I learned of the Charlemagne prize when Pope Francis recently received this honor. Having recently commented on this occasion and the prize, I only offer here a brief refresher:
The Charlemagne Prize is one of the most prestigious European prizes. It has been awarded annually since 1950 by the German city of Aachen to people who contributed to the ideals upon which it has been founded.
The sponsors…quote Kurt Pfeiffer: “the Charlemagne Prize reaches into the future, and at the same time it embodies an obligation – an obligation of the highest ethical value. It is directed at a voluntary union of the European peoples without constraint….
A “voluntary union of the European peoples without constraint.” Kind of the opposite of how the prize’s namesake went about the consolidation. I suspect the sponsors (and many of the recipients) hold Charlemagne’s views just slightly under the skin.
I considered an examination of the recipients of this prize; it is a who’s who of internationalists, integrationists, cultural Marxists, warmongers and so on. After looking at the background of the first few names, I concluded that it was pointless to write such a post. Who did I think would be awarded? Ron Paul? Murray Rothbard?
Instead, what I found interesting by examining this background of the recipients was a world of organizations and institutions previously unknown (or barely known) to me. This examination will offer some idea of the efforts behind integrating Europe. You would think that if the union was truly voluntary they wouldn’t have to work so hard to jam it down everyone’s throats. So, here goes….
The Bad News
The College of Europe is an independent university institute of postgraduate European studies with the main campus in Bruges, Belgium. It was founded in 1949 by such leading European figures and founding fathers of the European Union as Salvador de Madariaga, Winston Churchill, Paul-Henri Spaak and Alcide De Gasperi in the wake of the Hague Congress of 1948 to promote “a spirit of solidarity and mutual understanding between all the nations of Western Europe and to provide elite training to individuals who will uphold these values” and “to train an elite of young executives for Europe.”
Students are selected in cooperation with the government of the student’s home country. For several decades, enrollment was limited to about 100 students per year, but since the 1990s has increased to over 400.
As you read the following, keep in mind: over 400 of the best and brightest that Europe and the world have to offer graduate every year from this institution. Thereafter, they work every single day either directly toward this project or indirectly supportive of it.
According to The Times, the “College of Europe, in the medieval Belgian city of Bruges, is to the European political elite what the Harvard Business School is to American corporate life. It is a hothouse where the ambitious and talented go to make contacts”.
The Economist describes it as “an elite finishing school for aspiring Eurocrats.”
The Financial Times writes that “the elite College of Europe in Bruges” is “an institution geared to producing crop after crop of graduates with a lifelong enthusiasm for EU integration.”
The college has also been described as “the leading place to study European affairs” and as “the elite training center for the European Union’s political class”.
RFE/RL has referred to the college as “a Euro-federalist hot-spot.”
The Global Mail has described its students as “Europe’s leaders-in-waiting.”
The Council of Europe is an international organization focused on promoting democracy, rule of law, human rights, economic development and integration of certain regulatory functions in Europe. Founded in 1949, it has 47 member states, covers approximately 820 million people and operates with an annual budget of approximately half a billion Euros.
This is not the European Union (EU). However, all EU member states were first members of the Council of Europe.
Unlike the EU, the Council of Europe cannot make binding laws, but it does have the power to enforce select international agreements reached by European states on various topics.
Being an employee of this organization has its privileges:
The General Agreement on Privileges and Immunities of the Council of Europe grants the organisation certain privileges and immunities…. Salaries and emoluments paid by the Council of Europe to its officials are tax-exempt on the basis of Article 18 of the General Agreement on Privileges and Immunities of the Council of Europe.
Do you think any of them want to give that up?
To get some idea of its reach:
The Council of Europe has offices in Albania, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Georgia, Moldova, Montenegro, Serbia, and Ukraine; information offices in Albania, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Estonia, Georgia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Moldova, Poland, Romania, Russian Federation, Slovakia, Slovenia, the Republic of Macedonia, and Ukraine; and a projects office in Turkey. All these offices are establishments of the Council of Europe and they share its juridical personality with privileges and immunities.
The CE works in dozens of areas. Here is a small sample:
Protection of human rights, notably through:
o the European Convention on Human Rights
o the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture
o the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance
o the Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings
o the Convention on the Protection of Children against Sexual Exploitation and Sexual Abuse
o The Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence.
o social rights under the European Social Charter
o linguistic rights under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages
o minority rights under the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities
o Media freedom under Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights and the European Convention on Transfrontier Television
This organization has at least a dozen entities under it, for example the Secretary General, the Committee of Ministers, the Parliamentary Assembly, The Congress of the Council of Europe, The European Court of Human Rights, The Commissioner for Human Rights, The Conference of INGOs.
Honors and Awards
Many of the recipients of the Charlemagne prize have a long list of such awards and honors. Here is an example, from Herman Van Rompuy:
- Grand Cordon of the Order of Leopold (Belgium)
- Grand Officier of the Légion d’honneur (France)
- Knight Grand Cross of the Order of St Michael and St George (United Kingdom)
- Knight with the Collar of the Order of Pius IX (Holy See)
- Knight Grand Cross of the Order of Saints Maurice and Lazarus (Italy)
- Knight of the Order of the White Eagle (Russian Empire)
- Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Netherlands Lion (Netherlands)
- Knight of the Order of the Dannebrog (Denmark)
- Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Crown (Romania)
- Knight Grand Cross of the Order of Christ (Portugal)
- Grand Cross of the Order of the Redeemer (Greece)
- Grand Cross of the Order of the Oak Crown (Luxembourg)
- Order of the Rising Sun, 1st class (Japan)
- Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Zähringer Lion (Grand Duchy of Baden)
- Croix de Guerre (France)
- Croix de guerre (Belgium)
- In 2010, he received Collier award of the Fondation du Mérite européen from Jacques Santer on the occasion of 40th anniversary of the Foundation for his role as President of the European Council
- Knight Grand Cross of the Order of Orange-Nassau (10 October 2014; Netherlands)
- Gold Medal of the Jean Monnet Foundation for Europe, in 2014.
- By Royal Decree of 8 July 2015, Van Rompuy was ennobled with the personal non-hereditary title of count
I won’t go down the rabbit hole of each award – let’s just say the people behind each award have some power.
Recipients of the Charlemagne prize include royalty.
Juan Carlos reigned as King of Spain from 1975 to 2014, when he abdicated in favour of his son, Felipe VI.
In 1962, Juan Carlos married Princess Sofía of Greece and Denmark, with whom he has three children. Juan Carlos and Sofía retain the titles and style they enjoyed during his reign.
Beatrix reigned as Queen of the Netherlands from 1980 until her abdication in 2013, after a reign of exactly 33 years. She is the eldest daughter of Queen Juliana and her husband, Prince Bernhard of Lippe-Biesterfeld. Upon her mother’s accession in 1948, she became heir presumptive. When her mother abdicated on 30 April 1980, Beatrix succeeded her as queen.
On Koninginnedag (Queen’s Day), 30 April 2013, Beatrix abdicated in favour of her eldest son, Willem-Alexander, and resumed the title of princess. He is the first King of the Netherlands in 123 years.
It is hard to believe that the royalty of Europe plays only the role of figurehead.
The Good News
With all of this firepower, you might think that those who favor decentralization have no chance – how do we ever overcome all of this?
All of this firepower, and EU leaders have no answers to the problems that plague Europe: unsustainable national debt in several countries, with Greece as the poster child; deficits with no end; austerity on the backs of the citizens in order to prop up the failed banks; never-ending refugees, relying on Turkey to be the savior; war with Russia in Eastern Europe; terrorist attacks due to blowback; youth unemployment up to 50%; leaders seen as puppets to the United States.
These problems and more are growing, not shrinking. Without solutions, people might decide not to support this monstrosity. We see evidence every day of this, with backlashes against austerity, open immigration policies, BREXIT and other similar votes, alternative populist parties and the like.
Don’t believe me? Ask Ambrose Evans-Pritchard:
It shows that 60pc of Italians want a referendum of their own, and that 48pc would now vote to leave the EU…. The MORI poll shows that 58pc of the French also want their own referendum, and 41pc say they would vote to leave. Swexit sentiment in Sweden is running at 39pc…. It suggests that very large numbers of people on the Continent have reached their own damning verdict on EU pieties and on the EMU construct
The eurozone’s short-lived recovery is already losing steam as stimulus fades and deep problems resurface, raising fears of yet another false dawn and a potential deflation trap if there is any external shock over coming months.
Italy is running out of economic time. Seven years into an ageing global expansion, the country is still stuck in debt-deflation and still grappling with a banking crisis that it cannot combat within the paralyzing constraints of monetary union…. Each year Rome hopefully pencils in a fall in the ratio of public debt to GDP, and each year the ratio rises.
Three commentaries in two days.
Sure, the graduates of the College of Europe might come up with some more bailing wire and duct tape, but such solutions cannot solve the most fundamental problem of the EU: central planning and control don’t work for the masses; eventually it falls under its own weight. It will in Europe.
Call it the revenge of the Stellinga.
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