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Swiss Embassy Remarks about the Long-lasting European Crisis

English Pages, 23. 9. 2015

Many thanks for the invitation. The topic you suggested is excellent both from the long-term perspective, and even more in this very moment. To speak about Europe is an almost existential topic for me as well as for many others who like me spent most of their lives in the tragic communist era, who had been – for decades – dreaming about freedom, democracy, free markets, and – last but not least – national sovereignty. Our expectations were, as we see them now, wrong. We, or at least some of us, are deeply frustrated by what we experience in Europe just now. This is not a new statement from me, I would use it before the destructive, more or less by the Europeans themselves organized, migration crisis.

Many Europeans, or especially West Europeans, see the situation in Europe differently. They behave as if they are not aware of the deepness of the current European crisis and of its multidimensional character. They probably don´t see the rapidly shrinking space of freedom in Europe and its post-democracy, the growing oppressiveness of the dictate of political correctness, the long lasting economic stagnation, the large and for several countries evidently insolvable debt crisis, the liquidation of nation-states and as a result of it the undermining of our identity and of our ability to react. What we are seeing before our eyes is the collapse of the European project.

To say that openly is – in mainstream media – almost impossible. I consider the currently prevailing approach in the EU to any kind of criticism in many respects similar to the way how the communist regime – in its later stages (not in the era of Stalin) – dealt with its opponents.

Mentioning communism, I would like to say that cheap and misleading analogies are wrong and dangerous, but analogies may be sometimes useful. The difference between the communist era and the world of today is so vast that only an insane person would deny it, but there are also some significant similarities, and we have to pay attention to them. One of the similarities which bother me is that we are in Europe – again – witnesses of an uncompromising hostility against all who have a different view now.

The present European crisis, and I am convinced that the term crisis is appropriate, of its political arrangements, of its economic system, of its continental-wide institutional structures, of its values, culture and behavioural patterns is not an accident. It is also not a short-term phenomenon. Europe has a long-existing systemic defect. There are – due to it – no partial concrete measures which could eventually eliminate it. No EU summits can lead to a substantial change.

Europe needs much more than partial improvements. Europe needs a paradigm shift, a fundamental change of our thinking and of our behaviour. Cosmetic and superficial reforms – like those in Greece today – will not make any change.

Let me briefly indicate several steps (not measures) towards an eventual perspective solution which – to my great regret – I don´t see forthcoming.

1. It is more than evident that the European overregulated economy, additionally constrained by a heavy load of social and environmental requirements, operating in a paternalistic welfare state atmosphere, cannot grow. This burden is too heavy. If Europe wants to start growing again, and this is what Europe needs, if Europe wants to solve its many daunting problems, it has to undertake a far-reaching transformation of its economic and social system. I have in mind a fundamental systemic change, return to free markets, not “reforms” à la Greece. We have to deregulate, liberalize, desubsidize, sometimes even privatize.

2. The excessive and unnatural centralization, bureaucratization, harmonization, standardization and unification of the European continent have led to a deep democratic defect there, it has led to post-democracy. This I consider – in the long run – a much bigger problem than the economic stagnation. Getting rid of this defect means – in addition to changes inside individual countries – changing the whole concept of the European integration, eliminating its post-Maastricht undemocratic developments. We have to rehabilitate the concept of the nation-state which has proved to be an irreplaceable institution – for nothing less important than democracy. We have to go back from unification to integration.

3. The realization of the most ambitious European project, of the project of European common currency, didn´t help but brought new problems. It weakened the self-discipline of individual countries. It created a “fuzzy” state of affairs, without clear delimitation of competencies and responsibilities. It produced an exchange rate which is too soft for the countries of the European North and too hard for the European South. It opened the doors to unproductive and involuntary redistribution (what we see in Europe these days is not an authentic personal solidarity but government-organized fiscal transfers).

It is evident that countries like Greece did not bring about current European problems. The system itself is a problem. By having entered the Eurozone, economically weaker countries became victims of the single currency system. They were forced to operate in a world of – for them – unsuitable and inappropriate economic parameters, which proved to be untenable. Letting these countries leave the Eurozone – in an organized way – would be the beginning of their long journey to a healthy economic future. 

4. Some directly uninvolved observers and critics (mostly from America) keep telling us – as if we didn’t know – that it was a mistake to establish a monetary union whose members enjoy fiscal sovereignty. They recommend us to accompany it with a genuine, full-fledged fiscal union and don’t want to hear that the people of Europe want to retain fiscal sovereignty of their nations. We should listen to them and guarantee fiscal sovereignty of individual European countries.

5. The growing undermining of nation-states has several unfavourable consequences which have been weakening Europe. The most visible of them is the tragic, old Europe liquidating immigration problem. We can talk about it afterwards. I have very strong views about it presented both in my articles, speeches and interviews, as well as in my two weeks old petition called “An Appeal of the European Citizens to their Governments and Parliaments”, which was signed by more than 100 000 Czech citizens.

It should be made clear, however, that this is not an issue of an appropriate or sufficiently politically correct approach of the Europeans to different cultures, religions, races, ethnicities as some people try to tell us. The acceptance and even promotion of massive immigration – done by European, and especially German elites – is a mistake which threatens not only to undermine the cohesion of countries in Europe and the social peace in them, but the future of freedom and democracy on our continent.

To rehabilitate nation-states, to reintroduce some sort of borders, to get rid of overgenerous welfare state policies, to forget the destructive ideology of multiculturalism, and to stop non-individual immigration is another of our tasks.


As I said, we need a fundamental transformation of our thinking and of our behaviour, we do need a “Paradigm Change”. We need to forget the ideology of europeism which brought us to this crisis. We are in a blind alley and the only way out is to go back, to return to the principles on which the West (and Europe) was based.

Václav Klaus, Luncheon Address at Swiss Embassy, Hanspaulka, Praha, September 23, 2015.


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