"In 2012 it is business as usual. Obstinate and deluded, those in charge keep pushing “the project” in scenes reminiscent of a bad gambler who keeps going back to the table hoping the result will be different this time. This folly has and will continue to cost us, and our children, trillions now and in years to come if we do not stop it."
• This time ten years ago many European countries were embarking on a new era with the introduction of the euro. Co-incidentally I was also starting a new phase in my life: taking up my duties as the newly appointed European Commission Chief Accountant.
Similar to the atmosphere of jubilation experienced by many with the entry into force of the fledgling Euro, I also had high hopes with my new job.
I felt honoured to have been considered for such a big responsibility and was eager to start work. I had been told that the European Commission was undergoing important administrative reforms and I was right in the driving seat, anxious to get these reforms implemented.
Ten years later and the metaphoric land of milk and honey promised by those behind the single currency has turned sour and rancid. You do not need me to tell you that by anyone’s benchmark the currency has been an abysmal failure, completely failing to weather the storms of the financial crisis.
During those ten years I was sacked from my position as Chief Accountant having pointed out massive irregularities in the accounting procedures of the European Commission and been told in no uncertain terms to stay schtum. This was something I could not do. I now sit at the complete other end of the EU table, as a democratically elected MEP for UKIP in the South East of England.
I do not presume for one minute that the fall in the euro’s fortunes and my sacking from the post are in any way inter-connected, however, what is clearly connected is the culture at the heart of the EU which, I believe, contributed massively to both happenings.
Early into my job in the Commission it did not take me long to realise that there was a terrible resistance to change. Coupled with an astounding lack of transparency and accountability compared to the private sector where I worked for many leading blue-chip firms, I was left with an overwhelming sensation that nothing was remotely clear about the way EU money was being spent or the way legislation was being designed and enacted.
At the beginning I tried to convince myself that this culture was due to the fact that the EU institutions tended to promote people from the inside rather than bringing professionals in with differing expertise to enrich the working environment.
I appear to have been an exception along with only one other person. Gradually as the paralysis and problems within the systems began to manifest before my eyes, I discussed my views with others who had been there for years. I realised many were aware of the problems I saw but felt compelled to shut up and push through “the project”.
It was at this stage that it began to dawn on me that all my efforts to improve things were in vain. But I still could not give up. I felt something had to be done, or at the very least let the people of Europe know what was going on in their name. I did. To great personal cost.
I realise that to many people horror stories about the EU have more than a whiff of the conspiracy theory about them. Most are aware that the EU is not managed correctly, yet very few are aware how far this management rot goes. It is not simply a few blemishes on the skin, the rot goes straight to the core.
At its heart the EU suffers from massive institutional and structural failings. This fact is borne out by Merkel and Sarkozy´s recent approach to the Eurozone problem: They found the EU bureacracy unable to manage the situation and pushed it aside to pull the cart themselves in their own way.
So what has happened to the EU in these 10 years? It has failed in the setting of its own strategic targets – Remember the Lisbon strategy? It cost Billions of taxpayers money and was supposed to turn Europe into the most dynamic knowledge base economy by 2010.
It has failed for over a decade to have its own accounts cleared by the European Court of Auditors, instead relying on complicit MEPs to push approval through.
It has failed to manage its own stability and growth pacts, turning a blind eye to Greek and other Eurozone countries failure to meet entry fiscal targets, instead letting them join the single currency.
In 2012 it is business as usual. Obstinate and deluded, those in charge keep pushing “the project” in scenes reminiscent of a bad gambler who keeps going back to the table hoping the result will be different this time. This folly has and will continue to cost us, and our children, trillions now and in years to come if we do not stop it.
I do not regret having lost my job at the European Commission, I still think I did the right thing, but I hate to think my actions did not succeed in making the people of Europe react. Whether there is a collective myopia on the part of our politicians in the UK or more worryingly that the British public have an ‘its over there and it doesnt affect us’ mentality, I do not know.
I cannot understand why so many people are unable to see the institutional and structural failures of the EU that are the root causes of this eurozone crisis.
As a eurosceptic, It would be easy to celebrate the current situation. When it comes to the collapse of the euro this is something I cannot do.
It has brought and will continue to bring a lot of suffering to many, including us in the UK. What terrifies me is that those at the top of the EU will still not give up pushing “the project”.
We should all have a new year’s resolution: to stand up to the EU and ultimately extricate ourselves from it. Another 10 years of slavish devotion towards a failed and still failing project by those in charge does not bear thinking about. www.martaandreasen.com