The Treaty of Lisbon considers the interests of the European Union to be above the interests of individual states and citizens. Jean-Claude Juncker, president of the European Commission, complained in 2016: "Too many politicians are listening exclusively to their national opinion. And if you are listening to your national opinion you are not developing what should be a common European sense..." (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)
The Treaty of Lisbon -- drafted as a replacement to the 2005 Constitutional Treaty and signed in 2007 by the leaders of the 27 European Union member states -- describes itself as an agreement to "reform the functioning of the European Union... [it] sets out humanitarian assistance as a specific Commission competence."
What the Lisbon Treaty actually created, however, was an authoritarian political system that infringes on human and political rights.
Take the mandate of the European Commission (EC), for instance. According to Article 17 of the Treaty:
"The Commission shall promote the general interest of the Union... In carrying out its responsibilities, the Commission shall be completely independent... the members of the Commission shall neither seek nor take instructions from any Government or other institution, body, office or entity."
Then there is Article 4, which states in part:
"...The Member States shall facilitate the achievement of the Union's tasks and refrain from any measure which could jeopardise the attainment of the Union's objectives."
In other words, the interests of the Union are above the interests of individual states and citizens. This is not mere speculation. The president of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, openly stated in 2016:
"Too many politicians are listening exclusively to their national opinion. And if you are listening to your national opinion you are not developing what should be a common European sense and a feeling of the need to put together efforts. We have too many part-time Europeans."
The same year, Emmanuel Macron -- at the time France's Economy Minister -- gave an interview to Time magazine, in which he warned against the U.K.'s upcoming Brexit referendum by arguing:
"You can suddenly have a series of countries waking up and saying, 'I want the same status as the Brits,' which will be de facto the dismantling of the rest of Europe. We should not replicate the situation where one country is in a situation to hijack the rest of Europe, because they organize a referendum."
Macron's attitude is reflected in the Lisbon Treaty, which imposes regulations on member states to ensure they fulfill tasks determined by the European Commission.
It is noteworthy in this context that of the 36 times that the word "responsibility" appears in the Treaty, only once does it refer to a Commission obligation -- which is that it, "as a body, shall be responsible to the European Parliament." The other 35 refer to obligations of the member states.
In a democratic system with a healthy balance of power, a ruling coalition can be challenged or replaced by the opposition. This is precisely what is lacking in the EU, as the Treaty of Lisbon requires that European Commission members be selected on the basis of their "European commitment." This means, in effect, that anyone with a dissenting view may never become a member of the Commission -- something eerily reminiscent of Communism. Article 4 of the Czechoslovak Constitution of 1960, for instance, specifies:
"The leading force in society and in the state is the vanguard of the working class, the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia, a voluntary combat union of the most active and knowledgeable citizens of the ranks of workers, peasants and intelligentsia."
Article11 of the North Korean Constitution includes a similar directive:
"The Democratic People's Republic of Korea shall conduct all activities under the leadership of the Workers' Party of Korea."
As history repeatedly demonstrates, where there is no opposition, freedom is lost.
In his 1840 book, Democracy in America, the renowned French diplomat and historian Alexis de Tocqueville wrote:
"...If despotism were to establish itself in today's democratic nations, it would probably have a different character. It would be more extensive and more mild, and it would degrade men without tormenting them...
"The sovereign, after taking individuals one by one in his powerful hands and kneading them to his liking, reaches out to embrace society as a whole. Over it he spreads a fine mesh of uniform, minute, and complex rules, through which not even the most original minds and most vigorous souls can poke their heads above the crowd. He does not break men's wills but softens, bends, and guides them. He seldom forces anyone to act but consistently opposes action. He does not destroy things but prevents them from coming into being. Rather than tyrannize, he inhibits, represses, saps, stifles, and stultifies, and in the end he reduces each nation to nothing but a flock of timid and industrious animals, with the government as its shepherd..."
De Tocqueville penned these nearly two full centuries ago, but they could easily -- and frighteningly -- be applied to Europe today.
Dr. Jiří Payne is a Czech conservative member of the European Parliament and of the Europe of Freedom and Direct Democracy Group. He is a former member of the Chamber of Deputies of the Czech Republic (1993-2002) and co-founder and co-chairman of Friends of Judea and Samaria in the European Parliament. He is co-author of It Can Work Differently: Searching for an Alternative Arrangement of the Continent (2018) and Stolen Europe (2015).
The article was translated by Josef Zbořil and is reprinted here with the kind permission of the author.