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Welcome Address for the CEP – FEE – EF Conference “The Future of the European Union”

English Pages, 14. 11. 2006

I am extremely pleased to be here and to see all of you here today. I would also like at the very beginning of this conference to thank all who helped to organize this important gathering.

Everything started in May, in London, in the Dorchester, when we had breakfast with Bill Cash. We both expressed our deep frustration with what is going on in Europe and we decided to do something. One of the ideas was to bring a group of people who have similar feelings about it to Prague. And here we are.

Comparing Bill and me I don’t know which one of us is more frustrated. Probably I am. Bill does not have his 17th November, by coincidence we have its 17th anniversary in four days.

Frustration is always a relative feeling. There are expectations and there is reality. I have to confess that in spite of my built-in pragmatism, my expectations 17 years ago were very high. The reality – not just in the Czech Republic, but in the whole Europe – is worse than I expected. I expected Europe to be much more free, with much less government involvement, with less socialism.

Someone could say that this is a general, traditional, very broad ideological issue and that the topic of our conference is different. I don’t think so. My point is that there is a very strong correlation (and also casuality) between the lack of freedom and democracy because of etatism on the one hand, and the marching to an “ever-closer Europe” on the other. We should discuss this link here today.

The erroneous (basically wrong) Europeisation, the ambitions to create the supranationalist Europe, is based on two unjustifiable assumptions:

- we need the existing form of integration to prevent wars in Europe;

- the human action (in Misesian terminology) is dominated by externalities, public goods are more important than private goods, continental-wide public goods are everywhere.

In the name of these assumptions we have been “integrated”, unified, standardized, harmonized, regulated – without attention being paid to intended and unintended consequences of that.

The main victims of this process are freedom, democracy, economic efficiency, responsible approach to life, the values so dear to all of us who try to resist the permanent danger of returning to “the road to serfdom”.

To say such things is politically incorrect, because the wind in Europe these days blows in a different direction. Not from the East. I believe this conference is a gathering of people who dare to be politically incorrect and therefore I look forward to be here with you this afternoon.

Václav Klaus, „The Future of the European Union“ Conference, Hotel Intercontinental, Prague, November 13th, 2006


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