On immigration, on sustainable development and on many other subjects, the convergence between the United States and Central Europe is now as evident as the new divide between Western Europe and Central Europe.
The European mindset is shifting. Twenty-three of the 28 governments of the European Union now have parliamentarian majorities on the center-right of the political spectrum. Everywhere in Europe, the "left" is on the run.
This is particularly true in Central Europe. The soon-to-be Austrian Prime Minister Sebastian Kurz won the election on an anti-immigration platform and is on the verge of forming a government with the right-wing Austrian Freedom Party (FPÖ) which owes its own success to the same topic.
In the Czech Republic, political parties on the right now hold 157 of the 200 seats in the Parliament and tycoon Andrej Babis — "the Czech Trump" — is set to be the next prime minister.
All in all, the "Visegrad Group" peoples — Czechs, Hungarians, Poles and Slovaks — plus the Austrians, have voted in the most conservative governments we have seen in Europe for almost 30 years, since the fall of Margaret Thatcher in the United Kingdom.
Pictured: The Prime Ministers of the Visegrad Group countries meet in Prague on December 3, 2015. From left to right: Slovakia's Robert Fico, Poland's Beata Szydło, Czech Republic's Bohuslav Sobotka and Hungary's Viktor Orbán. (Image source: Chancellery of the Prime Minister of Poland)
These people and parties have much more in common — in terms of values, priorities, Weltanschauung — with the American Right than with the milder Western-European right. To state, as Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, has repeatedly, that people in Central Europe do not want Muslim refugees because they do not want their cities to look like Brussels, Paris or London, is Trumpian, and in no way EU-compatible.
If we go to the bones of the contention, we see that these differing perspectives between Western Europe and Central Europe are no mere trifles, temporary divergences in wait of the next synthesis. They are existential. The world view of Central Europe looks increasingly irreconcilable with that of Western Europe and the EU. Let us focus on just two matters: immigration and environmentalism.
The political elites of Western Europe have not only fully embraced the concept of "no borders"; they would also dub any form of dissent as ignorance, discrimination or racism. Merkel herself has recognized that multiculturalism has failed . All scientific studies show that a significant number of Muslims in Europe are fundamentalist; and that thousands of young Muslim Europeans have departed for Syria to join ISIS. And yet, to hear that the people of Central Europe have no intention of following the same path is insufferable to Brussels and Berlin.
Bearing in mind that under EU law — the Dublin Regulation — these countries have a legal obligation to welcome their "quota" of refugees, who are overwhelmingly Muslims coming via Greece and Italy, you can understand that Europe, that is the EU, has a real problem. It is also worthwhile to note that the European Parliament's Civil Liberties Committee has just adopted a draft EU regulation to augment this obligation, providing that the refugees should be distributed throughout the whole of the EU immediately following their arrival on EU soil.
The more "moderate" European Commission has proposed to streamline and supplement the current rules with a corrective allocation mechanism:
"This mechanism would be triggered automatically were a Member State to be faced with disproportionate numbers of asylum-seekers. If a Member State decided not to accept the allocation of asylum-seekers from a Member State under pressure, a 'solidarity contribution' of €250 000 per applicant would have to be made instead."
€250 000 per applicant! Let us say should Poland refuse a mere 1000 refugees, the penalty would be a staggering 250 million euros (which may come as a surprise since the official ideology prevalent in the EU is that refugees are of benefit to the economy).
Of course, everybody agrees that "asylum applications should be processed much quicker so those in need of protection get it sooner, while those with no right to asylum can be returned to their home country swifter," in the words of MEP Cecilia Wikström. The plan is unfortunately of little consequence as the EU is living under the law of the infernal twins: the European Court of Human Rights and the Court of Justice of the EU. They have made sure, through ruling after ruling, that it is virtually impossible to expel a "refugee" after his asylum request has been rejected: no collective deportation, no deportation if the country of origin does not want its national back, no deportation if the country of origin is not a nice democracy, no deportation pending the appeal, no deportation if there is a medical condition, etc. All of these exceptions are reliant upon the "refugee" not seeing fit to destroy his or her own documents, as in that case he cannot be expelled at all.
If the US system of justice regarding immigration is, in Trump's words, "a joke," then the EU system is a monumental joke. "Deportation of quarter of a million failed asylum seekers is almost impossible," said Horst Seehofer, Minister President of Bavaria of Bavaria and reluctant ally of Merkel in her last coalition.
"The question of deportation is a great illusion in Germany. It is almost impossible to send back the migrants once they are in the country. There are mass complaints against courts for deportation. In most cases, papers are missing and without papers, the country of origin does not take people back. In other cases, there are health certificates missing."
Central Europe, on the other hand has declared that it has no intention whatsoever of taking its part in the extreme policies and grotesque failure of "open borders" and forced multiculturalism of Western Europe.
And that was before there was "sustainable development". Self-anointed moral leader, Europe, has decided to become the global poster boy for green policy. The past belongs to Fossil fuels; the future belongs to renewable energy -- from the wind and sun ("our sisters", as Pope Francis wrote in his encyclic Laudato si'). Energy transformation — essentially electric energy — has taken on gigantic proportions in Europe. Thanks to the Energiewende, in Germany the average family is now paying more than twice as much for its electricity (per kW/h) as in the US. France, the happy owner of an extraordinary nuclear production capacity, which for decades was its only substantial competitive advantage has decided to reduce the role of nuclear energy in its production of electricity from 75% to 50%, under the guidance of Minister Nicolas Hulot (by education photographer and beach guardian).
There is also the exemplary instance of Belgium. Belgium's federal government has just decided to close all its seven nuclear reactors by 2025. Eight years! The beauty of it is that nobody knows, at this stage, how Belgium is going to replace its nuclear reactors. There seem to be two options: building gas plants or blotting Belgium's land and sea with wind turbines. The first option is anathema to the Greens and the Left in general, as Belgium would then be emitting more CO2 than now. Or, second, the wind option, which would mean that in ten years Belgian electricity will be at least twice as expensive as now. Millions would be condemned to energy poverty, meaning they would have to live partly in cold and darkness, as is already the situation in Germany.
The whole concept of "energy transition" is based on the science of the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which states in report after report that the Earth is warming because of the human emission of CO2. European politicians regard the IPCC as a scientific body, and the IPCC defines itself as a scientific body, although in reality, unsurprisingly, it is a purely political body. In composition, competence or functioning, there is not a shred of science in the IPCC.
Yet, when the IPCC publishes a report, it is in Europe as if Science had spoken. In the name of this "science", European politicians are extracting from their people trillions in additional taxes, building pyramids of new regulations and inflicting prohibitions in each and every sphere of human activity. Moreover, they stipulated in the 2015 the Paris Accord, that from then on, the West would also finance the "energy transition" of the rest of the world, via the "Green Fund": intending to donate $100 billion per year, from the Western taxpayer to whole world (including China).
US President Donald Trump said on June 1st that enough was enough. Europeans want to build International Socialism in the name of Science? Very well, but no thank you, we are not interested. In Europe, this decision caused the vilification of Trump as archvillian (until then he had been regarded by the glitterati of the EU as nothing more than a buffoon). It is now common in the highest spheres of European politics publicly to insult the US president: "He is a climate terrorist. Millions of people will die because of such behavior", wrote the Belgian expert Damien Ernst on October 31, after President Trump welcomed the increase in US coal production.
The US president may be an arch-villain in Western Europe, but in Central Europe, he is a superhero. For years, Central European countries have respectfully disagreed with the Green millenarianism of the EU. Still catching up after 50 years of communism, they do not have the financial means for the "energy transition". They see no rational reason to exchange their cheap electricity for the most expensive electricity on Earth, with no measurable impact whatsoever on "climate". Before Trump, they felt alone, and weak in front of the economic (and moral) supremacy of Germany. Now, they know they are not alone.
Of course, the European press still considers Trump to be a cosmic anomaly. They hope that a post-Trump America will come back to the greatest embezzlement in the history of mankind — the Paris Accord, in which Western countries transfer vast amounts of their taxpayers' wealth to poorer countries in exchange for promises that they will supposedly address their carbon-emission problems in 25 years. This is wishful thinking. Climate and energy are probably the only subjects on which Trump and the Republicans agreed from the beginning. The exit of the Paris Accord is not the isolated act of an unbalanced person, it is only one of the many closely aligned rulings, nominations and deregulation making a moderate energy policy which does not demonize fossil fuels and is open to "renewable" (intermittent) energies as long as they are economical. If the trend persists, in 10 years' time the electricity in countries such as Germany and Belgium will be at least four times as expensive as in the US. And all, ironically, in the name of "sustainable development". No ideologically-based "science" could survive such realities; it is only a question of time.
On mass-migration, environmentalism as on many other subjects — such as gender or family values — the divide between Western and Central Europe has deepened into an abyss, aggravated by the arrogance of EU bureaucrats convinced of their own moral superiority. The European Union is a "Union" no more, and the convergence between Central Europe and the US is a new and massive geopolitical fact.
Drieu Godefridi, a classical-liberal Belgian author, is the founder of the l'Institut Hayek in Brussels. He has a PhD in Philosophy from the Sorbonne in Paris and also heads investments in European companies.