When will European elites come to their senses and give up on the EU?

Brussels leaders have no reservoir of Euro-sympathy on which to draw. Only in Germany – and less and less so even there – can politicians demand sacrifices in the name of the EU. This is squarely the fault of the politicians themselves, who sold the euro on a false premise. Voters were given three assurances about the single currency: that it would boost growth; that it would make its constituent states get on better; and that it would impose fiscal discipline. All three claims turn out to have been lies. Small wonder that the parties that made them have lost credibility…

You really don’t get it, do you, chaps? Your voters are ahead of you: they can extrapolate from the miscarriage of your single most important project. Just as the euro has failed, so has the wider integrationist scheme. The EU was supposed to have “the most competitive knowledge-based economy in the world” by the year 2010; in fact, it is becoming sclerotic, poor and irrelevant. It was supposed to entrench democracy, but has ended up imposing civilian juntas on Athens and Rome. It was supposed to soothe national animosities, but has instead stoked them – read what German newspapers say about Greeks, and vice versa.

For the politicians and functionaries who make a living out of the Brussels system, none of this much matters. Human nature being what it is, people can always interpret events as a vindication of what they already believed. The French even have a phrase for it: déformation professionnelle, the construction of your opinions around your professional interest. But while the elites twist every new development into an argument for deeper integration, their peoples have seen through the racket.