union. he was the political counselor at the u.s. mission in brussels, the european union, is deputy chief in luxembourg, and in munich, hamburg, frankfurt, dublin, costa rica and mexico. he served on the state department in washington d.c. he knows the european union as few scholars and statement do. mr. huizinga: thank you, john. thank you everyone for coming. i appreciate your interest. things do not look too good in europe. before the summer is out, britain might decide to leave the eu. greece's de facto little more than a protector of the
international monetary fund, and european central bank. schengen is in danger of being abolished. devastating terrorist attacks have occurred regularly in europe since the 2004 train bombings. and as brussels and paris show us, the threat of jihadist terrorism remains palpable throughout europe. how did this come about? in my book i contend the european union's commitment to pan-european governments, overriding powers of member states is eroding democracy in europe, threatening human rights, and putting the eu, in principle, on a collision course with the united states. there are fi major arguments in the book. the first, the eu is transforming europe from democratically accountable
nation states into a post democratic order in they have little say in how they are governed. second, the euro-zone crisis, the migrant crisis, increases the risk of terrorism in europe and is connected with the eu pursuit of a globalist supranational dream. third, because of different views on national sovereignty and democratic accountability, the united states and european union are, in principle, on a collision course. fourth, the fact that europe is largely post-christian, while the u.s. government is based on a judeo christian worldview, accounts for a radical difference between american and european views in the role of government. fifth, many of the human rights promoted by the eu are harmful to human rights because they contradict tradition human nature, and
the fact that human beings are not only individuals, but also embedded in religion, family, and community. i would like to concentrate on two things for a basis for discussion. first, an overview on what makes the eu tick and comment on how it ticks. second, the clash of visions between the united states and the eu. first, an overview of the eu. what is the eu in essence? that is the question. it is very hard to say what the eu is. anyone who attempts is taking a big risk. so, i guess i am taking a big risk. there are so many different goals, interests, languages, and people that coexist within the eu. also, the eu is unprecedented. nothing like it has ever existed. certainly, the european union is unlike any other international arrangement
or organization that otherwise exists. for example, some people think of the eu as a free trade or customs union, but it is more than the u.s. and mexico under nafta. neither is the eu like any other international organization that at first glance might seem comparable. take the oas. both the eu and oas are regional organizations. and just as the oas is pan-american including all of the states in the western hemisphere, so is the eu close to being pan-european. but there, the similarities end. the 28 member states with their constant coordination on policy issues and powerful institutions in brussels and luxembourg are much more integrated than the oas or any other international organization.
so, the eu is more than an international organization. but neither is the eu like a federal state. the eu is not a united states of europe. the member states exist as independent nations. so, what is the eu? when all is said and done, my belief is what it comes down to is that the eu is a supra-nationalist project. the eu member states are pooling , and thus relinquishing elements of their sovereignty. they are succeeding large amounts of their governing and lawmaking powers to the supranational institutions of the eu that are distinct from the eu member states and function independently above the national level. the essence of the european project, not just the nuts and
bolts of how the eu works, but the hope behind the european dream, the heart, soul, and mind of the eu is precisely this super nationalism. the process of integration arose out of the ashes of world war ii and the determination of european leaders that war should never arise from european soil. by on conflicts between european states, especially france and germany, should never happen again. this was a noble vision. all, it was an understandable vision, given the devastation brought by world war ii and shortly before that, world war i. despite the problems, it is a powerful vision today. the vision of a harmonious and peaceful europe united with french, germans, and spaniards
and everyone else all working together for a better europe and a better world. but the european union is not only about europe. the vision of the eu, the supranationalist approach, is a model for a new way to order the world. the super nationalism is a new governance, putting the super national governance into practice on a global scale in order to realize world peace by overcoming the unlimited sovereignty of nations, which the eu believes is the root of war. and here is a model for global governance, the eu has real credibility. after all, the eu is the only functioning model of how a global governance might work. so, what is global governance? most definitions that you will easily find are very
technocratic. they do not get to the heart of the matter. here is how i would define global governance. local governance is the attempt to introduce a global rule of law in the interest of achieving an unprecedented degree of world peace and prosperity -- not via one world government, but by the development of a network of international institutions that administer an ever greater body of international law, to which nation states are subject. that binds nation states in their foreign-policy and substantial areas of domestic policy. the key to global governance is development of a global rule of law. no one knows exactly with the global rule of law will look like in the end, if an end is even meant to be achieved.
the key thing about the the eu is process, constant process, constant becoming. never, necessarily, ending. back to the european level for a moment, how does the eu attempt to build a supranational democracy? how does it actually work? as you know, it works primarily via powerful centralizing institutions over and above the member state governments and distinct from member state governments. i would like to sumarize the characteristics most important institutions. first, the european commission. this is the eu's executive arm that enforces regulations throughout the eu. but it has an important legislative function. with rare exceptions, it is the
only institution in the eu with the power to proposed eu legislation, called the right of initiative. it means two things. that eu legislation starts with unelected technocrats working in the european commission, and that the eu executive arm has perhaps the most important legislative power, thus violating the separation of powers that damages democratic accountability. the second institution i'd like to talk about, the council of ministers. it is an institution in which representatives of member state governments work together to coordinate almost all policies in their domains. the council ministers is the single entity, but meets in 10 different formations depending on the policy area. there's the foreign affairs
council, the environment council, the economic and financial counsel, etc. so, another typical thing about the eu that muddies the waters, it is one institution that has 10 basically completey separate formations. another important thing about the council is the council of ministers is a both hands institution. the members of the council both represent their governments but they also act as members of the supranational eu institution that is distinct from their governments into which they belong in a closer way than they would in any other international organization. so, this brings a lot of lack of clarity to the council of ministers.
it's a lack of clarity is typical of the eu we have the european parliament. it is not really a parliament. it does not do things most national parliaments do. it doesn't have the power to levy taxes, for example. it is not draft legislation. the european commission does. but the legislation is drafted by the commission. i note here that the european parliament and the council of ministers can both amend legislation as drafted by the administration, they cannot amend it. here is another twist that many people forget about the european parliament that renders it on parliamentary in the traditional sense, there is no majority party or
coalition in the european parliament representing the government party, and there is no minority party or coalition representing the opposition as in other parliaments, because there is no government and the eu and no opposition. rather, everyone governs together in a hybrid system of supranational governance. a final example from my experience in the state department, although foreign policy is supposedly, according to the eu treaties, a domain of the member states and not the eu, the eu has become a huge foreign-policy player. the ministers meet monthly to coordinate policies as closely as possible in the foreign affairs council. second, the eu has created its own de facto foreign minister with the title the high representative of the european union for foreign affairs and security policies.
she chairs the monthly foreign affairs minister's meetings and sets the agenda for those meetings. she travels extensively as their representative of the eu. she was john kerry's principal european partner, for example, in the negotiation with iran. serving the high representative, the eu has also created its own de facto foreign minister, the european external action service. i would say from my personal experience, the eu is an important foreign-policy partner for the u.s. as germany, france, or great britain. certainly, in terms of day-to-day interaction of high-level u.s. diplomats, more important than the midsized or smaller eu member states. this is an amazing thing. one of the u.s.'s most important partners is something that is
not a country with a government that is not a government, a foreign minister who is not a foreign minister, a diplomatic corps that is not a diplomatic corps, with all of these elements making and implementing foreign policy on behalf of an organization that no one has ever been able to define in a way that everyone can agree on. so, that is my overview of the eu. the eu is different from anything that has ever existed before in the world. what is at the root of all of this? how did this strange new thing called the eu come about? that brings us to the second topic, the transatlantic clash of visions between the u.s. and eu. this is a complex topic, of course, but americans must understand that the eu and u.s. have different versions of the world. the u.s. vision of the world
is that of a world with sovereign nations. the u.s. hopes to achieve a more peaceful and prosperous world by promoting democracy and the rule of law so the world system is distinguished by democratically accountable governments of nation states, accountable to their citizens that cooperate peacefully with each other. the eu's vision is of a post-nationstate world in which war and conflicts between nation states are overcome because the full sovereignty of nation state is relinquished to global governance based on a web of international organizations and a body of international law. so, even though the western and central european countries remained the united states most important allies, and i want to emphasize that, your remains our most important ally, this , this clash of vision puts the eu and u.s. on a collision course in principle if not always in practice.
but one thing, anti-americanism is an inevitable outgrowth of the european idea, if one thinks logically. as the world's most powerful nation state and one that jealously guards its sovereignty, it is the big gorilla in the way of the vision to the eu's vision of the world that has evolved beyond the nationstate. not just the european experience in world war ii and the desire to do away with conflicts in european nations -- i would like to mention a central factor, one i don't delve too deeply into in my book. the religious difference between the u.s. and eu. the u.s. is the most judeo-christian of the modern developed societies of the world. the eu is largely secular. the u.s. system of government is
based on a sober, very judeo-christian view of human nature and thus of government. this is the whole reason for the separation of powers and checks and balances in the u.s. constitution. it is striking how deeply indebted to christianity the anthropology in the federalist papers is. regardless if the authors were believing christians are not. hamilton, madison, and jay accepted that human beings, while capable of great good, were also flawed and limited. sinful, as christians would put it. therefore, the power of human government had to be separated so that the flawed human beings that held governmental power did not impose a tyrrany on everyone else. i would argue these views on human nature are the instinctive
view for americans, regardless if they are believing christians or not. culturally, in this sense, america is still more judeo-christian than not. europe is a secular, social democratic view of human nature, that social justice can be achieved through government action and government planning. this is not just a can be achieved, it is a must be achieved. for most people in post-christian europe and the governing elite, this is all there is. out of that flows the presupposition all conviction that the highest justice must be determined by human beings and pursued via politics and government. so, this is a radical clash of visions between the u.s. and eu. the clash between democratic sovereignty based in the nation state and global governance rooted in
the clash between the religiously informed worldview in the u.s. and a nonreligious worldview in the eu. i would like to give you one example of how this difference plays out. i had three, but for the purpose of time, i will give one. how this clash of visions plays out, the ideology of global governance, though unrealistic, has real-world consequences. my example for these real-world consequences is the war on terror. whatever you want to call it, i know the phrase war on terror has been subject to much agreement, this is the number one foreign policy of the united states since september 11, 2001. and in many ways the eu has been our most important ally in this struggle. but at the same time the eu has often, and repeatedly, been our worst antagonist.
why? because the advocates of the ideology want to subject the u.s. struggle on the war on terrorism to a potentially crippling regime of international law. i will name just one of many examples of this -- the war in iraq. the popular mythology is the controversy over the war centered on the question of whether there were weapons of mass destruction in iraq. before the invasion, almost everyone, including the french, germans, and russians, believed saddam hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction. the real dispute was if a preventive attack was justified under international law and if war could be legitimate with the approval of the u.n. security council. in other words, if the u.s. could do what he thought was necessary to protect the lives of its citizens without the
approval of the four permanent members of the u.n. security council. it was a battle of worldviews centered on the authority of supranational governance. in the advocates of global governance believed that the u.s. did not have the right to protect its citizens without a permission slip from russia and china, to put it bluntly. to say nothing of a permission slip from france. honest people of goodwill disagree on iraq and the combat terrorism and the information on which to base policy decisions is often limited and unverifiable. the issues are complex. we are dealing with shades of gray, and we may never know in many cases if what we did was the right thing to do.
but the global governance not want to deal with uncertainty. the blinders are set in place p are they want to realize their vision based on a character of reality and that has hindered the prosecution of the war on terror. so, what is the eu? most people do not know. i am going to be -- going out on a limb and say that most europeans don't know. i've lived in europe for most of my life. most educated, intelligent, politically astute europeans who do not live in brussels do not know what the european union is, but it's beating heart is the idea of achieving peace through supernational governance and extended globally, the idea of achieving peace through global governance.
and as john mentioned in his introduction, the question of democracy is at the core of all this. the eu has never squared the circle to fit supernational with the democracy. it has never figured out how it's supernatural governance can be made accountable to an adequate degree. the problem, i believe, is that the circle cannot he squared. where are we now? what is the future of the european union? let me finish with a few brief summary remarks on the brexit, the destabilization of domestic politics in the eu member states, the phenomenon of cultural exhaustion in the european union and the european dream. brexit -- the heart of the brexit question is the british people's right to govern themselves. the issues that one hears about,
such as the concern of the cost of non-british citizens living in the u.k., or protecting london from over-regulation, are important but not the main point. the main question is if the british people have the right to govern themselves and whether self-government is more important than the perceived benefits of being in the eu. the destabilization of domestic politics in the eu. for a long time, and accelerating since the may 2014 european elections, pro-european establishment parties throughout the eu have been hemorrhaging support. and anti-eu protest parties have been gaining ground virtually everywhere. some, but not all, of the protest parties are on the far right and far left fringes. i think that is important to note. they are not all on the fringes.
unfortunately, few among the established elite have drawn this state of affairs. after 65 years the eu has shown itself to be undemocratic, unaccountable, and unresponsive to voters. politicalters want power transferred back to their governments. the ones they both in and out, they should be accountable to those they claim to serve. the first final straw that fueled the ongoing political upheaval was the eurozone crisis and the severe economic hardship engendered by the politically motivated decision to establish a common currency for hugely differing economies. the second final straw was and is the ongoing migration crisis and the disruption it is causing. the latest final straw is the terrifying vulnerability of the europe with open borders to deadly
terrorism, as we have seen in brussels and paris in the last few months. the question is, how many more final straws can the eu take? cultural exhaustion. the migrant crisis shows into relief the impression of a self-hating, dying civilization that has jetted from the believes that birthed it, and is no longer having children, throwing open the gates to worldview that shows itself capable of throwing a politically correct europe aside and establishing something different atop ruins of the european dream. finally, the european dream itself and the persistence of the european dream. the european dream is not dead. lost in their focus on hard facts and their focus on european version's of "it's the economy, stupid," the pragmatists have been too
complacent. if the pragmatists are dismissing ever closer union as unrealistic aspirations that will never come to pass and thus can safely be ignored, if they have proven anything over the past 60 years, they have proven that they underestimate the power of ideas, dreams, and world views. there is no justification for the pragmatists to indulge as usual in underestimating the power of the european idea, however much the european fiasco and the migrant crisis has exposed its inherent folly. evidence that many british elites still refuse to accept that the eu has never been about economics, and they reveal once again that many economic elites have bought into the idea that supranational integration should trump patriotism and democratic sovereignty, because they
believe integration brings markets and buyers closer to them. also, a sizeable majority of the european political class is in favor of the european integration. and the continuted indifference and acquiescence of the majority of european voters may be too strong of a counterweight to the determination necessary over the long haul to roll the eu back to a more modest respect for national sovereignty. and crises have often proven to be blessings to the cause of european integration. the jury is still out on whether that includes the most recent crises. so far, elites have taken advantage of the euro-zone crisis to transfer unprecedented hours to the eu level. they are trying to do the same with the migrant crisis, and it is uncertain if they will fail. thank you for your interest. i look forward to the
discussion. [applause] mr. fonte: are we on, adam? the next speaker will be dalibor rohac, a research fellow at the american enterprise answer to where he studies central eastern europe, the european union, the euro-zone. the u.s./eu relations and the post-communist transitions from post-communism. mr. rohac: i should begin by stating that i have a conflict of interest, of sorts. i have my own book about the european union coming out next month. in so far as most people
probably are going to limit their purchases of eu-related books, it is in my very direct material interest to dissuade you from purchasing his book and encourage you to buy my own book. it is out may 11 with roman and littlefield, both in hardcover and paperback, reasonably priced. and if you are keen on doing christmas shopping early, it is a wonderful gift. but on a serious note, john invited me here, and said that i would find a lot to disagree with on the book, and he was right. but i thought at the same time, this was a very interesting read of a book, and was often correct on the diagnosis on what had gone
wrong and the angela merkel handling of the refugee influx. quite often in diasnosing mis-functions of the eu. the one thing that struck me as i picked up a copy, was the title. the new totalitarianism. i was the only one on the panel brought up in a totalitarian regime, in what was then czechoslovakia. it was a country where ifsidents were jailed, people trying to escape were shot at the border without warning. there are some areas in reserving the term for those forms of governance that do require complete and total subservience of its citizens, and not a catchall phrase. but the title is not just to provoke, it relates to the main argument,
as we've just heard, that european integration is deliberately driven by ideological considerations which aims to replace democratic decision-making in nation states by form of governance at the supernational level. and i suppose such ideology exists, and those here for that ideology think there would not be a time and place for argument for them. you will not get a lot of mileage from this argument to understand what the eu is, how it came about, what are it's problems, and potential solutions to these problems. a superficial observation after skimming the first couple of pages, that the slippery slope argument that there is a relationship between european integration and democracy runs in the face of the fact that 70
years of european integration has also been 70 years that has coincided with a flourishing of democracy in europe. i know that there are issues with the project, democratic deficits, overreach, etc. -- but compared to what europe had known before, we are living in the best of all possible times. i would say. also, quite superficially, looking at the events of the last couple of years, the numerous crises that europe has found itself in, it is difficult to argue these were accompanied by unprecedented transfers of power to brussels. the power transfer has not led and is unlikely to lead to the formation of a fiscal union. they have not acquired taxing powers. the refugee crisis is a reaffirmation of national level politics on a grand scale.
and even on methods of foreign policy it was not frederica that was negotiating, it was european leaders. so, these are superficial observations. but i think there are deeper problems running through the arguments, which may not be the best way to frame the discussion. also equating democracy and global governance with the erosion of the government. i think you run into the problems that the book leaves largely unexplained. so, here's one. how is it possible that so many limited government and pro-market voices have been
consistently in favor of national sovereignty? in 1939, the outbreak of the second world war, the dean of the free market movement, wrote an essay called on economic conditions of interstate confederations. in that book he argues the problem with classical liberalism is it didn't take into account the problems that arise with the lack of a common interstate structure of international security. so, you cannot really realize interest of different states until you have a common framework of international security. he goes on to explain that. he means a common federal government in europe. he says under the government, citizens define international authority. in his view, there is no conflict with this idea and that of limited government and free enterprise. he says they are mutually
reinforcing. that in fact, open markets are a prerequesuite to successful federation and vice versa, the logical consummation of the liberal program, he means classical liberalism. he was not an extremist. he was not on the fringe. we find the same arguments in landis growth economics. he argued federalism should be scaled up to the european level to provide a common framework of governance. it is no less a limited government consultant for the european union and then argued their services to the european federation was sovereignty, but "subrogation by military
powers." that was 1944. over doesn't take it as a micro-aggression. when lady thatcher was in favor of the u.k. membership in 9075 she did so with a clear understanding it meant international sovereignty. she said, our sovereignty to make decisions by our nato membership and here's a quote from the speech that she gave in north london and 9075 before the referendum was that she was a differing kind and the anti-europe campaign one day promised independence. it argued that every nation have been obliged with sovereignty to grade more effective political units. so that is lady thatcher. as long as you are going to
claim that you're part of the same intellectual tradition apart from these people of importance, i think you have to do some explaining that he did not find in the book. a subsidiary argument, actually european governments replacing national level democracy, and that claim has to do with the religion. the european idea is a utopian commitment. it cannot be reconciled with christianity, there's no place for christianity. europe is a post-christian nation. and to substantiate that claim, the book walks us through the eu various documents which are compared to the u.s. constitution, the polish constitution, the federalist papers, which all make some
references to christianity and religion. -- weediate reaction, know for a fact europe is far less religious than poland on average. it is less religious than the united states were in the 18th century. that is reflected in the document. to me, that is a more compelling far simpler explanation than one that invokes the european ideology. and if you are going to claim european integration has been instrumental in the erosion of christian beliefs in europe, you then have to grapple with the fact that the founding fathers of this ideology, the founding fathers of integrated europe, also the leading figures of the european christian rights,
these were all practicing catholics who are very serious about their religion, before the beginning of negotiations at the treaty of paris they met at the monastery on the rhine for a day of meditation and prayer. he said only christians guarantee justice and the liberty of individuals in a democracy. and the directive for economic and cultural life of the people. 1954, a founding father with buildings and after him in brussels asked the question -- do you need me to remind you that if you think differently, we all pray in the same way, the same gesture and word will calm you. so, these are the founding fathers
of those christian eu. they both came in support of the european project in many features. in 1961 both discussed the content in different contexts is repeated. again, i'm not making an argument by authority, but if you're going to make the case for it, the christian nature of the european program, you have to explain what it is that you see that these people didn't see. and i was surprised to see how much space the book dedicates to the issue. it is interesting, but, to me, is not really the heart of the political and economic trouble plaguing europe.
four or five chapters of the book were dedicated to religion. two chapters about the euro zone crisis. in the index i counted made 16 mentions to the euro, and 19 mentions of lgbt rights, i understand where he's coming from and respect it, but don't know why he is making this about the eu. it is not the case the eu is imposing same-sex marriage on hapless european populations. look at any opinion polls, there's been a massive shift in public opinion, which is endemic to the western world. is not a good thing or that thing. 61% of eu citizens are in favor of same-sex marriage compared to 64% of australians, 91% of the dutch.
if anything, eu institutions are trailing far behind the controversies in the united states. i'm going to stop now. i want to stress, there are merits for the book, i i learned a lot reflecting on it , but it is a missed opportunity to ask important questions about european integration. a fundamentalist and the exposure, he doesn't say there's no use for it whatsoever, he says that he wants to transform it into a platform for sovereign nation states. but he doesn't tell us what he means by that in practical terms. the reason why, i think, the intellectual framework, the sort of binary choice between sovereign
nation state level democracy and global governance doesn't give you much mileage at guessing at the answers. roughly two pages at the end were dedicated to the question of european reform. and it is not coincidence. the question is not binary, if we want sovereign nationstates or government, it is what economists call the globalization trilemma. an impossibility of sorts. the estates at a fundamental level, national sovereignty, democracy, and deep economic integration are mutually incompatible. so, you can have at any point you can have two of the three, but never all three simultaneously and in full. but the alternative mindset, which by the way, is most economists think of european issues, you do not see a grand battle of good and evil. you will see trade-offs.
do we want more sovereignty, more democracy? i'm not making the case for a framework, but if you're going to present the alternative you have to engage with the literature on the subject to explain why your alternative discussion leads to a richer presentation of what the eu's problems and solutions are. and i do not see that in this book. maybe i am just embittered with my own material interest some of which, remember, is out my 11. thank you. [applause] mr. fonte: next we have nile gardiner. he has worked at the heart of washington policy for a decade. he served as an aide to former british prime minister margaret
thatcher and advised her on her final book, "statecraft: strategies for changing world." mr. gardiner: thank you. it is great to be here. a fantastic new building, here. let's start by saying todd's book is terrific, and one of the finest books written so far on the evils of the european project, and it's a good that my former boss, margaret thatcher, would have devoured. she would have enjoyed it thoroughly. it is a very insightful look into the current state of affairs in regards to the european union, and it's certainly not a pretty state of affairs by any stretch of the imagination. i think the word disaster could be applied to the current state of affairs.
i would like to talk this morning about the brexit debate in britain. how that is moving forward, the issues, and where that is going. also, i'd like to address the refugee crisis, the national security threat in europe, and also, what the next u.s. president and administration should do with regard to europe. and i'd like to advocating a complete reversal of traditional u.s. support for the european project. but i would like to begin by placing you into the heart of what is really at stake in europe with regards to national sovereignty. i would like you all to imagine if the united states was part of a pan-american project, the equivalent of the european project.
the one stretching from argentina up to canada. imagine if there was a schengen -style agreement eliminating border controls between almost every country in south america and north america. with complete freedom of movement between these countries across a pan-american, european project-style institution. imagine if there is a pan-american commission in mexico city, chafing potentially 2/3 of american laws. imagine a pan-american court in buenos aires ruling over the u.s. supreme court. imagine if there was a drive to create a pan-american army as a competitor to the nato alliance, drawing in crucial u.s. military
resources under the command of perhaps venezuelan or brazilian generals. imagine if the united states sent members of parliament to a pan-american parliament in a south american city with those members of parliament lecturing the american people on how they should be living their own lives. this is really the reality on the ground in europe today with regard to the european project. and the european union is nothing less than a huge surrender of national sovereignty within europe. of crse, britain is not part of the schengen agreement, which covers 22 members of the european union and 26 european countries in total, but britain, like every other member of the european union, is part and parcel of the european project.
and the brexit referendum in britan, which will be helf on june 23, which will decide britain's future in europe, is all about whether or not the british people will reject the european project, whether or not the british people will reassert self-determination and national sovereignty -- and this is about britain being once again a truly sovereign and independent nation. if two thirds of your laws originate in brussels, you are not a free country. if your courts are subject to the rulings of a court in luxembourg, you are not a free country. i don't think the american people would ever subject themselves to the supranational ism of something like the european union. and i do not think that the american people should accept the idea that the british people
should have their sovereignty submerged within the european project that exemplifies what a good -- big government mindset at the heart of europe. of theu ask a lot european union, what does it manylly mean to them, tell you that means bureaucrats, european courts done the british people what to do. the european union also has a symbol of big government, corruption, inefficiency, a lack of democratic accountability. is also about the absence of border controls and the ability to be able to control who comes into your own country. these are really huge issues for the british people. the latest opinion polls show brexit campaign and the
remaining campaign are basically neck and neck, but if you look at polls and voter turnout in voter enthusiasm, some of those polls show a significant lead for the brexit side, one even showing an 80% lead. i think the debate is shaping up as a battle between, in large --t, the grassroots particularly the grassroots of the older conservative party, and the political establishment. david graham and -- david cameron. there are five cabinets, the rebels who are campaigning for brexit. london joined of the brexit campaign.
and about half of conservative and 70%backing brexit of the 30 party members. but this has become a battle between larger grassroots conservatives combined with a sars boat chunk of the labour party as well. sizable chunk of the labour party as well. to david, with regards government spending 9 million pounds on a leaflet campaign aimed at everyone of the households across britain. aing government money in printing company owned by a german farm -- firm. the irony there is not lost on the british people. i do think that the british people are being offered an opportunity to jump on a
lifeboat is being thrown off the side of the titanic. that is what the european union really is today. i do not think it will survive in the current form, actually. i think that for millions of british people, this is a fundamental issue of self determination and sovereignty, and the ability to control their own borders. president obama will be traveling to london in a couple weeks time reportedly to tell the british people how to vote in their own referendum. needless to say, there is been a backlash already in the british press over this. i do not think the role of the u.s. president to be telling the british people how to vote in their own referendum. i think that president obama is completely wrong with regard to the european union as a whole.
the obama administration has been as steadfast the provider of european federalism. many previous administrations have backed the idea of a federal europe. perhaps this might be the last u.s. administration to do that. i will talk more about that later. the emphatic message i think from the british people should be that president obama needs to mind his own business when it comes to the british referendum. if not, -- it is not his role to tell the british people what they should be thinking. it has been suggested by president obama and others , a number of leaders in europe, that britain would struggle to survive outside of the european union and that britain would be a weaker partner of the international stage.
i have to say, that is really nonsense, frankly. great britain today is the world's fifth-largest economy. it overtake germany by 2030 as the largest economy in europe. it is a nuclear power. a member of the un security council, a great trading nation. a country with one of the most powerful militaries on the face of the earth. the idea that britain cannot survive outside of the european union, i think, is beggars belief. it is part of what has been done the braden -- britain project fear, that a nature and once held sway over 1/3 of the world's surface could not survive outside of this club. the argument of the remaining side based upon fear mongering is not being bought by a majority of the british public.
if indeed the british people decide to leave the european union, i would hope the united states would do all it can to ensure that the special between-- relationship the united kingdom and america remains strong, is greatly strengthened further, that the united states finds a free trade agreement with the united kingdom. and i think brexit is a tremendous opportunity. a britain freed from the shackles of the european union will be a far stronger ally for the united states on the international stage. there has been a suggestion that it would weaken the nato alliance or national security for great britain. i disagree with that. i hardly think vladimir putin loses sleep at night over the european union standing up to his aggression in ukraine, for example.
the eu is a paper tiger. vladimir putin understands the strength of the nato alliance, andy strength -- and the strength of the anglo-american special relationship. but the european union has a weak-kneed force on the international stage. it would strengthen the nato alliance rather than weaken it. it will give britain more leeway to be able to stand up to the russian bear. i think there are significant national security advantages for great britain, not the least the ability to decide who comes into the country.
eu border agency admitted that 1.8 million illegal border crossings where made last year, six times the previous record. they also declared that a staggering number of eu citizens traveled to syria to fight with isis. many of those have returned. under the agreement, they are given the freedom to move within much of the european union. the agreement has become one of the biggest facilitators in the terrorism,lamist them to come from one european country to the next. the parents attacks and -- brusselsacks and attack would not have been possible if we do not have a schengen style agreement. and the refugee crisis in europe is vast, immense.
it really does threaten the fabric of european society in the future. germany alone has taken over a million migrants in the past year. 200,000 migrants entered germany in february and march this year. this is costing germany 30 billion euros a year according to german mps. there are over 200,000 refugees in bavaria alone. imagine america did all this withut any consultation the german people. -- angela merkel did all this without any consultation with the german people. she then went on the european stage urging other countries to , take migrants. the vast majority of the country refuse to do so. we have seen the limits of german power in europe. germany isn't really the heart of the european project.
but i think we will witness in the next few decades, a period of significant german decline. i believe if britain leaves the european union, you will see britain overtaking germany as an economic force in europe. and let's remember the refugees coming into germany today, once they become german citizens, after about five years, they will have the right to move over to the united kingdom and other european countries. the refugee issue in germany, which is partly a self-made crisis on the part of angela merkel, those refugees have the right to move to the united kingdom. that will be a big factor in this brexit referendum. just to conclude, with regard to u.s. policy toward europe, i would hope the next u.s. president would embark on a
fundamental review of america's traditional backing for the european project. we need a new u.s. approach to europe based on approach for national sovereignty and nationstates. america has no interest in backing the creation of a european superstate. i do not believe a superstate is in the interest of european countries themselves. the next u.s. president, i think, has to reinforce the importance of the transatlantic alliance, which president obama has not done. readability u.s. military power rebuild u.s. military power in europe, sending a clear message to the russians that aggression will be halted. and the united states needs to stand up for the principles of self-determination, economic
freedom, national sovereignty in europe. the same principles the american people believe in. what is good for america is good for europe, as well. i would hope the next u.s. president embarks upon a policy that is fit for the 21st century and not tied to the 1950's or 1960's. thank you. [applause] john: jeremy rabkin is a professor of law at george mason university. i love to say that. for two decades, he was a professor of government at cornell university. he serves on the board of directors at the u.s. institute of peace, appointed by president bush, reappointed by president obama reconfirmed by the senate. , the author of another great book on sovereignty, "a law
without nations." jeremy: thank you. i particularly want to thank john for establishing my credentials as someone who is -- has written a book about sovereignty. i am for it. [laughter] jeremy: but i was little stung by nile gardiner saying that mrs. thatcher would have loved todd's book on the eu. i like it. but i think my remarks are the kind of thing mrs. thatcher would have called "wet." sorry. being the antonin scalia school of law does not impose a doctrinal outlook on any of the professors. we can say anything. i want to briefly discuss three
things that make me a little uneasy about the way it is presented, this challenge from the eu. the first is, i think he is putting a lot of weight on the form of government. this is an old argument, going back to aristotle. how important the regime is. but really, i think the eu is not able to be the decisive force in modern life that it sometimes appears to be in this book. obvious example worth thinking about, norway, is not in the eu. if you ask how does norway sweden, to denmark or the things which this book talks about, declining
religion, declining family life. declining fertility rate. growth of utopian fantasies. growth of social spending. i think norway is not at all different from the countries in the eu. if you state back and take in a larger view and ask, what about canada? it looks like eu countries. the truth is if you look at the , united states, and looks like eu countries. just a few decades further back. but you can see we are on the same trajectory. we of course, have a declining birthrate, and to insist that america is in a totally different place from where europe is, it is not totally different. it is just a little bit healthier. a little bit better off. many trends seem to be trends of the modern world. for better or worse. i share the sense that most of
them are for worse. but there is a lot going on in the modern world, which is not of alt of the eu -- fault the eu, or particularly caused by the eu. it was mentioned previously by mr. rohac. so it was the u.s. supreme court that imposed same-sex marriage. not the european court of justice. there are trends across the modern world that i don't think really map onto the eu way of looking at the world. or the u.s. way of looking at the world. that is first thing i want to say. the second thing is, the subtitle of this book is "the new totalitarian temptation." i agree with mr. rohac. i think, i don't like the eu. i think it is creepy.
[laughter] i think the net effect on europe, they are probably a little worse off. they are sure not better off. but totalitarian, it is not a word that fits the people in brussels. they were spitting out all these regulations. the central problem of the eu is not that it is sinister, but it is silly. they have a fantasy that all the countries could be yolked together and of course they cannot be yolked together. they don't have a common policy. the characteristic problem is that it is weak. you see this in the way they deal with challenges. they're supposed to deal with crisis on the border in ukraine. effectively, it did not do anything. probably this flow of refugees is a big challenge. they don't know what to do, and they are not really doing anything effective. terrorism, they don't know what to do. it is telling if you want to talk about totalitarianism.
to say, this is the capital of the eu in brussels. what are they doing to protect at least the eu ministries from terror attacks? the issue -- the answer is, i don't know, issuing documents. they are not in a position to be totalitarian. it doesn't quite fit. it is an opportunity lost. what makes you -- the the you utopian, is not that it can imagine it can control everything, it imagines it can control everything without very much force. a number of people have said this, and i think rightly. there is a way in which it is postmodern. but postmodern means that it lessonsforgotten those of the modern world, so it is in some way, neo-medieval.
wants to have authority without troops, authority without police, authorities but don't have to actually win popular support. there is something about it that is fantastical. in the end, this is not a successful experiment. i don't think the way to characterize this as, it is totalitarian. the last thing i want to talk about it, if you summed this up as clash of visions -- america sees the world this way. the eu sees the world that way. the suggestion is we have better partners if the eu basically disappeared or was reduced to an extent where it didn't have much influence so we can partner with individual countries. i am kind of skeptical of that. i want to briefly articulate the other way of looking at this. most of those countries are
small. if they are not part of some larger project, i think the tendency may be to say, our strategy is to duck. let me give you an example of the netherlands. it is today's papers, having stories about the referendum they had yesterday. should the netherlands go along with this treaty with ukraine? this was not a treaty promising to send troops. it was not a military alliance. it was ukraine, let's have trade any partnership, and we want to encourage you. it was not something that should have been very controversial. why was it so controversial that people insisted on a referendum? very unusual to have a referendum about a treaty like that. and then, to have it voted down, and corresponding with someone
involved, there are a lot of people in the netherlands who think this eu sponsored understanding with ukraine is a provocation to putin. why would we want to provoke putin? we should try to get along with him. we should try to lay low do not have problems. if you think, that doesn't make sense? why should it? this is where the netherlands was in 1939. it is where they were in 1940, until they were invaded into first three months. this is where they were through the 19th century. they were a small country, and if we scrunched down a little, we won't have any problems. we can just be neutral. this was appealing to many countries in europe, including belgium, denmark, norway, spain and portugal in the 20th century. let's not get drawn into big power politics.
if you can imagine a world in which the eu foster pieces you , have 28 independent states that are largely independent states. would this be better for the united states? would we have partners we could rely on? i am skeptical. i do not think it follows we should be campaigning to tell the brits they should stay in the eu. i am not saying that. at i think we should be little bit cautious about being able to project what kind of world would serve our interests or the world's interest. there is a reason why small countries wanted with a larger -- want to be in some larger entity. i think it is important as a matter of intellectual clarity and as a matter of national self-respect for people to have awareness of sovereignty. of something that matters, that you want to hold onto. but maybe we should be a little cautious about telling countries in europe, this is exactly what
you want to do, and then you, too, will be a superpower. which they will not believe in the netherlands or belgium. but i do want to say that todd's book is a good read. it is fun. there are a lot of interesting anecdotes a lot of things in it , that were new to me. we do need to think about this. it is an important challenge in the world. it is a very clear articulation of a certain perspective on this that makes it a valuable book. so, thank you. [applause] john: we will have a little discussion before we open up the questions. i will give todd a chance to respond to various comments. take it away. todd: thank you, john. had a couple of acoustical problems hearing back here. maybe i like to start out with
jeremy's comments about canada and norway and so forth. this is an anecdote. i remember i was at a cocktail party. we diplomats go to cocktail parties and have fun. taxpayers pay for it. in brussels, and i was talking to the head of the north america office and the european commission. it was called the directorate general of the foreign relations. this was during the bush years. he was saying, canada is so easy to work with. why can't you guys be more like canada? i said, so, when is canada going to join the eu anyway?
that would be my answer to that. i thought it was funny. you are right, jeremy. the eu is characterized much than itsts weakness strength. trends are not connected necessarily to global governance. part of the thesis of the book is that global governance is, one, a manifestation of a new kind of post-christian, postmodern development in the form of a christian west, and that it is important to recognize it as such if one is a thinking person, thinking about what is happening in the west as a whole and how can they understand it and how can we try to deal with it.
two, as john points out in his work, global governance may seem to be weak. i am reminded about stalin where are the european union's armies? but if you are concentrated on the power of worldviews, about what people believe and are looking at. it is a very attractive and powerful ideology. it exerts a huge amount of power over the elites in the european union. it exerts a huge amount of power over those who are involved in other international organizations like the united nations. it exerts a huge amount of power over the left in the united states. because it is all part of this post-christian, postmodern attempt to remake the world in
its own image. and therefore, the eu is not significant for everything. but it is very significant as a very important and attractive manifestation that is dangerous to democratic accountability and to self-government of postmodern, post-christian worldview. another thing about the book. i noticed the program said it was 280 pages. i want to assure you that actually, 50 pages of that are notes. in a little bit more than 200 pages, you have to generalize. i think one of the problems, very often with dealing with political issues that are bigger than just single political issues, is the fear of generalization.
you have to have general understanding of what is generally going on in order to understand the thing in the larger significance. your remarks i , could hear you that i could hear others less, dalibor. fromt want to say that what i did understand of it, it was quite typical of many of the pro-eu people i have met in brussels and elsewhere in europe. kind of this pragmatic view. part of which is, is not really working, so what you are saying is not valid. for example, you said something about how the eurozone crisis is not going to lead to a fiscal union.
well, the fiscal contact made between all the member states except the czech republic and the uk was a big step in the direction of fiscal union. but even so, it seems to me , thise to defend the eu happens so often. part of what you are saying, jeremy. defend the eu in a certain sense, it is really not working, so are you talking about? let's see. i want to say something about the whole section on the eurozone, and the section on human rights and so forth that was larger than the section on the eurozone. first of all, there is someone in the audience who really helped me with the eurozone chapters. i want to thank that person. you know who you are. i appreciate that very much.
part of what i'm trying to say in the book is the eu is not , about economics. it is not about economics. it is not about the eurozone. the eurozone is a symptom. for me, with my way of looking at the world, what is happening to the idea of human rights, what is happening to the idea of self-government, what is happening to the idea of democratic accountability, and the developments against all those things that are approaching with little cat feet in the eu is much more important than whether the eu is economically a good thing or bad thing. i think it is basically a bad thing, but, you know, the economics part is part. if you want understand the eu, you have to understand it is not about economics. >> nile, why don't you pick up
with jeremy saying, these 28 countries will not -- that it is better to have the eu around as a partner -- you did not mention nato, of course. but you may want to pick up with that point. le: yes, but just firstly as , todd was saying, the idea of currency,ne, single as you say, it is not really about economics. it is about policy. the european project is a political project, about centralization of political power. as margaret thatcher said, the idea of creating a european super state is the greatest folly of the modern era. and i think that a central part of thatcher's argument against the european union in more
recent times were based upon the idea that the eurozone crisis is a political project more than anything else. with regard to jeremy's remarks, it doesn't make a big difference between whether the u.s. is dealing with a collection of nationstates or a political entity. formed by the european union. i would argue that america is far better off dealing with a collection of nationstates than it is dealing with an entity such as the european union. increasingly, i think that european governments are farming foreign policy to brussels, and that is a dangerous thing. the last thing you want on earth is to have bureaucrats in brussels shaping your national security strategy. these bureaucrats in brussels
cannot even defend brussels, let alone the rest of europe. i think europe would be far better off if national governments had complete full control of their own national security, foreign the european union is a collection of the lowest common denominator and doing the least amount possible to deal with a particular crisis. i think america would be in a far better position to deal directly with say germany with the refugee issue or poland with regard to the rising -- it would be far better off without an entity in europe today and instead dealing with european
capitals and working collectively together through the nato partnership. >> you have some comments to add. >> as i said in my opening remarks, the lack of evidence for the eu evolving towards some kind of actual superstate, asked than that idea to the extent to which there is no credible intellectual case being made for the european superstate, by anybody, not even mr. burrows -- none of their intellectual allies are making this case. the problem with the eu is that it is overreaching, overextending itself trying to do too much.
it is also fairly weak. that is the fundamental mismatch between its ambition and what it can actually do. to solve that, i don't think we can easily go back to the europe of nationstates, but we can try to apply some way of thinking used by many people in the free market tradition, to go back to federalism. many economists argue that there are public goods that should be provided at different levels of government. there are national public goods,
local public goods. none of these layers are -- have absolute sovereignty. that applies nicely to many of the european problems except there are few people who are making that case today. with regard to the fiscal act -- other than making a defense of the eu in my opening statement, i was just making a descriptive observation come if you see the eu on a slippery slope to a superstate, the fiscal pact is nothing but an extension of the previously agreed on subsidy of growth act. it was not respected by member states.
>> you have a book. we will take questions. benjamin? benjamin: thank you. thank you, john. i'm a fellow here at the hudson institute. i have a couple remarks and questions in three areas. the first is on foreign policy. you say you are on a collision course, at the heart of this anti-american project -- the eu is a huge power in foreign policy. i don't think you will find a single person in europe who thinks that. at the same time, the u.s. has supported european construction for the last 60 years. it has been a bipartisan effort.
construction has gone hand in hand with nato enlargement. if you look at countries after the fall of the soviet union -- you took the example of the iraq war. i think you made a disingenuous case. some european countries supported the u.s. in supporting troops to iraq. france and germany opposed the war and the arguments in favor of the war. i don't to get has much to do with going to the security council. the second resolution was not supported by some members of the security council on the basis of justification for the war. i don't think you'll find a lot
of french and germans who regret staying out of iraq. just a couple years ago, francois hollande and david cameron wanted to intervene in syria. it was the u.s. who backed down from syrian intervention. has every american president from john kennedy to ronald reagan to george w. bush been delusional and promoting european enlargement and integration? my second question relates to the when you talk about the lack of democracy, you referred to a majority of voters against the project. i don't know where you find this majority of voters. i'm a french citizen.
she is constantly in the media, she has never gathered more than 18% in the presidential election. i do agree there is political momentum in the european union among public discourse and the electorate -- the brits have yet to say. they will in a couple of months. she has never gathered more than 18% in the presidential election. i don't see a majority in any country of the european union so far in favor of dismantling the european union or getting out of the european union. i understand your perspective, but i don't see where you find this constant majority of voters you are referring to. my third point, you have not addressed this, the question of totalitarianism. i think words matter.
it is the title of your book "the new totalitarian temptation." usually, it is used to define nazi germany and the soviet union. do you believe the european union is the heir to adolf hitler and josef stalin? >> you have a lot to chew on. >> first of all, the iraq war -- we could make assertions against each other, keep doing assertions all day. i just want to tell you that no one who understands how the eu actually works foreign policy
wise can possibly say that if the high representative does not have power -- before the treaty, they had high representative power. i was not focusing on the eu there come i was focusing on the ideology of global governance. how it has hindered the war on terrorism. arguing by saying the big conflict was about the idea of whether preventive war is legal
and whether u.n. security council approval is required for the u.s. to invade iraq legitimately. the global governancers, many of them in the eu were the ones arguing that we needed a security council approval, otherwise it was not legitimate. as i say in the book and as i said here, the eu is still full of all kinds of different ideas, beliefs, peoples, etc. you can always find a counterexample. the heart and soul of the eu project is the belief in developing supernational governance, developing a system of global governance. that's what i was talking about with iraq. what was the second? majority of voters.
i want to apologize if i ever used the phrase "majority of voters." i don't think i did. if i did, please accuse me. what i'm saying is not that the majority of voters have spoken against the eu, what i'm saying is that voters have had very little say in very little understanding of what's going on at the eu level. the fact that someone like lepin has gotten up to 18% is a true testament to what is happening, people in the eu are realizing what's happening and they are even voting for people like lepin. i know to amend the u.s.
constitution, you need several types of super majorities. that is the way it should be, in my view. governments should have no right to change the system of governance without consulting the voters. in the u.s. you need a super majority to change the constitution. that is not the way it is in the eu, and that is the way it should be. >> the master treaty which led to the euro was ratified in a referendum by many countries, including france. we don't have an eu constitution. it is not as formal, but i don't
think it was done without the validation of voters. >> my argument is it should not be 50.1%, it should be a super majority for such fundamental changes occurring steadily and surely in the eu. >> the american position of the american presidents -- >> that is an incredibly good point. you use the word "delusional." i would not say that ronald reagan and george h.w. bush and bill clinton were delusional. i would just say that, in foreign policy, what happens is you get into a habit -- it made a lot of sense at the beginning, right after world war ii, the u.s. was central to the launching of the european integration because we were tired of young men dying in
european battlefields. unfortunately, when you've had a very busy foreign-policy establishment and very busy president, certain things become basic mys that everybody takes for granted, basic foundations. unfortunately, that is what happened with the whole europe whole and free idea. supported by the fact that the european nations that are members of the eu are still our best allies. the instinctive thing a president wants to do is support our allies and what he thinks they want to do. they were mistaken, but they were not delusional. new totalitarian temptation, i make the case that communism and fascism were much worse than the ideology of global governance in the european union.
the eu is a do-gooder's utopia, a mushy, feel-good utopia. in essence, it is similar in the sense that it seeks to improve the world and change human beings in a way that cannot be done via a political project. the new totalitarian temptation, i don't say new totalitarianism. eva: i'm a polish diplomat. i just came here because tomorrow, i will be lecturing about diplomacy at the institute of world politics.
it is very difficult to discuss the book -- i did not read -- i would like to ask two questions. although i could be considered a rightist, not a leftist -- it is difficult for me to agree with mr. gardner in saying great britain without the eu would be a stronger ally. what about the u.n.? the u.n. is weak, too. nobody seems concerned about the u.n. in my opinion, it is better to
have something which is weak but trying to do something. otherwise, what would be next? in poland, there's a big discussion about being in the eu, not being in the eu, the flow of immigrants -- we did not want to accept the immigrants because after our elections in poland, the rightist party piece, which is not a good opinion in the u.s., as i've been told -- the people who vote for it can do what they are now doing because they were empowered to do -- anyhow, this is one question about the eu and u.n. poland, which is a big ally of
the u.s., we have problems with eu. whether with eu or without eu, i think we would be a very good ally for the united states. jeremy, i would like to tell you that maybe i agree with you, that this idea is maybe a little utopian -- don't you think if the eu would be based on common christian values as pope john paul ii wanted, which was rejected by the french -- do you think maybe it would be the idea that this institution would be
stronger, not economically but spiritual? >> thank you for your question. interesting point about the u.n., clearly the u.n. needs a great deal of reform and some would argue the u.n. is a basket case. you raise important questions about the future of the united nations. there is no discussion in britain at the moment about leaving the u.n. i don't think that is on the card. the u.n. has left day-to-day control over what happens in the united kingdom. you don't have british laws being crafted in the halls of the united nations. it is a different kind of debate.
to go back to your question, i think britain can thrive very well outside of the european union. britain has always been a truly global power with global trading ties and aspirations. i think the outlook for the british people is quite different than that of many of the european countries. i can see why some nations within the eu give a higher percentage of those who strongly support the european project. in the case of britain, if you look at those who strongly support the european project itself, it is about a quarter of the british public. i think britain will thrive outside the european union. also, brexit could well open the floodgates across the eu.
if the eu elites are so confident about the future of the european project, so confident that the european project is backed by the populations of european countries, they should support referendum of every single european union member state. i suspect that in some countries, that vote would be extremely close, even in a country like france, even in germany now, there is a debate over the european single currency. the afd party won a quarter of the vote in recent elections. there is a great deal of overconfidence in the european project expressed by many european elite. put to the vote and put to the test, i think you will find a close contest in many european countries. you raise an important issue about united nations. that is an ongoing debate, the need for fundamental reform within the u.n. >> i think we will wrap up, probably.
a question about the polish -- from the polish diplomat for you. >> on brexit, i'm not in a position to lecture the british people how they should vote in june. i'm certainly not disputing the idea that the u.k. can thrive outside of the eu. in many ways, the eu was designed to solve problems that are not plaguing the u.k. i'm very confident that british democracy will prosper. however, i think there is a great deal of value in having the u.k. as a part of the european union. the british have had influence on the eu starting in 1980.
policing the single market, being a force for good economically. maybe mr. putin is not losing any sleep, but he is doing a fine job finding european parties across europe, spreading misinformation to undermine european unity. erode the commitment of europe, not just to the eu, but to democracy. that is a threat that europe is faced with today. i don't see how brexit would make the threat go away. it is magnified by opening the floodgates. >> a quick comment? >> two points. on margaret thatcher, as you
say, margaret thatcher supported membership. in the late 1980's, she was very clear on her position of britain leaving european union. she 100% wanted britain to leave the eu, she felt the european project was a complete disaster. robin harris, her chief political advisor in the last decades makes this point. with regards to putin's backing, in france, there is a
pro-russian party. there's a lot of complex issues going on about their relationship with putin. the strongest critics of the russian regime, the brexit side is led by those who want tougher action against putin. in the u.k., to say those in favor of the brexit are strongly anti-putin, you have to make that distinction. it is a fundamentally different organization to those who are campaigning for brexit.
>> todd, do you remember the question? >> the role of christianity in europe. let me answer it this way. i hope i'm answering your question, because there are many elements and it was a while ago. you know, poland being a friend of the united states, being a special partner of the united states, whether it is in the eu or not, i agree with completely. at the same time, i agree that it would be wiser and better for the united states if there were a europe of sovereign democratic nations. whether the eu can be rolled back to a organization that still does the good things, namely foster cooperation and
amity between european nations but fully respect sovereignty of european nations is an open question. i do not know if they can, because the substance of the eu is dedicated to super nationality. the poles would be good friends, whether in the eu are not. the fact that there is a strong debate in poland about eu mentorship is a reflection of the reason they are a friend to the united states, namely that there is a vibrant democratic culture in poland and there is a vibrant debate between those who disagree with each other. those are the types of countries that will have more affinity for the united states and have better partners for us in the world. that is what we believe. a vibrant debate and accountability of the government
to voters. i would hope that would not be watered down in poland. through its eu membership with time. >> thank you, thanks to the panel, and thank you for coming. [applause] [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2016] [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit ncicap.org]
>> the british parliament will return from recess this week. it is expected that cameron will finances personal prompted by the panama papers. the prime minister has apologized for the way he handled the revelation. wednesday on c-span2, and sunday nights on c-span. c-span.org,e at where you can find a video of past questions and british public affairs programs. >> next, q&a with mary sarah , examining theer work of james madison.
after that, another chance to see a discussion on the future of the european union. >> this week on "q&a," mary sarah bilder looks at the notes that james madison wrote during and after the constitutional convention of 1787. brian: mary sarah bilder, you have a book called "madison's hand: revising the constitutional convention." what's it about? mary: it's the notes of madison's notes and he was the only framer who we know of who took complete notes that summer.