Out-of-touch Europe's Guidelines Will Be Ignored by All

It is clear Europe's central leaders did not authorize the recent policy changes, or even know about them. Is this out-of-control bureaucracy another symptom of the continent's decline?

Moshe Arens
Moshe Arens
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Moshe Arens
Moshe Arens

Long gone are the heady days when there was talk of the European Union surpassing the United States’ economic output and becoming the world’s superpower. Now, as it accounts for a diminishing share of the world economy, it is just struggling to survive.

Almost all of its 28 member states face severe economic crises and record unemployment. It has not lived up to its promise. Europe, and with it the European Union, are in decline. We wish them the best, although it is not certain that feeling is mutual on the part of the bureaucrats in Brussels − the de-facto capital of the EU.

Would you believe these bureaucrats could compose a missive to make those in Jerusalem tremble? The EU guidelines published on Friday, which define Israel’s borders as the armistice lines of 1949, reportedly set off an earthquake in Jerusalem. The Israeli economy, which in recent years has outperformed European economies, is presumably about to be dealt a body blow. The Brussels diplomats say to Israel: It’s back to the armistice lines of 1949, or else.

Who authorized these bureaucrats to pen those guidelines? Who approved them? It is clear that leaders of the major European countries − Angela Merkel, Francois Hollande, David Cameron − did not authorize or approve them. They did not even know about them. So is this bureaucracy run amok, another symptom of the decline of Europe?

What’s more amazing than the now-infamous guidelines was the reaction of much of the Israeli media, which reported that “sources” in Jerusalem consider these guidelines to be no less than an earthquake. The Foreign Ministry, it was reported, was aghast. But this was not really a case of “trembling Israelites”; rather, it was the usual Israeli spin doctors on the left, weaving a tale to convince the Israeli public that Judea and Samaria, the Golan Heights, and much of Jerusalem had to be abandoned, lest Israel follow Europe’s economic demise.

Just contrast the screaming headlines in some of the Israeli dailies to the way the foreign press covered this story. There was no mention of the EU guidelines on the websites of The New York Times, The Washington Post or Le Monde. The story in the Sueddeutsche Zeitung focused on the great excitement that had been aroused in Israel, rather than on the guidelines themselves.

This imbroglio raises another question: Do European countries really have a common foreign policy? Do they have a shared policy on China, Iran, Egypt, Syria or, for that matter, Israel? Or are these guidelines just the wishful ruminations of some Brussels bureaucrats, operating in a byzantine labyrinth, out of touch with the governments that they presumably serve?

Take the Iranian nuclear program as an example. The Iranians possess ballistic missiles that can reach Europe. When equipped with nuclear warheads, they represent a potential threat to Europe that brings to mind the damage inflicted on Europe in World War II. What is Europe’s response? The EU is depending on the United States to deal with this potential threat, as it lacks substantial military capabilities. And if not the Americans, then − perish the thought − Israel, the only other country that can confront this danger. Yes, the very same Israel against which the bureaucrats in Brussels are fulminating at the moment. While EU officials continue the endless debate on whether or not to label Hezbollah a terrorist organization, the bureaucrats in Brussels are busy concocting guidelines against Israel − guidelines that will be ignored by almost everyone.

A boy cycles past the entrance of the European Commission headquarters in Brussels, Monday, May 9, 2011 as the European Union celebrates Europe Day.Credit: AP

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