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Belief in Europe

19 avril 2021
Belief in Europe

For people of my generation, Europe has always represented a better future and the democratic horizon through the recognition of rights and freedom in opposition to the power of nation states. It’s not accidental that we, Bretons, have always sought to bypass the absolute power of France under which we have always been suffering in the course of History..

Europe represents another legitimacy, the strength to go further, beyond, of course , the promise of prosperity that the common market brings with it. 

Where do our hopes stand today? We all know that the building of a community is a construction sui generis, a hybrid based on the transfer of sovereignty in some fields, to European institutions, under the close political control of the Union’s most powerful nation

Is the European Union a force that enables to go beyond sovereignty or the prolongation of sovereignty detained by the largest nations who are composing it

Beside , for the Commission of the European Union, there are more pressing issues than the protection of minorities, although Gandhi said of them that they are the best means to evaluate the democratic level of a society.. 

Speaking of Catalonia, who could have imagined the presence of political prisoners on the European Union’s territory? No-one, I believe. It is difficult to forget the well meaning pressure of the Union’s institutions who have shown solidarity towards the power of Madrid when confronted with the Catalans’ wish of independence.  

Europe as supporter of rights seems to back down when facing the pressure of people defending sovereignty, Many of them are now calling for the suspension of the European Court for Human Rights, as if this supranational judge was no longer of any use. Europe, in Hungary or Poland is suffering from the rise of populism. 

The European Union had to undergo Brexit. A few years ago, nobody could have imagined that an influent state as Great Britain would get out of the Union. The exit procedure had not even been legislated for. The wave of sovereignism has risen everywhere in the world, expressing a loss of confidence in democracy, it ideals and its functioning system. And it is mostly young generations, who have never known anything else as democracy who are ready to throw it in the ditch for the beautiful promises of an autocrat. As one says : History repeats itself . .

The idea of Europe “as a fortification” is progressing in people’s minds. One has seen, not so long ago, greek sailors using guns to dissuade migrants to land on the shore. A sad image for the cradle of democracy  

Nothing is simple, but what would remain of Europe without the rights?

We still have Europe as creator of wealth, the one that wants to consider only trade and GDP. This kind of Europe, alas, is superior to the Europe as defender of rights. I still cannot understand for what reasons the Custom Union with Turkey hasn’t been put into question in response to the belligerent attitude of Erdogan in the Aegean sea, in High-Karabakh, and particularly because of its terrifying repression of the Kurds. 

It’s no less intolerable that the European Union has recently signed an important investments agreement with China, while nobody ignores that a substantial part of China’s production comes from forced labour camps, where over a million of Uighur are wasting away (2) . 

Europe is a means to maintain a common prosperity, even if it’s no longer at the centre of the world’s market. It is Europe who enables us to obtain vaccines in the best possible way as it is also Europe who is giving us the possibility to be ever more indebted through the pooling of a part of the debt. 

So, do we want prosperity above all? Europe’s soul doesn’t stand on that side. I think that the best way to kill Europe consists, for hardcore defenders of sovereignty, in removing her soul who lies in its power to stand above the sovereignty of states and in its power to defend rights and liberties. 

Even if it is fragile and in difficulties, Europe offers us the idea of another legitimacy able to control the absolute character of national sovereignty, of whom we remember the key responsibility for all tragedies of the 20th century. . 

Therefore we must not give in to populism, and just because of our weakness or tiredness, reject it all. On the contrary we need now more than ever to support Europe with lucidity.  

It’s precisely at the time when European democracy is suffering under the rise of populism, at the time when the complex functioning of the European machinery is undergoing unpleasant criticism, that this supranational , singular human construction must be defended. Does one have to remind that when Europeans are arguing regularly for whole nights of negotiations, a decision has always come out in the early hour of the morning? Isn’t it the best definition of democracy when opinions are confronted for long hours of discussions to open up on an agreement? 

The time when Europeans were exchanging salve of guns and conversing with the help of shelling each other is not so far away. 

Are we forgetting that the complex machinery of the Union has given birth to a new citizenship and the European conscience of the youth thanks to the benefits of the Erasmus program? The European construction enables to maintain high standards in terms of protection of rights, when some states are limiting the freedom of press or the independence of judges and magistrates.  

It is the protective logic of the great principles of European rights that has enabled to limit the excess of Spain’s sovereignty in forbidding the extradition of political Catalan prisoners. 

The best way to constrain absolute sovereignty and its errors consists in sharing sovereignty at the top but also at the base. Brittany must show political will to regain the part of sovereignty that it is entitled to have. 

It is down to us Bretons to act, for Europe won’t be able to do anything for us on that ground. Our Breton interests and amongst others our maritime identity trampled in the context of the Brexit consequences, can only be properly defended by us, Bretons. 

Yvon Ollivier

1 – Since the Maastricht treaty, any citizen of the European Union and any moral person in one of the member States of the Union can address a petition to the European parliament, when it is concerning a European Union’s field of competence.

This petition right offers all citizens of the European Union a simple and direct way to ask that measures are examined and above all taken. 

In that way the petition of European Union’s citizens in favour of an increased protection of national minorities invites the European Union “to improve the protection of people belonging to linguistic, national minorities and to reinforce cultural and linguistic diversity in the Union”. 

This citizen initiative , started in 2017, received 1,3 millions signatures in less than one year and obtained therefore the Commission’s validation of the minimum of 1 million signatures collected. 

The Members of the European parliament have recently adopted with 524 votes in favour out of 694 votes, a resolution of support to the citizen initiative called “ Minority Safepack” . 

A proposition of law should derive out of it. As Germany is supporting the initiative, it should be difficult for the French Government to refute that Alsatians, Basques and Breton speaking people constitute linguistic minorities. 

However we must remain vigilant at this stage of things as we know too well the agility of the French State in calling the argument of its Constitution, so that it doesn’t have to recognise its linguistic national minorities. 

2 – Bretagne – Ma Vie is deeply shocked by the massive arbitrary detention of the Uighurs , by the bad treatments inflicted onto them through the Chinese authorities. 

The Xinjiang region where the Uighurs are living is targetted with a policy of repression by the Chinese Regime. About 1 million of them are said to be detained in camps of political reeducation. Beijing is refuting the accusations and declares that the camps are centres of professional education established to distract the Uighurs from taking the path of islamism, terrorism and separatism. In real facts, it is forced labour on a large scale!

We are denouncing the arbitrary detentions, torture, forced labour, massive sterilisation. 

One of the ways not be an accomplice of the bad treatments inflicted on moslem Uighurs of Xinjiang is to forbid all importation of goods issued totally or in part from forced labour and therefore to pronounce financial sanctions towards rebelling companies as the United Kingdom decided to do. 

The French government seems to react very slowly, if not at all, and abstains from taking any concrete actions, as sadly the European Union does, who has just concluded an agreement with China on investments, without setting out any condition such as the immediate stop to the political repression of Beijing towards the Uighurs. 

Note of the translator: souverainisme translated into english by sovereignism is a new word dating back to the 80s in Quebec and Europe , that is defining a movement or a doctrine that defends the sovereignty of a state , ie a Member State within the European Union.  https://www.universiteitleiden.nl/en/internationalstudies/blog/blog-post/sovereignism

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