For someone who saw Perestroika unfold in Eastern Europe, I often experience a sense of déjà-vu following European affairs in Brussels.
Perestroika means constructing something new with old material and this is precisely what the plans for the future EU are all about.
When Gorbachev set the Perestroika in motion he had in mind a result completely different to the one that was achieved. But his big contribution was that he let the genie out of the bottle.
For millions of Europeans the result was actually very good, and it wasn’t bad for the Russians either. Eastern Europeans today live better than in almost any other time in their history, and the same is true for Russians.
Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Hungary, aka ‘the Visegrad Four’, are in many cases branded the troublemakers at EU-level. But it was exactly the same under communism.
‘Czechoslovaks’ were the most sceptical, the Poles the most revolutionary and the Hungarians the most unpredictable.
The Moscow of today is Brussels and Marxism-Leninism is now the often-excessive phenomenon of political correctness, which threatens to alienate almost everyone, except perhaps the contemporary nomenklatura who work with or for the EU institutions.
Today’s EU is often associated with hypocrisy, as was the Soviet Empire. Before, citizens listened to Radio Free Europe, which delivered a very different message. Ironically, today many Europeans read Sputnik or watch RT.
Macron has been called a “godsend” and I think there was a similar feeling about Gorbachev. The status quo is embodied by Merkel, who represents the old Politburo with whom Gorbachev had to co-exist.
Macron wants to reshape the EU completely, via a democratic revival – conventions for the future of EU. In the case of Poland, he said that if the Polish authorities are not interested, Polish students can take the lead.
He also wants to completely reshape the EU and have a strong eurozone nucleus with its own budget, which would perhaps be bigger than the EU budget, relegating the non-eurozone members to the status of EU neighbourhood.
We will see if Macron will succeed. In any case, he really has let the cat out of the bag. His project may not work but last time around, Perestroika ended up being a success precisely because it wasn’t successful.
This Brief is powered by Eni – Europe is reinvigorating its push to support the Paris climate agreement at a time when it has never been more under threat. If it wants to be successful, the EU must be coherent: Ending subsidies to polluting power plants by setting a 550g/kwh CO2 emissions limit in the capacity remuneration mechanisms means leading by example.
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Views are the author’s